Wednesday, November 12, 2008

book week: day 2

I have spent the last week slowly unpacking the eight boxes of books littering my apartment, and am reveling in having them all accessible again! Hurrah (btw ~ this is a little peek at my new bookcases). It has meant a slow start to book week, but I have lots of goodies lined up for you all, so hang in there. This year, I thought that in addition to highlighting some of my favorites, I would ask a few friends to contribute titles in their respective areas of expertise. First up, my dear friend KDM, researcher for the White House Historical Association (and notorious blog commentor). In honor of the election and the prospect of a new administration, I asked him for his top five favorite White House books...he obliged, and even threw in a few extras (along with some annotations):

The Classics:
* The White House: Its Historic Furnishings and First Families (2000), by Betty Monkman
* Official White House China: 1789 to the Present (1999), by Margaret Klapthor
* Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride (revised edition 2008), by William Kloss
* White House Glassware: Two Centuries of Presidential Entertaining (1989), by Jane Shadel Spillman
* The President’s House (second edition 2008), by William Seale (the “White House bible”)

Fun and Esoteric:
* Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration (1997), by James Archer Abbott and Elaine Rice (excellent!)
* Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies (1973), by J.B. West (full of great stories and behind-the-scenes tales…without airing the dirty laundry)
* White House Gardens: A History and Pictorial Record from time of John Adams to Present (1973), by Frederick Kramer and Rachel (Bunny) Mellon (illustrated with excellent botanical watercolors)
* The Story of the White House (1907), by Esther Singleton (two volumes of pioneering scholarship on American decorative arts ~ and delightfully dated!)
* The Letters of Archie Butt (1924), edited by Lawrence F. Abbott (Butt was a White House military aide, 1908-1912, and confirmed bachelor who died on the Titanic)

I have tried to find sources for all of these titles, but as some of them are out of print, you may need to do a little searching of your own. Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments section, and as always, happy reading!


Anonymous said...

Do you have any suggestions as to resources for the White House Christmas cards, themes, and paintings? There is a bit online but it would be wonderful to see it collected in a book.

Also, on a different topic - 1. Where did you get the bookcases and 2. Have you read Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen (both would be great reading for your weekend trips).

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

Oh, I wanted to be able to enlarge that bookcase photo and read the titles! It's like looking in a lighted window at night and seeing what it reveals about a person. I do recognize the two Anna Pavord volumes since mine are sitting next to each other on my shelf.

I did not realize there was a White House garden book so that is a nice tip.

Pigtown-Design said...

Good job, KDM!

Janet said...

Anon ~ there is a book by Mary Seeley, "Season's Greetings from the White House" (6th edition,2007). Seeley and her husband have been collecting WH Christmas cards for years, and held an exhibition of their collection at the LBJ Library in 2003-2004. I couldn't find an online resource, but the WH generally announces the card image in late November. You can find that information in the press section of their web site. As for the artwork itself, I could not find an answer to that...I'll have to see if any of my WH contacts can tell me.

Ms. Wis ~ yes, those are the two Pavord books. What a good eye! I will show you more glimpses of my bookshelves over the next couple days. Also, there is another WH garden book if you are interested: "The White House Garden" (1996) by William Seale.

Style Court said...

Oh Janet, this is so helpful. Love how you are styling the vignettes too :)