These are beautiful coffee table books through the pages of which we can vicariously travel to traditionally dreamy domains of Summer. Coffee Table Books are not easy on the wallet, unless you compare them to the cost of the tickets to travel, yet they are a wonderful way to savour beautiful photography and design. I have a healthy little collection focused on travel and design and art and I enjoy visiting the titles often. They are indeed “trippy”! I don’t put them on my coffee table, however, lest someone spill the coffee.

Summer to Summer: Houses by the Sea is a new one, being released today in fact. It features the stories and photos of a selection of gorgeous homes along the North East Coast of the United States. The area really is a mecca for stunning Summer home architecture. Even if you are lucky enough to visit the region, you can’t always get inside the homes – through these pages you can! “All we need to do is settle back, kick off our shoes, and let the sun-kissed pages of Summer to Summer wash over us.” (publisher)

Summertime is colourfully filled with images that represent the epitome of an ideal summer; 46 different photographers share places that are lodged in their summer memories. Evocative quotes and summery reflections by literary icons are sprinkled among the photographs and there is true sense of nostalgia throughout. Joanne Dugan, the editor of this lovely book, writes: “It turns out that my first summer love was not a person but a place.” Read a mood-setting excerpt here.

Summer Houses by the Sea: The Shingle Style focuses on perhaps the most iconic design of a traditional summer home. Shingled summer homes “are an expression of the romantic longing for the sea.” (publisher) While this one may be more of an architectural study than a seasonal celebration, its photographic pages will still give you a sense of summer days spent in some treasured historic homes as well as in some newer shingled havens. You’ll learn a little in this one but the dreamy summer journey will be there too.

 

illustration by Charlie Mackesy

This blog began February 9, 2010 (see the very first post here) The Help by Kathryn Stockett was #1 on the bestseller list, The Hurt Locker was about to win the Oscar, Vancouver was embracing Winter Olympic Fever, and the H1N1 Flu pandemic was winding down (say what?!!!) After a pretty reliable first few years, Bedside Table Books began to waver and then revive and then wilt again … poor thing. All along, whenever its writer was not actually writing, she’s continued to maintain regular blog conversations in her head. Worrisome, I know. Now, prompted by a pandemic, I, the Writer, have been propelled back to the blog page with burbling bookish thoughts I am irresistibly inclined to share. Not sure you’re still out there … anyone out there? … but stand by for a few of the most recent compelling, and propelling, thoughts!

To quote the character Babe in the TV show, Grace & Frankie, it’s time to “Get Crackin’ Toots!” 

 

 

 

 

Bella Grace

August 2, 2018

45d9f87df3530cf20797e9fd8cda6191

Is it a magazine? Is it a workbook? Is it a journal? Is it a treasure? Yes, yes, yes and yes!

Whatever you label it, Bella Grace is an absolutely beautiful publication.  Issued quarterly by Stampington & Company, its content is driven wholly by reader-submissions thereby striking a personal and intimate tone without any intrusion by garish advertising. You will find food for thought and inspiration in quotes, stories, lists, writing prompts, random reflections, and photography. Oh, the photography! The quality of the paper alone will have you sighing deeply. I promise.

Bella Grace really defies categorization because you will find yourself gazing at it and pondering new ideas like you would with a book or magazine but then you’ll also be sketching and scribbling in its pages as if it’s a workbook or journal. At first I was reluctant to scar the pretty pages but its messaging will convince you that you’re actually adding to the beauty.

As for that “message”, Bella Grace describes its aim: “to touch the souls of our readers through beautifully penned stories and striking photographs that capture life’s beautiful adventure.” The Bella Grace manifesto reads:

  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • An ordinary life can be an extraordinary life.
  • There is beauty and magic to be found everywhere.
  • It’s OK to embrace imperfection.
  • Life should be lived with a full heart and open eyes.

Hopelessly romantic? This one’s for you!

My favourite article in the latest issue (#16 Summer ’18) if I was forced to choose just one, is written by Holly Clark and called Beyond the Cutting Room Floor. Holly points out that those photos we eliminate because we deem them not quite “perfect” may in fact capture the real gold, the real essence of a person or a memory. I completely agree.

