I’ve wanted to have a chat about literature and books for quite some time now. It seems like an obvious place to go to on this space… after all, there’s a reason I named it ‘Novella’…
I’ve always been a bookworm. One of my earliest memories of reading A LOT was when me and my three next-door neighbours would go to the library during school holidays (our mums would take turns on babysitting duties) and us all, coming back with a stack that we’d devour over the next few weeks, in between bike rides and making up dance routines. I think it was all Goosebumps, Jacqueline Wilson and The Babysitter’s Club at the time.
At first, I didn’t love English at secondary school. Learning the rules (of language, spelling and grammar) was important, but hardly thrilling at that age. I U-turned around the age of 14; I think it was a mixture of passionate teaching and finally being able to get stuck into some hearty books and topics. Delving into the context of the subject matter and the history of the period and digging underneath primary meaning to interpret the underlying meaning… now that, appealed to me.
In 2009, I graduated from University of Sheffield with a degree in English Literature.
Nowadays, artfully stacking books around the house is one of my favourite guilty pleasures. One of my writer friends Henry will say that it’s sacrilegious to pile books by colour or theme, as it takes away their purpose and turns them into useless ornaments, and I’d wholeheartedly agree with him. Buuut, it helps me to justify the sheer amount I’ve collected over the years, and my god, does it please the eyes (sorry, H!)
However, despite all that, I haven’t really known where to start with introducing a regular literature topic to this space – does it need it, would anyone actually be interested? So, before I talk myself out of it again, I thought I’d give it a go by sharing the faves that are staring me in the face each day: the coffee table books! And for the purpose of this waffle, I’m going to re-classify ‘coffee-table’ books, to incorporate all the books (weighty or not) that I regularly pick up for quick spark of inspiration or a un-chronological peruse…
These are some of my absolute, absolute favourites ever, ever (repetition needed to stress point). Along with a few Picasso books, the O’Keeffe and Mucha were added to my collection after falling in love with their work during a GCSE art project. Whilst, Mucha’s art nouveau painting’s are probably his most recognizable, it’s his pencil life and object drawings, that I can stare at for hours… and was one of the reasons why I went down the route of plant illustrations for my latest tattoo. Same with O’Keeffe, I just adore her work, particularly cow skulls and roses, and I often flick through to get moody colour-scheme inspiration. Another fun one is the Alan Aldridge book for lots of psychedelic Beatles references!
Fashion, Music & Film
I’d say, all these things go hand in hand in everyone of these books. David Bowie’s IS… because, well, obviously. I haven’t actually had a look through that one in a while, ‘cause I still think it’ll make me too sad that not only has he left this earth, but also that I missed the V&A exhibition – maybe give me another year? I managed to catch the Vivienne Westwood exhibition when it was held at Sheffield’s Millennium Galleries back in 2008, and then was kindly bought this book from the exhibition as a pressie, afterwards. I found it SO interesting learning about Westwood’s work and how it evolved over the years, and seeing the clothing up close blew my mind. To be honest, it was probably one of the first times that I started to thinking about working in fashion. Y’all know how much I love Wes so I’m not going to talk about this one too much. I keep this book on the window seat in the dining room… super handy, particularly for a little bit of décor inspiration.
I’m going to say that magazines can count as coffee-table books, if they’re as good as these lot. I went through a phase of collecting Little White Lies every single month. We’d moved house, and were much closer to an ace little independent cinema, so it was so handy to find out about what was coming up by actors and directors that I may not have knew a lot about before. The interviews are so good, and the illustrations are even better. I haven’t bought a copy in a little while now, but I’m going to use this piece to remind myself to do so! An old colleague first introduced me to Apartamento, and I haven’t looked back. I think it’s one of the original mags that I’ve ever read. Essentially a “through the keyhole” magazine, it features the homes of some of the world’s most interesting people – from actors, artists, poets to scene-changers – with some of the most candid, honest photography and frank thought-provoking interviews. It’s probably my number one.
As you can see, there’s quite a few that I’ve dug out but haven’t spoke about yet, but as this is already sitting at over 800 words, I think I’m going to leave it there for today! Please do let me know if occasional features like this are interesting to you? I kind of want to start writing more about everything that I’m passionate about, without worrying that I’m going “off-theme”, but it’d be great to know you thoughts. Thanks for reading ☺
p.s. my personalised ‘Novella’ tee was hand-embroidered by the amazingly talented Laura of @teepartyclothing, go check out her page and give her a follow!! ❤