Friday, 6 September 2013


At the moment I’m in a phase of reading that can only be described as promiscuous. I keep dashing from one novel to another, absorbing a few pages here and another lot there. I blame my reading list. I have one of those contrary natures that much prefers self-motivated activity to required work. It’s totally irrational. I love George Eliot and the Brontes (apart from the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which is feeling the wrong side of wordy). It’s just that the minute I’m meant to be immersed in all things Victorian, my tastes change tack and begin hankering after 20th Century Czech short stories and modern poetry. However, I’m tempering these tendencies with the knowledge that I have decades of reading ahead of me. I don't need to be acquainted with the contents of every single book on my shelves right now. Some will just have to wait.

I can’t be alone though in my desire to accumulate books, even when I know that there will be little time to enjoy them in the near future. But the act of acquisition is easier than the commitment of reading. One is quick where the other is concerted. Perhaps it parallels the difference between having an idea and executing it; the stage of dizzy possibility is easy. Plucking at all the potential and turning it into something solid requires both craft and graft. Buying a book or brainstorming ideas is safe because there is no margin for failure. Yet the true satisfaction lies in producing something that takes time, or in climbing up through some 900 pages to view a novel’s breathtaking summit.
Perhaps part of my difficulty this summer holiday has been in the constant tug between creating (writing, photography, drawing, scrap-books) and receiving (reading, reading and more reading, with a few films thrown in). I'm slowly working out how to give both sides equal attention.

Luckily, the two can also be combined. I have something new and exciting in my possession. It’s pictured up above. Looks like a novel, yes? Jude the Obscure, to be precise, bound in red with beautiful detail on the front. I’ve read it before, totally absorbed in Thomas Hardy’s (typically) tragic tale of Jude Fawley’s attempts at academia. The version held up here though only has snippets of the story. An odd page here and there – the contents or occasional beginning of a chapter. That’s because the cover no longer wraps around a narrative. It’s been transformed into a notebook. A ripe glut of blank pages wait to be filled, while brown remnants of the original remain for inspiration. It allows both reading and writing – a collaboration (at least for my purposes) between creating and receiving.

It was handmade by Florence Fox, who crops up on my blog almost as regularly as mentions of vintage clothes. Alongside her stellar photography, shown in the shots above, she has recently set up a business focusing on literary stationary. Notebooks from Adam Bede to Richmal Compton’s William the Pirate can be found in her Etsy shop. Many of them have names in the title, giving them the potential to be very personal gifts. She’ll also seek out specific books or authors if asked nicely. Many of the illustrations carefully cut from these books are also turned into greetings cards or standalone pieces of art. Additionally, for the truly word-hungry there are Scrabble scorebooks “made from scratch.” They’re bound in green, providing a very gorgeous means of keeping track of who won which Scrabble game - dangerously desirable for those with competitive natures (I’m among them, and it’s only my brother who will play Scrabble with me now).
Flo gave me this notebook for my birthday. I’m saving it for when I start studying again in October, so that the new pages are used up during a time of new experiences. 

It is a difficult time for young adults. Many of us now know that employment prospects are shaky and a degree is no guarantee of a job. Flo is two years older than me and is self-employed, rather than at university. She has been using all her self-motivated talents and creative fervour to forge a different route. It’s not an easy option. The young crafters and grafters like her merit supporting right now. And besides, why wouldn’t one want a delicious one-off notebook that would look just as at home on a vintage shelf as in the stationary section of an independent store? 

She has also created a code giving Clothes, Cameras and Coffee readers 10% off purchases until 2014. Just type in CCC2013 when prompted. 

The outfit is a mix-and-match of items dredged up from various charity shops, with shirt, shorts and wool blazer all second hand. The colour combination was partly inspired by Burberry's last LCM show titled 'Writers and Painters'. 


Emalina said...

Stunning imagery, I love your artfully slouchy blue shorts suit, brought to vibrant life with the yellow shirt and those glorious buttercups. Clever Flo to have made that notebook, great idea!

Thrifted Shift said...

What a scandalous first sentence! I never thought of book-hopping as promiscuous before but now I'm feeling a bit naughty as I've started three books and don't know which one I'm going to pick up next! Your novel/notebook is lovely, I like the part you wrote about giving and receiving. Have a wonderful day!

christian said...

What struck me right away about the photos was that I thought they were good. If that is due to Florence Fox doing them, I would certainly stick with her!

Bridget said...

Oh, I know the feeling, with too many books on my shelf haha. That picture of you lying in the flowers is absolutely stunning, the way your lips match the book!

MsNotWeirdAtAll said...

Love the colour combination :)

Indy said...

Wow, that second picture is absolutely GORGEOUS. Well done, my dear.

Ms Jelena said...

Your opening sentence is hilarious :D I love reading too - I go through phases of reading like crazy to not having time to eat let alone anything else!

Love the outfit and photos! Stunning!


Ivana Džidić said...

Can I say there is something Victorian about this photos...somehow hauntingly something, hauntingly beautiful, different, intense (can't think of a right word)

My reading habits have always been promiscuous but at least it made my studies at the University go better than planned...

andrew goldspink said...

I have exactly the same thing going on with my reading habits. It's not a bad thing at all, I think. Each book contributes to a collage of the mind over the next few months.

Perhaps we're all just driving towards brevity, or a new, sped-up understanding of the world.

Caitlin Rose said...

