After a year's pause, I gathered enough new treasures to create my third literary Christmas calendar! The texts to the pictures, in which I tell a little about why the book is special to me, can be found on my Facebook page.
I do love reading books, but I love using them for decoration, too!
As reported in a former post, I’ve got a beautiful book with all kinds of ideas what to make using pages of books you once bought but don’t read anymore. And let’s be honest: we all have some of those on our shelves! If you aren’t a crafter already, you would need to buy some materials like a (sharp) paper knife and a cutting mat - but then you can start off and make you own art!
If you like book art, be sure to check out artists like Betty Pepper, who makes true gems out of old books.
A good friend of mine sent me this link for a DIY knife holder a couple of weeks ago. When my father-in-law told me I could take all the books that meet my liking from their book case, I was delighted! Not only I found some gems (a field artillery handbook from 1914, children’s books from the 1940s…), I could also lay my hands on some beautifully bound hardcovers that were perfect for making this knife holder.
Yesterday evening I choose books that matched together and arranged them to a nice-looking colour palette. All I had to do was to glue the covers together with superglue. If you’re planning to do this, make sure the spines and bottoms of the books are aligned. I liked the rope in the inspiration link, so I just added that for decoration.
It’s supereasy to stick the knives in, the book knife holder takes twice the amount of knives in half the amount of space I used with my old two knife holders, and best of all: it looks lovely!
I was in the bookstore the other day to pick up the Annie Proulx books I had ordered - and while chatting with the owner, I picked up some travel guides for our next trip, and left the store with 5 books - happy about that, even though I am desperately looking for space to store all my wonderful ownings!
Upon leaving the shop, however, this book caught my eye:
... and I told my husband he might give me that as a present whenever he feels like giving me a present. But in the following week, I kept thinking about the book and eventually I just bought it. The pictures of the author's amazing creations are already a joy for the eye, but I was very eager to start working with it. I do have quite a number of books that I won't read anymore and used them for scrapbooking or photoshootings before. After getting a couple of materials (scalpel, decent lineal and glue), I tried to make one of the flowers. Working with book pages really demands precision and concentration, but I am quite content with the result:
I was really impressed by the 3D collage, and even though it said 3/3 stars of difficulty, I wouldn't be me if I wouldn't take a challenge, so I started off. It took me a few tries and new starts, but then in the end I got the flow - and spent a nice couple of hours crafting on the balcony. What do you think? I love it!
Yesterday, my husband and I took a walk and ended up in a little cafe downtown where we grabbed a soup and a coffee (don’t mind the combination). At one side of the room, there was a wonderful huge apothecary cabinet, with many small drawers with rusty signs , showing what could be in there: cinnamon, coffee beans, peppermint…
It was then that I had an idea, or a vision: I saw myself in a room full of… well, stuff. Objects I love to be surrounded by. I thought: what if I had my own shop in the city center, with a corner where I can write and where I sell the stuff I love.
The shop would exist around several bookcases made of dark wood, all different looking. They would be stuffed with used books, some of them yellowed, some with crooked edges, some of them with notes in them from their past owners. (I always love to find things that people use as book marks in books I borrow from the library and learn something about that person. We are connected, in a way – he or she apparently likes the same book as I do, and his or her left paper, or whatever it is, is like a treasure. If I would sell used books, I thus would never “clear” them before placing them in my shop).
People wouldn’t necessarily buy the books they find and are interested in. The would be a corner with an antique, velvet covered chair or chaise longue, where people can sit down, have a drink and read in a cozy atmosphere.
They would be surrounded by paintings of landscapes from the romantic era. I would sell typewriters, analogue cameras, rusty binoculars, heavy chandeliers, cash registers, historical globes and maps, decades-old school posters, leather suitcases, ornate mirrors. There would be an apothecary cabinet with smaller items such as jewelry – brooches, pendants, rings - and ancient writing material such as ink, fountain pens, seals and writing paper. There would be ring binders with antique post cards and black & white photos.
