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Swimming Studies [Kindle Edition]

Leanne Shapton
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $30.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $19.01 (63%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, Autobiography

Swimming Studies is a brilliantly original, meditative memoir that explores the worlds of competitive and recreational swimming. From her training for the Olympic trials as a teenager to enjoying pools and beaches around the world as an adult, Leanne Shapton offers a fascinating glimpse into the private, often solitary, realm of swimming. Her spare and elegant writing reveals an intimate narrative of suburban adolescence, spent underwater in a discipline that continues to inspire Shapton’s work as an artist and author. Her illustrations throughout the book offer an intuitive perspective on the landscapes and imagery of the sport. Shapton’s emphasis is on the smaller moments of athletic pursuit rather than its triumphs. For the accomplished athlete, aspiring amateur, or habitual practicer, this remarkable work of written and visual sketches propels the reader through a beautifully personal and universally appealing exercise in reflection.

Editorial Reviews


Exquisite ... brilliant, eccentric and moving - an immersion in life ... her talent is for seeing how things and lives are fused ... this enigmatic book is written out of what cannot be fathomed -- Kate Kellaway Observer An individual medley of a book: memoir; sports journal; sensual love-letter to water. It is a serious and finely textured account ... told with the originality and playfulness of an artist ... Shapton deserves a podium place -- Janice Turner Times Whenever I come across something of Leanne Shapton's, I feel like I have found a hidden treasure -- Amy Sedaris Swimming Studies sets out, through a fusion of words and pictures, to capture a bittersweet part of the writer's past as completely as a scent trapped in a bottle. The book is beautiful as both a story and an object. It's about being very, very good at something, when you want to be great. I was moved by it in ways both expected and unexpected -- John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of 'Pulphead' If there is a more beautifully observed examination of the weightlessness, silence, rigor, and delight of what it means to swim, I've never read it. Leanne Shapton is one of the most broadly creative and gifted people at work today; a true artist, both visual and verbal. There seems to be nothing she cannot write or paint about: adolescence, Canada, yearning, dawn - even cake, for heaven's sake! - with a precision both surgical and poetic. The joys of Swimming Studies are in being in the care of someone of a prodigious and protean mind. My talent crush is official and deep -- David Rakoff, author of 'Half Empty' I'm so happy this book exists. Swimming Studies expresses what it's like to be haunted by the person one used to be, and the search for how that person exists in the present. Leanne Shapton writes with such curiosity, ruefulness, intelligence, and grace. Here we see how the discipline of being an athlete can condition one's ways of making art, and how the patience necessary to make art teaches other types of patience. Like the patience required to be a spouse and to love a person always. This book is a rare treat for anyone who cares about any of these things -- Sheila Heti, author of 'How Should a Person Be?' The task is daunting: how to render the dissolution of a relationship in a new way? Leanne Shapton succeeds against all odds with this wildly romantic and erudite book -- Dave Eggers Leanne Shapton has accomplished a small victory in the age-old artistic struggle to do something unprecedented Time Out Brilliant. It is quite simply impossible to believe this has never been done before Los Angeles Times A love story told by a curator, instead of a narrator. Important Artifacts ... Succeeds not just as a novel, but as a work of art Newsweek A unique ode to a broken relationship ... One couple's love story through a series of annotated photographs of their possessions, from party invites to birthday gifts Grazia Part novel, part art project and part homage to the romantic gifts of her past, Important Artifacts ... by Leanne Shapton is a unique love story Elle Perfectly details the provenance of love and disillusion. A true original Independent The accessibility of Shapton's work is obvious...she blooms not only as an illustrator, but as an author Bookslut

About the Author

Leanne Shapton is an artist, illustrator, and writer who was born in Toronto and lives in New York. She has contributed to The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, Jane, Seventeen, Saturday Night, and Maclean's, among other publications. She is one of the founders of J&L Books, a non-profit publishing company specializing in new art and writing. She is the author of Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry.

Product Details

  • File Size: 17998 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press (July 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0072NWK88
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,173 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swim lit July 5, 2012
There's something elusive, unsatisfying about this book - it doesn't have the absolutely lovely finality of Roger Deakin's Waterlog for instance - but that feeling of lack, of something missing is also what the book is about. Much recommended, though I regretted buying the book on Kindle - there are a lot of images that really don't translate to the small black-and-white screen.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Swimming Studies July 14, 2012
After hearing the author interviewed on NPR, I bought the book, which is beautifully designed, and read it in close to one sitting. I found it disjointed, sometimes boring and confusing and a rather frustrating read as this collage of a book ultimately doesn't really give a deep sense of the author, or what her point is aside from her frustration, attraction and ambivalence toward swimming and pools. I don't know quite what to make of this book or the author, but there were moments where her reflections and thoughts resonated with me more deeply.... then these ruminations were lost among the nonlinear format of the memoir. I did love the artwork scattered throughout but wanted ultimately to feel the depth of her relationship with swimming and art. Unfortunately this memoir left me feeling she had only touched the surface of things.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Water and Watercolors September 12, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Swimming Studies" is Shapton's memoir of her life as young swimmer training for Olympic trials, her continued fascination with water and bodies in water, and her eventual turn toward art. She's brave and honest, and her descriptions transport - you feel the squeeze of a bathing cap, the atmosphere in a bus full of young athletes on their way to a competition, the chlorinated air of swimming pools, her elation, and her exhaustion.

