We’re starting a new book club this month! The first meeting of the 中文读书会 – Chinese Book Club is next Thursday, August 28, at 7 p.m. at the Main Library at Goodwood. We’ll be discussing two novels by famed Chinese writer Ailing Zhang (张爱玲): 倾城之恋 (Qing Cheng Zhi Lian) and 半生缘 (Ban Sheng Yuan).
The books we’ll be reading this year will be in both Chinese Simplified and Traditional characters to include people from different Chinese-speaking areas.
The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat by Meg Lukens Noonan. Reviewed by Louise Hilton.
The Coat Route is a quick and interesting read on the making of a $50,000 coat. No, that’s not a typo. Journalist Noonan set out to discover the story behind this unfathomably expensive overcoat crafted entirely by hand and to determine the role, if any, that bespoke (custom-made) clothes play in our fast-paced era of instant gratification.
Noonan journeys across the globe to trace the making of each element of the coat, from Peru (home of the vicuña, a camelid whose fleece is the finest in the world) to Florence and Paris (the lining) and finally to England (the buttons) and Australia (the thread). Fun fact: The tailor specializing in bespoke clothes who was commissioned for the coat even did the stitching for the book jacket. Noonan also gives a brief history of bespoke tailoring, especially that of London’s fashionable Savile Row, but laments that the word itself has been hijacked – there are even “bespoke” ice cream shops – which diminishes the significance of this centuries-old tradition.
$50,000 for a coat is of course an obscene amount of money, and a luxury only very few could afford. But Noonan presents the story in such a way that reading about the attention and care behind this and similar garments makes you think (and cringe) about the production methods of the cheaply made clothes with the all too familiar “Made in China” labels we so often put on our backs. In the end, The Coat Route is not only a commentary on the consumer society in which we live, with its “disposable” clothes and products, but a compelling ode to artisanal industries.
*An abridged version of this review was published in The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) on 8/17/14.
Looking for a good book to read? Check out NoveList, a great resource for book recommendations, similar authors, and more. Watch our latest Library Spotlight video from our YouTube channel below to learn more!
Do you love a good historical novel and like chatting about books with other readers? Come join the Historical Novel Book Club at the Main Library. The next meeting will be held next Thursday, August 7th, at 1:30 pm at the new Main Library at Goodwood. We will be focusing on novels about Ireland, the Emerald Isle. Suggested authors include Edward Rutherfurd, Frank Delaney, Morgan Llewellyn, or any other author you find and like. It will be an opportunity to celebrate the history and people of one of the most beautiful countries on earth. Look for these and other selected books on the Historical Novel book display at the Main Library on the first floor near the Circulation Desk! Call 225-231-3750 for more information.
The Central Book Club meets on the last Thursday of every month at 11 a.m. The club reads and discusses books from various genres and also shares recipes and food at each meeting. Call 262-2650 for details. The next meeting is tomorrow morning (July 31) at 11 and the book is Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian. Future meetings are: