Picasso’s Children – The Life Force

A prolific artist , Picasso’s Life Force showed itself in both in his paintings and ceramics and in the four children he fathered with three women. This book, The World of Picasso’s Children shows his ongoing fascination with portraying children in a variety of media over 65 years -from the Blue Period on…

Picasso's many portraits of children in this oversized 1965 coffee-table book.

Picasso’s many portraits of children in this oversized 1965 coffee-table book.

How to Own a Picasso - buy the book

How to Own a Picasso – buy the book  

Vintage Art books, like this one, are not only a great investment, appreciating over time, they also are a joy to behold. Carefully produced books like this are the best way to get close to the sensation of seeing the art  in person. This one, in particular, would make a spectacular Father’s Day gift. Inquiries -TheSophisticatedReader@gmail.com

The Joy of Eating

If there’s a cook in your house, and it’s not you, shower him or her with affection and compliments. There can never be too much sugar when it comes to praising someone who cooks for you – especially when love’s the main ingredient.

Ode to Joy! This is the 1975 edition - a 55th printing of this popular cookbook

Ode to Joy! This is the 1975 edition – a 55th printing of this popular cookbook


I’ve sold various volumes of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer over the years. Each one of my gold-titled ivory hardcover cookbooks has been scooped up quickly.  This is not a book to sit on the shelf. Like the perfume of the same name, this is highly desirable and upscale. There is not a whiff of Settlement about it.

I Don’t Think Positive Thinking Works

There is nothing wrong with positive thinking. I just don’t think it works. Since I picked this up on my last estate sale book-buying trip, I am now reading Zig Ziglar’s See You At the Top. Perhaps his words of wisdom, affirmations and self-esteem mantras will change my mind about thinking positive. But I doubt it.

Zig Ziglar is pretty sure I'm gonna get there --

Zig Ziglar is pretty sure I’m gonna get there — This should work; it’s even Signed!


Actually, I’m not totally against positive thinking.  Thinking positive may come in handy when you’re about to make a speech, sing The National Anthem before a live audience, or compete in a the national spelling bee. Actually, it also might help when you’re giving birth with Lamaze and/or right before your first sky-dive. But, for me, positive thinking is purely a short-term ‘think.’  Because, long term, it hasn’t done anything to increase my kindle sales, to grant me a winning lottery ticket or to boost my followers on Instagram.

Just Desserts (Not)

If, in the 1960s, a woman cheated on her diet, ate an ice cream sundae and gained a pound, you’d say, “Well,  she got her just desserts.” I’d say “I hope she took the menu with her so she can frame it or sell it.”


Beauty is in the eye (or the stomach) of the beholder

Beauty is in the eye (or the stomach) of the beholder

Here’s an old dessert menu from a Big Boy Restaurant. To a Foodie like I, this is Art. To a Restaurant or Big Boy collector, this menu is a desirable vintage collectible.  For both of us, this is way more than Just Desserts. (And, P.S. This beauty sold quickly).

No Need for Botox

If I could age as little as a crocodile or as slowly as a tortoise, no one would ever see any wrinkles or sagging skin, because I wouldn’t have any. I would never even need Botox. When it comes to aging, Reptiles have the Advantage.


If I could age as little as a reptile, there would be no need for Botox.

If I could age as little as a reptile, there would be no need for Botox


Reptiles do not change, but zoos do. These antique photo postcards show the Antwerp, Belgium’s Zoo Reptile Gallery . The lulling sepia tones and the gorgeous, elegant zoo interiors take us right back to the 1910s or ’20s. The Zoo buildings were likely renovated & modernized many years ago. But the crocodiles and the tortoise stayed the same over time – especially the tortoise. They are time-travelers, arriving in the here and now (100 years later) looking like they hadn’t aged at all.



A Chinese Scholar’s View of America in 1934

Let’s first discuss the enduring nature of American Pop Culture by comparing Hollywood in 1934 to Hollywood in 2015…

Nowhere in the world is the clown, the pretender, the imitator, the exhibitor of indecency, the promoter of vice and immorality, namely the actor, so glorified, deified, and worshipped as in these United States.” –from An Oriental View of American Civilization by No-Yong Park (Pao), Ph.D. 1934, Hale, Cushman & Flint.