Locally, Bella Grace can be found at Chapters and Michael’s (of all places). Subscriptions and back-issues can be ordered on-line here.

8b395648cefb04e4aa2e3e2122b2eaa7

682b028f834f78dc884758a6bb47fddd

 

 

Art work by Tricia Robinson

Just a quick note to say thanks for all the lovely Comments and personal notes to welcome this negligent blogger back to work. Happy to be here and grateful for the kindness. xo

Back to the Books!

June 26, 2018

It may be the most likely of scenarios but alas, no. Still here! And now, actually here again. One of the most challenging elements of blogging is keeping it all rolling even when Life intervenes. In my case, the dog ran away. Looking back, that seems to have been the kicker. Just enough drama for me to lose the plot. For the record, she was located safely after an impressive mobilization of devoted and caring neighbours and friends. It’s been three (3!!!) years but who’s counting … Let’s roll!

Many years ago, I spent a summer working in a shop. During the inevitable quiet times, my co-workers and I needed to get innovative in order to avoid debilitating boredom. (It only took so many minutes to tidy the shelves. Clearly it wasn’t a book shop or boredom would NEVER have set in!)  One of our preferred pastimes was to entertain one another by making up stories about the people walking by the window; the more outlandish the tale we could muster, the better! It was clear to us everyone had a unique story. Now imagine collecting images of the people who pass and learning their real stories. Brandon Stanton is a photographer who began a project whereby he intended to simply archive 10,000 photos of people in the city of New York. After a period of time he began to also record the brief conversations he shared with his subjects. Brandon’s gentle kindness and the way he clearly relishes the time he spends with each subject creates lovely moments. And stories … such stories! Poignant, funny, thought-provoking, disturbing, romantic, cheeky … all united in their human-ness. Brandon uploaded the images and, understandably, an enormous following gathered. His blog can be found here at Humans of New York.

The blog beget the book, such a beautiful book …

Humans-of-New-York-Blog-Finds-Beauty-in-Regular-Joes-Starts-Worldwide-Trend-396949-2

For a glimpse into Brandon’s story, here’s a clip:

Spring with Mary Oliver

March 20, 2014

quack

maro

7430dcce4bae101bd7af1885f81aeb4f

Mary oliver

Mary Oliver simply writes the most beautiful, evocative poetry. The first day of Spring seemed like the ideal time to draw your attention to her spunky spirit and love of Nature. Gosh it was hard to narrow down the quotes from her poems – I have collected so many. You may recall her Peonies poem being featured here a few years ago. I encourage you to take a Spring stroll through the pages of any one of her books, savouring the images she paints with her words as you go. She has won many awards (a little one called the Pulitzer among them) and she is widely cherished though rarely appears in the media. Fortunately, she has made good use of her quiet time and has many volumes available, the most recent being these two:

mary-oliver-a-thousand-mornings   maryoliverdogsongs

c45504998c5b2efe066198eb269d6916

tumblr_mkaaerRCT81ry5naio1_500

Unknown-28

il_570xN.573276267_oplq

“Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who made the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light –

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.”

― Mary Oliver

Nn6J2

Happy Spring to you!

paris letters 4

I’m so giddy about this discovery that I am pirouetting about in search of where to even begin (I am actually ‘pivoting’ but pirouetting sounds more like what a Parisienne would do!)  I recently discovered the engaging work of Canadian-living-in-Paris, Janice MacLeod, and couldn’t wait to tell you all about her and her art, and her letters, and her book … As I sit here playing with phrases to aptly capture her charming allure, I am realizing her very own words will best give you a sense of her playfulness and the guaranteed fun ahead when you read her letters and book. I just know you are going to be reading her letters and book!

From Janice’s website:

“After a childhood in Canada that was just dysfunctional enough to make me funny, I became an advertising copywriter and eventually an associate creative director. Most of my time was spent in top agencies throughout the USA and Canada, because I’m kinda into fame. And modesty. I’m humble, too. And perfect.

