Archive of ‘Reading pleasures’ category

Bookish adventures

| Daily life, Reading pleasures

One rainy misty afternoon, I finally managed to make my way down to John King books. I’d long heard about this 4 story institution devoted to books and I have long wanted to visit.

Well, it finally happened and I can tell you that it lives up to all the accolades it has earned over the years.

The bookstore was founded by Mr John King in 1971 and its original location was in Dearborn. It moved to its downtown location in 1983 when Mr King purchased the Advanced Glove factory. It later expanded to have two other locations though sadly, one of these two has recently closed.

They have an inventory of over a million titles divided among its two remaining branches thought the downtown one has a much larger inventory. It’s not far fetched to think they have a book on possibly every topic you can think of. No wonder it was once ranked no 2 of the world’s 18 Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit at Least Once. I’m keeping this list by the way and making it one of my goals to visit as many as I can. But I digress.

In this day and age where everything is digital and online, John King books is firmly on the old fashioned side. There is no computerized inventory except for their rare book collection. They cannot look up titles for you,  instead, they have booksellers who can direct your search for titles and then you’re on your own– to peruse the alphabetically arranged shelves and get lost in the warren of musty corridors of shelves lined with books and yet more books. When you come, don’t expect to surface for air until hours later. Actually, it’s best to simply clear your schedule of all other things.

As for my book haul, I came away with a very modest one. But this just means another trip down very soon! 

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A throwback Thursday in honor of World Book Day

| Bead adventures, Reading pleasures



Hello friends, today is World Book Day and I thought I would do a related Throwback Thursday post. By now, you’ve probably guessed that I’m a little obsessed about beads.  I’m all up for bead adventures, whether its digging for beads in some small French town, or dragging the family on a 7 hour drive to see a bead exhibit.  This obsession extends to bead books.   Now there are a good number of books on beading and how-tos but the ones I’m most interested in are the ones that deal with the stories and histories of beads and those are a little harder to come by. As I got deeper into studying  beads, it became important to build up my bead library. And I got a little obsessive about  a book called Middle Eastern and Venetian Glass Beads by Augusto Panini. It is this big and gorgeous book on antique beads and had a fairly limited run.  It was of course not obtainable in any of the bookstores I called. Looking back now, I wonder why I just didn’t look for it online but I have to confess that it didn’t occur to me at that time. Luckily for me it didn’t because what I finally did was to write to the author to ask if he had any copies left to sell. And lo and behold–he wrote back to say he had one or two left and that he would be happy to sell me one. Even better was the news that he was coming to Paris for a visit so he could actually give me the book in person. That just about made my day, as you can well imagine!

I even got him to sign my book!  Needless to say, its one of my most cherished books.




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For the bead geek in me

| Beads, Reading pleasures

Usually the arrival of mail merits but a cursory attention but today I was so happy to see the postman arrive. You see, I’ve been waiting impatiently for the arrival of my complete set of Beads, the official journal of the Society of Bead Researchers. Yes, you read that right, it’s a journal about beads.
Now, beads are fascinating to different people for a number of reasons —they represent man’s impulse to create and to adorn oneself, they serve as anthropological and cultural markers of different times and places and well, because they’re pretty, just to cite some of the many reasons. Believe it or not, we learn so much about a particular society by studying their beads. For me, having these old beads is like holding a piece of tangible history in my hands. It fascinates me no end.

Anyway, the Society’s mission is to undertake and promote research on the many aspects of beads and bead making. Their journals represent the best of the research out there and it is constantly updated and enriched as more research is carried out.
I’m lucky to be able to acquire a complete set of their journals before they become out of print! I can’t wait to dive into them!


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Weekend reading

| Friday links, Reading pleasures


Hello friends! What wonderful plans have you got for the weekend? Mine include diving into this series by Marissa Meyer. I love fairy tales and I’m always interested in their retelling. This series looks really promising and as its cold out, I cant imagine a better way to pass the time.

So to close the week, here are a few fun links from around the web..

More books to look forward to in this article.

Snow boots are inevitable during winter, but there are some chic yet comfy alternatives. Check them out here.

You know how you get those cravings for cupcakes or chips? Well, turns out, there’s a scientific reason behind all that!! Whew! Here is the article in full.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Inspired reading

| Reading pleasures

Hello friends, hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I’m starting the week with a book on American jewelry history. It certainly promises to be an interesting read!

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Trade bead jewelry

| Bead adventures, Reading pleasures


Trade beads are one of my most favorite beads to work with. The variety of patterns, and different colors make them interesting and different. I really think that they make for wonderful additions to one’s jewelry box and they can easily jazz up any outfit. Because they are so colorful and inevitably full of pattern, I’ve tried to make these pieces relatively simple in style. These three pieces featured here are great examples of what I mean.

