For the Love of Books

Since I”m a writer, it probably comes to no great shock to any of you that I love to read. I”ve been a dedicated bookworm since I was four years old, always hungry for a new story to get lost in.

Well, this month, in addition to my writing responsibilities, I”m also involved in some serious reading. You see, one of the biggest awards for romance writers, the RITA Award, is in the judging stage, and every author who enters a book is also asked to judge. So I have 8 books to read over the next few weeks. Such a hard job, I know. It breaks my heart to have to hide away and do my “homework.”

All this reading, though, put me in mind of some of the wonderful artwork that depicts women reading. Portraits of men might include horses, hounds, or guns, but women were the ones who chose to be painted with their favorite books. As I browsed through this artwork, I came a cross one painter in particular who had captured several such booklovers on canvas–Charles Edward Perugini.

Perugini was born in Italy and studied art there as a young man, then met up with Lord Frederic Leighton, an Englishman who brought the young artist to England and became his mentor and patron. Leighton provided the social invitations needed for Perugini to meet the priveleged families who would commission portraits from him and help him establish his career. In 1874 Charles Perugini married Kate Dickens. Yes that Dickens. Kate was the youngest daughter of famous author, Charles Dickens, and was herself an artist.

The portrait on the left is of Perugini, painted by none other than Frederic Leighton. The lady, of course, is Kate Dickens.

Perugini specialized not only in portraits, but also in depicting scenes from ancient Greece and Rome.


Some of my favorite portaits of his are below. Notice all the

lovely books!




Portrait of Miss Helen Lindsay









In the Orangery
Girl Reading (Probably Kate Dickens)











So which of these paintings is your favorite? Are they putting you in the mood to pick up a good book? They are me. Think I”ll get back to that novel I was working on.

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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at:

22 thoughts on “For the Love of Books”

  1. I am always in the mood to read. Mr. Perugini did lovely work. I like all the pictures, but my favorite is IN THE ORANGERY.
    Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your RITA duties.

  2. I have a book within reach at all times. Sometimes I have one in the car, one in my bedroom and one in the livingroom. As well I always have a book of short stories or poetry or something in my bathroom. Yep, I love to read!

    I love the picture In The Orangery.

  3. My favorite is GIRL READING. I like how relaxed she is reading on the lawn. She’s so engrossed in the story anxiously waiting to turn the page to find out what happens next.

    Hope you’re enjoying the books you have to judge for the RITA awards.

  4. Karen,

    What a fabulous, timely post. I’m in the middle of doing my “homework” for the RITAs, too. What a treat, and an honor. I’m with Laurie G, my favorite painting is Girl Reading. I admit, I’ve struck that pose a bit too often. Must resist, must resist, must resist…I have work to do.

  5. Well, so far, my two favorites have been echoed by all of you. I love the relaxation of the girl reading on the lawn, as if she has all day to enjoy her book. And the one in the orangery is another I adored. This young lady seems to have a slightly more proper mein but still loves to escape to a quiet corner where she can enjoy some time away from whatever demands life might want to place on her.

    I’m working on my 4th of the 8 RITA books, and so far it has been an enjoyable experience.

  6. Connie – I love that you have books strategically placed around your house so you can always have one within reach. That’s genius!

    I usually have an audible book going as well as a print book. I listen to the auidble books when I exercise or clean the house. And the print books just get carried around with me from room to room. I’ll read while I eat breakfast, while my husband watches sports on TV, and sometimes in the car.

  7. What beautiful pictures, Karen. Thanks for sharing them. I’m torn between Girl Reading and In the Orangery. The orangery is such a pretty color but the girl lying on the grass reading seems livelier.

  8. Gorgeous pictures! Love the beautiful ladies. Books must’ve been extremely important to people in those times to have featured them in so many portraits.

    Good luck on your WIP!!

  9. Beautiful pictures, Karen. I’ll vote for the girl under the tree, although I love them all.

    I’m judging Rita books,too, and this year they gave me some good ones. Just wish I looked like those paintings reading them.:)

  10. Girl reading in the grass:) I think today I would be wearing wellie books and a dress and apron. With a basket of fresh eggs in one hand and an open book in another. One of your books of course:)

  11. Great comments! Looking at these pictures makes me wish it was a pretty spring day instead of gray and cloudy outside so I could take my books out under a tree and read to my heart’s content. – Oh, but I guess my boss would expect me to work even if it was a pretty day, huh? Bummer.

  12. I love ‘Girl Reading’. It reminds me of myself when I was younger & made to go outside & ‘play’ – which I freely translated, ‘find a good, shady spot, and READ.’ 🙂 It also makes me think of one of my favorite literary characters, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Something tells me you might find Lizzy in such a pose.

  13. Hi Karen! 🙂 I love to read too. I also really like history and visual arts so needless to say that I enjoyed today’s post.

    Mmm a favorite… I was about to say In the Orangery but I scrolled up again and realized that Girl Reading is not to bad too.

    Lovely. And hope you equally have lovely day.

  14. Joy – I think you’re right about Miss Bennett. That could very well be her under that tree, couldn’t it?

    Ganise – So glad you enjoyed all the artwork. I have NO artistic talent when it comes to painting, so I’m always in awe when I find such beauty created by another. And when it ties in with my love of reading – well, nothing could be better. 🙂

    Vicki and Kathleen – Those two are my favorites as well. Love the peaceful solitude inherent in those scenes. Why is it when I try to read I have three kids clamoring “Hey, mom!” and a husband turning up the volume on the TV? Oh, well. Once I get lost in the story, my personal setting no longer matters.

  15. All the pictures are beautiful. This type of art is so soothing to the eye. It is very interesting how he gave us a thumbnail look at the style of hair and clothes of his time.
    I read ALL the time. If I am not knitting or crocheting, I am reading. Sometimes I do all, when I get too bored doing one of them. And then the TV is on, too. Sometimes just low for background sound, like the stations that have nothing but music.
    (I have also been known to read a book a day. A lot of James Patterson books I have read in one day.)

  16. Beautiful selections, Karen. I think I like (Kate Dickens) best. It reminds me of one of my favorites by Jan Vermeer. I’ll bet in reality these women had a ton to do and didn’t get to relax much LOL. Best of all,, these ladies got to learn to read. Yay.

  17. I wish Someone would invent a holster type belt to carry a book around with us. So many places we “wish” we had our book while waiting on someone. True?

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