I subscribe to Domino magazine, though I’m planning to let my subscription lapse. There’s only so many pictures of garishly colored thousand-dollar bookends I can stand. Usually there’s one article per issue that I find useful, but each month I find it more and more an homage to decorating porn, particularly the hype of products that most mere mortals cannot afford.
The one article I found useful in this month’s issue isn’t useful to me in the way they intended. In a 3/4 page piece about using books to decorate (commence my headdesking), Stella Bugbee opines that some new books are bound in such gorgeous fashion that one should buy them all and stack them artistically on a shelf so people can gaze upon your style and ponder at your reading acumen.
Pah. I say, these books are gorgeous and terribly TERRIBLY interesting like OMG DAMN Mon DIEU. Consider this a mini-gift guide to anyone who loves beautiful books that are so thought provoking, if they had an odor they’d smell like they taste good.
For example: Penguin has launched the “Great Ideas” series using famous and lesser known historic texts housed in volumes with fonts that are so gorgeous you might want to stroke them a lot. Designer David Pearson, according to Bugbee’s article, is the man to thank for the wow factor.
And thank Penguin again for the delicious tasty irony: one of the most beautiful of the volumes? Thorsten Veblen’s Conspicuous Consumption. Yum yum yum yum yum delicioso!
Other books that are truly attractive for their content and their style? Hazlitt’s The Pleasure of Hating is brilliantly bitchy and bitter, so you might want to have your choice of literary antidote handy as a chaser if you read it. You might enjoy Orwell’s Why I Write while watching election coverage, particularly for his examination of political writing as an effort “to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Penguin has also released collections in boxed sets that are as of this writing 30% off.
If you’re shopping for a reader whose tastes can be tricky and who would love to be indulged with a truly beautiful and amazing book, let us all join hands and think loving and bookish thoughts to whomever dreamed up the idea of Persephone Books, located on Lamb’s Conduit Street in London. The books themselves are bound in grey fabric, with individually selected end papers and matching bookmarks that have ties to the stories within, but the titles themselves are so alluring I had to hide my credit card in the freezer behind a bag of peas. Every book is £10 – which even with the hideous exchange rate is tempting.
I’m hopping in my chair and emailing the link left and right as I type this, too. I’m particularly curious about Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson, about a governess sent to the wrong address, which turns out to be the home of a night-club singer, and The Montana Stories by Katherine Mansfield. This book is the collected work of the end of Mansfield’s life as she lived in Switzerland before her death from tuberculosis, and according to the book description, “nearly half are set in New Zealand.” Plus, every purchase comes with a two issue subscription to their magazine, which profiles their publications and the individuals behind them.
Domino featured the books for their aesthetic style, which is certainly considerable. But I can’t help feeling they missed a massive opportunity to feature more about this press, both stylistically and literarily – these books are simply amazingly delicious. I haven’t drooled this hard since the clearance sale from Levenger.