I'll admit it, I did not read all of Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World (it's overdue, and I just want to get it back so the next reader can enjoy it). But I did read the first several chapters, and I really enjoyed those.
It's a simple enough idea: Thornton visited seven very different arenas of the art world, and reports back on them. (These are often my very favorites types of books; the investigative ones where the authors give us a look behind whatever scenes they've chosen.) The seven chapters of her book feature details on art auctions, artists' studios, a university art seminar, a prize announcement at the Tate Museum, the editorial offices of Artforum International magazine, and...well, I forget the rest right now, but you get the idea. I actually thought the first chapter, about an auction, made the whole book worthwhile; it was a really interesting consideration of how art is collected, sold, valued, and, basically, a good just like any other commodity. It's also fascinating (to me) to read about the world of big money and what and how it spends its time:
"The salesroom seats a thousand people, but it looks more intimate. One's seat is a mark of status and a point of pride. Smack dab in the middle of the room, I see Jack and Juliette Gold (not their real names), a pair of avid collectors, married with no kids, in their late forties. They fly into New York every May and November, stay in their favorite room at the Four Seasons, and arrange to have dinner with friends at Sette Mezzo and Balthazar. 'The truth is,' confides Juliette later, 'you've got standing room, the terrible seats, the good seats, the very good seats, and the aisle seats--they are the best. You've got the big collectors who buy--they're at the front, slightly to the right. You have serious collectors who don't buy--they're toward the back. Then, of course, you have the vendors, who are hiding up in the private skyboxes. It's a whole ceremony." (p. 16.)
It's an interesting book, and it reminded me a lot of The Billionaire's Vinegar, by Benjamin Wallace, which I also enjoyed. I find it much more relaxing to read about collecting things, wine, art, etc. than actually to collect anything.*
*Although I used to collect kitty knick-knacks when I was little, only to be rather stymied by the collection now. Periodically Mom asks why I don't hang a knick-knack shelf and display them, and I don't have the heart to tell her I don't want to dust around them, but I can't quite get myself to give them away, so they're in a box in my basement.