Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Meaning of Sunglasses

And a guide to almost all things fashionable

First, a little background.

Books seek me out. They fill my bookshelves, and bundle themselves into boxes and stacks. Books-to-read accumulate in lists on my computer and on my iPhone, in laborious hand-written notes and scrawled post-its that litter my desktop. In a desperate attempt to organize them, I have created pages of potential reads, organized by library. I carry three library cards, and am negotiating with the holder of a fourth for borrowing rights.

Imagine my shock when one of my libraries announced that, as of July 1, all out-of-area card holders would be charged $80 a year. I am not going to spend $80 a year for a library card.

So I pulled out my list of books available at that library and went to work. After culling and tweaking, I narrowed the list to 25ish books to request from outlying branches, intending to read them before the deadline.

I cannot possibly read 25+ books in six weeks on top of my other responsibilities. The sad truth is that most of these books will be tossed aside after a brief once-over. Some are trivial, outdated, overly academic, or tediously formulaic. Some reflect former interests. I expected to actually read 2 or 3 of the whole list.

So you will understand when I say that this book, The Meaning of Sunglasses, is the one that claimed the most time, that I nibbled from cover to cover, savoring each part. Over time I have read many beauty and fashion books, hoping for something special, accumulating a sparse few over the years. This is one of the best. Hadley Freeman, the author, writes for British Vogue, and she clearly has writing skills on top of fashion credibility. The book consists of essays on fashion topics, organized alphabetically. Thus, Accessories: going to hell in a handbag, to Yoga, detoxes, and other euphemisms for exercise and diets.

Not that I agree with her unilaterally. Her polemic against fur is understandable, if a bit harsh, but against jewelry? Sorry, dear. I cannot recall all the little areas of disagreement, but I like her voice so much, I look over these blips and keep reading.

Just look at this, the last sentence in the essay about boots, which ends with a caution against certain types of boots: And as for pirate boots, my rising wave of despair somewhat swamps the necessary flame of outrage, leaving only mute distress.

Maybe this isn't your thing, but it is certainly mine, and I need that. No, not pirate boots. The Meaning of Sunglasses, by Hadley Freeman.


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