Les Bouquinistes a Paris by George Lapchine, Russian 1885-1950
My books were my friends as I did not have any siblings nor a large family. If I was the first in my class my mother would buy me three books. If I placed from second to the fifth it was one book and nothing after that. I liked the series called "Bibliotheque Verte" or "Rose" or "Rouge et Or." They were series of books for children called Green Library, Pink, or Red and Gold and new volumes came out every month.
I would expedite my home work so I could read my books.
Reading by Lilla Cabot Perry, American 1848-1933
I am not good at making lists - I try, but I forget to keep them up. I read many books from the local Library, too. This year I read about 60 - 65 books or so. I cannot go to sleep without reading first, even if it is very late. The first book I finished last year was Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I had purchased the original 1945 edition at an estate sale for $1! I buy most of my books second-hand.
My last book of the year was Mad World - Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne. Please click on the collage above twice to read the titles better. Often I read a book then read more books in the same style or subject. For example after watching the series Downton Abbey on television I read Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon. This started me reading books on the "Gilded Age" like When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplan and Glimpses of Long Island's North Shore by Richard Panchyk.
Personnages by Jean Beraud, French 1849-1936
At the Library I saw a book which stated that if you missed Downton Abbey you should read Daisy Goodwin's The American Heiress, so I did. I also read what happened "downstairs" with the book Rose, My Life in Service to Lady Astor by Rosina Harrison.
Then we visited our daughter and family near Nashville. While there I read two books that were on her shelf: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua and Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman - two stimulating ways to bring up children.
If there is a bookshelf in a home - it attracts me like a magnet, for sure.
Girl Reading by Elizabeth Baron, American, contemporary
When we came back home we decided to visit the Titanic Exhibition in Atlanta. We did and I wrote a post about it here. But before we went I read a book about the sinking of the Titanic which I already had on my shelves called A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. I also went to the Library and borrowed ten more books on the subject, as you can see below.
I can be a bit obsessive when I am interested in a subject. I'll try to read everything I can find. Once I read a book by Virginia Woolf - I liked it so much that I hunted all the second-hand bookstores, library sales, flea markets and then online to get the whole collection of her writings. I also bought the books written by her husband Leonard Woolf. Then I read several biographies on her, her sister, and the Bloomsbury Circle. I have two large bags or more on all this.
When I go to book sales I always try to find books written in French as they are expensive to buy here. Mostly the books are those that are required in French classes and are underlined, etc., but I can find some nice old books sometimes. This year I read the French books below.
The books above I bought in France, though, when I was there in May 2011 and I bought some more that are on my shelf now when we were in Nice in October 2012. I buy paperbacks as they are lighter in my suitcase. After reading several books by Colette I also read the literary biography on her, below, by Julia Kristeva, and
another biography "Colette" by Allan Massie.
Gerald and Sara Murphy featured in the book above by Amanda Vaill called "Everybody was so Young" is about the "lost generation" of expatriate Americans in France between the two wars which included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, and Dorothy Parker. The Murphys' were friends to them all. They had some nice observations to make. My husband had given me Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, shown below
and this started me to read a whole collection of books about that time frame in Paris. I loved it. Books like Charmed Circle, Gertrude Stein and Company by James R. Mellow - which at 626 pages took me a little longer to read - really made me feel part of the circle. Actually because of this book we went to New York last May to see an exhibit on Gertrude Stein's collection of paintings.
Shakespeare & Company by Sylvia Beach was also outstanding for bringing out the characters of those she knew - like James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson and all the writers, artists and musicians who came to her bookstore. I could imagine being there at the time, meeting them in a cafe in Paris.
Then I was planning a trip to Venice. I found out that an American mystery writer called Donna Leon, a former English teacher overseas, had written some good books based in Venice. Luckily my Library had a large supply of them. I think I read fifteen of them in the course of 5 weeks or so. It really brought the atmosphere to me. Of course I also read articles and guide books on the subject.
Donna Leon loves Venice, and it shows, but she is realistic about it - showing the many problems like pollution and overt commercialism.
Venezia by Rubens Santoro, Italian, 1859-1942
This lead me to read a book about the Venice tourist problem. It is called Venice The Tourist Maze (A cultural critique of the World's Most Touristed City) by Robert C. Davis and Garry R. Marvin. Tourists have certainly been in Venice for centuries!
I also found more Don Blanding poetry books as shown above. Chris Bohjalian's The Sandcastle Girls was a gift. It is an historical love story happening during the Armenian Genocide. That explained to me why some of my father's cousins, who were orphans, had been in orphanages in Aleppo, Syria. So I turned to my Library to find more books on the subject.
Romance by Mihay Bodo, Hungarian, contemporary
I did find a couple more of books with Armenia as a background.
Adam Bagdasarian's Forgotten Fire was inspired by his great-uncle's experience who had to surmount terrible hardship to survive. The Last Day of the War is a novel which is set close to World War I. A Jewish girl falls in love with an Armenian-American soldier and finds him in Europe. It is an entertaining novel. All the books shown on my post can be found and described at Amazon. I also like to read mysteries. Below are a few of the mysteries I read.
I have a large collection of Agatha Christie's mysteries in my bookshelves and will read several each year - still have many to go through. I don't know what is better in the world than reading a good mystery with a cat near you.
Sunday Aftenoorn by Bruce Bingham, American, contemporary
I was forgetting to mention the great find from the last University Women book sale. It is a French book which was a best seller, in English is was titled The Elegance of the hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I found it in the original French L'Elegance du Herisson - and for 50 cents it was a steal!
I don't know if all the books I read in 2012 are mentioned in this post - I thought it would be nicer to show them in pictures than making a list. But here we are in a New Year with a lot of new book reading opportunities....
Reading by Kay Ritter, American, Contemporary
Here are several quotations I like as an ending -
I am a part of everything that I have read - Theodore Roosevelt
A house without a book is like a room without windows - Heinrich Mann
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket - Chinese Proverb
Once you learn to read, you will be free forever - Frederick Douglass
Stories by Deborah Dewitt-Marchant, Dutch-American born in 1956