Fun and Interesting Non-Fiction Recommendations, March 2015


A HOME IN PARIS, Interiors – Inspiration
by Catherine Synave, Photographs by Guillaume de Laubier, Flammarion SA, 2015

This beautiful book showcases the surprising diversity of the contemporary Parisian home.  Included are lofts, apartments, town houses, duplexes of every possible style on the Left and Right Bank, featuring fabulous rare and singular interiors.  Oh, it really makes me want to live in Paris and decorate to my heart’s content!  Because the buildings possess an inimitable allure, and the way the apartments particularly are laid out with beautiful architectural details on the doors,  walls, floors, enhancement of these details through decor is unquestionably an attribute to the art of French living.

I love perusing this book because it takes me back to my recent trip and gives me new inspiration to decorate in the Parisian style here in the Hudson Valley.




Dirty Old London, The Victorian Fight Against Filth
by Lee Jackson, Yale University Press 2014

I heard the author being interviewed on NPR one afternoon, the squalor of London was so riveting a subject to me, I ordered the book. It is a great companion to explore London’s underbelly, we learn why London was so dirty.

In Victorian London filth was everywhere: rotting corpses in graveyards, air filled with smoke, rubbish uncollected.  The author guides us through the Victorian metropolis, telling us about the men and women who struggled to stem the tide of this deteriorating situation.  There are thematic chapters, such as “The Golden Dustman”, “Vile Bodies”, “Wretched Houses”, with individual stories and details.   If you visit London as often as I do, you might also find this book worth reading.




By Kenn Filkins, Editor, Doug Daniels, Illustrator, published by North American Falconers’ Association, 1995

A celebration of North American falconry with 24 writers exploring the falconer’s passion for hawks and falcons. This is really an anthology of falconry prose including humor, satire, fiction, stories and personal experiences.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I am now on a quest to read and learn everything I can about falconry after reading the stirring and wonderful H is for Hawk, which I told you about before. I have done falconry many many times in Vermont and England and am even planning to do a hunt in May at Gleneagles in Scotland. In the future I will also tell you about other books I read. But for now, if you are interested in falconry, here is a good blend of what it is like to be a  falconer and a panorama of this sport.

(Related: my review of H is for Hawk)




By Roger Cohen, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2015

Roger Cohen was on Charlie Rose one evening and because I like him as a New York Times columnist, I decided to read his newly-published book.

This is a story of Cohen’s Jewish family from Lithuania to South Africa, London and Tel Aviv today.  I found this intimate portrait of Roger Cohen’s mother,to be very tender against a backdrop of a family history.  The devastation of his mother’s displacement from South Africa to London and her accompanying depression makes this a moving and haunting book.

“At the heart of The Girl from Human Street is the powerful and touching relationship between Cohen and his mother.  Tortured by the upheavals in her life yet stoic in her struggle, she embodies her son’s complex inheritance”. *

*from front flap of book cover




JUST KIDS FROM THE BRONX, Telling the Way it Was, An Oral History
By Arlene Alda, Henry Holt and Company, New York 2015

I was born in the Bronx, well, that is not completely accurate, I was born in Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital, in New York, but we lived in the Bronx until I was 8 years old.  Therein lies one of the reasons I was attracted to this book.

I found it charming when I saw Arlene and Alan Alda on Charlie Rose, to hear Arlene declare: “Did you know there are only three places in the world that have the word ‘THE’ before its name: they are The Vatican, The Hague and The Bronx!!

The inscription in the beginning of the book reads “To the young writers and scientists and artists and musicians and actors and educators and doctors and lawyers and nurses and sports figures and business people and politicians who are the future of the Bronx….and to the memory of my parents who had the good sense to move to the Bronx in the first place”.

This is a compilation of funny and generous childhood memories.  In the future I will tell you more about my very personal reminiscences, particularly about the Bronx Zoo. Keep tuned.

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