Camille Corot: Young girl readingWe are beginning to institute a tradition, now that family Christmas holiday obligations are behind us, that winter is a time when the predominant occupation is reading. With me, of course, the driving impetus is to finish all those books which I have accumulated through the year - finish them before I acquire even more!
I have a backlog of two kinds of books: one is what I describe as bedtime books, read in bed, now mostly on my Kindle. I don't worry about that list growing because when one book is finished I like to have a choice as to what kind of book I shall read next. I now very much enjoy keeping an eye on Kindle's Daily Deals which mostly offer texts at daft low prices, but which throw diverse titles at me. I am tempted by very few, if any, but it was one such Daily Deal which brought me my current bedtime reading: Stanley: Africa's greatest explorer. I am very much enjoying this biography which is well written, interesting and easy to read, and which also uncovers new research material. As well as being a general subject in which I am interested - although that is a wide and growing field, thank goodness.
The other type of book which is piling up is the art book. These need physical support, and are therefore impossible in bed. Also they proliferate in fits and starts depending on exhibitions visited, enthusiasms, new publications, and simply stumbling across something which looks interesting. Because life has a habit of getting in the way, I often start a book and become distracted by something more immediately compelling. One such recent case of diversion was two books I bought when visiting the Hepworth Gallery last month. Believe it or not, I have actually read both: Barbara Hepworth: the hospital drawings, and Barbara Hepworth: the plasters. Both books examine an aspect of Hepworth's work in minute detail which I found most rewarding.
Those books took me away from two books I had already embarked upon: John Richardson's great biography of Picasso, Vol.3, which should be my main reading, and a distraction which contains essays, and is therefore itself interruptable: Hand stitch perspectives. The latter is a follow up volume to the equally excellent Machine stitch perspectives, which I must admit was also one which took me away from the Picasso biography.
M. Knoop: An old woman readingSo, my pile so far consists of three catalogues: Bronze, Miro: Sculptor from the exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Turner, Monet, Twombly and Degas and the Ballet: Picturing movement which I have already started - the last two from Spring!
David Hockney, The Biography, has also been waiting since my birthday in Spring. More recently I acquired the interesting looking The Textile Reader, which is a collection of essays - so I shall not feel so bad if that hangs over into 2013.
Jan Lievens: Old woman reading
But first I have started back with Hand stitch perspectives, and after that will be my beloved Picasso. How many on the list will I manage before the end of the year, I wonder?