Sunday Reads: February 10, 2013

Books
By Invitation Only

By Invitation Only: How We Build Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkins Wilson

The story of how two HBS grads came from wildly different places to start one of the most successful online sample sale sites, By Invitation Only isn’t light reading but it’s definitely fun. I really liked how the A’s (as they refer to themselves) show every step in the startup process and how quickly things change in that environment. They give helpful management tips at the end of every chapter, highlighting what they learned from their experiences – I liked these because I could pretend I was doing homework for my management class!

Of course, I was predisposed to like By Invitation Only. I was an early convert to the online sample sale craze, joining Rue La La, One Kings Lane, Hautelook, and others just weeks after they opened. Even without all of my sample sale love the book stood on its own as an interesting portrayal of life at a startup.

life-below-stairs

Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney

As Downton Abbey mania sweeps the United States a whole slew of books about the Edwardian era have come out. Though it’s easy to fall in love with the glamour seen at Downton/Highclere, the reality is that running a house like that was hard work!In this rendition of “Upstairs/Downstairs” Maloney recounts typical menus, daily chores and standards of decorum. Interspersed with excerpts from Punch and other papers, Life Below Stairs was fun to read and definitely made me appreciate my modern household appliances!

Check out some other books about servant’s in the Edwardian era:

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell: This one is a memoir by a woman who was once a kitchen maid.
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax : A little different, Wax’s book shows how the series bring a group of fictional women together.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon : If you just can’t get enough of Downton, check out this true history of Highclere Castle where it is filmed. I have this one out from the library right now so I’ll let you know how it is!
The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding – More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs by Emily Baines: Looking for something to eat as you watch tonight’s episode of Downton? Why not try Lady Mary’s Crab Canapés?


Films

I haven’t done much magazine or online reading this week, so instead I thought I’d share the films I’ve been enjoying:

 Valentino the last emperor

Valentino: The Last Emperor *– Ever since I saw The September Issue, I’ve been yearning for a good fashion movie. Valentino hits the mark with beautiful dresses, posh Italian accents and sweeping views of Paris – c’est magnifique!

Funny Face

Funny Face* – I’m a sucker for anything starring Audrey Hepburn but this might be my new favorite. She plays a nerdy bookseller who is taken to Paris to be the face of a magazine and a prominent designer’s new collection. As an added bonus the author of Eloise, Kay Thompson, plays the fashion editrix!

J.crew the man who dressed america

J.Crew and the Man Who Dressed America – Part business documentary, part profile of J.Crew this documentary is a wonderful escape from the real world. Clocking in at under an hour it’s the perfect lunchtime treat.

*available on Netflix

~ available on Hulu

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Sunday Reads: February 3, 2013

Blog Post:

3 Steps to Defining Your Personal Brand: I’ve been thinking a lot about what I will do after graduation and this article was the perfect inspiration to start re-working my personal brand. Of course it’s all easier said than done but by starting early I hope I’ll get ahead in the long run.

Newspaper Article:

20 Odd Questions with Stephanie von Watzdorf:  I don’t know what is better, that her name reminds me of my beloved Blair Waldorf or that she was the daughter of an art dealer and a ballet dancer – so glamourous! “My favorite stationery is Terrapin by Ted Harrington [and his mother, Cathy]. Ted is great and his work has a little tongue-in-cheek humor to it.”

Of course the article above led me to the lovely stationery store where I found some adorable notecards, check them out here and here.

Maybe Cards

Books:

TimGunnFashionBible

Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible by Tim Gunn

This was a jauntily-paced look at the history of fashion with a few tips thrown in. If you’re looking for a “what to wear” guide, this is NOT it (try this instead). However, if you’re looking for a thrilling look at why we wear the clothing we do, head to the library and check this out right away.

Strands of Bronze and Gold Cover

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
*note: this title will be released on March 12, 2012.

I was so excited for this book because of its connection to fairytale lore without being overdone (Footnote: It’s retelling of the story of Bluebeard. ) — I’m looking at you retellings of Cinderella! Strands of Bronze and Gold had a lot of promise with its strong female heroine and 19th c. setting but I found myself distracted at times by the references to other works. At one point Sophia  receives a letter “Dear Miss Petheram, In vain I have struggled…” which is strikingly similar to Mr. Darcy’s letter in Pride and Prejudice “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Similarly, when Sophia and Monsieur Bernard de Cressac are to be married, he suggests taking their honeymoon in Barbados, which seems entirely too similar to Mr. Rochester’s actions with the mad woman in the attic (Jane Eyre or Wide Sargasso Sea). Though I love a veiled reference to works that have gone before, especially in historical fiction, I found these a little heavy-handed and distracting. All of that being said I think it would make an excellent addition to a YA collection, since teens probably aren’t as picky about their classical references as I am!

