books, art, culture, and other things I love

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Happy Friday.

And if the start to the weekend weren’t reason enough to cheer, here’s another: peony season is here!

I definitely do not have a green thumb, but these beauties were cut from my garden.



Bookminded Recommends: Clark Beckham

Years ago, when American Idol appeared on the scene, I wasn’t terribly interested. Most of the ‘talent’ was subpar, and the format of the program (e.g. remember the results shows?!) was not a big draw. But once Harry Connick Jr. joined the program as a judge, I knew that the musical hopefuls would improve in quality. I am happy to report that my hunch was correct.

Though my top pick for this year’s win, Clark Beckham, did not take the title–I predict that he has a bright future ahead of him in the music business. An incredibly talented musician and songwriter, he also has an AMAZING vocal range and beautiful tone. His voice has both the gravel of a Joe Cocker and the tonality of a James Morrison or Eric Hutchinson. Trust me–he is worth a listen. I have downloaded his EPs on iTunes and have been playing them nonstop. My spring/summer soundtrack for 2015!

Check him out here, holding his own with Michael McDonald.

It’s been a long week.

A Short Biblio Blog-o-graphy, Pt. 1.

People often ask which blogs I read regularly, and though my list often rotates, there are a handful that I check in with routinely.

Design Mom (lifestyle and family–all seen through a designer’s eye)

A Blog About Love (love, relationships, inspiration!)

NYC Taught Me (learning about life in NYC with three kids and a husband)

Little Green Notebook (the ultimate DIY–very aspirational, for me at least!)

Dinner: A Love Story (my favorite source of dinner inspiration, and other fun tidbits)

The Sartorialist (because I’m a sucker for fashion and street photography; also frequently features my style idol Giovanna Battaglia)

What blogs do you like to read?


In the week leading up to last night’s Oscars, I was thinking about authors who are also actors or actors that are also authors (whichever order you prefer). Certainly many actors write. Some even write the screenplays or television shows in which they act—in this category, Woody Allen, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling are some of my favorites.

When talking about actor/authors who garner a lot of attention, there are some names that come to mind immediately: James Franco, anyone? There are some, like Steve Martin, who have created parallel (and acclaimed) careers on the literary scene and the Hollywood set. And others, that might be a bit surprising—like Amber Tamblyn, who is a published poet and blogs for The Poetry Foundation (General Hospital’s original Emily Quartermaine has come a long way!).

Ethan Hawke (from this year’s nominee Boyhood) wrote has written two really good novels. Lauren Graham, star of the dearly departed Gilmore Girls (and most recently of Parenthood), penned her debut novel in 2013 to positive reviews. And earlier this month, David Duchovny released his debut novel, Holy Cow, which is on my list.

Have any of your favorite actors written books that have captured your interest?

As a related aside, over the weekend, John Calhoun, librarian at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts offered a reading list for the Oscar watcher that he called an “Oscarologist’s syllabus,” that is, a list of nine books that “provide some insight and context on some of this year’s nominees and on the awards process itself.” Enjoy!

Bookcase Envy, Pt. 2.

Last summer, I posted images of dream bookcases as well as photos of my own. I have continued to steadily collect more of these dream bookcase images on Pinterest (despite not having any more wall space in my house!). Here are some of my favorites. Which do you like?


The green walls and shelves appeal to me here. As do those leopard print ottomans.


I like this–very Scandinavian-looking, I think.


An excellent use of hallway space, in my opinion.

I love this little shelf. And the window, too.

I love this little shelf. (And the window, too.)

And this may just be Summer 2015’s biggest (literary) blockbuster…

Today, The New York Times announced that Harper Lee, author of the iconic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird will publish her second novel in July.

The 304-page volume, titled Go Set a Watchman, is set 20 years after Mockingbird, and is essentially a sequel–featuring an adult Scout Finch–though it was penned nearly a decade earlier.

The book, which will be published in an initial run of 2 million copies, was discovered by Lee’s attorney last year in storage.



Monday Misc.

Happy December 1!

For the past week, I have taken a bit of a blogging hiatus in order to get through a busy time at work (the end of semester always hits like a tornado), recover from a lingering cold, moving my blog over to a different server (exciting changes to come!) and enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends. I hope you enjoyed some downtime too!

In the meantime, I have been doing lots of reading (like Meghan Daum’s new essay collection and Julia Fierro’s debut novel); soaking up local culture (like the newly-reopened Harvard Art Museums); and eating great meals (including a fabulous Thanksgiving feast here).

I even fit in a weeknight showing of this film.

This week, look for my reviews of these things as well as the start of holiday book suggestions—for gifting and getting.

And P.S., am I the only one getting excited for this?
Photo Nov 23, 2013, 7_48 PM

The new frontier of digital and literary mashups.

For all the talk about the Internet and the Death of American Letters, the data suggests otherwise. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Group, “88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age 30 and older.”

And millennials, who have one foot into the digital space while still having a footing in a more traditional landscape, are offering some interesting mashups of the two worlds of popular and literary culture. Have you seen this book-themed Kanye West parody by Annabelle Quezada and La Shea Delaney, “Hardcover Bound 2”? Read this NPR story for more.

*Just realized that if you are not familiar with the original KW video that this one parodies, it won’t make sense.

And have you taken this Slate quiz to identify the classic first book lines written in emojis? (I have.)

The Ideal Book Club.

Everyone you meet these days, it seems, is in a book club. These groups can range from the extremely serious to the extremely social. And more often than not, it is very difficult to choose books that have broad appeal across the group. The best book club of which I was ever a part was in my early-to-mid twenties. I think I may have even initiated the first gathering (no doubt inspired by the Oprah movement). The members were my dearest of friends—most of whom lived within walking distance—and we all had the common denominator of having studied literature as undergraduates. And most of us were in graduate school for English at that time too. The group disbanded after we started to spread out. Some left the city for the suburbs, others—me!—started having babies, and life got in the way. But during those years we read some great books—like Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Zadie Smith’s debut novel, White Teeth, and even this book (which creeped us all out).

I miss that book club!

Have you ever seen David Foster Wallace’s reading list from his 2003 syllabus for the course “SELECTED OBSCURE/ECLECTIC FICTIONS”? I love that he notes the following in the course description: “we can talk about whatever you wish to—provided that we do it cogently and well.” Yes!

Here is the book list:

(1) Renata Adler, Speedboat

(2) James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

(3) Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

(4) Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America. . . In Watermelon Sugar

(5) Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays

(6) Paula Fox, Desperate Characters

(7) Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

(8) Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

(9) Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children

Sounds like a book club of which I would love to be a part! Have you read any of these books (I have only read 5,7, and 8)? Are there any that are must-reads?