Posts Tagged ‘painting’

bookstore lenox interior shelves

Looking at this month’s reading list, it’s clear I’ve been reaching for comfort books: historical fiction, poetry, a bit of mystery, a few familiar characters. (See also: new job + milestone birthday.) Here’s the latest roundup:

Wires and Nerve, Marissa Meyer
I’ve enjoyed Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series (Scarlet is my fave). This graphic novel focuses on Iko, the smart-mouthed android who helped Cinder and her friends save the galaxy. I’m not a huge graphic novel reader, but I liked following Iko’s adventures on Earth, and enjoyed the appearances by other familiar characters.

When I Spoke in Tongues: A Story of Faith and Its Loss, Jessica Wilbanks
Jessica Wilbanks’ early life in rural Maryland was dominated by her family’s Pentecostal faith. But as a questioning teenager, she began challenging the sermons she’d always heard, eventually leaving the church altogether. Her memoir chronicles that struggle, which included a trip to Nigeria to investigate the origins of American Pentecostalism. She’s a gifted writer, though the book’s ending felt a bit unfinished. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 13).

The Gown, Jennifer Robson
I love Robson’s compelling, richly detailed historical novels. This, her fifth, follows the creation of Queen Elizabeth II’s exquisite wedding gown through the lives of Ann and Miriam, two seamstresses who worked on it. I loved both characters, though the present-day protagonist (Ann’s granddaughter) was less engaging. I did love the way the narrative threads wove together. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Dec. 31).

A Light of Her Own, Carrie Callaghan
As a young female painter in 17th-century Haarlem, Judith Leyster struggles to make a living. Her friend Maria, also a painter, wrestles with her Catholic faith. This historical novel follows Judith’s attempts to set up her own workshop and the efforts of the city’s male painters to shut her out. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 13).

Refuge, Merilyn Simonds
At ninety-six, Cassandra MacCallum is content to live alone, on an island near her family’s farm in Ontario. But when a young Burmese refugee shows up insisting she’s Cassandra’s great-granddaughter, she tugs at the complex threads of Cass’s life story and her relationship with her son, Charlie. Gorgeously written and compelling; I couldn’t stop following Cass’s adventures from Mexico to Montreal to New York. I picked this one up on impulse at the library and I’m so glad I did.

Yesterday I Was the Moon, Noor Unnahar
Unnahar is a young Pakistani poet, and this slim volume collects her verses and drawings. They’re vivid and raw and often heartbreaking, but lovely. I read this one slowly, dipping in and out. Found at Three Lives during my August NYC trip.

Bellewether, Susanna Kearsley
During the Seven Years’ War (known in the U.S. as the French and Indian War), two captured French officers are housed with the Wilde family on Long Island. Many years later, a museum curator digs into the legends and ghost stories surrounding the Wildes and the officers. Kearsley is a master of compelling historical fiction with romance and a hint of the supernatural. Such an enjoyable read, with important themes relating to slavery, agency and freedom.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?


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piece of the world book candle

Immortalized in Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, in which she crawls across a field toward her family’s Maine farmhouse, Christina Olson lived a quiet, private life. She was hampered and eventually crippled by a degenerative muscular disease, but insisted on living independently (with the help of her brother, Alvaro) for as long as she could. Christina Baker Kline delves into Christina’s story – her razor-sharp mind, her stubborn family, her fierce pride, the degenerative disease that eventually stole her mobility – in her sixth novel, A Piece of the World.

Christina, with keen powers of observation and completely without self-pity, shares the details of her life with readers: geraniums “splayed red like a magician’s handkerchief,” the sweep of the sea beyond the fields of her family’s farm. She relays her family’s seafaring history, her own love for Emily Dickinson’s poetry, the ill-fated love affair with a summer visitor who eventually stopped writing back. And she delights–cautiously at first–in her friendship with Andy, the young artist who finds himself drawn back again and again to the humble Olson farmhouse.

I’m over at Great New Books today, sharing my thoughts on A Piece of the World. Please join me over there to read the rest of my review.

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from warm to cool

Many of you voiced your opinions when I asked for help choosing paint colors for my office. I chose the colors, sent off the work order, and then waited. And waited. (Our painting department is a one-man team right now, so I had to wait until he called in outside help.)

But last Wednesday, the workers came, and they painted my office in less than a whole workday. And behold, I give you the result:

office 1

office 2

Three dark gray walls. One purple accent wall. A new lamp. Framed diplomas, photos and art hung on the wall. And finally, a color scheme I love.

Thanks for all your input – you guys are awesome. Now, back to staring dreamily at my new walls…

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This is my office.

knitting 045

knitting 044

knitting 046

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It used to be a storage space, and is still kind of a catch-all for cabinets filled with office stuff. It’s not orange and yellow because I want it to be. Melody, my predecessor, had this whole “Tuscan villa” idea in her head when she worked here in 2005-06. (Needless to say, it never quite came to fruition.) I helped her paint it when I was a student worker, and then I inherited it for a few months after she left. After leaving this office in August 2006 for another one across campus, I didn’t expect I’d ever be back here.

But I did come back – in January, as a full-time employee. I ignored the paint color for a while, since I didn’t know if I’d be here beyond my husband’s graduation in August and I was diving headfirst into a new job. I covered parts of the mustard-and-terra-cotta walls with photos and calendars and prints, and tried to ignore the rest.

However, “the time has come, the Walrus said” for a change. I can’t take the orange any more. I just can’t. No matter how long I’m going to be here (still indefinite), it’s time for some fresh color. So I have a sheaf of paint chips sitting in my office – the pre-approved “ACU palette.” (This is a new thing, presumably put in place to keep people from doing things like painting their offices orange and yellow.)

There’s just one small snag: the colors are all neutrals. ALL of them. Except for a (very nice) eggplant purple called, entertainingly, “Midnight Affair.” The rest are varying shades of tan, beige, gray, cream and an odd range of gray-greens. I’m trying to decide what the heck to do with them, though NONE of them are what I would choose. (I’m not into cream walls with cream trim, and the greenish grays are disgusting.) So far, my choices are:

~Paint the entire office a cool gray
~Paint 3 walls gray, with a purple accent wall
~Paint 3 walls tan/beige, with a purple accent wall
~Paint all four walls tan/beige

So, dear readers, what would YOU do? This is a small space with no windows (oh, how I want a window!). Four dark walls would turn it into a cave, but I think the lightest colors would wash the space out, and also be plain boring. So, view the pics, try to imagine gray or brown or purple on the walls, and give your opinion in the comments. I’m sorry the choices are so limited, but your help is MUCH appreciated.

Happy weekend!

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