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Happy Holidays from Yale University Press!

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on some of our favorite books from 2014.

Assistant Managing Editor Heidi Downey recommends Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies by Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson, saying:

This is a fascinating look at the physical essence of easel paintings—the supports, the pigments, the varnish, the framing, everything—written in an accessible and engaging style. It is one of the first art books I worked on here at Yale University Press, and it is one of the most memorable. There is so much to learn here (art, science, history), and the Case Studies are endlessly informative. My favorite case study is on Jackson Pollock’s Blue poles: “The Myth of Inebriation versus the Evidence of Deliberation.” A great gift for a student or teacher, or for anyone interested in art and cultural history. With spectacular illustrations (including macro details and X-ray and infrared images), comprehensive glossary, and annotated bibliography.

Senior Production Editor Ann-Marie Imbornoni had this to say about Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs Adams by Margery Heffron:

I work in Manuscript Editorial, and one of my favorite projects from the past year or so was Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs Adams by Margery Heffron. I didn’t edit it myself, but I was the production editor and oversaw the book through editing and production. As I was checking corrections in proofs and revised pages, I’d find myself getting sucked into the narrative and losing all track of time.

The Louisa of the title was the wife of John Quincy Adams, and daughter-in-law of Abigail and John Adams. Louisa Catherine is a wonderful subject for biography—she had an amazing life, lived in London, Berlin, and St. Petersburg before she wound up at the center of US politics in Washington, D.C.—and Margery Heffron writes both beautifully and perceptively. Heffron was a freelance copyeditor and became an independent scholar through her interest in Louisa Catherine. Sadly, she did not live to see the book finished. Even before her early death, though, a small army of family and friends and colleagues pulled together to help her complete the book as far as John Quincy’s election as US president in 1825. Louisa Catherine lived until 1852, so the bio doesn’t cover all of Louisa’s life, but as it is, the story is riveting; Louisa had her share of heartbreak as well as adventure and triumph over adversity. And the book is so well written, it’s pure pleasure to read!

I think it would make a great gift for anyone interested American history & the founding fathers, European history during the Napoleonic era, and the lives of famous women (as the wife of the president, Louisa was the most famous woman in America). It’s also a coming-of-age story, a love story, and a story of human experience and resilience.

Senior Publicist Liz Pelton recommends Dance and Fashion, edited by Valerie Steele:

The dancers I know all covet Dance and Fashion. For some of them, it is quite amazing to see truly historic costumes, the ones we’ve seen in paintings and vintage photos, up close. The details on Katherine Dunham’s dresses are astonishing. For others, the thrill is in the ways cutting edge contemporary designers seem to really appreciate dancers. And then there are the shoes!  

Here at Yale Press, we celebrate the end of the year with a holiday party and a highly competitive bake-off competition. After all, as Julia Child said, “a party without cake is just a meeting.” The highlight of the competition is always the YUP title-themed dessert, a category that inspires both deliciousness and puns. The winner this year was “Suspended Substances”, a mixed berry jello inspired by Suspended Sentences, by the Nobel prize winning Patrick Modiano.

The cookie competition was fierce, forcing the judges to choose between surprise ingredient recipes like chocolate-dipped potato chip shortbread cookies, and classically delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Staff all chipped in to decorate the library with holiday cheer, including snowflakes, tinsel, and even a festive owl door hanger (which we are strongly hoping stays up all year).

Happy holidays to our dedicated blog readers from everyone here at the Yale University Press! We’ll see you back here in 2015!

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