on the bookshelf

Thank you for all the orders rolling in! There may be a small delay while we’re still waiting for the paint to dry, but things are moving forward and items are being packed and getting ready to head out very soon. New items will be listed as soon as I have my studio and photo space back.

In the meantime I’m catching up with my reading, helped along by visits to local bookstores in the East Bay Area (Moe’s Books in Berkeley, Friends of the Orinda Library Bookshop and the Lafayette Bookstore among them) where I have come upon several treasures. I’m a huge advocate of buying used books, especially at small local shops. You may not always find what you are looking for, which is why it’s a good idea to shop with your mind, heart and eyes wide open to new surprises. The following are some wonderful second hand books on my shelf right now. The image links will take you to amazon.com, but I encourage you to seek them out wherever you are.

East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir through the Seasons by Liza Dalby

Yes, that Liza Dalby, the one who has written such classics as Kimono and Geisha. This book is a pleasant wander through the seasons, both locally (she lives in Berkeley, CA) and in Japanese and Asian culture. I’ve found it helpful in better understanding the Japanese concept of seasonality in design along with just feeling like I can pick her brain about random topics that come up in my research. The book follows the seasons week by week, through each little variation and is a delightful read.

Drama and Desire: Japanese Painting from the Floating World, 1690-1850
Anne Nishimura Morse, Editor

This is a coffee table-size book full of gorgeous ukiyo-e paintings of the Floating World, or pleasure districts of Japan during the Edo era. Geisha, Oiran (courtesans) and other beauties pose among blossoming cherries or falling maple leaves, look coquettish draped in stripes and shibori decorated kimono, or mingle with actors, daimyo and samurai. These were the pinups, glitterati and celebrities of the day, rendered in paint in ink on paper. Along with the images are descriptions and background on the many artists who produced these works.

This is a companion book to the traveling exhibit of the same name published by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The Tale of Genji: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Murasaki Shikibu

I can’t believe I waited all these years to finally read this book. It’s the classic tale of Japanese society a thousand years ago that is recognized as the first novel written. At a weighty 3 pounds plus and over 1,200 pages, I haven’t dug too deeply into this one just yet. It’s similar to reading the complete works of William Shakespeare in that all the drama, intrigue, passion and human foibles show just how little society has changed over the centuries. An excellent read, worthy of any serious student of Japanese history and culture.

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