Since this photo was taken, we've had quite a bit of rain and warmer days here, and the sidewalks, for the most part, have shed not only the snow but also their coating of bulletproof glare ice that has called for cleats and crampons. But we all know we're heading into the long haul now: those endless months of February and March when it seems like winter will never loosen its grip -- or perhaps I should write, as the French do when speaking of flu, its grippe.
As for me, I went in search of a vaccination anti-grippe last Friday, and ended up at a public clinic above a pharmacy, where I waited for nearly two hours before the infirmiare called me for the ten-second procedure. There was no line for shots, nothing like that -- just the long wait that everyone complains about in the public sector, and then a quick, efficient, competent health care provider and well-equipped, spotless lab at the other end. I was fortunate; a lot of clinics have run out of vaccine just as the flu season starts to peak. But I came down with a cold anyway, this week, and today stayed home, drinking tea with lemon and ginger and piling up tissues in the wastebasket.
This cold has been having its way with our choir, especially since we've had a number of performances and extra rehearsals lately at which everyone is required if at all possible. On Sunday, as we sang the first piece in the Epiphany Lessons and Carols service near the high altar, I had a momentary vision of all the microbes dancing in the air, released like the contents of Pandora's Box and propelled by the strong lung capacity of thirty singers. The need for musical concentration quickly dispensed with that vision, but I suspect it wasn't far from reality.
Earlier in the day I had reluctantly consumed the communion wafer placed in my hand which had just shared the Peace with half a dozen other souls, but declined to drink from the communal cup. My mother once told me that a former rector of hers insisted that it was impossible to get ill from the shared communion chalice because no agents of deisease could live in the consecrated wine. I wonder how many people still believe that. But even if it weren't for sharing our droplets and shaking one another's paws, all I'd have to do is ride on a few metro cars or buses, where everyone is hacking, or touch the poles or railings and forget to wash... and winter would do its work.
So that's just part of life in the north, where we're all forced into cozy indoor togetherness for months on end. I've been glad for this recent thaw, because I've been able to walk outside again without risking a broken wrist or worse. The other night, coming home from leading contemplative prayer, I got out of the metro one stop early and walked north through the park, hoping to suspend the meditative space I was in. No one was skating; pools of water stood atop the ice, reflecting the small blue lights strung in great loops in the trees along the lake's edge. The path was full of mushy snow and a few bare spots, and I made my way with relative ease, stepping off now and then into deeper snow or crunchy, disintegrating ice when the path was flooded. Along with the quiet and the solitude, I felt that exhilaration that only comes in winter: the sharp clean slap of the air on your face, the buoyant heart, the acknowledgement of winter's stark beauty, the thrill of being out in it with a sixth sense of what to do that developed in early childhood.
During the days when it was so icy, I watched elderly people picking their way across streets and along the frozen sidewalks to the shops, and worried for them, wondering if and when I'd join their ranks. Many Canadians, of course, go south for the winter -- and we may escape for a week or two to someplace warmer -- but I can't see myself abandoning this place for the whole season. Life, to me, consists of seasons -- all of them -- and while I'd just as soon pass on the bugs and the grippe, I'd miss that heightened awareness that winter demands, and the pleasure of curling up under a comforter on a cold night with a book and a cup of hot tea. These days, I'm reading Tomas Transtromer, and painting Iceland, and I feel at home.
Well, here we are again, at the annual time for lists and compilations and review. I am just back from yet another trip to the U.S., about which more later, but before the year ends I wanted to share my list of books read in 2013. My reading took a nosedive in the fall, as we got so consumed with work and time became shorter and shorter, but before that I had been on quite a reading binge. The two themes for this year were the novels of Hermann Hesse (I'm about halfway through them, reading chronologically), books about Mexico, and books about Ireland or by Irish authors. So here's the list, with a few comments along the way. Happy reading to all of you, in 2014!
Links go to my reviews. * indicates books read as e-books, ** were audiobooks. My top picks indicated with !!!
Flaubert's Parrot, Julian Barnes (in progress) I loved "Sense of an Ending" but am having a hard time with this one.
Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse I'll write a blog post later, when I finish the novels, but for now just say that reading the writer's entire output chronologically, when most of the books are somewhat autobiographical, has been fascinating, illuminating, and poignant. I first read the famous titles when I was in college, but they're quite different when read as an adult. Hesse writes mostly about the struggle of creative people to live authentically, giving themselves to their work, and the difficulties this presents in their relationships. For him, creativity and spirituality go hand in hand, but as a child of overly-strict highly-religious parents he was appalled and repelled by the typical Protestant Christian rules and doctrine. His novels mirror Hesse's lifelong quest for authenticity, peace, and understanding of his own spirit and creativity.
!!! The Saints of Streets, Luisa Igloria A wonderful book by a poet well-known to readers of Dave Bonta's Via Negativa -- highly recommended.
Lifelines, Philip Booth
Selected Early Poems, Charles Simic
!!! Falling Upward, a Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Fr. Richard Rohr** I found this book inspiring, original, and helpful. Rohr is so intelligent and so no-nonsense about spirituality, and this particular book discussed the development of a mature approach to religion in the second half of life, free of dogma and the images and ideas about "God" that were presented in our childhood and which drive so many of us away from organized religion. He divides life into two haves, the first being about acquisition, belonging, and building up a secure sense of personal identity, and the second about a gradual letting-go of that need to understand, control, and shore-up who we are. Most people, he sadly admit, never leave this first half of life. For those who do, the second half is a process of becoming what he calls "elders": people of genuine insight and wisdom who do not divide people, but have become wise and gentle guides who can hold everything in balance.
!!! Gorgon Times, Roderick Robinson* An absolutely delightful, true, and entertaining novel about Thatcher-era Britain by a frequent commenter to this blog. The characters are keenly observed and skillfully drawn, and the author makes us care about them. I'm especially impressed with how Roderick writes his female characters; his portraits are believable, and full of amusement and real appreciation that comes across in numerous details. In addition to his excellent descriptive writing, the dialogue is smart, witty, sharp, entertaining, and always rings true: it's a trap for most writers but Robinson handles it far better than many well-known authors. Highly recommended, and available for download for a low price. Read it!
Gate of Angels, Penelope Fitzgerald A good book about British manners, but light. I read Gorgon Times just after this, and preferred it immensely.
Austerlitz, W.G. Sebald Justifiably famous.
Klingsor's Last Summer (with Klein and Wagner and A Child's Heart) Hermann Hesse
Peter Camenzind, Hermann Hesse
Rosshalde, Hermann Hesse*
Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih A classic middle eastern novel; recommended.
Gertrude, Hermann Hesse*
Demian, Hermann Hesse
!!! Narcissus and Goldmund, Hermann Hesse* The novel that began my project; this is one of his later ones, and one of the best. My favorite of the classic novels I read this year.
Ami Underground: Drawings from the NY Subway, Ami Plasse Terrific drawings by one of the urban sketchers I follow. Bought as a present for Manhattanite friend.
Drape, Drape, Hisako Sato Fascinating book by a Japanese designer about how to make clothes using the draping process rather than cut patterns.
The Beaded Edge, Midori Nishida Another book by a Japanese author, but it's actually about oya, the Turkish needlecraft method of making crocheted and beaded edgings for scarves and clothing. I bought it to make the edging for a scarf this past August, and am hoping to try some of the other designs.
Pitch Dark, Renata Adler Entertaining, but the pace and style of this book felt self-indulgent and annoying to me, as if she were trying to show how brilliant she is. Not my cup of tea, but some people do find her writing brilliant. It's a pretty good story, but I could never get over how annoyed I was by the way the characters acted, as well as always being aware of the writing itself.
Confusion, Stefan Zweig A strange small book that I liked quite a lot, about a young man who becomes obssessed with admiration for an older professor -- and the professor's young wife.
!!! John Singer Sargent Watercolors, Erica E. Hirshler & Teresa A. Carbone The catalogue for the Sargeant show (Brooklyn, Boston) contains a number of excellent essays about the painter's techniques and life; extremely illuminating to me as a watercolorist.
The Granta Book of Irish Short Stories. Excellent anthology.
The Empty Family, Colm Toibin A book of stories, also about families and relationships, set in Ireland and a coastal village near Barcelona. Often dark and rather pessimistic, but brilliantly written. I liked it very much.
Brooklyn, Colm Toibin My first Toibin novel; the story of a young Irish woman who comes to New York and works in a department store in the early part of the 20th century; a novel about family relationships and expectations, and women's choices at the time.
