My ability to leisurely read a book has been severely limited since I’ve gone to college. The last fiction book I read for leisure was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and that was my traditional every other month read of that. (It is so underrated as a novel).
Before that, it was probably either a short story collection by Garcia Marquez or Incredibly Close and Extreme Loud by Johnathan Safran Foer. Both were wonderful. Both were read in the spring of 2010.
Over the summer I had all these lofty goals to read so much fiction and enjoy myself. But honestly, two 300 level literature classes, one of them where we read eight novels, kind of burnt me out. So I recharged by watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cheering on the Phillies and rereading all of Jane Austen’s works.
However, non-fiction is another story. Art History has given an unexpected outlet for leisurely reading. I’ve talked about how much I love non-fiction, cultural microcosm books, favorite ever being Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939 by Katie Roiphe. They are just wonderful. Over the summer I read Strapless about my all-time favorite painting Madame X, which was equal parts scandal, art history and fashion. I also read Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture inspired by my general love of the Medici family.
Since I’ve been doing research on Baroque Rome you think my discovery of my next leisurely read would have come from that. But actually I found a review of this book in a contemporary art journal I was looking at for my contemporary class.
So it is called Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in Florence by Robert Clark. And it is basically combines three of my favorite things: Florence, Art, and Disaster.
The first half of the book is about the history of Florence, and how floods of the Arno correspond and related to the Florentines. The second half is specifically about the 1966 flood, covered by Life magazine, and how the destruction and near-destruction of the epicenter of the Renaissance brought art lovers together from around the world to try and preserve the city.
It is phenomenal. I’m not completely done yet, but I would still recommend it to anyone interested in Florence. The history is pretty comprehensive of at least the politics of the Florence, which you don’t always get in Art History classes, as well as Dante’s interactions with the City.