To celebrate the end of 2020 and Christmas, we asked our staff to recommend Yale Books they’d like to give or receive as a gift. Please read their recommendations below for gift ideas for your loved ones.
December’s Staff Pick – Artemesia
Charlotte Zaidi, Marketing Executive, Art recommends Artemisia
When I first found out that the National Gallery, London was to stage the first major UK exhibition dedicated solely to the work of Artemisia Gentileschi, I was elated. Not only are her paintings extraordinary, wonderfully dramatic and often female-centric, depicting figures such as Judith, St. Catherine, Cleopatra, and Susannah, they invite complex questions regarding the relationship between the biography of the artist and the body of her work in a very poignant way.
Unfortunately the current pandemic has meant that galleries across the world have had to close their doors, and the Artemisia exhibition has been temporarily postponed. However, the accompanying exhibition catalogue is filled with all the stunning paintings to be found hanging on the gallery walls (but without crowds of people in front of them blocking your view) as well as a series of essays that explore Artemisia’s life and the feminist ‘rediscovery’ of her work. My favourite essay of the bunch is by Elizabeth Cropper, wherein she deftly moves through the timeline of Artemisia’s life; pausing every now and then to touch on topics such as as self-identity, violence, performative gender, and the construct of ‘respectability’. You end Cropper’s essay subtly primed to engage with the catalogue’s paintings more critically, making the experience of reading the book so much richer.
To my friends and family: no, that large book-shaped Christmas present isn’t a copy of Artemisia. It really isn’t. (It is).
This year I will be giving copies of E.H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World to the children in my family. I have been aware of the book for a long time but I finally got round to reading it a the start of lockdown when creating our home learning resource based on the book, An A-Z of the World. It goes without saying that the book is fantastically written, the introduction alone, available to read here, is a majestic sweep from ancient history to modern in just under 700 words. The illustrated edition is fantastic for younger children, but my favourite is the paperback featuring Clifford Harper’s fantastic woodcut images.
The Yale book I would most like to receive as a gift is Hidden London. I have always wanted to visit one of London’s disused Tube stations and this is the next best thing. The book is also a fascinating social history including stories about passengers from the HMT Empire Windrush who lived in a shelter in Clapham South tube station for several weeks, and the bomb damage to Balham tube station, which was witnessed by my Grandmother during the Blitz
This Christmas, I will be gifting How to Read Literature to my book-loving friends. It reminded me of my love for the language and the importance of slow reading which I had let go of recently. This is a perfect read for book lovers talking about books and reading, for English literature students and teachers too! Terry Eagleton’s beautifully brings out the humour and joy in reading. I am big fan of his writing and can’t wait for my friends to read it too.
The book I’d like to receive as a gift is A Better Planet. In 2021, I want to do my bit for climate change. This award-winning book brings together excellent ideas for a sustainable future. It’s a must-read for environmentalists because it focusses on past environmental efforts and focusses on actions we can take for the future!