IMAGINE JOHN YOKO by John Lennon & Yoko Ono

November 12, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

With contributions from the people who were there

From the publisher:

Personally compiled and curated by Yoko Ono, Imagine John Yoko is the definitive inside story-told in revelatory detail-of the making of the legendary album and all that surrounded it: the locations, the creative team, the artworks and the films, in the words of John & Yoko and the people who were there.

Features 80% exclusive, hitherto-unpublished archive photos and footage sequences of all the key players in situ, together with lyric sheets, Yoko’s art installations, and exclusive new insights and personal testimonies from Yoko and over forty of the musicians, engineers, staff, celebrities, artists and photographers who were there-including Julian Lennon, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, Jim Keltner, David Bailey, Dick Cavett and Sir Michael Parkinson.

“A lot has been written about the creation of the song, the album and the film of Imagine, mainly by people who weren’t there, so I’m very pleased and grateful that now, for the first time, so many of the participants have kindly given their time to ‘gimme some truth’ in their own words and pictures” Yoko Ono Lennon, 2018

In 1971, John Lennon & Yoko Ono conceived and recorded the critically acclaimed album Imagine at their Georgian country home, Tittenhurst Park, in Berkshire, England, in the state-of-the-art studio they built in the grounds, and at the Record Plant in New York. The lyrics of the title track were inspired by Yoko Ono’s “event scores” in her 1964 book Grapefruit, and she was officially co-credited as writer in June 2017.

Imagine John Yoko tells the story of John & Yoko’s life, work and relationship during this intensely creative period. It transports readers to home and working environments showcasing Yoko’s closely guarded archive of photos and artifacts, using artfully compiled narrative film stills, and featuring digitally rendered maps, floorplans and panoramas that recreate the interiors in evocative detail. John & Yoko introduce each chapter and song; Yoko also provides invaluable additional commentary and a preface.

All the minutiae is examined: the locations, the key players, the music and lyrics, the production techniques and the artworks-including the creative process behind the double exposure polaroids used on the album cover.

With a message as universal and pertinent today as it was when the album was created, this landmark publication is a fitting tribute to John & Yoko and their place in cultural history.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Even though I requested this a couple of times, the publisher did not come through for me on this book. So I have my library’s edition in hand.

There is some strange stuff going on with this book. It shows as only being available from third party sellers on Amazon, which is very odd for a new book. There is a “collectors edition” with a different ISBN, but which looks identical, for $150 with a publication date of 11/13/18.

The reviews on Amazon, while positive, often refer to the sticking pages and the soiled cover. That said, my library cover is pristine and I am the first person to check out this book. The pages are heavy paper, but don’t feel especially of high quality, and are not sticking together in my library copy.

All you really need to know about me is that “Imagine” is my favorite song, the song I want played at my funeral. (Yes, I’m planning ahead.) It never fails to move me and will generally bring me to tears every time I hear it. This has been going on for decades. (Granted, I am an easy crier.)

I like the book. I like how, when closed, the end papers  form a blue sky with white, puffy clouds. I like all the pictures but wish some of them, all those tiny pictures, were enlarged a bit. Same with the sheet music. It is a large book, I don’t understand why so many pictures were miniaturized while a quote, “The guitar is all right as a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living at it!” seen in many other books, is given a two page spread. But nobody asked me.

This is a book for die hard fans like me. Not sure who else would care. It’s on my wishlist.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IMAGINE JOHN YOKO by John Lennon & Yoko Ono. Grand Central Publishing (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-1538747155.  320p.


SARA BERMAN’S CLOSET by Maira Kalman & Alex Kalman

October 31, 2018

Click on book cover to purchase

From the publisher:

Maira Kalman, the author of the bestsellers The Principles of Uncertainty and The Elements of Style, and Alex Kalman, the designer, curator, writer, and founder of Mmuseumm, combine their talents in this captivating family memoir, a creative blend of narrative and striking visuals that is a paean to an exceptional woman and a celebration of individuality, personal expression, and the art of living authentically.

In the early 1950s, Jewish émigré Sara Berman arrived in the Bronx with her husband and two young daughters When the children were grown, she and her husband returned to Israel, but Sara did not stay for long. In the late 1960s, at age sixty, she left her husband after thirty-eight years of marriage. One night, she packed a single suitcase and returned alone to New York City, moving into a studio apartment in Greenwich Village near her family. In her new home, Sara began discovering new things and establishing new rituals, from watching Jeopardy each night at 7:00 to eating pizza at the Museum of Modern Art’s cafeteria every Wednesday. She also began discarding the unnecessary, according to the Kalmans: “in a burst of personal expression, she decided to wear only white.”

Sara kept her belongings in an extraordinarily clean and organized closet. Filled with elegant, minimalist, heavily starched, impeccably pressed and folded all-white clothing, including socks and undergarments, as well as carefully selected objects—from a potato grater to her signature perfume, Chanel No.19—the space was sublime. Upon her death in 2004, her family decided to preserve its pristine contents, hoping to find a way to exhibit them one day.

In 2015, the Mmuseumm, a new type of museum located in a series of unexpected locations founded and curated by Sara’s grandson, Alex Kalman, recreated the space in a popular exhibit—Sara Berman’s Closet—in Tribeca. The installation eventually moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show will run at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles from December 4, 2018 to March 10, 2019; it will open again about a month later at the National Museum of American Jewish History from April 5, 2019 to September 1, 2019.