The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987 Obviously haven't read them all, but have enjoyed my forays into Paz's work. Reading a bilingual edition; I don't really know Spanish but enjoy reading the poems out loud, and have been surprised by how much I can understand.
The Cat's Table, Michael Ondaatje. Ondaatje is one of my favorite authors. This is not at the top of my list of his work, but it's a very good book, a coming-of-age novel about a child's long sea voyage and the adults he observes.
Imperium, Ryszard Kapusinski. Excellent political/sociological travelogue by a master writer-journalist about his journeys through the former Soviet Union.
The next six titles are all books I read before, during, or after our trip to Mexico City. I won't describe them all here; some are novels, some travel books, some historical novels, and all combined to give me a much greater sense of this complex country than I ever had before. I plan to continue reading Mexican literature and non-fiction; I was embarrassed to realize how little I actually knew about this neighbor and its complex, rich history.
Mogador, Alberto Ruy Sanchez
A Rosario Castellanos Reader, Maureen Ahern and others, translators
!!! Bolero, Angeles Mastretta
!!! First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, the Capital of the 21st Century, David Lida. The best of the attempts to "explain" Mexico City that I have read. Honest, unflinching, personal.
The Orange Tree, Carlos Fuentes
The Traveler's Companion to Mexican Literature, C.M.Mayo, ed.
The Life of Pi, Yann Martel ** I listened to Martel's Booker-Prize winning novel as an audio book, and enjoyed it immensely, as well as being touched by the story. Don't particularly want to see the movie; I'd rather keep my own mental images, I think.
The Beloved Returns, Thomas Mann. I love Thomas Mann and have read nearly everythign else; this is a lesser book which may be why it is not well-known. The story of the return of Lotte, once loved by Goethe, to see the great man when they are both old.
Mission to Paris, Alan Furst. See my review on Goodreads.
The Sea, John Banville. If I had needed convincing, this book showed me why I can't stand John Banville's writing...or perhaps it is Banville himself. Many others disagree.
Himalaya Poems, Ko Un. An amazing set of poems by a Korean poet who should be much more known in the west than he is. Recommended by T.C.
!!! White Egrets, Derek Walcott. My favorite-book-of-the-year award goes to Wolcott's elegeic collection, set mostly in the Caribbean; it is simply beautiful, emotional, poignant, using the English language with such skill, intelligence and simplicity that I found myself setting the book down repeatedly to stare into space, filled with admiration and gratitude.
Word into Silence, John Main, OSB A book on contemplation by the late Montreal monk.
!!! Istanbul Passage, Joseph Kanon ** See my review on Goodreads; the most riveting book I've read this year, listened to as an audiobook. An international espionage novel that transcends the genre.
So -- 43 books in all; 6 books of poetry, 2 books on spirituality, 27 novels, the remainder non-fiction, including four books on art, sewing, and needlework. A pretty typical mix for me, I suppose! As for the dire predictions of recent years that the printed book is dead, I read that The Strand Bookstore actually had its best year ever in 2013, and e-book sales, while strong, have not decimated the print book market. My own reading seems to be bearing that out; while I love having books to read on my tablet and phone, and do read magazines and journals that way, I still like holding real books in my hands. I don't buy as many as I used to, but I still buy some (often as used books), and I frequent the library and am happy when friends lend me titles and often do the same.
Happy reading in 2014: and please send me your own list and favorites for 2013!
Over at Phoenicia today, I was delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Night Willow, a collection of prose poems by Luisa A. Igloria. Readers of The Cassandra Pages may be familiar with Luisa's work through her daily writing project, poems that are published and archived at Dave Bonta's Via Negativa.
I still remember reading, with that sense of excitement and surprise editors always look for, the first poem Luisa sent to an issue of qarrtsiluni that Dave and I were co-editing. We were pretty blown away by that poem, and by many subsequent ones too. That was the beginning of a long association which has continued on FB, where I see Luisa's regular posts. I've hoped to publish one of her books for a long time, and am proud that we've signed an agreement for Night Willow.
In addition to being a very hard-working and prolific poet, a teacher, wife, mother, and daughter, Luisa is a collaborator with other artists: her poems at Via Negativa are usually inspired by one of Dave's posts at The Morning Porch. Maybe it was fated that we'd work together on this book, because the title poem was inspired by a painting of mine, and a post I wrote here. Now I'm excited about making a beautiful book for her poems to inhabit.
