What we’re reading this summer

MY TWENTY-FIVE YEARS IN PROVENCE published by Knopf and written by beloved author Peter Mayle, champion of all things Provence, is his final volume of all new writing containing vivid recollections from twenty-five years in the South of France–lessons learned, culinary delights enjoyed, and changes observed. It is a charming and thoughtful read for Francophiles and first-timers. Provence becomes magical in Mayle’s writing. With warmth, wit, and humor, this is a one-of-a-kind, personal and must-have guide to the continuing appeal of this bewitching region.

IT’S BEAUTIFUL HERE: Homes that Make Your Heart Skip a Beat by Megan Morton, beautiful homes (and the people who make them) from the unrivaled queen of interiors, Thames & Hudson publishers. With her trademark wit and enthusiasm Morton gives us a peek into the abodes of the people who have by luck, chance or determination nailed that ever elusive interiors je ne sais quoi. From Paris to New York and even Adelaide, we meet a motley crew of renters, Barbie Dreamhouse owners and accidental interior heroes and learn that a beautiful home doesn’t rest on great design alone–it’s shaped by the people who live there. Illustrated in color throughout.

PLANT STYLE, How to Greenify Your Space by Alana Langan and Jacqui Vidal, Thames & Hudson publishers, offers expert advice on how to make your home fashionably lush with greenery. Extensively illustrated with photography by Annette O’Brien, this book if packed with design-savvy tips and all the answers–from the basics to advanced styling details–for the perfect plant-filled sanctuary.

BARS, TAVERNS & DIVES NEW YORKERS LOVE: Where to Go, What to Drink written and illustrated by bartender and artist John Tebeau, published by the great house of Rizzoli. A great night out in the city starts with this illuminating and hilarious guide to 50-plus bars, taverns, and dives in the city’s five boroughs. With charming original illustrations, this book celebrates fifty of the Big Apple’s storied taverns, legendary dives, and bars and the drink recipes that will inspire you to become a regular.

UPCYCLING OUTDOORS published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of the Quarto Group, is author Max McMurdo’s inspirational collection of inventive projects, each built from recycled materials and unwanted spare parts. Along with learning how to turn junk into treasure, reading this book will teach you the basics of good outdoor design and where to find interesting scrap items. Invaluable chapters on planters and containers, outdoor structures, eating and entertaining, furniture and lighting and accessories will take you on a creative journey to get you upcycling and recycling.

Katsumi Yumioka’s KIMONO AND THE COLORS OF JAPAN reveals a unique antique kimono collection through various delicate Japanese colors and their use in kimono. The Japanese sensibility is immediately apparent in the classification of the nine traditional color categories of red, green, pink, blue, brown, purple, yellow, black/white, and gold/silver. Each spread presents a single color showing a page-wide photo of a kimono accompanied by a description of the color and its meaning in the context of Japanese culture. The author explains, “We organized the kimono and obi (sash) according to what I like to call ‘Japanese Kokoro no Iro’—colors of the Japanese heart. Each category presents what individual colors express or signify. For example, we use white, black and gold as an expression of cheer. Red indicates the sun, blood, and fire. White, black, and silver express sadness.” With the knowledge of both Western and traditional Japanese fashion cultures, Yumioka presents and describes his collection in an easily accessible style. A distinctive volume by PIE International books.

YOKAI WONDERLAND reveals all about Yokai, a class of supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore. In the Edo period (1603-1868), many artists, such as Hokusai Katsushika or Kuniyoshi Utagawa, created works featuring yokai that were inspired by folklore or their own imaginations. This book contains a lot of art works of Japanese yokai from the Edo period to today and includes not only paintings but also wood block prints, scrolls, ceramics, kimonos, wooden sculptures, magazines, toys for children, such as board games, and more.

This is the second series from the Yokai Museum and showcases a new collection of works, including never-before-seen works. All of the works featured in this book are from the personal collection of Koichi Yumoto, shown in the Yokai Museum in Hiroshima. Yumoto’s own commentary on the works and the history of yokai are also included.

This book will certainly appeal to Japanese art lovers, fans of yokai and also to those who are new to these fascinating supernatural creatures. It is also a valuable reference and source of inspiration for designers and illustrators. Another brilliant book from PIE International books.

EVERYDAY SCENES FROM A PARALLEL WORLD is a celebration of the beauty of the scenes and backgrounds in anime and manga. This unusual book turns the spotlight exclusively on the scenes and background illustrations. With only a few ordinary characters in these scenes, attention here is focused on the beauty of the illustrated backgrounds.

These background artworks feature familiar scenes from daily life: nostalgic townscapes, detailed cityscapes, intricate architecture, rooms that look like doll houses, etc. They are extremely realistic and detailed–almost like photographs–but at the same time give readers the sense that we are looking at images of a parallel world.

The works featured are by 39 well-known, mostly Japanese creators, illustrators, and animators. Some creators featured have made their entire careers specializing in drawing backgrounds. Frequently overlooked, this book finally gives them the recognition they deserve. Additionally, a section that explains drawing techniques and materials is included. The profiles of creators with messages from each, descriptions of each creator’s techniques and preferred materials are written in both Japanese and English text.

This stunning collection will appeal to all art lovers and is sure to bring creators massive inspiration, too. Another gem from from PIE International books.

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