Books as Time Capsules
Austin Kleon reshared this article from January 2020 recently and it made me think because the vast majority of my books are pre-owned and I have, on occasion, found small tokens between their leaves. I can’t say I ever found anything to make me really giddy, though, but who knows what’s awaiting discovery on my shelves?
That being said, I realised that in my own way, I’ve also been turning books into time capsules of sorts. In the ancient times when we were able to travel freely (read pre-2020), whenever I found myself in an airport I would, as everyone does, spend some time browsing perfumes before boarding. I never really liked spraying these on myself, I am normally already wearing perfume, but since I always had a book on me, I started spraying the pages with whatever fragrance caught my… nose. Sometimes I made a note of the name, more often I just jotted down a date and maybe the city I was in, and other times I left in train or bus tickets, or other types of receipts I used instead of bookmarks.
A Living Guide to Amsterdam from 1975 bought from a street vendor in March 2019 and my copy of Major Barbara, read in April 2018, on a journey by train to Belgium
Thus, although these are not time capsules expanding the universe of the book or that of the author, they are time capsules that expand my universe and bring back memories of my own. Plus, it’s amazing to turn the page and find one heavily perfumed… especially after completely forgetting about it!
Pretend It’s a City
You’ve probably already read about and maybe even seen Pretend It’s a City, with Fran Leibowitz, but I couldn’t not mention it here for when I will be old and senile and going through my archive, so I can watch it again and enjoy it as much as I just did!
I don’t want to describe either Fran or the series, I have her heavily-gesturing opinionated self too present in my mind at the moment to risk blurting out a cliche that I just know she would be annoyed by. I will just say you need to watch it. It is a stand-up show, a city tour, a history lesson, an ode to books, a sympathetic nod to people who love houses and things (and own too many books), a (pop-)culture guide.. and I could go on!
Bonus find inspired by Fran’s love-hate relationship with real estate, is this hilarious short story by Nora Ephron (another favourite New Yorker who has given us You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally… , Heartburn) and her love for an apartment in The (famous and infamous) Apthorp.
Exquisite Clutter (II)
I’ve talked about exquisite clutter before in letter No 10 and this topic will probably be a semi-regular one among my finds, as I discover more and more images of covetable spaces, big or small, cluttered with the best kinds of things – books, paintings and art, ornate frames, decorations, lamps, furniture and the like. Today, inspired by Fran Leibowitz’s collection of 10,000 books, I am sharing a few images of spaces exquisitely cluttered with books. More, as always, on a dedicated Pinterest board.
While looking for exquisite examples of cigarette holders last week, I happened upon another chic vintage accessory that I thought worth sharing – lipstick cases. The antique and vintage examples above are as precious as jewelry, but I can see this extravagant and frivolous item is still being reinvented by designers or cosmetic companies nowadays.
Most recently by Carolina Herera, with her line that allows one to personalize her lipstick from texture and shade to cap design, adding a tassel and even charms and one’s initial. Balmain did something similar in design a few years ago, in collaboration with L’Oréal. And there is also the leather variety, fashioned in the past by the likes of Louis Vuitton, Prada and Celine.
Also, how exquisite are these vintage lipstick holders? I never knew these were a thing. Did you?
Chic Puffer Jackets
Chic puffer jackets are a thing, but you probably already know this! I used to have a simple knee-length black one, but when I decided to let it go, two years ago, I never replaced it. So here I was last week, browsing for a chic, oversized puffer, black and with a hood. Well, this is what I am looking for at the moment, but in this board, I saved plenty of other options that have also caught my eye! Below a selection of some of the most unrealistically expensive… because why not?
I also made a discovery – Ssense is the new Polyvore when it comes to browsing endless options of any item of clothing you can think of, in case you, like me, feel like you need to see all that is out there (even the ridiculously out of the budget ones above) to form a clear idea of what you really want. My main problem is that I usually end up marrying up different details from various items and imagining a precise item that I can’t then find anywhere, possibly it doesn’t even exist, sometimes it’s not even realistic or practical in terms of tailoring. But still, I do this with pretty much anything I think of buying, clothing and accessories related.
It’s a running joke in my family how at 12 or 13 I went with my parents to look for a new school bag and after entering shop after shop and explaining what I wanted, one owner finally said he thinks I am looking for something that hasn’t been invented yet. My mom loves to tell this story…
Blue, One of the Rarest Colours in Nature
Did you know blue is one of the rarest colours in nature? I had no idea! This find was prompted by an ample article of Maria Popova’s about the color blue in 200 years of literature. She features among the entries one from Henry David Thoreau’s journal, where he writes Where is my cyanometer… and I was reminded I’ve also been meaning to share this article about this basic device invented ‘to measure the blueness of the sky’.
Be sure to also watch this and this very interesting videos about the colour blue, packed with facts and references from art, history, geography and more. But there are many other similar resources about the colour blue.. I can’t believe I’ve had no idea about this until now.
Bonus exquisite find is this Q&A about blue diamonds, which are, by the way, very much real!
Quote of the Week
This quote has been on my mind over the past few weeks, ever since I listened to Backman’s Anxious People. I thoroughly enjoyed it and, like with my latest listen – A Gentleman in Moscow – it made me feel more acutely than ever the disadvantage of audiobooks when it comes to making notes of quotes that speak to me.
With books, I simply underline these, sometimes I also dog-ear the pages. With audiobooks, it’s a different experience. The words are gone before you’ve had the chance to think twice and if by a miracle you actually realise as you are listening that this is something you’d like to come back to later, before you reach for or find your phone, unlock it and press the bookmark button, the moment is gone. Plus, often you can’t even do it, you have your hands full… that’s normally what happens to me, otherwise I would be sitting somewhere comfortable with a real book in my lap.
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