1. kurban said's ali and nino. - while not sure about 'the best love story ever' (but i. will grin and say that that verdict is rather typical) there is a fascinating account of baku, karabagh, tehran at the start of wwi. and the intermingling of various easts and wests. i am looking forward to the biography of one of likely authors, lev nussimbaum, the orientalist by tom reiss; also in the package that arrived on thursday. i so know why it made it to the gift selection. thank you!
2. more prosaic but apart from the somehow laboured chapter 1, a very worthwhile read is john berger et al. collection of essays that started their life as a bbc series in the early 1970s - ways of seeing. it was high time to read it. i very much enjoyed the essays on the nude and on oil painting. possibly rather straightforwardly an analysis of social relations of property and the role that art plays in this, i still wish more of these programmes would be made today.
3. and freshly finished, no english translation seems to exist: christoph hein's frau paula trousseau. another gift from a past long gone and with an disrupted exchange renewed over cake - strawberry, of course - and coffee. its various time strands of the early 1960s and then 1970 onwards in east germany enticed and weaved a story of a life that in narration is warm and sensitive and yet it casts so many doubts over the narrator that the end - retold from a different view in the prologue - still leaves me baffled. paula went to berlin to study painting at weissensee, and persisted, and persisted.
there were other plans - botanical drawings of organic veg and fruit. but they succumbed; to too many plans; too many degrees centigrade and three very good books. now onto the next five.
images? make up your own...