In the back, I would work at a massy desk of dark wood, with a counter that would hide my modern pc (I may be a romantic history lover, but when I write I like to use the modern way). I would face the room when I sit behind it. My side of the counter would be filled with sticky notes and photos that inspire me for the story that I’m writing at that moment.
There would be a bell that rings when the door would open for an entering or leaving customer. The giant window would show my shop’s name in a vintage font. I would call it my cabinet of curiosities, or, in German, "Vera's Raritätenkabinett".
Who knows, one day...
Currently I am in a phase of struggling between what I should do and what I want to do. I want to gain more attention for my website, and to get that, I need to promote myself via social media. I do have an account on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and in order to get more engaged followers, I need to post regurlarly, and engage myself - that's what you can read in every social media marketing guidebook. In practice, that would mean I could spend all of my spare time with creating social media content, post, comment, like, retweet, thank people, get involved in conversation. But when I want to do that, I don't have time left to work on larger projects anymore. I have plans for a non-fiction book, and I gathered a lot of research material already, but so far I haven't dared to take the time to dive into studies. Because I would need to work concentrated on that, not being distracted by Twitter, or with the constant fear of losing followers when I don't engage enough. At last, I need those followers for getting attention for my book, right? Though continuing with social media, this book will never come into being! I feel like stuck in a vicious circle and haven't decided yet how to get out.
But what I DID do was sitting down for some hours and started scrapbooking. I always like to collect beautiful paper from magazines, postcards or in handicraft stores, never really knowing what to do with it, but I've made a couple of bookmarks, little frames with collages for friends, and now I've started to fill a journal with scrapbooked pages. I love to fill pages with things I adore: book pages, flowers, vintage looking stuff, a touch of creepiness, handwriting, romantic art... Here's the first eight pages for you!
A new year comes with a new reading challenge! Or better said: three of those. The one from Popsugar is hard this year, but I am confident I'll make it again ;). One of the others is to read all the titles present on my book skirt!
1. A book based on a fairytale
Done: Michael Cunningham - The Snow Queen
2. A National Book Award winner
Done: E. Annie Proulx - Close Range
(She didn't win the NBA for this book, but I couldn't get my hands on The Shipping News, that's why I chose to read this instead)
3. A YA Bestseller
Done: Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games (review)
4. A book you haven't read since high school
Done: Jostein Gaarder - The Solitaire Mystery (review)
5. A book set in your home state
Done: Suzanna Jansen - Het Pauperparadijs
6. A book translated to English
Done: Bernhard Schlink - The Reader (review)
7. A romance set in the future
Done: Suzanne Collins - Mockingjay
8. A book set in Europe
Done: Ernest Hemingway - A Farewell To The Arms
9. A book that's under 150 pages
Done: William Shakespeare - Macbeth
10. A New York Times bestseller
Done: Harper Lee - Go Set A Watchman (review)
11. A book that's becoming a movie this year
Done: Paula Hawkins - The Girl On The Train
12. A book recommended by someone you just met
Done: Alan Bennett - The Uncommon Reader
13. A self-improvement book
14. A book you can finish in a day
Done: William Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet
15. A book written by a celebrity
Done: Julianne Moore - Freckleface Strawberry
16. A political memoir
Done: Femke Halsema - Pluche
17. A book at least 100 years older than you
Done: Lousia May Alcott - Little Women
18. A book that's more than 600 pages
Done: Herman Melville - Moby Dick
19. A book from Oprah's Book Club
Done: Cormac McCarthy - The Road (review)
20. A science-fiction novel
Done: Suzanne Collins - Catching Fire
21. A book recommended by a family member
Done: Thomas Mann - The Magic Mountain
22. A graphic novel
Done: Alfonso Zapico - James Joyce
23. A book that is published 2016
Done: Anna Romer - Beyond the Orchard
24. A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
Done: A. F. Th. van der Heijden - De Ochtendgave
25. A book that takes place during Summer
Done: F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
26. A book and it's prequel
Done: J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows
27. A murder mystery
Done: Agatha Christie - And Then There Were None
28. A book written by a comedian
Done: Horst Evers - Mein Leben als Suchmaschine
29. A dystopian novel
Done: Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
30. A book with a blue cover
Done: Joseph Heller - Catch-22
31. A book of poetry
Done: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - 50 Gedichte
32. The first book you see in a bookstore
Done: DBC Pierre - Breakfast with the Borgias (review)
33. A classic from the 20th century
Done: Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451 (review)
34. A book from the library
Done: John Steinbeck - East of Eden (review)
35. An autobiography
Done: Nelson Mandela - Long Walk To Freedom (abridged)
36. A book about a road trip
Done: John Steinbeck - The Grapes Of Wrath (review)
37. A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with
Roy Adkins - Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England
38. A satirical book
Done: Miguel de Cervantes - Don Quixote
39. A book that takes place on an Island
Done: H.G. Wells - The Island of Dr. Moreau
40. A book that's guaranteed to bring you joy
Done: Jonas Jonasson - Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All
Here are all the 24 pictures of my Christmas Calendar! It features books I loved as well as bookstores I've visited. And last but not least, you can get a glimp of my own book case ;-)
See the original postings on my Facebook page!
Inspired by the Goodreads with a view hashtag on Twitter, I took a daily book picture during my travels through Italy and southern France. Enjoy!
I have been living in Germany for over three years now, and though I like my German life a lot, I do miss my home country. It may sound curious, but one of the things I miss is the foundation 'Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek' (CPNB, "Collective Promotion for the Dutch Book"). This foundation supports and promotes Dutch literature. One of their main activities is organizing the book week, which is annually held in March. During the book week there are lots of literary activities throughout the country, starting off with the book ball, which is attended by invited publishers and authors. During the ten day "week", everyone that buys Dutch books for an amount of 12,50€ or more receives a novella that was written by a well-known Dutch or Flamish author especially for the book week. The book week usually has a theme, and the novella should fit to this theme. The book week is supported by the Dutch railways, for everyone with a book week present can travel the train for free on the second Saturday of the week.
Besides the book week, the CPNB organizes a youth version of it in October, as well as 'de maand van het spannende boek'; a month in which crime novels are in the spotlight, and many other themed weeks.
Since 2006, the CPNB organizes the annual event 'Nederland Leest' in November, which is sort of a book club for the whole country. Members of public libraries can get a special reprint of an existing Dutch book, and they are supposed to read and discuss it together.
In order to get children to reading, the CPNB organizes the "Kinderjury". During one and a half month, children can rate Dutch books that have been published in the past year. The books can be bought or are available in public libraries. I remember filling out special vote cards that could be handed in at the library, but nowadays the kids can choose their favorites online. The book with the highest rating gets a price, and when a new edition of the book is printed, it's likely that the Kinderjury price is mentioned on the cover.
I read a lot of late 18th/19th century novels and it is striking how often women faint in those stories. It seems they can't hear a slightly upsetting message or - boom - flat they lay. Did Victorian women really swoon as often as literature want us to believe, or is it just a way of adding more drama to the story?
First thing to realize is that there are physical reasons for fainting. Women in that time wore tight corsets, which made it difficult to eat much - and undernourishment can cause dizzyness and eventually fainting. Second, it was impossible for women to take a deep breath as their organs where deformed by wearing a corset. There are moments where one really needs to take a deep breath - when overheated, or when seeing something disgusting, when hurt - and these women just couldn't. The fact that women always carried smelling salts with them indicates fainting was quite common.
But it's not impossible that there were psychological motives as well. One important insight is that women do faint a lot more often in novels by male authors than in for example any novel of the Brontë sisters. It is likely that male authors portrayed women as weak creatures that would fall into a swoon easily, probably because a fragile woman was attractive to men. Novels written in the Romantic Period (1790-1860) were characterized by sentiment and strong emotions. Gothic romances were really popular in the female readership, and it thus is possible that women orientated to their fragile, obedient heroines and draw male attention to them.
Whatever the real reasons may be, fact is that swoons add a lovely bit of drama to a situation.