When Ithaca artist Barbara Page stumbled upon some old blank library cards in 2008, she had a feeling they might come in handy one day. Now, 13 years later, she’s released a book titled Book Marks: An Artist’s Card Catalog: Notes from the Library of My Mind.
Part memoir, part artwork, the book showcases over 430 illustrated drawings and collages etched on repurposed library cards. The piece is divided into 6 chapters for each decade of Page’s life, highlighting books that had a profound impact on her during the different decades. According to Page, the artwork is meant to serve as a bookmark of these times, connecting books with her lived experiences.
“You can tell a lot about person by browsing through bookshelves in their library and I kind of felt like this book gave me the opportunity to do that,” Page said. “I tried to pick books especially recently that have made an impression and that I think are important books for people to read. The cards are arranged more or less by decade and so are the chapters.”
In this edition of author’s bookshelf, Page breaks down six of her favorite books from various stages of her life and shares her accompanying artwork:
1. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Barbara Page: “This coming of age story portrays a family’s struggle with the forces of nature told through the lens of a boy’s attachment to his pet deer. At age ten I had to give up a beloved horse due to family issues and deeply empathized with Jody’s situation.”
2. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Page: “One of the several books I read while living in Berkeley during the 70’s that opened my naive eyes to pressing environmental, political, and racial issues.”
3. The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual by William K. Kershner
Page: “Learning to fly was the catalyst for my career as an artist. It gave me confidence and a point of view. (The arrow on the card points to the airport where I made my first solo flight.)”
4. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Page: “Aside from being the longest novel I have ever read, this excellent story, enveloping the history and culture of independent India, considerably enhanced my travels there.”
5. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Page: “An anthology of scientific wonders from the very big to the very small and the scientists who study them, presented by a master storyteller. It can make you love STEM. One great thing about being an artist is the opportunity to explore different disciplines. I have done major art installations which involved considerable research in paleontology and geology for various science museums.”
6. A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
Page: “An engaging novel whose charming main character is under house arrest and yet he manages to lead a rich life despite his severely limited options. We have just spent more than a year living with the restrictions that Covid imposed and had to make the best of it.”
Book Marks: An Artist’s Card Catalog: Notes from the Library of My Mind is out now for purchase.