An anti-library is a collection of unread books waiting to be opened and enjoyed. It can be tomorrow, or it can be in 10 years. It is a world, or rather countless worlds and stories, waiting to be discovered. It’s research material. It’s optimistic and hopeful, curious and humbling. As I write this I am staring at three-four hundred of my own unread books and it brings me so much pleasure just to think how many new favorites might be among them already.
Particularly in the past year and a half, when leaving the house or going places to buy new books has been not only risky, but actually forbidden at times, I have come to appreciate more than ever my home library of unread books. Numerous times I have used it for comfort and entertainment, but also for my writing of these letters.
I used to say I can’t stop buying books from charity shops and car boot markets because they are ridiculously cheap and I prefer books to any other interior decor element, but now I see it all in a new light and I am even more determined to search through all the piles for those books that pick my interest.
This concept was first introduced by scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb when talking about Umberto Eco’s relationship with books and his thirty thousand collection of unread ones. Something to aspire to, right?
Grace & Frankie
Last weekend my best friend gave me some brilliant news that sorted my Sunday evening plans. The next best thing to spending it with her was new episodes of Grace and Frankie! It’s one of the very few shows I keep up with these days that are pure entertainment and nothing more.
I love it because of the characters of a certain age. I don’t see many people like that around me in real-life, enjoying such vibrant and active lives in their 60s and 70s, but I hope I might become one in a few decades. As with many other movies, shows or even books, this one also serves a purpose of representation.
Sure, it is highly unrealistic in many respects, that is the comedy bit! But it is a feel-good watch that never fails to bring me a sense of comfort and, oddly… nostalgia. I highly recommend it!
Bonus find here is the beautiful off screen friendship between Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin that’s been going on for over four decades and started even before their first movie together, the iconic 9 to 5.
Digital Closet Apps
I am in the mood for a major closet overhaul! I would like to drastically cut through the clothes I have at the moment, and make a list of what items I am missing, slowly adding these in. For this purpose, I first want to catalogue everything and decide. I did this a couple of years ago, simply snapping pictures and saving these in dedicated folders on my phone – dresses, skirts, trousers, tops etc. This time, I want to go pro!
I started looking into digital closet apps and there are quite a few good options, but more so if you are an iPhone user. For Android, my preference, the selection is much slimmer. Yet, I found a couple that I want to try. One is called simply Closet and another is Your Closet (creative, I know!) They both look user friendly enough and what I really want is a place to go and easily see all my clothes. I would really like the option to remove the background of the images I upload, but that seems like a stretch.
How about you? Do you use any closet organization apps or systems?
Stylish New York Couples, 1982
Speaking of clothes, do read this hilarious sarcastic New Yorker piece from 1982 (!) describing the clothing style of four couples. It’s delicious, full of flavour, and a bit piquant. I imagine it was mocking some of the trends taken to the extreme at that time, like retro, cross-dressing, minimalism and even the focus on labels. To be honest, it might as well have been written today! Reading it, I often had people popping into my mind perfectly illustrating the description. What a treat!
Do you know what mud larking is? I’ve known about it for a while and might have been introduced to the idea through Mud Men many years ago, but a few days ago I rediscovered it through the This and Tat newsletter. I promptly went down an Instagram rabbit hole.
Mud larking is hunting for lost treasures in rivers, very popular on the river Thames in the UK as you might expect, but done in many other parts of the world. When I say treasures, I don’t mean high value objects, but old, quirky, unique items or, more commonly, fragments. I find it fascinating and I have a renewed desire to try it. I will have to look more into it and find a fun way of playing the amateur archeologist with my son. It’s a thing!
In the meantime, I discovered and started following on Insta a few dedicated accounts, like London MudLark (Lara has written two books on the topic, one came out just yesterday!), Sue Cordingley, who also makes art using her finds and sells it on Etsy, as does ex-thamesis. But really, just explore the #mudlarking hashtag for much more.
Bouke de Vries Art
Seeing the above artworks created using random bits of ceramics found while mud larking, I was reminded of a striking work by dutch artist Bouke de Vries and I wanted to explore his art further. He uses broken ceramics and porcelain to create new objects and new meaning, and the story behind is incredibly powerful.
As a private conservator De Vries was faced with issues and contradictions around perfection and worth. ‘The Venus de Milo’ is venerated despite losing her arms, but when a Meissen muse loses a finger she is rendered virtually worthless. Even an almost invisible hairline crack, a tiny rim chip or a broken finger render a once-valuable object practically worthless, literally not worth the cost of restoring. There’s something incongruous about the fact that such an object, although still imbued with all the skills it took to make it – be it first-period Worcester, Kang-xi or Sevres – can so easily be consigned to the dustbin of history.’
Using his skills as a restaurateur, instead of reconstructing the broken pieces that have gone through trauma, he looks for ‘the beauty of destruction’, emphasising the evidence of ‘this most dramatic episode in the life of a ceramic object’. I love the poetry of this philosophy and it reminds me of kintsugi, which I’ve written about before here.
Floral Ice Cubes
Not that we’ve needed these a lot this summer, at least not in my part of the world, but I’ve found them very pretty and a lovely touch perhaps when you are expecting guests and are planning ahead? I’d put these in a vintage crystal ice bucket to match the stunning dispenser I shared a few weeks ago.
If these are not really your cup of tea, there are plenty more creative ideas for ice cubes here. I would never have known!
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