Committing to a book is tough these days. With the constant onslaught of distractions (it takes an entire week to get caught up on Sunday night TV, then the vicious cycle starts all over again) and our collective attention spans dwindling by the hour -- e.g. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, wait, what was I saying? -- Anna Karenina doesn't stand much of a chance. That said, there are two historically commotion-free zones where I -- and other easily distracted folks -- are guaranteed to get in some quality reading time: Long flights and any shady spot in close proximity to a body of water. Both plane rides and beach days are most abundant in the warmer months, when there's much cause for travel and laying out.
For most, summer reading calls for lighter fare: Detective novels, romance fluff and Young Adult trilogies you wouldn't be caught dead reading in public (no judgment, I tore through every glorious word of The Hunger Games in a span of 4 days). My instinct is to forgo my usual diet of fashion personality autobiographies, style blogs and glossies, opting instead to gluttonously gorge on Chick Lit; its oodles of entertainment that involves very little brainpower. Simultaneously, the English Lit. major in me puts up a pretty strong case for brushing up on the classics. The more labor-intensive option, for sure, with the potential to actually, you know, learn something, but who wants to waste precious vacation time doing that, right?
So before you go acquainting your Amazon.com shopping cart with Bridget Jones and Co., please know this: There are plenty of books out there that have all the indulgent benefits of a frothy page-turner in addition to a welcome dose of substance. Though not lengthy literary masterpieces per se, these fashion-centric tomes offer a thorough look at an endlessly fascinating industry, serving up generous helpings of insider views while feeding our style-loving souls. Here, four of my tried-and-true favorites:
Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow by Detmar Blow with Tom Sykes A truly gut-wrenching account of life with stylist/muse Isabella Blow, arguably one of the most brilliant names in fashion, as told by her husband of twenty years. Equal parts heart breaking and inspiring with such industry stalwarts as the equally tragic Alexander McQueen and longtime friend Philip Treacy making frequent appearances. Fair warning: This is by no means light reading and I suggest having tissues on hand at all times.
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas Part history lesson, part social commentary, part love letter to the business of fashion, reporter Dana Thomas' seemingly bottomless knowledge is dizzying at times (in a good way, of course). The pages are chock-full of incredibly well-researched stats and fun facts; did you now that orange became Hermes's signature hue because all other colors were unavailable in large quantities during World War II? If you're wondering if these tidbits will only entice the fashion-y set consider this: My husband, who has zero-interest in such frippery, couldn't put it down.
Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger Sequels (whether in book or movie-form) have a bad reputation for obvious reasons (Greece 2, Bring It On Again, I could go on). Nevertheless, I had this sure-to-be-gem on pre-order the second the happy news of its existence reached me. Since we last saw the Devils Wears Prada's motley crew of characters, the ladies were heading their separate ways. Fast forward a decade, and we learn that Andrea is at the helm of her very own glossy (dreams DO come true!), with her nemesis-turned-bestie, Emily, by her side. And Miranda Priestly? She's back in full force and holding court as the reigning Queen of Mean. Let's all collectively cross our fingers and pray that the movie version is in the works.
Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store by Hall Freeman Anyone who's ever worked the retail beat -- or any avenue of the service industry, for that matter -- will be tickled by the true, first-hand experiences of this 15 year handbag sales veteran . Even if you can't relate to Hall's hilarious and sometimes, downright terrifying, tales of manning the floor at Nordstrom a.k.a The Big Fancy, you will undoubtedly enjoy his insights.
Feel free to let me know if I missed any of your favorites in the comments section!
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