That painting was dreamlike, and these prose poems of Luisa's are too. Like much of her work, Night Willow
employs memory and associations as well as the ingredients of the
everyday, but goes beyond the narrative and the purely lyrical to create
a dream-like atmosphere that contains beauty and bewilderment, along with many other emotions.
In writing Night Willow, Igloria said she wanted to stretch both herself and her craft, asking her prose to do "the same hard muscle work I expect in every poem that I write."
"It was an experience that felt almost like trying my hand at musical composition," she said. "I wanted to create mood, tone, networks of memory and echo so that the poems could speak to each other across and within the collection - but at the same time achieve a level of language that is also precise and thoughtful."
Before beginning to work with Luisa on this project, I didn't realize that she was the first Filipina woman of letters installed in the Palanca Literary Hall of Fame in the Philippines, and is an eleven-time winner of that country's highest literary award, the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (in poetry, non-fiction, and short fiction) as well as having a very long list of American poetry awards to her credit.
Like many other immigrant artists and writers, she is sometimes put into an ethnic classification: Carlos Angeles wrote, "“[Her] poetry inhabits the heart first, then the mind, and the soul…her
work contains some of the most extraordinary and most polished poetry
written by a Filipino poet in English today.” I absolutely agree, but think there's no reason to limit Igloria's strength by comparing her to one country's
poetic output; it's extraordinary and polished poetry by any standard.
"Once in a while it vanishes - in the sense that I become deaf to beauty for a week or two or three. This coming and going of the inner life - because this is what it is - is a curse and a blessing. I don't need to explain why it's a curse. A blessing because it brings about a movement, an energy which, when it peaks, creates a poem. Or a moment of happiness."
- Adam Zagajewski (via Whiskey River)
The underground food court is filled with the sounds of voices and cutlery and plates and plastic trays reverberating against the low ceiling, but this is where there's WIFI so after finishing my lunch of Indian fast food I call my father, who's been trying to call me, and after we talk I go up the escalator and decide to visit the English-language bookstore a few blocks away. When I walk in I'm greeted by a cheerful woman who asks me if I know about today's special. No, I don't. Buy any three items and get the fourth free, she tells me, gesturing at a display of colorful pillows and decorative throws behind her. It can be anything, she says. Books, gifts...Thank you, I say, moving away and looking around with dismay; every time I come here it seems like there are fewer books and more housewares, soaps, candles, and expensively-packaged cookies and chocolates. Worse, there's hardly a book I want to read. I do one circuit of the second floor, and stand for a few minutes in front of Poetry, a small display of two book cases at shoulder height. On the endcaps are a recent collection of essays by James Wood, an edition of the Odyssey, and a volume of poems by local hero Leonard Cohen. I'm looking for the latest Adam Zagajewski, but it's not here; none of his books are. Instead I pull out the new Anne Carson, Red doc>, and recoil at the price. She's Canadian so most of her books are on the shelf: Plainwater, The Beauty of the Husband, Autobiography of Red, NOX,translations of Euripides and Sappho. The price for the new hardcover is just too high, I'll probably buy it in paperback later online or used -- the irony of which is not lost on me -- and then I think about having a coffee and sitting down in the cafe for the forty-five minutes before rehearsal, but decide against it and walk out, rather sad and annoyed, but tell myself to let it go, and I do.
Several years ago, a group of friends put together this poetry anthology, Brilliant Coroners, published through my nascent publishing house, Phoenicia. We've never done a really effective job of promoting it, but I was looking through it again recently, and remarking to myself that it contains some truly wonderful work by many bloggers and poets you may have heard of in these pages...several of whom who've since published books of their own and are even gaining an international literary reputation.
Thanks to the excellent work of editors Rachel Rawlins and Rachel Barenblat, I think you'll find that the work inside is of consistently high quality. The cover was a collaboration between Dave Bonta, who took the original photograph, and Marja-Leena Rathje and Natalie d'Arbeloff.
The poets are:
Elizabeth Adams, Ivy Alvarez, Rachel Barenblat, Maria Benet, Dave Bonta, Teju Cole, Natalie d'Arbeloff, Dale Favier, Dick Jones, Alison Kent, Leslee Masten, Tom Montag, Jean Morris, Rachel Rawlins, Peter Stephens, Anne-Mieke Swart, and B.E. Wing
It's on sale through tomorrow, and is inexpensive anyway. To take a look inside, here's a link. It seems like a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month, and the joy of collaborating with others to keep poetry -- and our own enthusiasm for it -- alive.
