Bedroom Nook by Kate Lewis Paired with The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. **Note that if you go to her personal website, she has some marker on paper drawings that are beautiful and much cheaper, if you're interested.
In Time Giclee art print by Clare Elsaesser Paired with If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins.
Marsh & Rains Fine Art Print by Emily Jeffords. Paired with Longbourn by Jo Baker.
Samantha French's Sink in float: 8x8" Archival Print Paired with Live Fast Die Hot by Jenny Mollen.
I’m sure that it’s not original to say that I love books and art. Fortunately for me, and for my husband and son, my art tastes have changed a little since the days that I had a velvet painting of Elvis in my bedroom.
On this Wednesday morning I created a Shamelessly Reductive Book Game in which you can pair your favorite painting—all of which may be purchased—with a book recommendation. Enjoy!
The Improbability of Love (book) by Hannah Rothschild Paired with Bedroom Nook (painting) by Kate Lewis. This was definitely one of my favorite reads of 2016. Annie goes into a junk shop and without knowing it, purchases a painting called The Improbability of Love by Jean-Antoine Watteau. What follows is: Annie’s efforts to become a fabulous chef (and these are truly gorgeous descriptions), Annie’s efforts to find out the provenance of her painting, and efforts by other people to get their hands on the painting, legally and illegally. Rothschild offers various narrative perspectives in the novel, including the painting itself (the deliciously snobby voice of a painting who recognizes that he is a masterpiece). This is such a great book, whether you are interested in art or not.
If You Only Knew(book) by Kristan Higgins Paired with In Time (painting) by Clare Elsaesser. I’ve loved romance novels since I was a teenager, and I partially blame them for my sometimes unrealistic expectations about romantic relationships (sorry, Dan!). I’ve read a few of Kristan Higgins’s other novels and one thing that I really appreciate about her works is how complexly she renders familial relationships. Higgins’ If You Only Knew offers a primary and secondary romance plot, both focusing on a set of sisters. This two-for-the-price-of-one romance novel is my absolute favorite; it provides the same exhilarating internal effects as when my mother-in-law announces that she has made two different, delicious pies for dinner and we can have some of each (yes, please!). The primary romance features on a sexy but emotionally unavailable man, which also happens to be one of my favorite types of male protagonists. (Hopefully this is just a superficial literary preference of mine and not something I should bring up in therapy ;) ). Romance novels are known for their happily ever after endings and this one is satisfying and feels authentic to the characters.
Longbourn(book)by Jo Baker Paired with Marsh and Rains Fine Print (painting) by Emily Jeffords This is an incredible re-telling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the Bennets’ servants. Longbourn centers on a young woman named Sarah, who is a beautiful soul, and also features Mr. and Mrs. Hill, a younger servant named Polly, and of course the Bennets. Here’s an example of how this novel complicates our understanding of the Bennet household: “Because, she thought, as she fixed the pails to the yoke, ducked into it, and staggered upright, really no one should have to deal with another person’s dirty linen. The young ladies might behave like they were smooth and sealed as alabaster statues underneath their clothes, but then they would drop their soiled shifts on the bedchamber floor, to be whisked away and cleansed, and would thus reveal themselves to be the frail, leaking, forked bodily creatures that they really were.” This is a really, really good book and highly recommended.
Live Fast Die Hot(book) by Jenny Mollen Paired with Sink in Float (painting) by Samantha French. I read about this book on a book recommendation website that I follow, and incredibly, it was my first time hearing about Mollen. This is a hilarious, irreverent book that I loved. Just FYI, Mollen’s spouse is Jason Biggs, and she refers to him throughout this series of essays. Here’s an example from her introduction: “I never wanted to write a book about having a baby, mainly because I would never read a book about having a baby. After I saw the movie For Keeps with Molly Ringwald in 1988, I was pretty much scared off children for the next two decades. But when I hit thirty-four, my husband’s biological clock started drinking and screaming at me before bed that it was time to put somebody else first. Him. So we got pregnant.” If you’re looking for a series of essays written by one funny lady—and particularly a series of essays that touches on being a new mom (although that isn’t the only topic addressed here)—give these a read.