Take a Tour of Robert Frost’s Home

Take a tour of Robert Frost’s Vermont home (courtesy of Huffington Post).

A Year in Books/Day 178: William Morris by himself

  • Title: William Morris by himself Designs and writings
  • Editor: Gillian Naylor
  • Year Published: This Edition/2004 (Barnes & Noble Books)
  • Year Purchased: 2004/2005
  • Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
  • About: This book is a great reminder that William Morris was also a writer, and not just an artist/designer. Although his aesthetic is instantly recognizable, his words are not. That’s a shame. William Morris by himself goes a long way to rectify that, but I hope that his diverse writings somehow find a wider audience. As the title well relates, you’ll find a blend of his art and words (including excerpts from letters, essays and poems) in this pretty little edition. They have also inserted brief biographical paragraphs for the sake of cohesion. If you have ever been drawn to one of his textiles or wallpapers, why not take the opportunity to learn more about the full oeuvre of the man?
  • Motivation: I’ve long been intrigued by Morris.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 83: “We have taken a little place deep down in the country, where my wife and children are to spend some months every year, as they did this-a beautiful and strangely naif house, Elizabethan in appearance, though much later in date, as in that out of the way corner people built in Gothic till the beginning or middle of the last century. It is on the S.W. extremity of Oxfordshire, within a stone’s throw of the baby Thames, in the most beautiful grey little hamlet called Kelmscott.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8 1/2

A Year in Books/Day 103: Art Nouveau

  • Title: Art Nouveau A Fascinating Guide to One of the Most Notable Periods of Decorative Art
  • Year Published: 2002 (A Quantum Book/Published in the United States by TODTRI Book Publishers)
  • Year Purchased: 2004
  • Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
  • About: The average level of craftsmanship involved in Art Nouveau creations-from jewelry to illustration, textiles to furniture-is exquisite. This mini coffee table book is one part history, one part design eye candy and one hundred percent stunning. I know that I am tossing out superlatives like they are going out of business but we’re discussing Art Nouveau here. Nothing less than poetic turns of phrase will do! No matter how many times I see the still modern looking periodical illustrations or the sensuous, undulating lines of a Rene Lalique brooch or Georges Fouquet hair comb, I’m gobsmacked. Don’t even get me started on the architecture, where the tiniest detail is impeccable. It’s all covered here.
  • Motivation: It’s Art Nouveau, hello!
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 14: “Nature was to be the ultimate source book of the Art Nouveau artist, particularly the plant world, for many artists had a scientist’s depth of knowledge of botany. Flowers, stems, and leaves were chosen for their curving silhouettes. Naturally, lilies, irises, and orchids were favored, although any and every form, from palm fronds to seaweed, offered potential for development into an animated pattern.”
  • Happiness Scale: 7 1/2

    La Plume, 15 January 1898. Cover composition by Mucha.

    La Plume, 15 January 1898. Cover composition by Mucha.

A Year in Books/Day 5: Dictator Style

  • Title: Dictator Style Lifestyle’s of the World’s Most Colorful Despots
  • Author: Peter York (Foreword by Douglas Coupland)
  • Year Published: 2006 (Chronicle Books LLC)
  • Year Purchased: 2008/2009
  • Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
  • About: It’s hardly a surprise to discover that some of history’s worst dictators, egomaniacs all, also had really execrable aesthetic preferences. By taking us behind the curtains into seldom seen private sectors, this book manages to add a new layer of psychological insight into the minds of these historical horrors. The old adage that money (and an obscene amount of power) does not buy taste or happiness has never been better proven.
  • Motivation: I am a sucker for the all-too-rare pairing of history and style. And the cheetah-print cover didn’t hurt.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 2: “An enthusiasm for railway travel may be Victorian, but (Porfirio)
    Porfirio Diaz

    Image via Wikipedia

    Diaz’s carriage is more suggestive of the kind of Texan whorehouse we see in Westerns. It is smothered in textiles: silk damask upholstery, squishy cushions, elaborate fringing, and there’s a raised ceiling with fanciful stencilling and small arched windows inset in the roof-the sort of thing you might find in a traditional nineteenth-century sunroom. There’s a large oval mirror in the panelling, a lot of shiny wood and a hanging brass lamp. It’s ideal for the secret assignations of an elderly Latin American soldier who liked to play away from home.”

  • Happiness Scale: 9