Rachel Barenblat, also known as The Velveteen Rabbi, has been a friend of mine for almost as long as I've both been blogging. After becoming friends through our blogs, we worked together on an anthology of poems, Brilliant Coroners, and on the online literary journal qarrtsiluni. We met several times in person, in Boston, Montreal, and New York. During the past decade, she studied to become a rabbi, was ordained, and started serving a congregation. As religious people coming from different places we both engaged with and talked about the difficult issues of the Middle East. We did a presentation together about Jewish and Christian approaches to Scripture, and contemporary life and politics. Recently she entered into the world of parenthood. All the while, she blogged, and wrote poems. Very good poems.
When I started Phoenicia Publishing, it was because I wanted to publish the work of writers like Rachel, who had the courage to look beyond borders and convention and to illuminate the liminal spaces of ethnicity, spirituality, politics, and personal identity. Works that created bridges for readers, rather than walls behind which we could fortify ourselves, or hide within our prejudices. The first book of Rachel's that I published, 70 Faces: Torah Poems, looks at the first five books of the Hebrew Bible through a feminist perspective. Other people shared my own enthusiasm: for an independently-published book of poetry, it's done amazingly well.
Today we're launching Rachel's second full-length collection, Waiting to Unfold. These are poems about pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, but again, she doesn't take the expected route. The poems, written as letters to her unborn son and then as a sort of poetic journal of the first year of his life, take an unflinching look at the difficulties as well as the joys of motherhood. I'm not a parent myself, but I've often observed that parents, and mothers especially, are under tremendous pressure to feel and to say that everything is rosy, even perfect, when in fact the experience is often quite mixed. A lot of women who give birth find themselves finally admitted to the secret club of motherhood, where it's almost as if they have to sign a pledge not to reveal the darker side.
Rachel had a miscarriage before she gave birth to her son; that experience and that unborn child are not forgotten, but woven into her poems about this subsequent pregnancy as he writes of her worries as well as her anticipation. And after the birth, she experiences and is treated for post-partum depression, eventually emerging from that cloud. The majority of the poems are celebratory, joyful, funny, and above all, honest. Like all of Rachel's work, I found them very accessible, and -- like the author herself -- imbued with a deep spirituality that's always present but never overbearing.
It was a real pleasure as well to work with the exuberant cover artist, Mary Bullington, a Roanoke, Virginia artist who I met through Marly Youmans. The cover art is a detail of one of Mary's collages, titled "Creation."
The whole process of publishing a book -- like becoming a parent, I imagine -- is exciting, demanding, and challenging; the best part of it is working with the author and artist as a team trying to do our creative best, and trying to do justice to the words themselves.
I hope some of you might decide to buy a book for yourself or to give to a mother you love; while you're over at Phoenicia please take note that all of the other full-length poetry books are on sale through the end of April, in honor of National Poetry Month. The books are all available through Amazon UK and Europe, but if you're on this side of the pond and able to order through the e-store, both the author and publisher will receive considerably more of your support. Thanks!
I made myself a sketchbook to take on our trip. The original plan was to buy one of Stillman & Burns' new Gamma series landscape-format sketchbooks; they're lovely, and the paper is heavy enough to take light washes. But they aren't cheap, nor are they carried anywhere in Montreal, and as a result I left the task of ordering from Toronto undone too long. What to do? Then it occurred to me that I could make my own sketchbook and fill it with whatever combination of papers I wanted! What a revelation! I've made a lot of small notebooksbefore, but never a sketchbook. The other advantage was that I could choose a size that was light and easy to carry. The binding itself is reversible; I can take pages out or add more anytime.
It helps to have a big papercutter and a heavy-duty adjustable binding punch and comb binder; we used to use it for binding reports for our design clients.
I already had these handpainted covers, waiting for a binding, so that part was easy. The next task was to cut up a sheet of a favorite drawing/mixed-media paper, Stonehenge, and another one of Arches 140-lb watercolor paper. It was enough for two books, one slightly larger and longer than this, with plain black covers, and this one. The binding here a flat leather thong; the other book has a black plastic comb binding.
