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Category: Books (page 2 of 6)

The Aran Islands – Another World

My first introduction to the Aran Islands was through the photography of Bill Doyle. Doyle, who passed away last year at the age of 85, was often referred to as Ireland’s Cartier-Bresson and had a knack for artfully capturing the scenes of the world around him. During his trips to the islands, he was able to photograph many of the people and their daily activities and in 1999 a collection of these pictures were published together in a single volume titled The Aran Islands – Another World (while now out of print, it is still possible to find it at affordable prices on the used market).

The book itself seems to also be a main inspiration behind the Inis Meain clothing line, and indeed, just about every Inis Meain stockist I’ve visited seems to have a copy of it on hand. Bill Doyle’s other book, Images of Dublin, is also worth checking out.

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Harris Tweed – From Land to Street

From the forward to Harris Tweed – From Land to Street:

“Harris Tweed has always resonated in the minds of the few. But increasingly the people of Harris and their traditional ways are striking a chord with the many. It is hard to think of another product so deeply connected to both the landscape in which it is born and the people who create it. It has life, this tweed: it is filled with life by those who weave it it, it is coloured by the land in which it lives.” – Patrick Grant, Norton & Sons

In the book, Lara Platman follows the production of Harris Tweed fabrics over the course of a year and along the way profiles many of the people who are involved in the process, from those raising and shearing the sheep, to those who inspect the final product before it’s shipped off to suppliers and designers. When I was finally able to sit down and go through it, I couldn’t help but think of my own Harris Tweed jackets and the work that went into them – likely many of craftsmen featured in the book could have worked on the very same fabrics that my jackets were made from.

Along with tweed fans, anyone in the industry who is in the business of selling Harris Tweed garments should have this book on hand. I don’t think there’s anything else quite like it that captures the entire production process into a single volume and presents it in such an appreciative way.

A few examples of the photography included in the book can be found through Platman’s photoshelter website and it can be easily ordered online through several sources.

19th Century British Military Uniforms

Plate scans from British Military Uniforms by James Laver, published in 1948.

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A Volume of Duels

“Haven’t you heard of the duel going on ever since 1801?”

Browsing the Elliott Bay bookstore this last weekend led me to a collection of short novels written by five different authors but all under the same title – The Duel. Recently released by Melville House Publishing as part of its larger Art of the Novella series, each book provides a look into the upper class societies where young military officers and gentlemen would resort to pointless illegal duels to settle differences (the practice was often banned by Emperors, Kings, Generals, and the like).

At $10-12 a pop though, I decided to start with just two of them and picked the stories that were in my favorite historical settings: Czarist Russia and Napoleonic France.

The Duel - The Art of the Novella
By Alexander Kuprin and Joseph Conrad, respectively – the other three are by Chekhov, Heinrich Von Kleist, and Giacomo Casanova. Each book also comes with a special URL included in the back that provides access to additional reading material which looks to be ideal for the type of person who can get distracted for hours on just wikipedia alone.

The Elements of Style, Illustrated

While I still prefer my ragged dog-eared paperback edition of The Elements of Style, this nicely bound hardcover version is nice to flip through on occasion for inspiration and is always within arm’s reach on my desk.

Its illustrator Maira Kalman has also worked on other notable projects and was recently featured in the WSJ several months back (her email-free workspace sounds tempting).

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Rogue’s Gallery Illustrations – Part 2

More illustrations from Rogue’s Gallery (an old children’s book) – Part 1, for reference.

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The Day of the Peacock

The Day of the Peacock was released last month and it’s been fun to go through. Covering the extravagant dandy styles of the 60’s-70’s, the author skips over the celebrities of the time and instead focuses on the men who were directly influencing fashion – often the tailors and couturiers themselves. Legendary figures such as Hardy Amies, Michael Fish, and Tommy Nutter are all included.

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Jeans of the Old West

First published last year, Jeans of the Old West is by far the most fascinating and in-depth book on the history of denim that I’ve come across. Packed full of pictures, drawings, and old patents, the author spends an incredible amount of time exploring over a dozen companies and the denim they created (Levi Strauss & Co. being the only survivor from the time period and area focused on).

For me, the best part of it is that it also highlights many great design details that have faded away into history (just the sort of details that we repro nerds like) and it will be interesting to see if it has an influence on the some of fledgling companies out there today who are still looking for something to set their jeans apart from the rest. This is a must own I think, for any denim fan.

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The Vass Book

Technically under a different title, Handmade Shoes for Men is generally referred to as the Vass book. Written by László Vass (of Vass shoes) and Magda Molnar, it aims to illustrate and describe the art and process of making handmade shoes to the layman – after going through it, you will probably not be able to make a pair of shoes on your own, but you will certainly understand the work involved. It is a must read for any shoe fan and there is no other book like it.

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Bespoke – The Book

“Tome” and “encyclopedic” are great words to describe this book, get it if you can.

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