 

Sunday Reading: January 27, 2013

It’s been a blustery few days here in Chapel Hill! Work at the library has been cancelled for the past few days due to icy conditions so I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on my reading. Here are the most interesting things I read this week:

Blog Post:

British Problems: Light-hearted and fun, this article was the perfect pick-me-up at the end of a long day.

BookishBabies

Bookish Babies: Just in case your moody-blues weren’t gone after reading the last post, these adorable photos are sure to put a smile on your face. Is there anything cuter than a baby with books?

Book:

84, Charing Cross Road
84, Charing Cross Road: If you didn’t already yearn for the lost art of letter writing, this book will certainly make you want to go buy stamps! The book, a novella really, contains Helen Hanff’s correspondence with an antiquarian bookstore in London. The letters were written between 1949 and 1969, offering a lovely peek into wartime Britain. Hanff is delightfully witty and the Britishisms are so much fun. It’s the perfect escape from mundane life and Hanff’s suggestions are sure to add to your must read pile! Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to ‘I hate to read new books,’ and I hollered ‘Comrade!’ to whoever owned it before me.”

Elizabeth will have to ascend the throne without me, teeth are all I’m going to see crowned for the next couple of years.”

“First, enclosed find $3, [Pride and Prejudice] arrived looking exactly as Jane ought to look, soft leather, slim and impeccable.”

“ A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with preconceived notions, so they always find exactly what they go looking for. I told him I’d go looking for the England of English literature, and he said: ‘Then it’s there.’”

News Articles:

Making Herself the Lesson: When one woman was diagnosed with terminal cancer she decided to donate her body to science in a non-traditional way – she allowed nursing students to follow her journey.

Candace Bushnell

Real Life Carrie Bradshaw: Who would’ve thought that art imitates life so closely?! In this profile by the founder of The Hairpin we get a closer look at Candace Bushnell.

By the Book : J.K. Rowling: I am obviously late the the party on this one as the article ran in October but I’ve recently discovered NYT By the Book and have been reading the archives voraciously. Reading this led me down the rabbit hole and straight to other “By the Book” columns.

Magazine Article:

Let’s Talk (The New Yorker): The idea of the filibuster has fascinated me ever since I watched The West Wing. Though today’s filibusters are less of “a senator hoarsely rattling off recipes” and more of repeatedly taking attendance, the article was an enjoyable look behind the scenes of the Senate.

Sunday Reading

Lazy Reading in Bed

The semester is off to a roaring start but I’ve still had a little time to myself to read some interesting articles, blog posts and books. Here’s a run down of what I’ve enjoyed:

Blog Post: 

Coloring for Grownups: At Kenyon it was a given that around finals time the coloring books would come out. I thought it was just a liberal arts thing but someone out there thought adults needed their own set of crayons! Check out the link for a hilarious renaming of classic colors.

Article:

Journaling, There’s an app for that!: I’ve always thought keeping a journal is romantic, artistic and utterly scholarly. Unfortunately I’ve never been motivated enough to write like Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, or Anais Nin. This app promises to make journal keeping easier — maybe it’ll keep me on track!

Book:

Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless : I finished an ARC of this one over the holidays but it was  recently released, which means I’m free to gush all I want! This memoir is so different from others I’ve read — heartbreaking without being heartless, stunningly detailed without a heavy hand. There’s something about Wendy that reminds me of Capote’s Holly Golightly (who, incidentally, is wholly different from Audrey Hepburn’s as much as I love her). I’m convinced this is a better memoir than any I reading 2012 and it’ll be hard to top in the rest of 2013!