The first piece (pictured above) features bright yellow trade beads with red canes running in the middle of the bead. I’ve had these yellow beads for awhile but I didn’t really know how I would style it. Then when I went to Tucson for the gem fair, I found this red bead which I realized was the exact same pattern as the canes running through the yellow beads.  The beads on this necklace date back to the late 19th century.  I didn’t want this piece to be overwhelming so I decided to go for a sautoir style necklace. I think this style makes these beads more wearable. Just layer over a plain shirt and you’re good to go.

20140513-112507.jpgThe second piece features two black eye beads from the Venetian trade and a lovely Venetian fancy trade bead. While the Venetians were master bead makers, they were greatly inspired by ancient Islamic bead makers. One pattern they took and made their own was the eye motif which was greatly prized by Africans. The eye beads were believed to be powerful protection against the evil eye. The two black eye beads featured here are the Venetians version of an ancient Islamic bead and date back to the 19th century. The yellow fancy bead on the other hand is the Venetian version of the highly prized African Bodom bead.  The Venetian versions are increasingly difficult to find and I was lucky to have found an excellent specimen.  For these beads, I decide to make a shorter necklace that’s designed to sit on the collarbone. Perfect under button down shirts!

20140505-125210.jpgAnd last but not the least is this bracelet composed of blue and yellow trade beads.  While the colors are the same, the pattern is not exactly the same.  The small football shaped beads are harder to find than the round ones and the canes used in the beads are more apparent here. Eh voila… a couple of new pieces to start the week on the right note!


Friday fun plus links

| Daily life, Etsy, Reading pleasures, Vintage finds



Its the weekend! Or almost!!  What fun things have you got planned? Going around the stores, I noticed loads of Easter decorations. I suppose its not too early to get started on those preparing those adorable Easter baskets, bunnies included. For my part, I think I’m on the right track thanks to my find from yesterday’s shopping tour which you can read about here. I found these  adorable vintage nesting eggs from Vintage Vogue and they’re perfect for an Easter Egg hunt!

So I thought I’d do a round up of interesting reads to share with you all on this rainy Friday…

Who likes Legos? If you are, check out the BrickBash

Are you a beauty products fiend? There’s a new kid on the block, thanks to the arrival on the scene of an old Parisian brand– L’Officine Universelle Buly brand…

Interestingly enough,  some folks prefer to look to Etsy for their beauty needs. If you are, then this is an interesting read from the New York Times

Still on Etsy, there’s a great post on How To Use Instagram for Marketing.   I wasn’t entirely convinced about Instagram but a friend of mine (thanks to D!) convinced me to try it and I love it! Its a wonderful way to visually share your world and its a great place to find inspiration.  And now, a useful post for all business owners. Read it here.

Hope you have fun with these articles! Have a good weekend everyone!





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On the trail of a book

| Reading pleasures, Uncategorized


Silver treasures from the land of sheba

One of the nice things about bead research is the way the trail leads to other interesting reads, especially on jewelry.   I’ll be reading something on beads and very often its bibliography yields a whole other list of books to read.  One of the things that struck me when I first started reading up on beads is how often they’ve been used on ethnic jewelry. And ethnic jewelry is a whole other fascinating field! So many great books on this subject.   One highly anticipated book is Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba, Marjorie Ransom’s book on traditional Yemeni jewelry (Isn’t this a lovely title? Photo courtesy of Oxford University Press website). I’ve been waiting anxiously for its release since last year, but it seems its publication date has once again been pushed to April 2014.

So I was delighted when I came across an article she wrote in 2012 on this topic in the Saudi Aramco World website. It even features a wonderful video of a silversmith.  Reading this makes me anticipate her book even more!  Here is the article in full. Enjoy!!

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Keeping warm

| Daily life, Reading pleasures

It’s sub zero temperatures once again in our part of the world. I think this weekend will be all about staying warm and comfy. And what better way to while away the time than reading some good books and maybe a movie or two.


Oh and if you like lists, here is a list of the top new books of 2014.
Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful weekend!

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Weekend reading

| Reading pleasures


Hello friends, we’ve got a long weekend ahead of us and I’m going to dive head first into this gorgeous book.  It’s pages and pages of beautifully photographed Venetian beads with a short chapter on the history of bead making in Venice. This bead loving heart of mine is happy at the prospect of such reading!

And while we’re on the subject of gorgeous books, check out this absolutely stunning new book on jewelry.

