missing winter

it is fifty degrees and pouring rain in illinois today, and i miss the snow and cold. i am a lover of winter, unlike the vast majority of my fellow midwesterners. the instant a snowflake floats past the window i bloom. people often try to burst my bubble by expounding on their hatred of snow and winter, but it just makes me love it more.

pia jane bijkerk, above and below

oh winter. come back soon.


lisbeth's fairytales

hello again! i hope you are all feeling rested and ready for new years and new things. —all right, enough chitchat. down to business.

today i'm going to show-and-tell lisbeth zwerger's illustrations. i have fallen in love with her book little red cap. i know lisbeth z's artwork mostly from fairytales, which bloom into quiet, sweet, dark walks in forests when illustrated with her evocative watercolors. you can read a bit more about her here. it's interesting, because while we at the bookshop keep her books in kids' folklore, i find that it is often the adults that peruse and love them. i think the subtlety and emotion in zwerger's paintings are more suited to those who appreciate such depth in children's stories. just thoughts.

*          *          *

i consider these to be heirloom-type books. definitely to be read to your small ones, but also to be kept safe and sound, so that they can read them again (and again and again...) later. aren't they so lovely? sigh.

okay, dearies, off into wednesday we go. have a happy one!


christmastime is here!

as well as various other holidays. whatever you celebrate, i hope you have a wonderful time doing so, and that your travels are easy and uneventful, and that there is lots of snow and baked goods and their accompanying aromas to keep you cozy. some holiday cheer below—just in case you need it. until next week, m'dears!

  • you can always use more ira glass in your life. you can listen to the christmas comedy episode for freeeee here
  • if you need more comedy and less christmas, i invite you to read one of the drollest blogs ever...  hyperbole and a half. (you'll want to read this somewhere you can allow yourself to chortle uncontrollably... not kidding.)
  • for some excellent, clever reading material, go visit the believer and read some of their interviews with some incredible characters. one of my personal favorites was their 2009 interview with agnes varda. go!
  • if you love food and everything that has to do with eating and drinking, you probably love holiday food and eating and drinking. go hang with my girl lynne rossetto kasper over at the splendid table's holiday page and listen to some of her holiday shows, which feature the likes of amy sedaris and nigella lawson. you will drooool. and also fall in love.
  • holiday STAPLE: a charlie brown christmas. thanks, youtube. those of us without televisions are grateful to you. ahem.
  • and of course, some books to tide you over. bookgirl won't let you down. let's see here...

    • squirrel seeks chipmunk, david sedaris' latest work of beautifully acerbic humor
    • home cooking, by laurie colwin: one of my favorite books of food essays... and don't forget, i am an expert.
    • room, by emma donoghue: the blockbuster of the year AND shortlisted for the man booker prize. you'll read it in three days.
    • the giant's house, by elizabeth mccracken: wonderful, sad, epic love story about a boy who's eight feet tall and the girl who loves him despite everything.

there you go. i hope those come in handy.

have a delightful holiday, all. i am looking forward to sitting on my bum and not doing a darn thing except eat cookies and throw around wrapping paper this weekend. perhaps i will tell a tale of holiday customer service when i get back, as a memoir-type post... anyway, i'm rambling.

over and out, loveys! merry christmas and a happy vacation to all.


candy is important: part 2

it is so important that i am going to take this even further and put up a list of sweets you should indulge in. this is what happens when i go to etsy's plants and edibles section. sigh. warning: some of these are hopelessly kitschy. i couldn't help it. they look so delicious... and the christmasy d├ęcor just adds to the delicious component right now.

  1. gingerbread man marshmallows
  2. chocolate bonbons adorned with snowflakes
  3. white chocolate-covered red velvet cake balls
  4. hand-twisted peppermint lollipops
  5. chocolate cookie sandwiches with peppermint frosting
  6. french pistachio and cranberry nougat candies
YUM! happy sweet-eating, dearies. and have a lovely thursday.


candy is important

i have had the fortune of seeing a few of the following on other blogs (thank you, even cleveland and hi + low), and now i have the fortune of posting them for you. i love candymaking. i mean, i haven't tried it before, but i love that people still handmake candy and i love watching them. i could be entertained for hours watching the taffy-pulling machine at a candy store. this is also why i used to love watching "unwrapped" when i had tv at home. anyway, so here are some wonderful candy videos for you, because it's christmas and because you are sweet. heh heh.

first, ribbon candy!

now for some candy canes...

now for a spot of peppermint bark.

and now, just for fun, a little chinese candymaking. yay! 

