Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Frida Kahlo Books for Every Reader

As the popularity of Mexican painter and revolutionary Frida Kahlo continues to grow, it’s hard to imagine she once painted in the shadow of her then-more famous husband, muralist Diego Rivera. Since her 1954 death, Kahlo has become an icon, especially well known for her dramatic self-portraits.

Pain resonates through Kahlo’s artwork– childhood polio followed by a near-fatal bus accident left her often incapacitated. Themes of angst - heartbreak and miscarriages, revolution and cultural identity- smolder beneath her meticulous hairstyles and Tijuana dresses.

The variety of books inspired by Kahlo expands beyond biography and art. Cooking, poetry, fiction and children’s picture books about her can be found in the library. Here are a few examples.


Frida: A Novel by Barbara Louise Mujica is a fictionalized perspective on the life of Kahlo as seen through the eyes of her younger and milder sister. Cristina feels invisible until famous artist and womanizer Diego Rivera sets his sights on her, threatening the sisters' lifelong bond.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver features a protagonist of Mexican and American heritage who joins the Kahlo-Rivera household in Mexico City as the artists harbor exile Leon Trotsky.

The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel by F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired by the discovery of several notebooks, including many recipes, hidden in Kahlo’s house.


Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo is written by Marie-Pierre Colle and Guadalupe Rivera, the latter being Frida’s stepdaughter. Rivera shares memories of the painter’s fiestas, including Kahlo’s recipes and photos of her home.

For Children

Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life by Catherine Reef is a fully illustrated biography tracing the lives of the painters, their marriage and the development of their art during the tumultuous decades following the Mexican revolution.

Frida by Jonah Winter is a picture book biography that brings the artist to life for young children.

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales contains just a few words in English and Spanish but is beautifully illustrated, capturing the artist’s flamboyant and playful personality.

Frida: Viva la Vida/ Long Live Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand contains biographical poems about Kahlo’s life and art and was awarded the Pura Belpre Honor.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas by Carol Sabbeth features 24 art activities inspired by the duo and Mexican culture.

- Suzanne LaPierre, City of Fairfax Regional Library

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

We Have Your Historical Fiction, Judgment Free

I get teased a lot at home over my chronic intake of Regency fiction and Masterpiece period dramas. But in my defense, my passion for light-hearted historical fiction has taken me down some unusual avenues. I recently found myself up at a shockingly late hour, immersed in Richard Holmes’ biography of the victor of Waterloo, Wellington: The Iron Duke.

Military history is not at all my usual thing, and I’ve never had a great interest in the Napoleonic Wars. As any good lover of Jane Austen knows, however, Regency fiction is littered with half-pay officers and veterans of battles from Salamanca to Waterloo.

When I realized Bernard Cornwell’s classic fiction Sharpe series covered this same territory, I decided to give it a try. I found myself completely caught up in the exploits of roguish officer Richard Sharpe and his relationship with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. Once finished, I couldn’t wait to see how much of the series was true. Realizing how skillfully Cornwell wove his imaginary character into the actual events and people of the time kept me engaged in a biography that might not otherwise have caught my interest.

So, if you’re caught up in a fluffy historical novel, hold your head high and let your curiosity wander. You never know where it might take you.

--Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What We're Reading This Winter

Your library staff has been bundled up this winter reading lots of new books, old favorites and everything in between. Visit our What We're Reading Winter 2017 page to see what we're recommending. And let us know your "can't miss" reads!