After 110 years of writing junk mail in advertising, I devised an exit strategy to finance my own sabbatical. My Shawshank Redemption, if you will. When I met my financial goal, I skipped town and traveled with nothing more than my suitcase and a small set of watercolors. Along the way, I painted letters about my travels and mailed them to friends. Enamored with this unique medium, I opened an online shop. Each month I create one painted letter, copy it, personalize it and mail it to hundreds of subscribers who are hungry for fun mail.”

Janice1

“I am the artist behind Paris Letters, a painted letter series sent out via snail mail to those who crave getting fun snail mail from the land of fromage, rosé and lippy waiters.”

So, you can enrol to receive a single masterpiece, or a 6-month subscription, or a full year of 12 treasures! (I  know, I know, my mental math is mind blowing) To do so, visit Janice’s Etsy shop, as above, or by clicking here. Just imagine the delight of finding Paris in your postbox and what an impressive wall display you could have! Hooked already? Wait! There’s more.

collage

Now for the booky bit …  Run, not walk, to your nearest bookshop and snag yourself a copy of this (if you can find one!):

Paris-Letter-Front-Cover-Advance-Copy-194x300

You see, there’s a love story afoot too. (Mais bien surParis Letters – One Woman’s Journey from the Fast lane to a Slow Stroll in Paris is Janice’s story behind how she came to start her letter writing endeavour and the Amour who motivated her to find a way to stay in Paris. It’s an inspiring tale of making dreams come true. So if you’re not packing up for a trip to Paris over Spring Break, and heck, even if you are, this enchanting read will bring you joy.

Wherever you are, I hope your day looks something like one of these images. Happy reading and Happy Canada Day!tumblr_mogcjz8kwC1rrqsx6o1_1280

tumblr_modszuKJlI1rmse6co1_500

il_570xN.417141575_nvxm

tumblr_m3pjmfAS6W1qd11c7o1_500

tumblr_mnnproliNU1qakqryo1_400

16 DeWit, Deborah (1956-...) Casting, 2001

37311107

The-Canadian-flag-with-mo-002

Busy Brat-Packers

October 23, 2012

If the movies Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire or Pretty in Pink resonate with you, you likely know of the Brat-Pack actors that starred within. Three of those actors, who arguably defined an era, have recently appeared on the bookshelves as writers.

Molly Ringwald explored writing in her 2010 Memoir/Lifestyle Guide called Getting the Pretty Back- Friendships, Family and Finding the Perfect Lipstick. She clearly has a sense of humour. Now she has written an ambitious “novel in stories”, When It Happens to You. Released in August, this collection has received many positive reviews:

Writing with a deep compassion for human imperfection, Ringwald follows a Los Angeles family and their friends and neighbors as they negotiate the hazardous terrain of everyday life — revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.”

Rob Lowe’s memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, was apparently considered by the publishers to be so well-written that he’s been extended a contract for a new memoir to continue the story.

“A wryly funny and surprisingly moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye. Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.”

Andrew McCarthy, of the three, has most significantly reinvented himself as a writer, a multi award-winning travel writer in fact. He is presently an Editor-at-Large of National Geographic Traveler magazine. This one makes the cut for me; I’ve put it on my to-read list.

This is a perfectly balanced combination of travel diary and documented introspection. While he travels the world, visiting destinations from the Amazon to Mount Kilimanjaro, McCarthy is wondering what in him leads him to keep the people he loves at a distance. That’s the short version. Set against exotic backdrops most of us will never visit, this is a man trying to figure himself out, and having the courage to write it down; that the man is famous is of no consequence.

Beyond his book, I encourage you to visit McCarthy’s website and sample some of the articles he’s written. He is certainly a gifted writer. This excerpt is from “Courting Vienna”, an article in The National Geographic Traveler.

“Despite her sensible shoes, her granite-stern features reveal a constant, low-level strain. She is well past 50— perhaps well past 60. Her arms sag under the weight of her burden; each tray she carries threatens to be her last. But when she breaks into a rare smile, her face lights up with unguarded delight. Her name is Annelies, and she, not Mozart, nor Beethoven, nor even Empress Sissi, has come to embody Vienna for me.

Annelies works as a waitress at Café Sperl, on Gumpendorfer Strasse. The Sperl has become my base, Annelies my anchor.” 

%d bloggers like this: