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Judge A Book By Its Cover

You may have heard the idiom, don’t judge a book by its cover, an admonishment to not let surface appearances sway you. Take the time to read the book, delve beneath the surface, and find what message lies within its pages. Get to know a person instead of letting your preconceived notions quickly fix labels upon them. Don’t judge a book by its cover, someone entreats us, wagging their finger for emphasis. This series does the opposite- I’m judging a book only on the basis of its cover!

30-Day Challenge, Books, Fiction, Judge A Book By Its Cover, The Book Life

Winner Of The National Book Award by Jincy Willett

winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett/Judge A Book By Its Cover/

Judge A Book By Its Cover, #3

First, the disclaimer: I haven’t read the book yet. In this series, I’m judging the book by its cover.

You may have heard the idiom, don’t judge a book by its cover, an admonishment to not let surface appearances sway you. Take the time to read the book, delve beneath the surface, and find what message lies within its pages. Get to know a person instead of letting your preconceived notions quickly fix labels upon them.  Don’t judge a book by its cover, someone entreats us, wagging their finger for emphasis. This series does the opposite- I’m judging a book only on the basis of its cover!

Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willett/Judge A Book By Its Cover/

Today’s book selection is Winner Of The National Book Award by Jincy Willett. You already know why this book caught my eye at the local library book sale: look at all those accolades the book has garnered plus it’s apparently the Winner of the National Book Award! On slightly closer inspection, you learn that’s the book’s title. With such an eye-catching name and cover design, I hereby also pronounce it the Winner of the Judge A Book By Its Cover award! Here’s a link to the reviews of the book on the Goodreads page.

Bookended
Tower of books for Day 12 of the 30-Day Book Photography Challenge

This book got me thinking about how ‘word of mouth’ and reviews influence us when choosing a book: some of us prefer to be guided by reviews, recommendations and book lists (Best of 2019 etc.) and some of us don’t. What type of reader are you?

Thanks for reading!

30-Day Challenge, Books, Cookbooks, Judge A Book By Its Cover, Nonfiction, The Book Life

Coffee Table Books

Coffee table books/ Bookended
Reading list/ Bookended.org
Above picture taken in happier times:2018

Coffee table books are apparently named because they are books that are kept on the living room coffee table and can help to inspire and promote conversation with/among guests. The theme for today’s (Day 8) book photography challenge is guilty pleasures. While these books may not necessarily qualify for the exact meaning of that phrase, nevertheless coffee table books are my guilty pleasure: I can never pass them by without wanting to bring them home with me. Of course, that’s true for many books that I see at a bookstore or a library book sale but I have a special weakness for coffee table books that focus on art, interiors, and textiles. One could argue that they are picture books for adults and serve as inspiration for colors, prints, and patterns, visual learning at its best, and not just as books to promote small talk with others! Cookbook/food-related books are another category that I love browsing, even though I’m not likely to try out any recipe (more on that here). Guilty (aspirational) pleasures indeed! In fact, one of the simple things I miss doing in 2020 is the ability to go into my local library (still closed except for curbside pick up), wander the aisles, and pick out a stash of coffee table books that I can browse on Saturday mornings with my tea and toast or any afternoon with tea and cake.

Coffee table books/ Bookended
Coffee table books/ Bookended
Coffee table books/ Bookended

Here’s my list of 5 much-loved interior design books:

1. Lisa Fine’s Near and Far, Interiors I love with photography by Miguel Flores Vianna

2. Haute Bohemians by Miguel Flores Vianna

3. and 4. Kathryn Ireland’s Timeless Interiors and Creating A Home

5. The Maverick Soul by Miv Watts and Hugh Stewart

Coffee table books/ Bookended

For more interior design books, you may want to read this post.

My plan is to keep updating this post with my favorite picks for books in the cooking/baking/food genre (here’s a link to one that’s interesting), art, textiles and more. Thanks for reading!

(Update)

Coffee table books/ Bookended
30-Day Challenge, Books, Judge A Book By Its Cover, Nonfiction

Gypsy, A World Of Colour And Interiors by Sibella Court

Gypsy, A World Of Colour And Interiors by Sibella Court/ Day 4: Book Cover/Bookended

The prompt for Day 4 of the 30-day book photography challenge is to photograph and share a favorite book cover. Now, I have a series of posts where I talk about how easy it is to be lured by a beautiful book cover and you can find that here. For today’s entry, I want to share this beautiful book called Gypsy, A World Of Colour And Interiors by Sibella Court. It’s a book on interior design approached via colors. Say you travel to Turkey (which the author does along with travels to Ecuador, Southeast Asia, Scotland, and Romania) and you fall in the love with the colors you see around you. Just think, the different blues alone would send a person into rhapsody. You come back home and you want to capture and recreate the magic of those colors so that those memories stay with you, in immediate proximity and thrilling you long after the visit. This book shows you how to use colors to tell the story of your experiences and to create spaces you’ll love to come home to. I loved everything about this book: the binding, the matte colors, the heavy pages, the textures, the photography and the layering of experiences, memories, new and old objects, and milestones that go into making a home.

Gypsy, A World Of Colour And Interiors by Sibella Court/ Day 4: Book Cover/Bookended
Gypsy, A World Of Colour And Interiors by Sibella Court/Bookended

We are all telling stories, all the time. We say it in how we dress, what we tell others, and how we decorate our homes. That’s what is fascinating about interior design. In my opinion, it’s less about design and more about the story you want to tell and the backdrop against which your story plays out. For example, I have noticed a theme that has played out in all the homes I have lived in: they have piles of books, squashy sofas, embroidered textiles, and a ragtag collection of art. I seem to be saying that this is who I am and “these are a few of my favorite things” and I have surrounded myself with them. These are the colors that make me happy. This is where I went for my honeymoon. These are books from my childhood that I am reading to my children. This is my story.

If you like books that treat interior design less as formulaic how-to and more as a way to bring your story to life in the form of a beautiful decorated space, I want to recommend two other books: Anna Spiro’s Absolutely Beautiful Things and Ben Pentreath’s English Decoration: Timeless Inspiration for the Contemporary Home.

Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna Spiro/ Bookended

Thanks for reading and as always, I’d love to hear from you. For more on the book photography 30-day challenge, click here.

30-Day Challenge, Books, Judge A Book By Its Cover

30-Day Book Photography Challenge

30-Day Book photography challenge/ Bookended

Hello everyone! I’m here with a 30-day book photography challenge where the goal is to take and share a photograph of a book: one per day for 30 days, and it starts tomorrow, September 1st, 2020. The theme for each day is listed in the picture below. These posts are going to be short and sweet and the goal is to combine two of my favorite interests (books and photography) and to revive my photography which has taken a back seat this year. On that note, have you noticed that your hobbies and interests have their own seasons? What hobbies or interests have you started, revived or let go of in this watershed year of 2020?

30-Day Book photography challenge/ Bookended
30-Day Book photography challenge/ Bookended

My intention with these series is to challenge myself to reach this goal of being consistent in posting regularly here and I’m encouraging myself by thinking of how I’ll feel on 30th September when I will have all these photographs to look back on that celebrate my love for books. If you’d like to follow the challenge, let me know if you’d like to share pictures or leave a link in the Comments. See you on September 1st!

Interested in photography? You may like to read this series called Judge A Book By Its Cover.

Books, Judge A Book By Its Cover, Nonfiction, The Book Life

Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health And Happiness by Dr. Qing Li

Forest Bathing/ Bookended
Forest Bathing/ Bookended

June 23rd, 2020

A few nature preserves near our neighborhood stayed open during the coronavirus shelter in place but most of the others were closed. To be safe and to avoid crowds, I stayed away for 3 months until the restrictions were relaxed in June. That’s when I realized how much I had taken for granted the easy opportunity to be in natural surroundings, hills covered with trees, tiny brooks gurgling through them. Pre-coronavirus, I went for nearly-daily morning hikes in the hills nearby and returned feeling rejuvenated, both physically and in spirit. There’s a healing, replenishing quality to being in nature and while people all over the world know and have experienced it, this book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health And Happiness by physician and immunologist Dr. Qing Li goes into great detail on how spending time in the forest and experiencing it through all our senses is vital for our well-being. Forest bathing comes from the Japanese shinrin (forest)-yoku(bath), “bathing in the forest atmosphere.” The book talks about the forests of Japan and its culture of reverence and worship of nature.

Forest Bathing/ Bookended
Photo credit: Bookended.org

It tells us how we can practice shinrin-yoku, it’s benefits for the mind and body and how science backs what we instinctively know: we are happier, less stressed, sleep better and have stronger immunity when we make being in, and engaging with, nature a regular practice. It’s a beautiful book and I am looking forward to bringing home a physical copy from the library (now that libraries have also opened).

Forest-bathing-Bookended
Photo credit: Bookended.org

Personal notes:

While I was reading this book, I had a conversation with a family member that got me thinking about how we select the books we want to read. I’m usually drawn to this type of book. Like for many others, being in nature, whether it’s in a forest or standing in front of the ocean, is a mystical experience for me. You could say I am part of the target audience for this book. When I borrowed the ebook from the library, I chose the book knowing, consciously or unconsciously, that it would affirm what I already knew: being in nature is an awesome, health-boosting practice. When we choose books, especially non-fiction, are we looking for books that will agree with our opinions? While it may not matter in this case, it was also a reminder that I have to be mindful of a covert selection bias and be more alert/engaged as to why I’m choosing a particular book. How do you choose the books you read?