that is all for today. in case you are wondering where the more inspired posts are hiding, you should know that my inspiration has gone fishing while the rest of my brain focuses on keeping my bookpeople happy in these trying times, a.k.a. the christmas season. but there will be more to come... eventually. never fear, dear intrepid readers!

happy wednesday.


flowers in december: elsa beskow

every time i go home, i end up combing through the bookshelf in the room i shared with my sister. this white bookshelf has traveled from house to house over the years, and we added a new one a while back to help contain our childhood reads. (i was tempted to leave the "reads" off the end of that, since going through these books is just like being small again and looking for the book you want read to you before you fall asleep....) anyway, i always love to page through our old classics: the wartville wizard. the sweetest fig. the old woman who lived in a vinegar bottle

while i love the stories in these books, though, the illustrations are what i go back for. i go back to find out whether i remember them from years and years ago, and indeed there they are, same as they always were. oh my gosh... i savor them.

one such book is elsa beskow's the flowers' festival. her wonderful illustrations completely play into a little girl's daydreams of what flowers would wear if they were ladies and gentlemen. (my favorites were the lady lilac and lord bleeding heart.) and so, today i present to you elsa beskow's illustrations in all their sweet, imaginative glory. i love how she incorporates the borders into her drawings, too.

(do you see the lilacs? and the bleeding heart, in the background? aaah!)

i love the pet caterpillar in the last image. also the snail conveyance.... teehee. i thought a monday in december might be a good time for these lush, laden drawings. i hope you all have a lovely one.


one saturday morsel: you won't be sorry

hello, saturday! today i get to go to the russian tea room in chicago and i am very excited. but before i do that, i wanted to share two things. the first is pinterest.

now: pinterest is, succinctly, an online bulletin board, where you can pin up your favorite works of art, literature, music, etcetera and have them at the ready when you need to see something pretty, or be inspired, or just want to remember something you saw a long time ago. not only that, but you can see other people's boards, and so it also serves as a really cool resource for people wanting to discover new artists, recipes, places, photographers, and so forth. anyway, that is the reason behind the pinterest button you now see here, on the right. go check it out, if you like.

secondly, we are going to revisit ralph steadman. he illustrated alice in wonderland...

however, that isn't all he illustrated. how many of you are familiar with roald dahl? raise your hands, please. now HOW MANY of you knew that ralph steadman ALSO illustrated an edition of roald dahl's amazing short story the mildenhall treasure???

...and robert louis stevenson's treasure island???

i did not know these things. until today. and today also marks the beginning of my lifelong search for these books, which are either already or in danger of going out of print. oh dear. until i find them, i will have to continue collecting flying dog beer bottles.... (only joking, dear reader!)

that is all. now i send you off on your merry way, christmas shopping, traveling, studying for tests, going to the russian tea room.... have a wonderful weekend!


books for chrismakwanzukkah: the finale

it appears that christmas is a week away. what?! how did that happen? anyway, that means that this is probably the last bookmas guide of the year. sigh. i've had such fun putting these together. as i have previously stated... i love telling people what to read.

so let's get started!

isn't your mouth watering? mine is. all righty, here we go:
  1. garden people*, by the wonderful valerie finnis. read a little about her here. this book is for gardeners who fully appreciate the land, and their ability to coax things from it. $35.00
  2. avedon! who doesn't know richard avedon's iconic fashion photography and want it plastered on every wall? well... maybe someone who isn't madly in love with art and fashion. get this retrospective for someone who decidedly is. $100.00
  3. my mother she killed me, my father he ate me is a book that i have been dying to buy since i first saw it in the shop about a month ago. it is full of old-as-the-hills fairytales that have been reworked by great writers. it is dark and moody and fantastic. $17.00
  4. amanda hesser has combed through 150 years' worth of the new york times' recipe archives and the cherry-red essential new york times cookbook is the tome that resulted. it should probably be on your food-loving friend's kitchen shelf. $40.00
  5. cleopatra: a life. stacy schiff's acclaimed account of this powerful woman's life corrects many of our misconceptions about her. historical and exotic, the perfect winter read for the person who loves a good [hi]story. $29.99
  6. 1001 albums you must hear in your lifetime is an excellent encyclopedia of some of the greatest music of (and not of) our time. for the musicophile who can't stop picking up new albums. $36.95
  7. doonesbury 40: a retrospective collection of the past 40 years of gary trudeau's comic creation, this box set includes every one of the 1800 strips published since 1970, as well as trudeau's own contemplations on his characters. $100.00
  8. penguin 75 is a feast for the eyes of both booklovers and designers. full of striking covers from the publisher's near-centurylong existence, and commentary from their illustrious art director, it is pretty inside and out. $25.00
  9. this is npr is clearly a necessity for your dear parents, who listen to npr at least four hours a day and, upon hearing their famous voices, inform you of their favorite (and least-favorite) reporters and commentators just as often. $29.95
  10. the cube is a book for every person who has ever succeeded with rubik's creation... or for the person who intends to succeed eventually. $12.95
  11. the six books of euclid: a lovely volume, made purely for people who know who euclid is and what his elements are, and who want to enjoy his contributions to mathematics with this unique collection. $59.99

