Monday, July 26, 2010

Kasey's Top Five Picture Books for Grown-Ups

The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman (Penguin, $20.00)
The back of this book says it best: The Principles of Uncertainty is about "death, love, and candy (not necessarily in that order)." It's also a memoir, a philosophical treatise, and a travelogue, filled with whimsical, gorgeously colorful, not-like-anything-else illustrations. Read slowly and savor!

French Milk by Lucy Knisley (Touchstone Books, $15.00)
I'm not usually a fan of graphic novels, but I fell in love with French Milk the moment I opened it. Blending hand-written text with photographs and drawings, this memoir tells the story of the author's visit to France with her mother; it's a coming-of-age tale, a tribute to friendship (especially the mother-daughter variety), and a love letter to a country and a particular time in life, all in one.

A Year of Mornings: 3191 Miles Apart by Maria Alexandra Vattese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes (Princeton Architectural Press, $21.95)
This gorgeous book of photographs records moments in the lives of the two authors, both bloggers and both residents of Portland (one Maine, the other Oregon), who decided to take one picture before 10 a.m. each day for a year. Spending time with their photos, which often center on small domestic details like coffee cups and cats' tails, always encourages me to slow down and notice the incredible beauty in the everyday.

Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs (Microcosm Publishing, $7.00)
This isn't really a picture book, but I'm including it because it's just as much fun to look at (a lot) as it is to read. Beautifully hand-lettered as well as hand-drawn, this book teaches you how to clean everything from your face to your floor using natural, non-toxic ingredients... and there's a great gardening section as well. Raleigh Briggs is an inspiration!

The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald (New Directions, $15.95)
One of the most haunting and memorable books I've ever read, The Emigrants is hard to describe. It's fiction, but reads like a memoir/family history/travelogue, and the text is accompanied by strange ghostly photographs that become impossible to separate from the magical experience of reading it. This is the sort of book that takes hold of you, gently but firmly, and won't let you go for a long, long time.

July 2010, Kasey Jueds

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