Friday Fun: Places for Reading and Relaxing

You might be tempted to read outdoors in this weather, but whether you are afraid of overheating, or don’t want to be come a target for insects, here are some alternatives to reading in the garden.

Everything close to hand with super-comfortable seating. From Decoist.

 

 

For the more dreamy amongst you, an indoor hammock is a solution. From Remodelista.
Window seats are always popular, especially with such generous windows. From My Domaine.
The reading nook in the well-stocked library is always a refuge. From Tumblr.
Another home library with comfortable seating, from Pinterest.
Messy but atmospheric, this chateau library from Pinterest.
And if you really can’t stay away from the beautiful outdoors, here is a veranda reading nook, from housely.com
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Friday Fun: Dreamy Spaces for Escapologists

Well, we all know where people who have an impregnably clear conscience go, don’t we? Even after they mess up an entire country? To a shepherd’s hut in the back garden, of course.

Not David Cameron’s hut but very similar, to be found at Melody Farm in Cornwall.

Here are some alternative places to hide from public scrutiny. All come with a beautiful view, if you feel like scanning the horizon. Nothing to disturb your peace of mind or make you think of the people you left behind. Very photogenic, too, for when you hire photographers to take pictures of you signing your resignation letters.

The Scholars’ Library in the Forest, designed by Gluck, from Designboom.
This rooftop study gives ivory towers a run for their money. From 6sqft.com
Endless space to create or pace around. From Ancram, NY.
Sail away, sail away, sail away… From Decoist.
The modest country house retreat, from Homedit.com
Proving once again that minimalism is a luxury, from Itchban.com
Another place on your isolated island, where no one will ever reach you. From Youtube.

Friday Fun: Studios for Those Who Don’t Like Studios

If you don’t like studios, that means you haven’t found the perfect one for you yet. There is such variety out there, so much fun to be had in decorating virtually…

Gleefully feminine, from Where Women Create.

 

Architect’s office in the famous Talgarth Road of houses for artists, London.
Offices for La Granja Design, Barcelona
Another Barcelona studio, designed for and by Miriam Barrio.
Cezanne’s surprisingly modern-looking pad, with painterly view, France
Writer’s study, US. Although, can this be a real writer? There is far too much shelf space available!
Ceramics studio – not for the clumsy likes of me, but very pretty nevertheless, from Heath.
Home office more than a studio, but close enough if you are a graphic designer who doesn’t get messy. From Minimalist Interiors.
Colourful private studio in Boulder, Colorado.

Friday Fun: International Book Covers

It’s not just about cute animals and home interiors, you know. I am a very serious literary blog, I’ll have you know. So let me demonstrate just how highbrow I can be by dedicating a whole post to book covers. Here are some international editions of one of my favourite books, The Master and Margarita. No, it’s not just the preponderance of cats that I like about these book covers… How very dare you!?

Amazing Russian cover which encapsulates the book’s themes very well and has been turned into a T-shirt.
Classic scene from the book, Margarita with her bouquet of yellow flowers. Romanian edition.
The French cover has me in stitches: I mean, a ginger cat? Who had that idea?
No, no, no, Italian publisher, what were you thinking? This is NOT a children’s book!
Italy redeeming itself here with a cover that captures that Russian feel…
Another Romanian cover with a nice sense of menace and minimalist colour scheme.
You can see that this book was extremely popular in Romania: this is the third cover, another recent one.
A sinister and gloomy cover from the UK.
By way of contrast, this modernist interpretation of the cover.
Highly stylized and stylish, another contemporary UK cover.
Created as a playbill rather than a book cover, I think this would work well for both. From France.
A 50th anniversary edition from Penguin – a work of art. But it’s translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, who are not always my favourites.

Birthday, Berlin and Books

Or ‘The Three Bs that made me very happy this weekend’.

