Holiday Recommendations from Our Staff

Essays

An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by Georges Perec

The premise is exactly as it sounds: Georges Perec, on a bench in a Parisian square, methodically recording everything he sees, attempting to capture “that which happens when nothing is happening.” On paper, it appears so simple. In practice, absolutely impossible. Which is precisely the point. A desperate and hilarious meditation on the unstoppability of time. An elegant reflection of the everyday and all its complexity. -Matthew

 

A Seventh Man by John Berger and Jean Mohr

First published in 1975, this book at first glance appears to be a study of male migrant workers in Europe, illustrated by photographs.  It is much, much more. As in all of the collaborations between Berger and Mohr, the photos and the text carry equal weight. These glimpses into the struggles and predicaments of the immigrant worker illuminate the complex and often brutal relationship between market forces and personal survival, and also, as Berger says in the new introduction, has now become a kind of “family album,” which has taken on new meanings over time. An arresting and elegant work of art. -Casey O.

 

The Etiquette of Freedom: Gary Snyder, Jim Harrison, and “The Practice of the Wild” by Gary Snyder and Jim Harrison

Whether considered a book accompanying a film or a film shadowing a book, this is a deeply companionable project featuring esteemed poets, each a veritable living treasure, walking, talking, breaking bread. The greater focus, in talk and images, is on Gary Snyder’s life and work. Now eighty, the child of a farm in Seattle’s Lake City, he has helped articulate an ethos of place, purpose, and poetry that is deeply ingrained in Seattle and the Pacific Coast. Jim Harrison, a marvel in himself, is a splendid, often jocular partner, parrying poems and fragments with Snyder, exploring the roots and shoots of work, philosophy, the particulars of plants, animals, paying attention. This “etiquette” is life being lived so fully, so far. -Rick

 

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin

This book begs all of its readers to devote time throughout the day to the full and deeply pleasurable act of reading. Remember the authors you’ve cherished throughout your life? The characters you’ve admired, emulated, or even loathed? Reconnect with them. Books serve as markers of certain periods of our lives. When revisiting an old favorite, not only will it be a different experience than that of the first reading, but memories from one’s own past will bubble up and mingle with the text. The Lost Art of Reading is a short and gentle reminder to avoid being overwhelmed and distracted by all the information that is at our fingertips. So sit down, breathe deeply, and enjoy this delightful book. -Jillian

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