Now I just need to make the time, and pluck up my courage, to do some sketches rather than being on-the-go every minute while we're away. The work of the Urban Sketchers, a growing international movement, both inspires and daunts me, because sketching buildings and urban scenes has never been my forté. What I'm most interested in isn't accuracy, but conveying the feeling of a place or scene.
On the other hand, having this blog, and you, my kind and generous readers, is a great incentive, though I admit that every single time I put pen or brush to paper, a little voice in my head worries about making a disastrous mess! Just do it, I tell myself, as all my teachers have told me too: sketch every day. Some drawings will be a mess, and some will come out all right. No matter what, you'll learn and improve through constant practice.
Funny, isn't it -- after all this time, and all this making-of-things, we are still fragile! I think that this beautiful bright color will help.
We all seem to have our "escape" genres - the books we turn to when we just want to lose ourselves in a story. For some it's sci-fi, or fantasy, or romance, or horror. For me it's thrillers - not murder mysteries so much as international espionage, set in places I either know well, or have never been, often with some sort of historical interest. (No, in case you're wondering, I've never read anything by Gérard de Villiers, perhaps I should!)
I like to listen to audio books while I'm walking, or riding the metro, or exercising on the boring elliptical in the basement. My most recent was Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon, a story of spies, counter-spies, politics and personal relationships, set in Istanbul at the end of WWII. The title refers to the passage of boatloads of Jews, released from concentration camps in Eastern Europe, through Istanbul on their way to Palestine. Both money and information change hands, in this case putting American, British, Russian, Romanian, and Turkish interests on a collision course.
Contributing to this book's appeal for me was Jeffrey Mays' mesmerizing reading performance, which brought the characters and their dialogue to life in a way I simply wouldn't have appreciated as much if reading a printed copy. I thought his subtle command of accents, and sensitive portrayal of both male and female characters, was a tour-de-force.
Joseph Kanon tells a good story, and even if some of the plot is predictable, the characters are well-written, believable, and multidimensional. One of the major highlights of the book is its setting, with the city of Istanbul and the Bosphorus evocatively described by someone who obviously knows and loves them well. (Readers of this blog already know my affection for Orhan Pamuk, who has written some pretty suspenseful novels himself, but I've always had a desire to go to Istanbul, and this book increased that yearning.)
Kanon is sometimes compared to Graham Greene, and I can see why; this book is not merely a thriller, but an exploration of complicated moral issues in a way that Greene, I think, would have appreciated. The relationship between a man and three women - the protagonist's wife, confined to a mental institution; the prostitute he visits on Thursday afternoons; and the wife of a high-level American consul -- is set inside the larger story of espionage, itself complicated by personal relationships between various characters who have to balance their allegiance to particular causes with actual friendships. Nothing is black-and-white in this place where the fall of the Ottoman empire is a recent, stinging memory, but international politics and power still collide.
Some days after finishing the book, I found myself troubled by the fact that books like this hinge on the consequences of atrocities, especially, here, a particularly horrible massacre that occured in a Romanian concentration camp. There's a learning aspect, for sure; I've always felt that novels and films had tremendous power to educate and to influence, as well as to misinform and manipulate our emotions and opinions. And yet, I didn't think about that very much as I was listening to the story; I was detached from the actual events. It's another moral issue, isn't it - the use of war, genocide, and violence, as well as more individual and personal crimes, to entertain, and to profit? I find this the most problematic in movies, but I never really thought about it in terms of fiction, especially literary fiction. But as in Graham Greene, the subtlety of Kanon's presentation of moral questions and gray areas suggests to me that he may have thought about it himself. I think it would be a mistake to read Istanbul Passage as a story only, without considering the questions it raises: how people use each other; the limits of friendship; the cost of betrayal; the way ordinary people become pawns of those with greater power, forced to make decisions they never would have made; and the stories we tell ourselves afterward, to make it all go down more easily.
Before we leave the subject, here are a couple of other books, one recent and one (above) that I made quite a while ago but have never photographed. This one has a Japanese stab binding in heavy natural linen. It's a scrapbook, about 8 inches wide: each sheet has a folded edge that's unseen but held by the binding; this extra thickness allows the user to add pasted material to the sheets in the scrapbook without causing the book to bulge. Very retro, those colors!
The book below is another small notebook that I made last week. This one has an ultrasuede binding - a material that I find works remarkably well, and comes in great colors.