Her book isn't a sport memoir so much as a meditation on her journey (often a watery one), as Shapton figures out how her former swimming life inspires her life as an artist. I came to this book not as a swimmer, but as an artist, and it resonated when Shapton quoted "The Nuts and Bolts of Psychology for Swimmers," by Keith Bell. He writes about training discipline, the nonnegotiable commitment to practice. Words that apply equally to working on a creative project, once you have set a goal: "It doesn't make much sense to have to decide whether to take each individual step in a trip you have already decided to make."

I love Shapton's watercolor portraits of fellow swimmers, rectangles of pool water, and gallery of vintage swimsuits - in both digital and paper forms (our family ended up with both versions, and it was fun to compare the illustrations) - the book is a treasure!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Sample is great, but Kindle Images Awful December 4, 2012
I was riveted by the sample of Swimming Studies I downloaded to my kindle. However, how the publishers can demand $14,99 for a book which is equally dependent on images as on words for an electronic device is ridiculous. The images simply do not translated to a Kindle...these are watercolors, or so I read in reviews, but on the kindle they are smudgey and black and white. I want to read this book but will wait until I can buy one used.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars as a former swimmer September 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a former schronized swimmer and competive swimmer I was quite anxious to read. Ms. Sharptons descriptive writting brought me right back to the smell of chlorine,sweating in a pool!(non swimmers find this hard to believe) aching muscles and not wating to get out of bed for practice!
Great to know another person "gets it"that Iam truly home in the water! I have always felt the water is a calling..its my calling...true serenity.
Thank you ms sharpton:-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and enjoyable September 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this book - enjoyed seeing the inside of the world of competitive swimming. I also enjoyed her collection of vintage swimsuits and swimming locations. I would have given this 5 stars, but her artwork section was not at the same level as the rest of the book. Perhaps it was better in print (I read on Kindle Fire).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Judge it by its cover! March 17, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I don't disagree with the criticism of this book, there are moments when one wonders why someone wrote it and why someone (especially if that someone is oneself) is reading it. The entire concept seems not only a bit arrogant, but the sort of pet project only a writer who's not exactly worried about making ends meet gets to take on, like a Carly Simon children's book. So this review is about what makes a book which fails the usual metrics great anyway, at least to me.

Here we go; 1) It's physically beautiful to look at inside and out (take that Kindle users - ha!). The cover construction and design is not only nice, it hints at aquatics in its color, and that subtlety matches the writing, it makes sense the author is an illustrator because there is a cohesion among otherwise separate concepts - the color of experiences, emotions in the form of surroundings. 2) The spare writing is deceptively complex. Novels-in-Three-Lines comes to mind as these 5 and 6 word sentences shake entire scenarios from the reader's subconscious. The book starts with a couple shocking lines about our relationship with water - no more questions about the reason for a swimming book after that! 3) Those girls in high school, whether they're athletes or musicians or drag-racers, who lived outside teenage life were the ones we were all really fascinated by, right? They seemed inaccessible, maybe even absent, but we knew their worlds were full of SOMETHING and never really stopped wondering what it was - here's the answer at last. 4) It's self indulgent and disjointed because the thoughts and lives of teenagers are self indulgent and disjointed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Swimming Studies, a funky autobiographical wander, Love it!
I just loved the book Swimming Studies. Leanne's writing style is so fun. It is a light quick read that made me smile and think about my own life. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Steven W. Olpin
2.0 out of 5 stars Whiney and unappealing
Sorry not a fan, the more I read the more I disliked her and her scattered thoughts put into a book.
Published 1 month ago by Sharon
3.0 out of 5 stars The condition was listed as very good. However the cover had some...
The condition was listed as very good. However the cover had some damage so it did not pass as well for a gift.
Published 4 months ago by Brooke King
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful book. I bought it as a housewarming present ...
A quirky, beautiful book. I bought it as a housewarming present for my friend--it's the sort of story that should always be lying around, waiting for someone to wander into. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bridgetown Mama
5.0 out of 5 stars Leanne Shapton is awesome and her books are always fun
This book is another example of the work product of a singularly creative mind. I really enjoy Shapton's illustrations and offbeat, witty observations. Highly recommend.
Published 16 months ago by Judy O'Rourke
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring-
Had to read this for a class. It was OK but not my cup of tea. Had to keep waking myself up. If you are into swimming maybe you'd like it better than me-
Published 16 months ago by books n' things
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Book
As a cellist, artist and swimmer, this book is very appealing! I didn't swim as a child and this gives me a good look into the life of a young, serious swimmer. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Deborah M. Brudvig
5.0 out of 5 stars innovative and beautiful work
Shapton is simply one of the most innovative and outstanding illustrators of our times. Her work resonates beyond the pages and the images stay with you, forever.
Published 17 months ago by arkitekt
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for the serious swimmer!
This book is definitely written for someone who is, or has been, a serious swimmer. I was a swimmer throughout college and still consider it a life long sport for fitness and... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Brenda Kay Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars Remembrance of childhood
I, too, was a child swimmer but I was not fast; instead I joined the YWCA's synchronized swimming group. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Patricia Burgess
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