"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Romanian Icons

When I'm in New York and New England, as I usually am at least twice a year, I make the rounds of the used bookstores, beginning with the incomparable Strand Books on Broadway in lower Manhattan, right on the edge of Greenwich Village. If you are ever in New York, you simply must go here, and you must give yourself the better part of a day to do the place justice (three floors, very high shelves, packed floor to ceiling). For the Churchill fans out there, do make a point of visiting the charming Chartwell Booksellers, which describes itself as "the world's only Winston Churchill bookshop." (Oh, and forgive one more vulgar commercial: if, like me, you started as a child to write notes in your books with a fountain pen and still appreciate the delight of using such an "instrument," then you will enjoy a trip to the Fountain Pen Hospital just up the street from City Hall.)

This summer I discovered a recently opened bookstore run by the Friends of the Ferguson Library in downtown Stamford, CT. Bright, clean, and easily accessible, I found a surprisingly large haul of books, all priced between $2 and $6 at most. With all the talk about the "digitization" of books today, I am fiercely attached to used bookstores and the joys and delights to be found therein, and hope at least a few of them do not go away.

One such book I found is a very handsome, and splendidly illustrated, volume Romania: Land of the Icon. This trilingual volume (Romanian, French, English) was published in 2003 in Bucharest by a team of editors, illustrators, and translators. Unlike some other volumes on icons, this one does not stint on illustrations: every page is in color, and the book features icons both ancient and modern, reflecting a variety of styles as well as "Western" influences on "modern" Romanian iconography. It is a welcome addition to the iconology and iconography section of any library, personal or institutional.

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