Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights

It’s never too early to start writing your holiday wish list! Whether you’re writing a list for yourself or a loved one, may we suggest the delightful new collectible by Vogue writer, Jessica Kerwin Jenkins—Encyclopedia of the Exquisite.

Looking for something for the woman who has everything? Let Jessica explain why her new book is for you:

There are over one hundred examples of life’s beauty presented in my book, Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, each pointing to a way to be happy, whether that means wearing a top hat, eating a luscious pear, luxuriating in a bath full of warm milk, or keeping a singing cricket as a pet. These ideas were first gathered in a manila folder I kept on my desk full of newspaper clippings and ephemera that made me sigh with wonder, or dazzled me, making the world seem suddenly vast and strange. Conducting my research, I spent many happy months chasing down arcane facts about all the things I love best, my curiosity leading me from Paris, to Rome, to New York, and from Jaipur to the coast of Maine.

Lately, though, I’ve been struck by the idea that happiness itself comes in two distinct varieties, a notion introduced by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. By Kahneman’s lights, there is experiential happiness, and there is memory-based happiness. The former describes happiness of the moment, whether or not you’re happy this very second. The latter is more slippery; it’s how you feel about the grand scheme, and whether you’re happy with your life overall.

Following that train of thought, it seems to me that a good work of art might offer a sort of double-happiness. Standing in front of a painting, you might thrill to the colors on the canvas, or marvel at the artist’s brushwork. And later, if the work is good, you’ll remember the painting in terms of its message, the particular chord struck by its imagery, and, perhaps, how it subtly shifted your point of view.

Beyond the examples of the exquisite which you’ll find in my book, many of which, I hope, will amuse you, I also hope that the central ideas behind the Encyclopedia—that with searching, beauty can be found in the most unlikely places, that folly is essential, and that luxury doesn’t mean spending lots of money—will deliver a double-happiness with the potential to make all our lives that much more exquisite.

With best wishes for all kinds of happiness,
Jessica Kerwin Jenkins

For more information and daily doses of compelling tidbits visit Jessica’s blog: www.encyclopediaoftheexquisite.com

Encyclopedia of the Exquisite by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins is on sale now from Nan. A Talese:

Amazon | B&N | Borders | Indiebound | Powell’s | Random House