What the Chinese Scholar Thought of America in 1934

What the Chinese Scholar Thought of    America in 1934





This is an extremely interesting book – not only because Dr. No-Yong Park contrasts life in China with life in America in the 1930s, but for how much has changed here (“The American Woman and Her Shortcomings”) and for how much has not (“Clown Worship in America” – i.e. Hollywood). The author signed in both English and Chinese characters on the first free end-page.


(Last year, I reviewed different features of this book in a poetry format)

Make It Rain

Note from California:

Weather is a great tease. Today the dark gray clouds, seemingly bulging with water, threaten to burst and pour rain. The earth is parched and cracked; spring blossoms plead for even a drop or two. But like a sloppy drunk, cut off from another round, the earth must sober up and face yet another day of endless drought. The dark clouds are only bluffing.

Rachel Carson's Early Warning Climate Change Books, 1950 & 1962

Rachel Carson’s Early Warning Climate Change
Books, 1951 & 1962

This is Earth Day 2015. Those of us facing water restrictions in California are shocked by the dried-out reservoirs and by lake water levels that can no longer float a boat. We have to wonder what would have happened here if people in power had paid more attention to Environmental Activist Rachel Carson’s Mid-Century warnings about the dangers of chemical pollution and cyclical climate changes. The classic books she wrote (shown above) are: The Sea Around Us (1951) and Silent Spring (1962). Both are original hardcovers; one a book-club edition.

Cooking Home on the Range (probably Viking)

Long gone are the days of cooking scrapple, pork fruit cake, wild porcupines and Russian Fluff. Or maybe not. Most likely there’s an up & coming gourmet celebrity chef  who will soon introduce us to re-invented pioneer cooking. Put a new “spin” on it, as they say. But she or he will not be cooking over a campfire – but over a Viking stove.

Pioneer Cooking in Nebraska and Wyoming,  Gumbo Coffee, yum....

Pioneer Cooking in Nebraska and Wyoming, Gumbo Coffee, yum….

I put these two cookbooks together, even though I found them at different times. They are “of the moment.” I feel a surging interest in everything authentic “Americana” -from handmade quilts to quails-with-mayonnaise. These should sell quickly. A competitive chef’s menu, at a fancy restaurant, can’t be far behind.

Cooking in Wyoming is the Wyoming Centennial Edition of 1990. The Nebraska Pioneer Cookbook, compiled by Kay Graber, is (c) 1974. Both are softcovers in stiff wraps. Wyoming is spiral-bound.

What the Futurists Saw, 1909-1912

We declare that the world’s splendour has been enriched by a new beauty; the beauty of speed.”  From the Manifestos of Futurism, published in the catalogue of a Futurism art exhibit held at the Sackville Gallery, London, in 1912. Artists are often the true Seers.

Bold Italian artists predicted Society's worship of Speed

Bold Italian artists predicted Society’s worship of Speed

I’m in love with this 1961 Futurism catalog from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) exhibit in 1961, New York. The art inside the hardcover catalog is interesting, but just as compelling are the four Futurist Manifestos, found at the back of the book. An excerpt from the Initial Manifesto of Futurism is printed above. In its day, Futurism #Art was shocking and alienating to some; today, as the artists foresaw, Speed rules our lives.

It Pays To Advertise (or it used to)

The internet wiped out most of the appetite for buying print and radio ads. Slowing demand for buying TV ads can’t be far behind. Advertisers are now heading for The Social Network. Tags are the new jingles. Say goodbye forever to “Tony(r) the Tiger, Coke is It(c) The Kodak Moment (c). Say hello to Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat & all the other apps birthing as I blog. And, oh yes, say hello to branded blogs.


The history of TV Commercials, 1948-83

The history of TV Commercials, 1948-83



Sorry, Charlie--

Sorry, Charlie–


This large softcover book, Mighty Minutes,  is a fairly amusing walk down TV Advertising’s Memory Lane. As I read through it, I thought I saw the fine hand of Don Draper and his Mad Men storyboarding and pitching some of these commercials. This book covers the late ’40s ( Texaco’s quartet) to the late ’70s & mean Joe Greene downing his Coke.  A lot of 1960s commercials are in here – if not Don Draper’s genius, at least Matthew Weiner’s reference book. We grew up (or older) on these TV commercials. They formed our world view. They made us believe in fantasy – just as I wish to believe Don Draper created some of these ads. Well, he didn’t. No wonder some of us are so disappointed.