Happy Weekend everyone!!

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The Orphan Master’s Son- a book review

| Reading pleasures


The Orphan Master's sonHello friends, I finally got around to one of the books on my summer reading and I’m pretty happy to have finished it! I should’ve maybe started with an easier read from my list but I was inspired to read The Orphan Master’s Son because this was my book club’s choice for the summer.

The Orphan Master’s Son is a pretty hefty book and definitely not a light read.  It takes on as its subject, life in the Hermit Kingdom, otherwise known as North Korea.  The narrator is Jun Do and before the book ends, we see him live different lives and play different roles.

Johnson does a great job of painting a vivid and bleak picture of what life must be like in North Korea  thanks in large part to the huge amount of research he undertook as well as a closely supervised visit to the country. But what makes this book really sing is the scope of his imagination because research alone is not enough to convey the minutiae of life and the way he wields language to show us this life.  Terrible, ugly things are depicted here but Johnson is equally adept in writing passages of delicacy and beauty.

 My favorite passage in the book is between a father and son..

There is a talk that every father has with his son in which he brings the child to understand that there are ways we must act, things we must say, but inside we are still us, we are family….He told me that there was a path set out for us. On it we had to do everything the signs commanded and heed all the announcements along the way. Even if we walked this path side by side, he said, we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands….Inside is where the son and the father will always be holding hands.”

For me this sums up beautifully what the book aims to show us about the Hermit Kingdom.


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Summer reading

| Reading pleasures

summer fair1



Long the winter may have been, summer’s going to have its way.  Its finally here along with the Summer fair with its rides and popcorn fare, the smell of barbecue grilling and the long awaited family vacation. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to pack up a bunch of books that I’ve been wanting to read and bring them along to wherever we may end up going. Often, the books outweigh all the clothes I need but summer to me means more time to read all those books I’ve been eyeing during the rest of the year. So I thought I would share with you some of the books in my reading list…

The Orphan Master’s Son -this book has garnered a lot of critical praise and has won the  the Pulitzer Prize.  Prize aside, what intrigues me is the writer’s depiction of North Korea, one of the most closed societies of the world.  I am so curious to see the author’s depiction of this society and I would like to ask him how he this tale came into being.

The Painted Girls–set in Belle Epoque Paris, this is the story of two sisters, one of whom becomes the model became for Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.  I love historical fiction. I love the idea of imagining the stories behind artworks and historical figures.  And sometimes its good to be immersed in another period altogether.

Detroit: An American Autopsy– I think its only fair to learn more about this notorious city with such contrasting faces. Crime ridden yet blessed with one of the country’s best art collections. I want to know more.

The Fault in our Stars— I’ve been a fan of John Green since I read Looking for Alaska  so I’m really looking forward to his newest one. It has cancer in it though so I’m preparing a box of tissues.

Paris Haute Couture– This is a comprehensive history of Parisian high fashio.  Good enough reason for me to read it!

Market Day in Provence— Provencal markets have such romantic allure. I love markets.  But this book dissects the mechanisms behind such markets and dissects its economic workings and implications.  That’s quite a different take on markets and I’m curious to see what the author has to say. Plus, its set in the beautiful town of Carpentras of which I have many fond memories of.  I can’t wait!

How about you dear friends, what’s on your summer reading list?


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All about Chanel No.5

| Reading pleasures

vintage chanel no 5 ad

Currently ongoing in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo is an exhibit on Chanel No.5.  Such is the stature of this iconic perfume that a whole exhibit has been dedicated to it.  If, however you don’t have time to see this exhibit, there is a way of knowing more about this perfume without having to leave the comfort of your home.  Thanks to Tilar Mazzeo’s The Secret of Chanel No 5we are treated to a thoroughly researched yet engrossingly told tale of how one of the world’s most famous perfumes came into being and how its success was almost against its creator’s will.

Chanel no 5 book

What’s really great about this book is its creative non-fiction style.  Mazzeo defines this as  “the art of writing truthfully and accurately about history while using the techniques of compelling storytelling.”  I love that she is able to take what could otherwise be a dry collection of facts and  turns it into a story that’s much more about a perfume. It becomes instead a tale of a strong-willed woman and the times she lived in. With this book, we visit the perfume region of Grasse and Paris, of course.  And we learn so many intriguing things too–to cite one, Chanel’s sublime indifference to marketing what ultimately became her signature perfume.  Another thing to appreciate from this book is the wealth of information in the book which speaks to the enormous research that went into it.  the book makes it clear that an enormous amount of research went into this book.

I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that when I finished it, I wanted to go and douse myself in the heady scent of Chanel No.5

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