This week in books I realised that while my own unfinished books and audiobooks have been quite neglected, every night religiously I get to read a selection of my son’s books with him. We started innocently enough a few months ago with two books before bedtime and now we’re up to five. I wish we’d compromise to three and a bonus one from time to time, but he is adamant…
Of course, this makes me all too happy (apart from when it’s almost 9 PM and we’re still going), and it has given me the opportunity to discover some true gems that I truly treasure. Let me tell you today about musical books! I am not talking about the nursery rhymes variation, but about books like The Story Orchestra series which introduce little ones (and parents like me) to classical music. We have the Four Seasons in One Day and the Carnival of the Animals and we simply love them. The illustrations are just so beautiful too and paired with the music, they are a treat. I want to add all the others to our collection in time, as there are four more available!
I have also recently bought our first Paco (or Poppy) book and I chose Paco et le Jazz, which apparently has not been translated to English. But even if you don’t speak French, it is brilliant. My son can now pretty much recognise the different instruments when he hears them and he loves to hear Ella Fitzgerald improvise and tries to copy her. There are many more in this series too, and I think they are all bound to be entertaining for children.
Doing a bit of research I couldn’t find many other similarly attractive options, apart from the Mon Petit series (Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven etc.) although their illustration style is not my favourite. I do like the look of Welcome to the Symphony and it is now on my shortlist to get!
Lastly, I just thought I’d mention a couple of sound books I recommend too. We have one called Speaking Animals with 60 animal sounds which I think is really good, particularly as it uses real images of the animals and they are grouped together based on their ecosystem. On top of this, I have just discovered these books about bird songs (listen here for the garden ones!), and now I really want them for my son (and me).
The best thing about children’s books is that they make things easy to learn… Even for adults, and I am not the first one to note this!
If Jewels Could Talk Podcast
This is, hands down, the best podcast I have ever come across and I am delighted that I discovered it. For the first time ever I want to listen to all the available episodes, not just cherry-pick some. It is true, it only has 18 out in total, but these are around the one-hour mark, and I normally prefer them much shorter.
Not in this case. As the name suggests, this is all about jewellery – the history, the trends, the iconic pieces, the must-have items and so on. I have, so far, listened to the episodes on Picasso and Artists’ Jewellery – an exquisite niche I didn’t consider even though I knew about some painters and sculptors making jewellery; Bejewelled Animals – which is simply wonderful and so visual; and First Lady Jewels – very insightful and relevant, leaving me with a deeper understanding of the symbolism of pearls and the practical tip that I need a vintage 50s/60s chuncky bracelet in my collection.
I loved learning that Picasso used to gift friends his drawings, jewellery and other works of art, but after a while, he started giving them caviar instead because it was cheaper. And I also love an observation about jewellery being something beautiful to wear but also something beautiful to look at when you’re not wearing it, like a miniature sculpture or work of art.
Each of these episodes really deserves to be an exquisite find in itself and I will likely bring the topics back when I’ve had a chance to do more research. I already added a few new books to my to-read list.
Stay tuned for more jewellery content in the coming weeks!
Haute Couture Week Spring – Summer 2022
Haute Couture Week ended this week and, as usual, I really like to browse the collections, look at overarching motifs, colours, trends etc. I prefer this to the women’s collections firstly because there are much fewer shows, but also because these pieces are often artworks.
The two main details I have seen replicated in quite a few collections are the long cape and the train on skirts, but particularly on trousers. I have also spotted fuchsia being used by more than a handful of designers, as well as other shades of pink and red – so I would say these will be statement colours this year, which is perfect as I am just rediscovering my taste for pink!
As always, Schiaparelli is something else entirely, but I also thought Rahul Mishra and Charles de Vilmorin stood out if one looks for conceptual elaborate pieces. I also liked many looks at Ronald van der Kemp. I normally check Vogue Runway and this is where all the images featured come from, but there are more shows to be explored on the Fédération de la Haute Couture website and I particularly liked Imane Ayissi, Yanina Couture and Goerges Hobeika.
I hope this inspires you as much as it does me!
The Great Salvador Dali – Art on the BBC
If you are in the UK or have access to iPlayer, I recommend the one-hour documentary about Dali, part of their Art on the BBC series. It is actually a very interesting documentary concept as the idea is to use footage from the BBC archive to briefly tell his story.
As I knew close to nothing about him really, just had some iconic images in mind, I found it rich in information delivered in an entertaining manner. It also helped fill more gaps in my general knowledge about art history, more specifically on the surrealists, which felt very rewarding.
I now know Dali was truly a personage and I am keen to explore his life more, even if his art is not my cup of tea.
Uncommon Places to Find Exquisite Gifts
For Christmas 2020 I put together a guide for Uncommon Places to Find Exquisite Gifts, and I thought it might be worth re-sharing it this week, seeing how everybody and their mother are issuing gift guides that are all pink and heart-themed. If you’re less keen on celebrating the day and keener on celebrating an important person in your life, be it a partner, a best friend, a sibling, a work colleague etc. my guide might help.
I’ve included places like hotel online stores for luxurious items that might remind them of a particular holiday or might make them feel like they are getting the Ritz treatment at home, or own stores for products you’d normally buy in a retailer, rather than a flagship store – where you will likely find some products, accessories or merchandise that will make the perfect gift for a fan of the brand.
But the first place on my list is museum gift shops, which to me seem like real life Aladdin caves or enchanted bazaars of wonders of the world. From niche books to designer jewellery and unheard of gadgets, there is no telling what you will discover. And I really liked to see a piece in The New Yorker in December on exactly this topic – Exit this year through the Museum Gift Shop, by Rachael Symes, whose long reads I have shared before.
Table Setting Table Cloth
I’ve had this image of a clever hand-embroidered table cloth saved in one of my Pinterest boards for a while, but despite trying, I couldn’t find out who made it. This week I finally got my answer, when the idea was featured on the Messy Nessy Chic newsletter.
Artist and designer Sarah Espeute works her magic on antique linen and cotton and I think the results are exquisitely ludic, almost like a trompe-l’œil game for kids, but elegant in an understated way. Not sure if this was the intention, but this is the vibe I am getting.
Do you agree?
Rare Word – Luminary
Full confession – I don’t know how rare the word luminary actually is, I think it might be seeing a renaissance in the media and there is of course even a book called The Luminaries, published in 2013, a podcast and others. That being said, I had no idea what the word stood for and I can’t remember if or where I’ve come across it before.
Turns out it means person of prominence or brilliant achievement or a body that gives light, especially one of the celestial bodies. I think it’s a brilliant (pun intended) synonym for some overused words, and I appreciate the Latin origin (from Latin lumen, lumin– ‘light’) and the journey it has gone through to arrive at its meaning today. There is a two minutes podcast on the Merriam-Webster website giving a bit more information about the history of the word. The first known use was in the 15th century!
May we all aspire to become luminaries in our field of choice!
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