A Little Wisdom – An Endearing Selection of “Words From The Wise” from Centuries Past

In search of something fresh to sample while perusing the poetry shelf at a local used book store, I happened across a well-worn hardcover titled “Words From The Wise: Centuries of Proverbs to Live By.” Intrigued by its archaic quality and the charming illustrations on the front cover, I brought it home – a decision that I’d regard as one of my best (which is at most a slight exaggeration). With multiple one sentence proverbs and a paired illustration per 8×11 page, Arthur Wortman’s collection of time-honored morsels of truth makes for a quick and visually-appealing read, which I took to be a refreshing breather from my usual densely-packed, prose laden book-buys.

IMG_1278

IMG_1279
As the sleeve rightly states, this is a book that entertains as it teaches the lessons of life. 

Though the proverbs were written decades, even centuries, prior, they stand true to the present (albeit with a few exceptions: i.e. “Having a good wife and rich cabbage soup, seek not other things.”) – their validity and relevance unimpressed by the passage of time.

Beyond their eternal importance and enduring applicability, proverbs (from the book, but in general too) wield language in a powerful way, possessing the ability to speak and chide and energize in as few words as possible. Their brevity, however, is not indicative of simplicity; each proverb deserves not to be skimmed, but carefully thought through with meaningful consideration to fully access and grasp its meaning, and take to heart its timeless truth. While the language is often figurative, even abstract, it presents valuable advice and profound wisdom in a manner that is accessible to all.

To supplement pages of proverbs both playful and heavy in tone, the book includes lightly colored illustrations by Fritz Kredel, a German-American wood-cutter and book illustrator whose work has appeared in numerous works, including Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and Eleanor Roosevelt’s little-known children’s book, “Christmas.” Kredel’s attractive additions do the proverbs justice by bringing the pithy sayings to life, with a touch of good-natured humor.

IMG_1276

IMG_1280

IMG_1273

A whimsical, thought-provoking read, Arthur Wortman’s selection of “Words From The Wise” pays proper tribute to timeless tokens of wisdom that deserve to be preserved, remembered, and shared.

A Little About Tea – Sebastian Beckwith’s Guide to Tea and Tea-making

IMG_E1262

Before reading Sebastian Beckwith’s “A Little Tea Book,” I knew a little about tea – enough to pour water over a bag of Twinings at least – but nothing of its rich and impressive history, the 6 different types and their complexities, and on how to make a perfectly steeped cup.

At a humble 112 pages – including pictures and illustrations – Beckwith’s little known guide to the basics of tea-sourcing, making, and drinking is a handy, exceptionally informative resource for experienced and non-experienced tea-drinkers (and coffee-drinkers) alike. In addition to Beckwith’s facts and concise commentary, “A Little Tea Book” also includes charming illustrations by artist Wendy MacNaughton, complementing Beckwith’s lighthearted tone, attention to detail, and will to acknowledge the complexity of tea without overwhelming the reader.

IMG_E1263
A tiny sampling of teas – by Wendy MacNaughton

Despite its brevity and simplicity, Beckwith pays successful tribute to the expansive and complicated world of tea, offering – in his respectable and time-honored opinion – the most important information on tea’s past and present.

IMG_E1264

The final chapter of the book, and perhaps the most valuable, Beckwith offers a thorough explanation on how to make the perfect cup of tea, detailing the reasons on why to use loose leaf (never bagged), how much to use, the type of water to use and why, and the temperature at which to heat the water depending on the type of tea. After heating and pouring the water, Beckwith informs the reader to let the tea alone to steep, taste-testing the flavor once every minute. As for how long to steep to reach perfect doneness, Beckwith concludes by urging the reader “to rely on your tongue and not the clock” since every tea, and every person’s palette, is different.

With its delightful visuals and depth of information, Beckwith’s straightforward, yet intricately involved “A Little Tea Book,” invites its readers to delve deeper into all that tea has to offer, guiding them toward a deeper understanding, respect, and appreciation of the profundity behind the perfect of cup of tea.