Lovely photos Rosalind!

and best of luck to Flow! I'll check out her store!

Closet Fashionista said...

Loving these photos as always! That blazer looks so comfy :)
I really need to start reading more. I have a couple new books that I have yet to break open and my cousin just got me The Silmarillion

Nico Saich said...

These photos are simply amazing and you look stellar in that field of flowers


Madeline said...

Yep I have a lot of books that I have never read and don't have time to read anytime remotely soon! I think its inevitable! I haven't been reading a lot lately because I haven't had much time this year! And then I have a lot of non-fiction reading I must do for uni (though I dont actually DO a lot of that!)
These photos are gorgeous by the way :)

Vix said...

I need to get promiscuous, the book I'm reading at the moment is a turgid tome, I want some excitement in my literary life!
Loving those photos, your smile is beautiful and contagious. xxx


I understand this feeling, as I have been extremely busy with work-life and not caught up on my two books of enjoyment. There are books to read for work and books that I just want to dive into as I sit in a chair and get cosy. I also just checked out the Etsy shop, very lovely and so are these smashing images with such marvellous colour contrasts! :)

vintagevixenarts said...

Gobble up book's as much as you can while you can I say! I used to read till my eyes blurred and savored every moment! Now the extra responsibilities of parenting and life allow me only quick read's, still a pleasure nonetheless. Oh and your pic's with the glorious field of flower's and brilliant pop's of color's in your sweater, lip color, and complexion are beautifully done:)
(I'm partial to pic two. Bravo!)

OrigamiGirl said...

Where are you in these pictures? The field looks so utterly beautiful and bright. Your part of England clearly has some summer left over. It reminds me of the big field of yellow flowers in Everything is Illuminated. Makes me want to go back to Yorkshire and take my new camera with me.

I will bookmark your friend's site for Christmas, as I like the idea of the Scrabble score notepad. My husband and I love to play scrabble and have 2 sets and 2 dictionaries and mugs and a host of other themed merchandise. Words are fun.

I guess you will be starting university soon? I hope you have a great time, and I expect there will be many gorgeous photos in Oxford to come.

Thank you for the lovely comments on my quilts. It really made me smile. I thought it was the kind of thing you would like, with your appreciation for heirlooms and fabrics. It really is wonderful to have personal things like that to pass on.

Sacramento Amate said...

I was a promiscuous reader once, but not any more.One day I will read books written by you, my yellow beautiful Rosalind.

Izzy DM said...

First, I adore this outfit. So sophisticated and yet comfortable-looking, just perfect for rolling around in a field of flowers :).

Second, "Tenant of Wildfell Hall" is the only Bronte novel I also haven't read, so maybe that's okay (from the sound of your description of it!)

Third, I can't believe I'm only now finally reading Eliot. I think it was a combination of this blog and seeing it was my local bookstore's selection that finally got me going. I did try to read "Middlemarch" but couldn't get into it shamefully (although at book club someone mentioned the first 200 pp are very slow). Anyway that was years ago, but still years older than you! I have found with great books it's no good to force them on you or vice versa. They're considered great for very good reasons and will mean more if you read them at the appropriate time in your life to read them. For example I feel like that time is coming with "Moby Dick"! I read all of Melville, read (and loved) "Bartleby the Scrivener" and think I might finally be ready...If I'd tried to before, I think I would have hated it. But I do want to read some more Eliot first.

BTW not done, but I LOVE "Deronda". Love it. It's funny and wise in a way that I don't find in present novelists. I love current literature as well, but I do really think the old great Victorian (and Russian) novelists were so much more perspicacious for whatever reason... I want to be disproved, so feel free to argue with me :). One of my favorite books is (light reading) and on this subject: "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress." My same opinions but about French vs. Chinese literature in Maoist China.

I sympathize with Flo. I've been freelancing for years. It's hard but also has it's benefits. Those look like great gifts for the upcoming holidays! xx

Jean at said...

In keeping with the times, I'll comment briefly and shallowly. I think you look lovely amongst the yellow flowers, I think it's wonderful to flit from book to book as you wish, and I absolutely think it's important to support creative friends who have great ideas to share. I love the book. I'll be back to click on the links. XXOO said...

So many books, so little time..
I adore that last photo! Red lipstick suits you, simply gorgeous.

Melanie said...

I must advise you to be a safe reader - there's no telling what nasty things you may pick up from these books.
Legs growing out of flowers - I love that photo!
I tend to think that passion is one of our best resources no matter what path we take. Your red book is truly one to be treasured for many reasons.

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous photographs from the crafty and grafty miss Flo! I was just looking at Renoir's "Boating Party" masterpiece and was marveling at the sunny disposition emanating from the painting. I feel that same dappled, sunny feeling here despite the overcast sky! Perhaps it's all the marigold yellow punctuated by an enigmatic crimson cover?

I could almost have substituted myself into your description of your reading experience. I flit from book to book as well, savoring the current one I am immersed in before deciding to fly to another one. Sometimes, it takes the greatest of discipline to finally say, "Finish this one." Perhaps it's the same thing as creating. The creative flurry is the most enjoyable part that it is with a slight tinge of regret when the project is nearly over.

I hear you about the tug of creating. I admire how you are able to continue yours. I am trying hard to re-focus, dance much more (now that I am more recovered from my concussion) and trying to find time for creative pursuits like my blog. That is, in between all my meetings and other work! Good luck to your friend, Flo, and her business. - J xx