23 June 2009

JCB- the natural order- A Summer Reading List

janet~jcb on a jaunt to Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest

"The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of books--a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects."

albert einstein

What Books are on your Summer reading list?

The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Peebles

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf

a page from Linneaus

…and finish reading Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder by Mary Lovell

Is there one book you honestly don’t expect to get to? Why?

hmmm…I am going for gold! I have high expectations.

Where do you read and when? Does the genre you are reading dictate the place you read- in other words, Do you take just any old book to bed?

I read a lot when I travel, which is frequently. But, of course the best place to read is in bed because it always feels like such a luxury…especially with a hardcover book.

What does your nightstand look like? or your side of the bed, floor, chair!

jcb's book stack

I usually have at least three or four books on my nightstand, or various chairs around the apartment.

What is you all time Favorite Book for its sense of place?

Oh, hands down: The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. Really, who can resist a sweeping epic novel set in colonial India?

What is your favorite Genre?
What is your most recent purchase in this category?

I love fiction, especially mysteries. But, I am also addicted to art books and cook books. My most recent purchases in the latter two categories include the exhibition catalogue, Pompeii and the Roman Villa, and the cookbook, Jamie Oliver at Home (in fact, they just arrived in the same box!)

bookcase order JCB

What about Books you are reading for a second or third time?
Any disappointments on second reading?

Until recently, I would have said I rarely reread books (the exceptions being Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier). However, I have lately rediscovered some other old favorites (thanks in part to Heather over at The Overdecorated Bookcase This includes A.S. Byatt, whose prose is so beautiful, you can read it again and again and discover something new each time—and Mary Stewart, whose mysteries I devoured as a teenager. Upon second reading, I am surprised at how wonderfully sophisticated Stewart’s stories and heroines are.

REBECCA! makes its fourth appearance in the Summer Reading Series. Architect Design is a Rebecca lover as is An Aesthete's Lament (from the comment made), and of course it is a wonderful read- a wonderful Movie- I would classify it as my favorite -certainly my Vintage favorite. I have checked the Overdecorated Bookcase and it is a wonderful source for readers.

Book covers can be art- Do you have a favorite cover in your stacks?

The book is my latest acquisition: A 1932 reprint of "The Formal Garden In England," by Reginald Blomfield (1892) with illustrations by F. Inigo Thomas.

This is an absolutely gorgeous book cover- I love the old ones too.

When it comes to books I consider to be art, I am a purist—a sucker for classic design, thick quality paper, and old-fashioned book construction (i.e. letterpress, sewn bindings, cloth covers). I like there to be both a visual and tactile quality to a book.

Going out on a limb here –define LIBRARY in the nontraditional sense?

Call me a Luddite, but when it comes to libraries, I am a traditionalist at heart. The word library comes from the Latin librārium, meaning “bookcase”—and I just can’t get away from that! While I am a huge fan of the internet and digital technology, a true library is a place where you can lose yourself in the stacks.

IS YOUR library or stack OUT of ORDER? Find rhyme and reason this Summer- tell us How you sort your books at home? Get HELP from a NEAT Book Notes Journal- pages to fill with recommended reads, reading notes, favorite quotes, and books you have borrowed or lent- Fill us in...and help is on the way.


  1. I love the Einstein quote! Thanks so much for including me in the summer reading series. I have loved seeing what's hanging out on everyone's night stand!

  2. Just as I had expected, a wonderful reader and one to inspire me to literally make daily escapades to the Library and find refuge in books and perhaps a bit of cool
    Love this post, that Janet is wonderful.

  3. Yet more books to add to my list! I'm glad Rebecca is popular - i'm constantly recommending it to friends!

  4. I was inspired by Janet's list. New books to add to the list! I like the variety going on here and the cross age group selection of readers and what they are reading. I am also new to Janet's blog and enjoy looking at the world through her lens.

    How many times in one day, week, year has Luddite been mentioned? Love that. Carry on.

    p.s. perhaps a L.A. book club will emerge?

  5. Yay for Janet... She's also been seduced into the cult of the Book Thing!

    I think I am going to have to reread Rebecca.

  6. Janet is the BEST. Last summer, we both visited Bess' Hardwicke Hall as part of the Attingham Summer School and I think our entire class became fascinated by this exceptional lady's story. Alas, I too have still to finish her bio... back it goes on the nightstand! EEE

  7. Fantastic selections and observations. I fear my reading list is quite superficial in comparison.

  8. Janet- Your list opened a completely new avenue! and it seemed so connected-ordered, making mine seem hodge podge.

    PVE, EEE- I envy your having met Janet,and for that matter each other...

  9. Pigtail, AD- it does seem that Rebecca! is a favorite. I love it because of the house itself, DdM- a master. g

  10. AAL- No to that, Your list is right up my alley, I seem to have many. I love a bio any time.

  11. home- I can't wait to see what JCB has to post. I love the photography- a daily inspiration. I am a complete failure at anything ending in "club" it would have to be a "happening."

  12. I knew Janet's list would be inspiring. Now there is so much more I want to explore. Her large collection of photographs on Flickr is also a big source of motivation, inspiration, and fresh ideas.

  13. Nice list and I am LOVING this series!



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