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Discovering Books and Yourself

posted by LIM College staff Staff Profiles Desktops & Documents lola.rephann My Documents website BLOGS Hubspot Blogs Short Takes LilahAlbabaWhile shopping at Bendel’s one Sunday afternoon, I wandered through their small book shop. I decided this was the only place in the department store I could indulge in without maxing out my credit card. Perusing through the many books on Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel, I picked up “In the Know” by Nancy MacDonell, the classic guide to being cultured and cool. Feeling overly confident, I skimmed through the book expecting to receive a “been there, done that” reaction, I was shocked. According to Nancy Macdonell, I knew absolutely nothing and was in fact not cultured nor cool. I purchased the book and walked out on 5th avenue towards Central Park. I found a quiet bench and dedicated the rest of the afternoon to confront my own ignorance and educated my self myself an all that is cultured and worth knowing.

I have always considered my self to be well rounded, I have lived abroad, am familiar with several languages and have traveled to Europe almost every summer since I was a child. It turns out that my travels, my collection of Audrey Hepburn movies, and the many Jane Austen books I had read, only made a small dent into the guide of being in the know. I was appalled that I had only seen 2 of the 10 movies everyone should see, only read one of the 10 books, and was only vaguely familiar with 3 of the 10 artists that everyone should know. The book breaks down categories like books, cds to own, buildings to see, restaurants to dine in, and legendary fashion designers. All of the categories are broken down into 10 people, places, or things with detailed descriptions about each. Nancy Macdonell has created the ultimate cheat sheet for anyone who has the desire to be well rounded, sophisticated, and artistically aware.

Although I am not even half way through my quest to be cultured, I have designated my summer for digging through bookstores, locating old movies, and researching works of famous artists. I even went to the Paris Theater to see the film on Antoni Gaudí after the “ten landmark buildings and their architects” chapter. I am making progress slowly but surely, and feeling a bit more educated as I read on.

-- Lilah Albaba

For seekers of a wider range of knowledge:

MacDonnell, N., The Classic Guide: The Classic Guide to Being Cool and Cultured. New York. Penguin. 2007.

Leonard, J. The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind. New York. St. Martins. 2004.

Both can be found in the LIM Library. Also, For the light-hearted:

Jones, J., & William Wilson. An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't. New York. Ballantine. 2006.

For the anxiously fraudulent:

Padwa, L. Everything You Pretend to Know And Are Afraid Someone Will Ask. New York. Penguin. 1996.

About a serious quest for knowledge as a college student, then as a well-known New York film and cultural critic:

Denby, D. Great Books. New York. Simon and Schuster. 1997.

For the fashionable:

To Quality, Taste & Style by Tim Gunn

Fashion Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Pop Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

In The Know by Nancy Mcdonell Smith

The Classic Ten by Nancy McDonell Smith

The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia


Topics: Fashion Culture