Saturday, February 26, 2011

Connections and Discoveries

There was a time when I read pretty much nothing but books about books -- novels about books, to be more specific.  I am pretty sure that it started with The Little Country by Charles de Lint and went from there.  Every once in a while I would mix it up with a non-fiction sort of book about books, such as So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson.  I found novels and mysteries and fantasy and chick lit.  I have read a pile of such books, and there are still plenty on my "to read" list.  The novel I started writing the first time I participated in National Novel Writing Month involves books.

Phases like this are extremely common for me.  I find something that I like -- a genre, a game, a hobby, a musician, a style of clothing, a food, a television show or movie, a historical period, even a person -- and become, well, obsessed.  I immerse myself in the subject until I am practically drowning or until something else comes along and attracts my attention.  I keep wandering through my various interests with varying degrees of enthusiasm, adding new ones along the way.  Eventually I might even become fairly well versed in a subject.

Some time after I had read a bunch of books about books, I encountered the title Alligators, Old Mink and New Money, and I was off learning about vintage fashion.  Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown followed, along with a few others.  Last year's reading list saw a reappearance of vintage fashion with A Vintage Affair and Dreaming of Dior, and since books/stories about fashion which are not art/coffee table books more focused on the photos than the text, I have been on the lookout for another "vintage" read.

Today's trip to the bookstore introduced me to The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean, and it turns out that I have encountered Ms. McKean before.  She is the founder of, of which I am a fan, and the author of the blog, which I came across at some point after reading Dreaming of Dior.  It was like seeing a familiar face in a crowded room or learning something completely new about a longtime acquaintance.  It's fun.

The first twenty pages or so have me interested in reading more, especially since the protagonist adores vintage clothes but feels out of place trying to wear them, even when they fit and suit her, and ends up reverting to her t-shirts, comfortable jeans and sneakers.  I feel the same way.  I love fabulous, stylish, couture and vintage clothing and shoes, but the view always seems better from the outside than when I look in the mirror.

The day's other discovery is that Dame Judi Dench has written a memoir.  I'm generally not much for the stories of famous people I don't know, but I can't imagine that Dame Judi doesn't have some fantastically witty and insightful observations about life.  She has performed on stage, screen and television and done everything from Shakespeare to Fleming (as in Bond, whom she takes delight in referring to as "a sexist, misogynistic dinosaur" -- yay!).  In the process, she has won every award given for such performances.  She clearly loves her work (even if she doesn't love everything she does), and I am excited to find out what she has to say.