Books! Books! Books! And Magazines!

posted in: Day In The Life 12
Bookplate of American painter and illustrator Edward Penfield (1866-1925). Image: Wikipedia.


Though there’s a lot of reading I have to do for school — particularly for my Contemporary Histories In Fiber course, holy weft — I do at least attempt to pick up and read other things. I wish I could sit down and sew, but when most of what you do is pick up paper or scroll over a screen and reading what’s printed on it, this is what you tend to keep doing.

So tonight, I thought I’d share a list of books/magazines surrounding me. And I mean that literally. My home is one big book nook. Many of these books and periodicals hang out on the floor next to my black leather recliner until they cycle back out; other texts are stacked high on the glass coffee table (where I also put my feet sometimes, let’s be honest); some books are perpetually falling off my bedside table. My home is tidy, but until I get a proper library, this is how things are. (I looked online at a condo on Michigan Avenue that had a library. The condo cost $2.2 million … but they allow dogs. Insert laughing/weeping here.)

Anyway, here’s a list of what I’m dipping in and out of. I’m forcing myself to write just one or two lines of description for each title because I have to get up super early in the morning: I’m flying to Des Moines to tape the PBS show on Monday! I’m taping three episodes with Mom and I’m so excited. I miss TV, sometimes.

What I’m Reading Lately (Non-Fiction)

Empire of Cotton, Sven Beckert
This book is the history of the world. And the history of the world is told in cotton. And it takes just about 700 pages to go through it all.

Craeft: How Traditional Crafts Are About More Than Just Making, Alex Langlands
I bought this book about artisanal work (in weaving, haymaking, etc.) because it was in the window of Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in my neighborhood and was so beautiful it lured me in. I judged the book by its cover and so far … Yeah, it’s worth it. I think.

The Age of Homespun, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
If you love American history, textiles, and LIFE ITSELF, get this book and read it. It was at my mom’s house and I started reading it. Hi, Mom! (I’ll bring it to you when we sew this summer, I promise.)

The American Bystander Magazine
Humor. There are misses, but it’s mostly hits. (And I need to laugh as much as I need my morning tea, so I’ve subscribed from the start.)

Lapham’s Quarterly: State of Mind
Every issue is a review, you could say, on a theme. An issue of Lapham’s Quarterly is a meal for the mind. Lapham’s gives me faith in humanity. I’m a subscriber.

Quiltfolk Magazine, Issue 06 : Arizona
The magazine where I serve as editorial director is getting better and better and better and better. And my whole heart belongs to this project. And I re-read the whole issue on my way back from Baltimore. Issue 06 is our best yet — that is a fact.

The Dumb Internet
Sometimes, even, on my phone. Barf.

What I’m Reading Lately (Fiction)

Not a single novel. Not even a short story. I’m not knocking fiction. I just have enough trouble with reality to “get lost” in anything else. I keep waiting to slip into a new phase of my life when I read only fiction. It’s an interesting idea, being a Mary who says things like, “I’m re-reading Ulysses. It’s …  Well, I suppose it’s as good the second time but since I know what happens … ” But this is unlikely to happen in the near future, as for the past 6-7 years, all I ever want to read is people who write with their actual voice, not via someone else’s. Is that weird?

12 Responses

  1. Ann Ragsdale
    | Reply

    Quiltfolk – Iowa issue and Arizona issue. I’m a new subscriber and it is an amazing magazine.

  2. Lauren
    | Reply

    I gave up fiction about 5 or 6 years ago for the reasons you mention.

  3. Lynette Walters
    | Reply

    I am reading Lean In: Woman, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner and Working With People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jenn Mann. A couple of the books are work related, a couple are from my book club and the last one is plain old stress relieving funny after a long day at work. I am reading several quilting books too, browsing pictures is probably a better term to use than reading. When I am not reading or quilting, I am finishing up three college course including Advanced Writing Research (thought you would like that).

  4. Jo Chalk
    | Reply

    Hi Mary! As I read your blog this morning and you stated…I was looking at a condo, etc., I was thrilled! You are looking for a place where you can have your puppy companion, bravo to you girl.

  5. Mary
    | Reply

    It might happen. After I finished my doctorate, I didn’t even want to read picture books for a while, but then I shifted into fiction and haven’t looked back. There’s a huge difference in reading for pleasure and reading for school, although you would be surprised the things you learn by reading even simple fiction! 🙂

  6. Lorel Maple
    | Reply

    Earlier in my life, I didn’t know why anyone read fiction. Then I crossed into fiction for some unknown reason (escapism)? And loved it. I started with a local Chgo girl, Elizabeth Berg. I see myself in her characters.

  7. Kathie Hood
    | Reply

    So Mary Fons I ordered the whole “enchilada” up to and including Arizona and After ordering on line it came in TWO DAYS!! So I too am reading QUILTFOLK. Its is so exciting to see what I have to look forward too in the next few weeks. I am an internalizer. I read a segment and then have to think about the person or people in the segment.

  8. Val Larson
    | Reply

    SO excited that you and your Mom are doing a few episodes together!!!!!

  9. Barbara
    | Reply

    I read mostly non-fiction, bios, real life stories, I’m interested in things that really happened and how things are made, and why, when, who, what, where. But. I also like a good fiction book, and also I like holding a book in my hands. It’s a comfort thing.
    Also, Mary, I’m happy you are thinking about a place for you and Philip Larkin. I really want you to be happy. xo

  10. Betty
    | Reply

    You were in Baltimore?! There’s a free bookstore there. (Free as in you walk in and come out with free books.) But maybe you already know this. Or maybe I shouldn’t have told you. According to Google maps, it’s about a seven minute walk from where my daughter lives.

  11. Sarah
    | Reply

    To every thing there is a season. Fiction will come when you find you need it. No need to worry. Meanwhile, enjoy!

    • Lorel Maple
      | Reply

      How sweet!

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