Summer Reading Inspiration
I've been thinking about books a lot this summer and about how they inspire me with times and settings, real or imagined. I recently read Lusitania, a non-fiction book by Erik Larson about the final crossing of the ocean liner during World War I, and found the description of the passengers' clothing particularly evocative and relevant.
I've always loved summertime reading. I certainly don't do as much some years as others, but still, it's a lifetime joy. My list this year is long, but filled with pleasure and anticipation, fiction and non-fiction, light and challenging, new and old.
I usually have a few books on rotation covering all the formats: e-book, audiobook, and old fashioned paper. Currently I'm in the middle of Barksins by Annie Proulx. I am only about one-fourth of the way through this multi-generational novel, so I won't attempt to provide spoilers or an adequate review. I picked it up because: 1) I am not sure I have ever read anything by the author and would like to; 2) the book appears on many must-read lists this year; and 3) I love a good historical novel, and this sounded like a slightly refined version of one.
Even part way through the book I am struck by three themes: family legacies, the richness and density of North American forests during the early years of European settlement, and (from the standpoint of the Europeans) the odd combination of awe and respect for those forests coupled with their literal clearing and control. One cannot read this novel without considering the importance of sustainable and respectful forestry. Without putting that aside, however, I become distracted thinking about the visual representations of the trees, plus their current use in our homes and lives.
Many, many species of tree feature throughout the novel. Early on, characters work with an indigenous community to dry large sheets of birch bark for sheathing canoes and wigwams. In our current life, the birch is still celebrated and used for furniture, building products, paper, trees, medicinal items, food and drink stuffs, ropes and the like. And that's the meandering path I took to the main content of this post...
Birch Inside our Homes
Visually, a stand of birch trees is a common theme in the home. Cole and Son's iconic wall covering, Woods, is simple elegance in its basic form or in a custom color.
If you can't or won't commit to a wall covering, a shower curtain or wall decals work just as well.
A wood as fine and durable as birch, has been used throughout the home and in domestic life for centuries. As a sign of respect for the existing forests, I suggest exploring vintage pieces as an option to round out your home furnishings. Here are a few select images of items currently available on 1stdibs, showing the versatility and beauty of birch wood.
Wishing you an interesting and meandering summer full of books and odd inspirations!