Can heartily recommend: celebrating with your two oldest and kindest friends who have also just turned the same age and still have pictures of you giggling together from your youth, feeling loved, dancing to 99 Luftballons and Falco’s Der Kommissar (songs from our childhood), watching football with German friends unhappy about the way their team played but relieved that they won nevertheless, home-cooked party food, lots of dancing, partying with former Olympic rowers, walk along the banks of the Tegeler See at sunset, walk through the tourist-thronged streets of pretty much anywhere in Museumsinsel area and not feel like a tourist, stop at the biggest bookshop in the city with a friend who has the same literary tastes as you do, not mind the rain, discover your friend lives just opposite the house where Christopher Isherwood stayed during his year in Berlin.

To be honest, the Berliners didn’t understand much of the song lyrics either – it’s very Viennese dialect and humour.

Not so good: forgetting your mobile phone at home, so I couldn’t take any pictures [but I have the memories!] And having your flight delayed by two hours on the way home.

Wonderful book haul, though, especially for hand luggage only standards.

And great reasons for acquiring each one of them. From top to bottom:

  1. Pascal Mercier: Perlmann’s Silence – Swiss writer who was professor of philosophy at the University of Marburg where I spent a year during my Ph.D. The topic of the novel is also one that is perpetually fascinating to me: academic conference, plagiarism, professional identity and murder…
  2. Daniel Kehlmann: Measuring the World – not as well known as more recent works by Kehlmann which have been translated since, this story of German scientists Humboldt and Gauss, and their obsession with time/space displacement.
  3. Ilinca Florian: When We Learnt to Lie – Romanian film director and writer, this is her debut novel, about a Romanian family during the last few years of Communism, a society about to transform profoundly.
  4. Joachim Riedl: The Genius the Meanness – Austrian writer, who studied in Cambridge and has written a lot about Jewish life in Vienna. This book, originally published in 1992, was one of the first to question the golden shimmer of fin de siecle Vienna and show its tarnished side as well. This was a present from my Viennese friend, who shares my critical love relationship with that city.
  5. Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall – have wanted to read this one for ages, but not in translation. I don’t know why I wasn’t aware of its existence before, since it was first published in 1963 (and so has nothing to do with the Berlin Wall), well before I was born, but I only started hearing about it about 4-5 years ago. Perhaps the ultimate dystopian novel about human isolation.
  6. Julia Franck: The Midday Woman – I was impressed by Franck’s book West and when I asked my friend what else I could read by her, she said that this novel is perhaps one of her favourite novels of the past decade or more. This one has apparently also been translated into English by the much-missed Anthea Bell as The Blind Side of the Heart.
  7. Eva Menasse: Quasi-Crystals – Another author I really liked (having read some short stories by her). I was thinking of acquiring her prize-winning historical novel about a Jewish-Catholic mixed family in Vienna (entitled Vienna), but then I found this book about a woman at 13 different stages in life. Turns out my friend knows the author personally (not just because Vienna is a small town and she is of the same age as we are, but their sons went to the same school in Berlin too).

 

 

 

Friday Fun: Most Relaxed Animals

With all the anger-provoking news lately, I’ve barely had time to fret about turning a certain round age this coming weekend. I resolve to be completely calm, laid-back and serene about it. I will be surrounded by lovely friends in one of my favourite cities in the world, so what is there to complain about? Here are some animals who really know how to stay Zen.

Not even excitable puppies can rattle the capybara.
Why bother, says this wise Chartreux.
I aspire to be like an otter sleeping afloat.
Koalas of course stay Zen almost 21 hours out of 24. And the rest of the time, they eat.
These two marmottes seem to have a secret to share.
Don’t hate me because I am beautiful, says the lynx.
Two grand old masters of relaxation meet up.
Chill out, says this baby sloth on Buzzfeed.

Friday Fun: Atelier is another word for creative space

Everybody should have a space where they can be as creative as they wish, or messy, or crafty, or simply relaxed. Here are some ‘atelier’ spaces for many different types of creatives, proving that they don’t always have to be messy…

Jewellery makers at Atelier Messia, Paris.
The achingly trendy Swedish design studio, from bo-laget.se
Modern and with everything in its place, from Pinterest.
Sometimes I feel like… somebody’s watching me! From ateliervk.com
Lots of light here, perhaps too much in summer. From Miriambarrio.com
Whimsical conservatory workshop, from wherewomencreate.com
The dreamy space that belongs to Celestine Bouton.