I mentioned in a previous post that I had ordered A Different kind of Luxury. Well it came today, and I have not put it down for several hours. It's really wonderful. It transports you to the world of these people that are living simply and intentionally in Japan and I just love it. It has everything that I love in a book. Here is an excerpt that will transport you too for just a minute:
As I look again around the three rooms that make up Nakamura's house I am able to take in its aesthetic in a new way and appreciate this house seemingly empty of everything except the smoke from the fire. Next to the irori fire pit, where we have now returned to rekindle the fire for another cup of bancha, I look more carefully at the simple fire implements, the several woven wheat colored kindling baskets, and a blowing tube of bamboo for bringing embers to life. Each object I see he has chosen with deliberation.
In the adjacent cooking area, back in the shadows, stands a heavy ceramic, nutmeg colored urn almost three feet high in which Nakamura stores his water. To the right of the sink, there is an ochre earthenware pot with a fitted lid containing ash from the fire, which along with a stiff natural bristle brush is all that he uses for washing dishes. Amber colored wooden shelves hold glass jars of spices, powders, chili peppers, and several types of flour, all lined up and classified by size. A well proportioned cast iron spatula with a long tapering handle and a blade shaped like a ginkgo leaf hangs on a post in the center of the shelves, Behind the shelves, his cereals and grains are stored in glass jars in large hanging straw baskets suspended from the ceiling.
The book continues on to tell the stories of fascinating people, living simple but very full lives, it is very descriptive and you feel that you are right there with Andy Couturier on his journey. Now, since I am a Libra I have to swing over to the other side and offer one small critique of the publishing. This is a book I want to savor and I will read it again and again, it's very well written and I love the people the author chose to write about. However, I was a bit disappointed in the quality of the book itself. I love to hold books, I love the smell of them, love beautiful photographs. There was such an opportunity here to make this a really special little piece of art. I am guessing that it was a budget issue, but somebody with a bunch of money should re do this book and give it what it deserves. I would love to see the photos get better play, it's ok that it isn't a hardback cover, but I like a cover that feels satiny, not a cover that feels like a beach paperback. The horizontal sizing is also strange to me, I like it, I just wish it was more artistically done, at least it's not an electronic book. I'm going to be the only human on Earth without a Facebook and an electronic book, but I'm ok with that! This thought about the books' design came to me as I was reading about the care that Nakamura takes with his book making and the quality of the work of each of the artists and I wanted to get that same feeling for this book. The cover is beautiful, but it's just missing a certain something that would make it even better as you are reading it. Sorry Andy, not your fault, talk to that publisher and get a book artist to make your book even better than it is! you could even charge more for it then :)
Except for that minor thing, the book is great, glad I stumbled on it, thanks to the blog world! What did I do before I found you bloggers?
My reading habits have changed so much over the past few years. I never read fiction any more, there are so many great non fiction books out there and I learn so much from them. I have a hard time getting through fiction just like I can't watch much TV anymore, except for Current TV and American Idol(sorry, but I love that show). Wesley is reading English literature right now, and she is into haikus, so I'm reading to her from my book about Japan and she is reading excerpts from Oscar Wilde and crazy poems that she finds, pretty funny conversations around here right now, but never dull!