Week in Review: What I Read September 1-12

  1. Fitness vs. Fashion (NYT): As working out becomes more of a fad (see Yogalates, Zumba, Pure Barre, SoulCycle), everyone is trying to make money from it. With this, there has been a shift in what we wear to the gym. It’s no longer acceptable to work out in a ratty t-shirt; we must instead dress like workout Barbie and look perfect while sweating. This article discusses the intersection of fashion and fitness. I found it interesting to see the way the two connect!
  2. Gloria Steinem’s Apartment (Refinery29): I’ve always been fascinated by Steinem’s life so it’s no surprise that I gobbled up the chance to look inside her home! This article is more fun for me since Steinem allowed Shelby Knox to live with her while her career was getting off the ground.  (I met Shelby at NCCWSL)
  3. Feminism and Formula (Observer): Remember that controversial Time cover a few months ago? Ever since then there has been pretty intense discussion in the blogosphere about the importance/irrelevance of breast-feeding. With the new laws in NY about formula, it’s more important than ever to have an opinion on the issue. Here’s an article that discusses why feminists should stop quibbling about whether breastfeeding is good for babies and start fighting for better formula.
  4. BIC Pens for Women! (Jezebel): In another instance of marketing stupidity, BIC decided to market “pens for women” in the UK. Women took to amazon and wrote hilarious reviews about the product. This one’s just a good mid-week pick-me-up!
  5. Memory Keepers (Delta Sky): If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know by now that I am in library school at UNC Chapel Hill. I decided to go to library school in part because I want to work in federal libraries so this article discussing the Library of Congress is right up my alley! Check it out for a peek at what goes on in a federal library, plus some great library pictures!
  6. Class Size of One (WSJ): As public school graduation rates become more abysmal, it’s not surprising that some parents choose different options for their children. The Wall Street Journal looked into the growing trend of for-profit companies creating schools where students are in classes one-on-one with their teachers. This is supposed to create new opportunities for students who struggle in the traditional classroom environment. While I’m not convinced of these school’s effectiveness, it makes for an interesting read!

Week in Review: What I Read

What I read this week:

  1. Paperback Revolution: With the e-book “doom and gloom” that has hit the publishing industry lately, it is nice to see someone putting it all in perspective! When paperbacks first came about everyone thought that they would be the end of the hardcover book but low-and-behold many years later they still exist. Ebooks have changed the way people read and have brought reading into the lives of reluctant readers.
  2. Bird’s Eye View of Famous TV Apartments: I’ve been thinking a lot about fandoms and they ways in which they appeal to people as an assignment for my YA Literature class. Though the shows mentioned in this article don’t have the fandom strength of some (like Firefly, or Veronica Mars), it’s amusing to see the ways that fans express their love. These apartment layouts are so interesting because they show things that don’t exist — when the shows are filled on the soundstage they don’t have the whole room build for light reasons. Someone using their design ability to create these layouts is pretty amazing!
  3. What Successful People Do with the First Hour of their Workday: When my alarm goes off in the morning I roll over and check my email on my phone. Before getting out of bed. This article talks about how the age of technology has created a lot of wasted time: between checking email and social media precious hours slip away. The solution appears to be scheduling time to check these outlets and completing a major task before starting in on virtual communication. I’m not sure how practical this is for students who need to know immediately when a professor sends an email but it’s a good thing to try to incorporate.

Week In Review: August 13-18

It’s my second week of truly settling into my NC apartment so I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the city. Somewhere between sightseeing and grocery shopping, I found time to read some pretty great online articles. Here they are:

 

  1. 6 ways your schoolteacher sabotaged your business writing: As an English major I constantly found myself breaking “the rules” about writing that I learned in middle school. It’s interesting to think that the same things that enabled me to write have “sabotaged” me later in life. I’m not sure that I have as extreme a view as the author of this piece but the idea is an interesting one.
  2. A Professional Assessment of Twilight Sparkle as a Librarian: This one is a purely fun read! While I was abroad I had two friends with whom I had endless “My Little Pony” movie nights (not as lame as it sounds, I swear). By trying to analyze the episodes, the author brought me back to those nights — we found an episode that perfectly encapsulated 19thc. British foreign policy that we called “My Little Imperialist Pony!”
  3. Five Women Writers Tougher Than Hemingway: Hemingway + feminism. Enough said.
  4. Generation Y Leads in Book Buying: As interesting as the article is, the real gem here is the discussion beneath it. There’s an active group that insists Gen Y buys books they don’t read or that the stats don’t take into account the number of textbooks Gen Y is buying. While both opinions may have merit, I am frustrated that other generations continually view Gen Y as a “tech only” generation!
  5. Old Timey Slang to Bolster Your Vocabulary: This is another fun one full of terms I wish people still used. Someone should really bring “Lobbygow” back.  Not me, I’m still working to bring “sistren” back.
  6. Lemony Snicket on the Murder of His Books: Lauren Conrad recently did an arts and craft project on her blog and used the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Whether you agree with using books as objects or not, Snicket’s response is hilarious. Readers of his books will love the on point response!

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