My husband and I have amassed quite a number of beautiful coffee table books, autobiographies and some self-help books over the years. Personally, I used to just scan the pages and ogle at the photos of our coffee table books while our other books collected dust on the shelves. Not having the time to read them was always my excuse. So over the past two years, I’ve been making time for myself to read and appreciate our collection. So far, it’s been inspiring.
“For every book you buy,
you should buy the time to read it.”
― Karl Lagerfeld
1. Dinner Diaries: Reviving the Art of the Hostess Book By Daniel Cappello, available in W/17 Home
The dinner party has evolved in the last few years, and here’s a way to keep up with the times.
I bought this book from my friend Kaye Tinga’s home store W/17. The moment I opened the book, I read it from cover to cover! I also love the pretty salmon-colored satin cover! Lovely to decorate with.
Dinner Diaries follows in the spirit of Assouline’s popular Proust Questionnaire, Fashion Questionnaire, and Wine Questionnaire, using the format of Proust’s handy interview helper, to ask everything about dinner parties, from preferred seating arrangements to the best conversation topics.
Featuring handwritten answers from experienced hosts such as Ivanka Trump and chef Alex Hitz, Dinner Diaries is illustrated with ephemera from these hosts—seating charts, menus, guest lists, place cards—and contains blank questionnaires and seating charts in the back to share with friends.
2. La Dolce Vita By Slim Aarons, Waterstones Book Store, London
For someone who’s worked all her life and always has to manage time, I am fascinated about the lifestyle of the rich—fabulous people doing fabulous things in fabulous places!
Slim Aarons’ tomes are inspiring, beautiful and he has captured an iconic time capsule of a bygone era.
His La Dolce Vita coffee table book was another birthday gift from one of my best friends Lounell. He bought it in London. It’s a sweet addition to my growing Slim Aarons collection!
I love working and I don’t see myself retiring at any point in my life but I have to admit I also secretly want to be a lady of leisure, haha!
3. Life By Keith Richards By Keith Richards and James Fox, available in Fully Booked
Tom and I love reading autobiographies of rock stars. It’s probably because Tom has seen some of the rock legends perform live when he was younger and being a musician himself while I love reading about their crazy adventures!
Keith Richards’ life is probably one of the craziest! The first page sets the whole story of the roller coaster, supernova ride he took! Hashtag: “KKLK”
4. Hamptons Pleasures By Susan Meisel & Ellen Harris, National Book Store
I love reading books about the Hamptons! A place where lobster picnics and dining al fresco are done with style and ease. The Hamptons is also a charming place where vintage Schwinn bicycles with rattan baskets filled with organic produce bought at the community market rule the road. The place seems magical.
For as much as I love the city, I also dream of a life where there is fresh air, a sprawling garden and our house overlooking the sea.
I dream of a Summer home with a view of the ocean. For now, I’m getting inspirations from the Hamptons Pleasures book by Susan Meisel & Ellen Harris.
5. Charles James By Harold Koda and Jan Glier Reeder, National Book Store
Every designer and fashion enthusiasts should buy Charles James’ tome. His passion for his craft and artistry is evident in every page.
To quote New York-based publicist and society columnist R. Couri Hay, “James is a designer trapped in the amber of a bygone era: synonymous with pastel bell skirts and white gloves, suits with impossibly tiny waists, and swan-necked socialites. His was a picture of glamour rooted in some of the biggest society names, including Paleys, Hearsts, and Whitneys. While his heyday as “America’s couturier” extended through the 1940s and ’50s, he continued designing well into his last decade.”
Charles James, often considered to be America’s first couturier, was renowned in the 1940s and 1950s as a master at sculpting fabric for the female form and creating fashions that defined mid- century glamour. Although James had no formal training as a dressmaker, he created strikingly original and complex designs, including intricate ball gowns worn by members of high society in New York and Europe. This lavishly illustrated book offers a comprehensive study of James’ life and work, highlighting his virtuosity and inventiveness as well as his influence on subsequent fashion designers. Featuring exciting new photography of the spectacular evening dresses James produced between 1947 and 1955, this publication includes enlightening details of these intricate creations alongside vintage photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as patterns, muslins, dress forms, and sketches. A detailed and illustrated chronology of James’ life describes his magnetic personality, his unorthodox design processes, his colorful supporters—such as Salvador Dalí, Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, and Cristobal Balenciaga—and profiles of a number of his famous clients, such as Gypsy Rose Lee. With flair and style echoing that of its subject, Charles James brings to life one of the most fascinating and creative figures in American fashion.
6. How to Raise a Gentleman: A Civilized Guild to Helping Your Son Through His Uncivilized Childhood, available in Amazon.com
I bought this book when I was still pregnant with my son Dylan. Tom and I want to raise our son to become a gentleman.
The book was very funny (British humor, my favorite) and a quick, enjoyable read. There were chapters on being a good sport, play dates, table manners, appropriate language, and “personal habits” (stuff like boogers, making gross bodily function noises, and scratching.) I recommend this book if you have a son.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be swept off your feet by a man’s chivalry and kindness?