A Carl Larsson Christmas

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Christmas Eve — Carl Larsson

 

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The Day before Christmas — Carl Larsson

 

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The Yard and Wash-House — Carl Larsson

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The Skier — Carl Larsson

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Loveliness Showing Through the Rubble

The job of the soldiers who served with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section of the Allied Forces in WWII was to “mitigate combat damage, primarily to structures—churches, museums, and other important monuments.”

Because Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring were obsessed with collecting (read: stealing) fine art, the primary job of the MFAA became rooting out hidden caches of art before the Nazis destroyed them in the event of a Nazi defeat.

I found it difficult to engage with the first third of the book, background stories of a large roster. Because they were all working independently— their stories seldom converged—there was too many bits to sift through. It wasn’t until Paris, and the entry of the great heroine Rose Valland, that I found myself gripped by the narrative. From that point, the book is perfectly paced, and the thrill of the chase raised my pulse. It is a cracking good story!

monuments-men^^ can you imagine? ^^

Tucked into the story was a gem—the only one like it— from Capt Walker Hancock.

The eyes have one continual feast. It is late in the spring. Flowering trees are everywhere and the charm of the romantic little towns and the fairy tale castled countryside is enhanced by all this freshness. And in the midst of it all—thousands of homeless foreigners wandering about in pathetic droves, Germans in uniform …. Children who are friendly, older ones who hate you, crimes continually in the foreground of life. Plenty, misery, recriminations, sympathy. All such an exaggerated picture of the man-made way of life in a God-made world. If it all doesn’t prove the necessity of Heaven, I don’t know what it means. I believe that all this loveliness showing through rubble and wreck are just foreshadowings of the joys we were made for.

For fun, the magnificent George Stout, after receiving a package three months late:

It is amazing how the world can change during the life span of a fruitcake.

Because one curious door opens many others, I’m now interested in reading:

The Bookshelf Project

DSC_1834I blame the movie Julie & Julia. Do you know how many times I’ve thought about cooking through every recipe in one of my 46 cookbooks? It messes with my all-or-nothing propensities. So many times, I’m browsing among the books and think: wouldn’t it be fun to read exclusively from this shelf until I’ve read everything?

The all-or-nothing system hasn’t been good to me. Because, you know, the nothing side hits the playground pavement with a bang and the all side is swaying, suspended in the air above the teeter-totter.

So I made a bargain. I eyed the shelves and did the math. What if? I whispered to myself. Stop! the other me warned. No, this is reasonable, I countered. What if I committed to reading one book from every shelf on the big white bookshelf? There are 30 shelves in total. Subtract three that hold CDs, Audio books, and DVDs. Subtract the one narrow shelf about which I can say, “I’ve read them all.”

26 books from my own shelves. That’s about half of the number of books I read in a year, so it allows room for the books in other rooms in my house, on my Kindle, or yet to be published.

I’m not going to decide which title on each shelf right now. I’m a bit schizophrenic in my reading. When I am mindful of how little time I have left on the earth, I determine to only read the best books. When I think about making room on the shelves, I read the book I want to read, but don’t think I’ll want to keep. And when I don’t want to work, I go for easy reading.

And I won’t shelve a new book, so I can say I read it off my shelves. Dirty pool!

So here’s a glance at my options:

DSC_8173There are two shelves of history. On the top shelf I’m inclined toward The Pity Of War: Explaining World War Ior The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill.

On the lower shelf, it’s an excruciating decision. McCullough’s book on the Brooklyn Bridge, Barbara Tuchman, Stephen Ambrose or Paul Johnson?

DSC_8174Oh, man. Several titles on these two shelves come highly recommended. The Widow of the Southis set in Franklin, TN. I want to read The Monuments Men before the movie comes out this year.

DSC_8175Two sets of Churchill to choose from: I’ve read A History of the English-Speaking Peoples and would like to re-read them. But Edmund Burke  beguiles me.  Three sets sit on the bottom shelf: 13 years of Cook’s Illustrated, a set of Dumas and a set of Dickens.

DSC_8176Short biographies, a collection of collections, and Willa Cather.

DSC_8177Small books with short stories and gorgeous books about Britain with watercolor plates.

DSC_8178Business and culture.

DSC_8201Classics. My husband and I are enjoying A Study in Scarlet, so we may well continue with more Conan Doyle. But I’ve never read Kimso I may choose Kipling.

DSC_8180Education and Witold Rybczynski.

DSC_8181I insist on reading one science book a year, weak as I am in science. I highly recommend Microbe Huntersand Longitudeif you need your science in narrative form. I think Lives of a Cellis calling my name.

DSC_8182Oh to have room to store my beloved Penguin collection upright! Whoever invented orange covers ought to be shot. I would love to read all those orange Trollopes so I can be done with them.

DSC_8183These two shelves are at the center of my collection. Deep. love.

DSC_8184More groups of authors that I love.

DSC_8185This shelf is a pass on my read-from-my-shelves project. Jan, Anne, and Mma.

DSC_8186Foodie books!

DSC_8187More foodie books.

DSC_8194True story: it’s easier for me to read about various methods of eradicating dust bunnies than to bend over and pick up the dust bunny.

DSC_8195Books on writing and books on books. Pure deliciousness.

DSC_8196Music. Poetry.

DSC_8198Art.

Children’s books, theology, travel and memoirs have their own bookcases. But they will have to get in line.

Intentional reading: the good life.

Hey! You with the eye for interior design? What would you recommend for the tops of my shelves? I’ve thought about framed photos (in matching frames) but I’m afraid they will make it too busy. Woven baskets? Eclectic collection of pottery/baskets? Empty? Your opinion is welcome.