*these links lead you to a place that will get you almost all of these books for 20% off. merry christmas to YOU!

that does it, dudes. i hope i've managed to put out some good idears, if not for christmas or other holiday presents, then maybe for yourselves. and don't worry, i will continue to tell you what to read. a bookgirl can't help herself.

until then, best of luck with the remainder of your holiday shopping! and of course, have a very merry weekend.


more beatlemania, courtesy of max dalton

i don't even need to say anything about this poster. it is perfect:

a bit of detail for your hungry eyes...
isn't that glorious? what a marvelous way to commemorate the ten years of the beatles. and look, even yoko makes an appearance! (do you see her sandwiched in there?)

i found this via a cup of jo. the artist, maxim dalton, is a printmaker and some of his art is reminiscent of jim flora's, stylewise. unlike flora, however, dalton makes unabashed statements with some of his work, which i appreciate. (occasionally, "statement art" can get tiresome, but not in this case.) here are some more samples of his art—enjoy!

you can visit max at his shop or at his blog. happy thursday!


on reading

today, i am going to do a little piece on how to read. in my job, it is advantageous to read often and as much as can be managed, so that when people ask if you've read this book or heard of that author, you can give them a satisfying answer. one of my favorite things is suggesting books to people, but never more than when i have read it and can personally attest to its goodness. of course, this is not always the case. luckily, i work with smart people whose literary knowledge rubs off on me, and normally i can come off as a well-read bookgirl.

anyway, i was thinking about my reading style this morning, because i just finished nicole krauss's brilliant novel, the history of love, and today i realized i don't yet know what i really think of it. sometimes it takes a few days for a story to really sink in, so perhaps that is why i feel adrift in the sea of meaning. i have noticed lately that when i finish a book, the feeling i normally have is not, "what a fulfilling reading experience that was!" no no... my reaction is more along the lines of, "oh good, another book to add to my 'read' pile." the result is that a lot of times i feel i need to reread things. i already want to reread the history of love, partly because it is a beautiful story and partly because i want to fully grasp its greatness.

and so, upon reflection, how-to-read tip #1 is: when you are reading a book you enjoy, savor it. let the language get into your head and follow it wherever it goes. i guess patience plays a big role here... in which case i should add that if you read like me, and need a few days to digest what you've just taken in, that's just fine. and always take the opportunity to talk to people about what they've been reading, because that's often a very helpful way to sort out your own sense of a story.

of course, another thing i struggle with is finding the right words with which to express how i felt about a story. eloquence is a quality that i cherish and do not quite yet have. (to that end, i am reading poetry books... which i highly recommend.) but we'll come back to this another day. for now, i'll leave you with a few books that, after a few days' worth of mulling over, i loved and still think about.

  • the anthologist by nicholson baker: a novel full of beautiful phrases and poetry, narrated by a poet whose mind wanders and reveals his endearing takes on romance, poetic meter, and his neighbors. one of my all-time favorite books.
  • a transatlantic love affair by simone de beauvoir: the letters between de beauvoir and nelson algren, the chicago author, during their 10+ -year love affair across the ocean.
  • special topics in calamity physics by marisha pessl: elegantly written, a twisted story made up of characters who are more intricately linked than they could have imagined, yet are not necessarily who they seem to be.
these are all highly recommended by me, your resident bookgirl. please read them! you shan't regret it. (these haven't gone on my little bookmas guides, but all of them would make stupendous presents, too!) cheers, wednesday.


anna emilia

anna emilia is an illustrator. she draws and paints, and she has a shop of her own (as well as a blog, which she calls her weather diary). i love the muted colors and wilderness in her images. they are quiet pictures; elegant and rather shy, evoking hide-and-seek games in the woods. and the titles of her works are so well-suited to the works themselves—dreaming, waiting. as they were passing by. tea ceremonies. here are a few of her paintings & drawings. i'm smitten. these make me want to go play in the snowy woods at home.