Great Reads to Wrap and Unwrap
Merle Rubin. Merle Rubin regularly reviews literature and contemporary fiction ., The Christian Science Monitor
Some coffee-table books are more substantive and sustaining than others. In The Gardens of Spain, landscape architect and author Consuelo Correcher describes the richly various legacies - from Greco-Roman to Islamic - that have nourished Spanish horticulture, with its patios, fountains, pools, terraces, and appetite for cultivating rare and exotic plants.
Beautiful color photographs amply illustrate the horticulture and architectural delights of the Iberian peninsula, from the magnificent palace gardens of La Alhambra to the misty vales of Galicia and the sun-drenched patios of Cordoba. Settings for spiritual mediation, botanical experimentation, private recreation, or public display, these gardens are things of beauty in themselves and may also furnish ideas to gardeners far beyond the borders of Spain.
Many born in the American South - and many who've never set foot below the Mason-Dixon line - are fascinated by the region. Whether or not one shares this fascination, one cannot fail to be impressed by the thoughtfully selected writings, painting, and photographs assembled by Lisa Howorth in The South: A Treasury of Art and Literature.
From pre-colonial explorers to present-day humorist, the voices and visions in these pages represent an astonishing range of viewpoints and experiences: Alexis de Tocqueville's horrified account of trigger-happy "Southern justice," Frederick Douglass's scathing portrait of his degenerate former "master," song lyrics like "Train Whistle Blues" and "I'll Fly Away," fiction by William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Eudora Welty, and Richard Wright, plus memoirs, speeches, diaries, cartoons, and quilts. There's enough humor, sadness, passion, ugliness, and beauty here to interest even a Yankee.
In an age of photo-ops and sound bites, the live spoken word still has power to change minds, hearts, and history. …