Inspired by the exhibit, this spectacular illustrated memoir, packed with family photographs, exclusive images, and Maira Kalman’s distinctive paintings, is an ode to Sara’s life, freedom, and re-invention. Sara Berman’s Closet is an indelible portrait of the human experience—overcoming hardship, taking risks, experiencing joy, enduring loss. It is also a reminder of the significance of the seemingly insignificant moments in our lives—the moments we take for granted that may turn out to be the sweetest. Filled with a daughter and grandson’s wry and touching observations conveyed in Maira’s signature script, Sara Berman’s Closest is a beautiful, loving tribute to one woman’s indomitable spirit.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I received this book in the mail from a publicist at Harper Gallery and was immediately fascinated. Was it a graphic novel? Was it an art book? I didn’t know quite what to make of it so I looked inside and there was no title page. I brought it to work at the library and showed it to Jessica, a co-worker who used to work as a children’s librarian. She said sometimes children’s books put the title page at the back of the book, and sure enough, that’s where it was. What I was looking for was the classification of the book, the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress numbers.

I was shocked to see it classified as “Juvenile fiction.” Jessica explained that the juvenile designation meant it was geared for young children through third grade, and the book was meant to be read by an adult to the child. At 128 pages, that seemed a bit much to me. I took the book home and sat down and read it.

The text in the book is in cursive writing, most children at that age would not be able to read it themselves and frankly I occasionally had some difficulty myself.  The subject matter, as explained above in the publisher’s synopsis, is not child friendly, to say the least. While I really liked the book and loved the artwork, I could not imagine this as a children’s book. Interestingly, Amazon has it classified thusly:

  • Books > Arts & Photography > Collections, Catalogs & Exhibitions
  • Books > Arts & Photography > Graphic Design > Commercial > Fashion Design
  • Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women

Someone took a good look at it and came up with categories that actually fit the book. I’m guessing that the publisher gave it the Juvenile classification and for the life of me, I don’t understand why. And if that’s correct, I’m really puzzled as how I came to be a recipient of a children’s book. I rarely review them and I’m not on most children’s publicists radar. Then again, this book isn’t published by a children’s imprint, but rather an art imprint.

All that said, I loved this book. It is beautiful, the story interesting and compelling, and I think it would make a good gift book for sure. Thank you, Katherine Beitner, for sending this to me. And maybe you can get with the Library of Congress and have the Juvenile designation changed to something more appropriate?

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SARA BERMAN’S CLOSET by Maira Kalman & Alex Kalman. Harper Design (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0062846402.  128p.

Kindle


BIBLIOPHILE by Jane Mount9

September 20, 2018
Click book cover to purchase

An Illustrated Miscellany 

I am a long time fan of Jane Mount’s art and often spend time drooling over her website, the Ideal Bookshelf. If you are not a complete book wonk like me, Mount offers paintings/prints similar to the cover of this book. She has hundreds of collections and books to choose from and you can create your own “ideal bookshelf”. This is my dream gift!

This book is a really fun read for any book lover. Fully illustrated, there are pages for almost every genre, like historical fiction and romance, but also super creative ones like “Book Club Darlings,” “Novels of the Millennium: Optimists Confusion,” “Books Made into Great TV,” and collections of titles with various covers, like Pride & Prejudice and 1984.

Also included are many illustrations of “Beloved Bookstores” and “Striking Libraries” from around the world. Mount offers her unique illustrations of the Strand (NYC), Librairie D&Q (Quebec), San Librario (Bogota) bookstores and the Library of Parliament (Ottowa), Seattle Central Library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of The New York Public Library (the one with the lions) and lots more.

There are fun quizzes, like “Fictional Planet Universe” where there are illustrations of 20 or so planets and you have to name the book or comic where the planet appears. She offers insight into how books are made (“The Physical Book,”) “Designers’ Picks” and “Writing Rooms.” There are “Writers Pets,” “Read Around the World” maps, “Every Day Food Inspiration” and many more.

I could go on for days and tell you about every page in this book, but it is so much better to see it for yourself. Amazon has some of the illustrations available:

Did I mention I love this book? With the holidays right around the corner (have you seen the Christmas decorations at Costco?!) this book would make a beautiful gift for the book lover in your life.

You’re welcome.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BIBLIOPHILE by Jane Mount. Chronicle Books; Illustrated edition (September 11, 2018). ISBN 978-1452167237. 224p.


ART, INC. by Lisa Congdon

September 24, 2014

Click to purchase

I earned my Bachelor’s degree in English, an endeavor which has long been the source of great jokes about the serious lack of employment opportunities (can you spell SUPERSIZED?) Art majors don’t have it much easier. But the thing is, some of the brightest and most creative people are pursuing their passion before reality hits and they have to get a job.

This book helps point the way for artists to find more creative and worthy outlets for their passion than just teaching (not that there’s anything wrong with teaching!) What Congdon has created with this book is more of a business guide for artists, with clearly laid out chapters and lots of good advice.

She speaks from experience. Congdon shares a lot of her art online, and has parlayed that into a money making enterprise. She includes such practical advice as opening a bank account to how to buy a scanner. There are interviews with illustrators, fine artists, and others.

Best of all, Congdon offers lots of good advice like how to use social media to your benefit and how to deal with galleries. She also talks about the illustration jobs she’s had and how she got them, and how you can too. Learn how to price your work, photograph it and market it like a pro. And if your confidence needs a boost, well, she addresses that as well.

Buy this book for the artist in your life and they will thank you.

9/14 Stacy Alesi

ART, INC. by Lisa Congdon. Chronicle Books (August 12, 2014). ISBN 978-1452128269. 184p.