Interesting related article from the Yale School Of Forestry And Environmental Studies: How immersion in nature benefits your health. Additionally, if you liked this post, you may want to read my series of posts on Judge A Book By Its Cover.

Take care, and see you tomorrow.

Books, Cookbooks, Judge A Book By Its Cover, Nonfiction, The Book Life

Book: Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan

Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan/ Bookended

Chetna Makan explores the diversity of Indian street food in her book Chai, Chaat & Chutney: A Street Food Journey Through India. She visits four cities in India (Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata), representative of the four corners of the country, and captures via vibrant photography, the popularity and the elaborate culture of street food in India. The book describes regional specialities from the four urban areas that you can try replicating in your kitchen. Makan also shares recipes of common chutneys and garam masalas (literally, hot spices), essential components of all Indian food. If you reminisce about dosas from Chennai, vada pav and misal and pav bhaji from Mumbai and Delhi’s gol gappas, this book is for you.

Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan/ Bookended

India has an enormous diversity of food choices and cooking styles on offer and while no single cookbook could do justice to the entirety, this book really appealed to me because Makan uses clear and concise recipes to makes street food accessible, and (dare I say) easily replicable, even for a desultory cook like myself. There were many old favorites that I recognized but also, foods that were quite new to me.

Notes and thoughts:

1. I came across this cookbook at my local library in the summer of 2019 and I borrowed it because the title evoked instant nostalgia (a classic example of judging a book by the title on its cover!). Chaat (a genre of savory street food) was the staple of my teenage years, and all through college. Even now, thirty years later, when I think of comfort food, I think longingly of different types of chaat eaten at roadside stalls in the teeming streets of Mumbai and washed down with a glass of hot chai or with a cold falooda, a rose-syrup based, milky dessert drink. Take, for instance, the falooda. I’d never thought of making it at home until I saw the recipe in the book and realized it was fairly straightforward. I introduced my boys to the falooda and we made it many times over last summer because suddenly, it was easy to make, as long as I kept the ingredients on hand.

Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan/ Bookended

2. Given the current, indefinite, coronavirus shelter in place orders, most of our meals are homemade and I just bought an e-copy of this book, so that I can share some more of my old favorites to my boys.

3. Many people buy cookbooks because they want to try the recipes but some of us also buy them because they are a permanent visual and gustatory link to a different, much-loved time of life. It’s like this book: I may never try any or all the recipes, but just browsing the pages will allow me to revisit treasured memories.

4. You can find the author at her Youtube channel here and at her website here.

Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan/ Bookended

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Books, Judge A Book By Its Cover, Tea

Afternoon Tea (Judge A Book By Its Cover, #3)

Afternoon tea at home/Bookended.org

We are back to looking at the cover of a book and deciding that we just have to have it! Read the complete introduction to this series here or you may just want the abbreviated version: You may have heard the idiom, don’t judge a book by its cover, an admonishment to not let surface appearances sway you. Take the time to read the book, delve beneath the surface, and find what message lies within its pages. Get to know a person instead of letting your preconceived notions quickly fix labels upon them. Don’t judge a book by its cover, someone entreats us, wagging their finger for emphasis. This series does the opposite- I’m judging a book only on the basis of its cover!

The afternoon tea book/ Afternoon tea at home/Bookended.org

Afternoon Tea

There are so many quotes that I want to share here but I’m going to restrict myself to two. Henry James said, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” I’ll say there are few words in the English language more delightful than the words ‘afternoon tea.’ How can anyone resist a book with those words in the title?! It doesn’t matter if the cover of the book looks like this one or the one below…

Let’s talk about The Afternoon Tea Book by Michael Smith, published in 1986 and a lucky find at a recent library book sale. It’s a treasure trove of information: the history of the custom of afternoon tea, the different types of tea, the appropriate accessories to use (even the kind of table!), and the most tempting recipes. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone interested in anything to do with tea. But I bought it because after I read the words Afternoon Tea, how could I not?! I don’t think I even opened the book before adding it to my pile.

Afternoon tea at home/Bookended.org

The second one is Afternoon Tea At Home by Will Torrent and let’s face it: that evocative title, bringing to mind every wonderful memory associated with tea time, plus tarts and macarons = I’m going to bring it home every time. And even if I never try out a single recipe, every time I see one of these books, I’ll think of that wonderful paragraph from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: “Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread. Angel cake, that melted in the mouth, and his rather stodgier companion, bursting with peel and raisins.”

Text and Photography © Bookended.org

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