The Russian Journal, by Lewis Carroll

27877037This cute little book is lovely. Returning to the subject of reading other people’s mail and stuff, reading other people’s journals is probably the same: one shouldn’t, but is so damn interesting.

I love anything the Carroll has written, ever, I can’t have enough of it. And although his correspondence is much more entertaining, probably because he tries to amuse the reader, this journal, written for himself, still has his charm and wit all over it. It’s mostly an account of visits to churches (in Germany and Russia) and descriptions of religious rites, but there are as well a lot of interesting and funny comments on mores, architecture and communication’s troubles.

History of Costume, by Rachel H. Kemper

2966116“Fashion is identity. It tells us at a glance the nationality, occupation, and social station of the wearer—and often something about his or her religion, education, and sexual proclivities as well. From wedding band to old school tie, from hardhat to sensible shoes, every item of apparel helps to establish its owner’s place in society. There is no readier index to an individual’s wealth, power, taste, and influence than what he or she wears.

The notion of costume is as old as man, for it is the wearing of clothes, rather than the opposable thumb, that separates man from the lesser primates. The initial function of clothing was largely practical: it protected primitive man from the elements and from predators—including other men. The knight’s armor, the hockey player’s shin pads, the astronaut’s spacesuit— all were designed for utility, not elegance. But at least since the invention of modesty, costume has served another, equally important function: it has played a principal role in courtship, seduction, mating, and marriage (…) The concept of what constitutes beauty has varied greatly from culture to culture and continent to continent (…) but the pursuit of beauty has remained a universal constant.”

I read this book while I was studying this subject for the final I mentioned some posts ago. After reading a large part of Boucher’s overwhelming 20000 Years of Fashion, I found this one to be a very interesting and relaxed reading, and I believe it’s a great approach into the subject. It’s entertaining, well written and gives a great general sight of western history and its effects on costumes.  It concentrates a great amount of information in not so many pages, without leaving you exhausted and without being shallow and leaving you with the feeling that you didn’t learn much.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling

10335308Same as with Lena, I admire Mindy’s work (and I call them by their first name because we are so close, BFF!!!), so I wanted to read her book. Aaaand, just like the other one, it was kind of a deception. I don’t know what I expected, really, but… I guess I pictured myself laughing uncontrollably to the point of almost dying for lack of breathing. It was entertaining, it was funny most of the time, but… As Lena’s, it has its biographical parts, which I enjoyed, and then it has total random chapters as “Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real” or “Franchises I Would Like to Reboot”, which I also enjoyed. What is really wrong with this book? I have no idea. Maybe it just wasn’t my moment.

La Belle Epoque, by Philippe Jullian

670563I read this book last year in February, when everything was about my last final, which I had in March (“the final final”). I had to make a little paper, and the subject I chose happened during this period, so a historical background was needed. This was a very entertaining reading, great to put oneself in space and time and have a glimpse of this very particular time (one of my favorites, by the way). The author makes it look like the 19th century was the worst, and 1900-1914 was the best thing ever. Basically, (spoiler alert) everything was gaiety and parties (at least for those who could afford it) until World War I.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, by Lena Dunham

20588698Since her series Girls aired some years ago, apparently there’s been two reactions to Lena Dunham and her work (as seen on the internet, at least): you either love her or hate her. I guess you might find me within the first group, and since I knew she wrote a book, I really wanted to read it, and I finally got the chance this past summer. This is an autobiographical nonfiction book, written in the form of short essays organized under general categories, such as “body”, “work”, “family”, “sex”, you know, the usual topics. There’s no much else about it. Maybe if I’d read this some years ago, I would find it somehow enlightening, but not so much now. I still enjoyed the reading, as is always interesting to know about other people’s lives and point of views, to me at least, specially when their upbringing is so different to mine. It was also interesting, though, to found how much of her life, as told by her, I could recognize in her audiovisual work.

The glimpses of the Moon, by Edith Wharton

mkt0000014066I was hooked by the premise of this book, and I’d like to try it sometime 😉

A poor but well connected young newlyweds plan to live at least for a year in honeymoon at expenses of their wealthy friends, while the husband works in his first book hoping to make a living as a writer. What was out of their plan were the stumbling blocks that came along with it, like some unwanted meetings in their vacations and keeping secrets from each other. This last bit was heartbreaking for the reader (or at least for me) because those secrets were kept with good means, in order to not worry their other half, but were noticeable by them as an uncomfortable and estranged situation. The things seemed to reach a break point with no return, and the spouses parted in different ways.

Shh, I won’t tell how it ends!

I liked the developing of the story, but I felt a bit disappointed with the end, it felt meager.

Letters, by John Keats

cartas-de-john-keats

Recently I reviewed  The Death of the Moth and other essays by Virginia Woolf, a book that came out after her death, organized and directed by her husband. Most of the essays are critics or reviews that she did of other books and it  called my attention  that many of those books were about famous writers’ correspondence, and Woolf often discuss about their writing style, which made me think about my style. It was definitely helpful and inspiring. So when I saw this short compilation of Keats’ correspondence at a very good price I said “Why not?”.

I can’t say if this book is a direct translation of a specific compilation, or the Spanish editor just went for these letters. That’s probably told in the preliminary study but, well, I don’t remember. The letters are arranged in themes, so it’s not a chronological reading. The first letters were for his family and they were quite day-to-day, but the ones I found more interesting were the ones grouped under the “Nature” category, where he described the landscapes he visited, and the ones written to fellow poets, where he talks about his own writing work. The letters I wasn’t very keen of, for my surprise, were those he wrote for the girl he was in love with. He always sounded obsessive and possessive, in a way that, today, should be a wake-up call for an un-healthy relationship. But that’s probably just me, taking things out of context, as usual. Or a very sensitive poet (?).

I haven’t read any of Keats’ works before this, and I’m not sure if this made me want to read them now, but I definitely want to read more correspondence from him or other writers.