On Current and Finished Reads. #Books #Non-Sewing

Hello, friends! I’m almost always sewing, but I am also always reading (you are correctly surmising that it leaves little time for other hum drum activities. So what?). I don’t venture to speed read as many books as I can, though. Sometimes just two pages of a current read will give me that unexplainable and satisfying feeling and further my curiosity.

Today, I’ll briefly share some books, both finished and currently reading.

From the top: Emma, Caste, What Shall I Wear, What Should I Wear


19th Century fiction by Jane Austen.

This is a re-read and I’m still so into Emma. My first exposure to Emma was decades ago and it was time I read it again, just to enjoy the matchmaking escapades of the beauteous, interfering busy-body with a heart of gold. Being a creature of her times and privileged circumstance, Emma fully subscribes to the social strata around her and causes obstacles for her bestie Harriet from following her heart. I had forgotten that the text and sentence structure of Jane Austen’s novels sometimes requires that you read certain paragraphs at least twice to get the gist. I say that in a fun and loving way. I also read Persuasion recently, a posthumously published work by Austen, and if course it’s a love story where the heroine rejects her beloved’s marriage proposal because of an interfering friend — busybodies strike again. The film Persuasion on a streaming platform was a disappointment; I will not recommend the film.

CASTE. The Origins of Our Discontent

By Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize winning author. This non-fiction piece which is on some misguided “Banned Book” list for schools — I hope the book banners have rescinded the ban by now. Also, the book is beyond the pale of a school age child’s understanding, so I do not understand the ban.

This isn’t a light hearted, quick read, obviously. It is thoroughly researched with a vast bibliography and source references. I read it in spurts where I had to put it down and fully absorb the content before continuing. The prize is fully deserved.

WHAT SHALL I WEAR? The What, When and How Much of Fashion

By Claire McCardell, originally published in 1956; my re-print is from 2012. I hear that Tory Burch has published a reprint of the same book in 2022, with a foreword written by herself (Ms Burch has been inspired by McCardell in her own recent collections). I’d love to read Ms Burch’s words, but are they worth spending dollars on the same book? By the way, read this long-ago post where I copied a McCardell wrap, inspired by Julie of JetSetSewing?

The fashion-obsessed part of me loves this book, actually written by the iconic designer of the American look where practicality meets chic meets a unique McCardell aesthetic. Reading it through, McCardell has universal and no-nonsense ideas about dressing for the American lifestyle back in 1956 — some call the witty, no-nonsense ideas McCardellisms. I’ll just drop a sub-heading here in her chapter titled “ Your Collection of Little Things” (she means accessories): “You miss all the fun if you can’t tie things”. She means sashes, veils, string ties (if they’re part of the dress), scarves and such. Love her writing style!

Some of Ms McCardell’s 1956 references show their pre-feminist age where after establishing your own fashion sense, you must be alert to your man’s response to your look. How quaint! I highly recommend this fun book.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR? Dressing for Occasions

Title sound familiar? With one word replaced, we have a whole other tome dedicated to dressing oneself in this millennium. By Kim Johnson Gross, Jeff Stone. Text by Linda Gillian Griffin.

The “text” author is Linda Gillian Griffin, former fashion editor of the Houston Chronicle (when the Chronicle had a weekly fashion supplement). I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Griffin back in the day and writing about her. She is one of the nicest persons in the universe. The book guides the reader through dressing well for occasions and seasons. I. Love. This. Book. Period. Even though some “occasions” are never on my social calendar. I love that this book helps me with sartorial prep for the Hamptons, just in case. Wait. Did I say check-off lists are integral part of this guide? Yeah, it is a guidebook — starting from the very beginning where there are lists which you can check off. Guys, I don’t have patience for any “guidebooks”, except this one. It is beautifully printed and has a coffee table quality to it.

Like the MCCardell book, I am there for the witticisms in addition to the “guidance”. I also love that it’s full of great quotes by people well-known and otherwise, including the Bible. And, each chapter on seasonal dressing begins with a “Shop Your Closet” worksheet, and much, much more. This review doesn’t do justice to the informative and witty angle of the book. I highly recommend this one published 1998, if still available.

There were three more books I wanted to share at the risk of you nodding off before reaching the end. So, some other time. What have you been reading? C’mon and share below.

See you in the next post….


4 thoughts on “On Current and Finished Reads. #Books #Non-Sewing

  1. Fun post, Samina! I wasn’t going to read it, being about books, which I have too many of waiting on my bedside table, but it pulled me in!

    I’ve recently watched at least two versions of Emma on Amazon Prime, as well as read the novel at least twice: it is a classic in every way (and has been adapted at least 2-3 times to a modern day interpretation in film…).

    I also did not care for the 2022 “Persuasion” film, and stopped after half an hour: while beautiful (clothing, settings), I did not like the modern take on dialogue and other contemporary changes (presumably to appeal to Dakota Johnson fans and younger viewers?).

    There is a 2007 version that you might look for on Netflix or Amazon Prime, etc!

    And I will look for “What Should I Wear – Dressing for Occasions”! Sounds very interesting! Bought it used!


    1. Hi Joan! Glad you decided to read the post :). I’ll have to look for the ‘07 film version of Persuasion. My complaint was that after reading the book, I thought they left out a key event in the new movie. Not sure, but I’ll have to watch it again to back up my complaint. LOL! I’ve watched both Emma movies and loved them both. The Gwyneth Paltrow version was delicious, but the newer one with Anya Taylor-Joy seemed like someone “illustrated” it —- and I loved that! hard to explain what I mean.


  2. Hi Samina! I always love your book reviews/ recommendations. I actually snapped up a copy of What Should I Wear yesterday. I’ve also read Claire McCardell’s What Shall I Wear – I agree, it’s fun, but you can definitely date it by some of the attitudes. I really like The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski too – or did I hear about that one from you?

    I like Jane Austen books as well, but I found Emma to be a bit thick – maybe I just read it at the wrong time. I had seen the 1995 (TV?) version, which is a favorite. The more recent, far-too-color-saturated version was not to my liking, but it moved me to read the book – which I couldn’t get through. I couldn’t get through Persuasion as book either, but the 2007 TV movie version is pretty good – if you don’t mind being a bit dizzy. I recently acquired the BBC TV movie set from the ’70s and ’80s, so we’ll see how those compare! Now Sense and Sensibility, I thought was hilarious on my first read, and it’s still funny to me. I also found Pride and prejudice much easier to read too – even my husband likes both of those books, as well as the movies – both the 1995 and 2005 P&P. Of course, it’s easy to rope hubby into watching with you when you can say “Oh but it has Alan Rickman or Donald Sutherland or Mark Strong or Colin Firth” in it… ha.


    1. Hi Kasey! No, I have not yet looked into The Lost Art of Dress, but heard a lot about it. Will look for it immediately.
      I assume you’re enjoying your vacation as I reply to this. Have a great time, my friend, and do a tell-all when you return.


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