Sometimes you pick up a book simply because it is a beautiful work of art. SWIMMING STUDIES, by Leanne Shapton, is just such a book. I dove into this book, feeling as though I was privy to each memory, each vignette as an intimate detail of her artful and measured life. Once a competitive swimmer who participated in the Olympic trials for Canada, Ms. Shapton explores in small and thoughtful essays the connection she feels for the water, the mark that swimming has left on her psyche, and the peace she finds upon that first dive into a pool. She continues to feel the pull of the water, and her artistic life is imbued with the habits once created by her first passion. SWIMMING STUDIES is Ms. Shapton’s way of facing her demons, her first loves, her early visceral memories, and tying them to her current life, her present loves, her painful losses.

Showing her breadth of talent as a writer, Leanne Shapton wrote the mesmerizing graphic novel IMPORTANT ARTIFACTS AND PERSONAL PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF LENORE DOOLAN AND HAROLD MORRIS, INCLUDING BOOKS, STREET FASHION, AND JEWELRY. This haunting novel follows a relationship from first meeting through failed ending. It details each moment through photographs and captions: letters on napkins, snapshots of the couple at holidays and in bars, swimsuit collections, make up collections, and notes.

Leanne Shapton has a vision; a vision filled with beauty in the details. In SWIMMING STUDIES, she captivates us with her images and paintings, recounts moments of pain and joy, and helps us to remember how in each moment of the present we are forever tied to our past.