It's our 5th year in a row of posting summer reading lists from some of our favorite people! As always, BOOK/SHOP founder Erik Heywood is kicking things off with his own list of books he plans to read on sunny outings and lazy late evenings this summer season. Keep coming back for fantastic lists from a wide range of artists, designers, photographers, poets, booksellers, publishers, etc., who we admire. Happy reading!
H.E. Bates is one of my favorite short story writers. I pick up paperbacks of his books whenever I find them. He wrote a lot over his lifetime, so I always have new things to find. They're perfect traveling companions and every summertime trip finds one or two Penguin editions of Bates' work in my bag.
I'm addicted to bookseller's memoirs, & this one by Paul Minet is wonderful so far. I got as far as this passage:
"... the simple fascination of the business remains. Bernard Leven once wrote that "the word 'books'... is surely, in whatever language, the noblest sounds a human race has yet uttered", a sentiment with which few really committed booksellers would disagree. I still have a sixth sense that attracts my eye to any shop bearing that magic word, momentarily glimpsed in some suburban shopping street or provincial town. Entering even the loneliest junk shop, the site of a few shelves of books still produces that frission of excitement. It is not the profit, although that is obviously a factor, so much as a sheer physical pleasure in finding and handling unknown and unexpected volumes. The way the dedicated tailor will feel a piece of cloth, or a connoisseur of antiques savor the line of a chair or the grain of a surface, so it will always be with books where I am concerned. At dinner in a private house my glance will go straight from my host and hostess to their bookcase. In conversation a phrase like "Have you read" or just the simple word "book" will cut through the thread of my remarks and distract me towards whoever said it. I cannot undertake the shortest journey without a book to read or contemplate a bedside table empty of reading matter. Not rare books, or finely bound books, or good investments – just books..."
and recognized a kindred spirit. I put the book away for undistracted reading this summer, when the book's bright yellow cover will look perfect against a blue sky as I read it in on my back in a park on some lazy afternoon.
This astounding biography of Warhol superstar Edie Sedgewick is told from the points of view of dozens of people who knew her. Their memories are simply placed in chronological order by the miraculous editing of Jean Stein and George Plimpton. Everyone from her own family members to Diana Vreeland and Patti Smith share their memories & impressions of Edie's brief, dazzling, tragic life. The result makes it a very hard book to put down once you've started. I read this one years ago & have always only had terrible paperbacks of it. Whenever I've come across this classic hardcover edition, I've always sold it in the shop. I got a bit selfish this time & kept this one. I've donated the ripped up paperback & look forward to revisiting beautiful Edie in the coming weeks.
American composer Ned Rorem has kept a diary since 1945. Various parts have been published over the years, and they all make for wonderful dipping-into, but I'm looking forward to spending more time with this volume, covering his time as a rising artist in Paris in the early 1950's. This kind of book is perfect summer reading, you can open at random and be treated to wonderfully vivid experiences. Rorem's Paris circle included artists, writers and composers from Jean Cocteau and Julien Green to Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland. But, as in all lives, it's the small, unexpected moments that are best, and Rorem describes them with humor, beauty and a hungry curiosity. Flipping through the pages I find this from 1952; "On the Boulevard des Batignolles last Sunday night was a bicyclist who (walking) turned three times to look at me, then vanished. For my part this was a love I will never forget. Unhad love is sweeter." or this from earlier in the year: "But I've heard nightingales sing and it's not so beautiful as all that."
Books like "The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines" may seem a bit... specific to some, but this is the kind of thing I can read for hours on end. The stories of the brave souls who launched their small, culturally challenging ventures with not much else than a consuming desire to bring something beautiful and new into the world are inspiring to me. These vanguard magazines usually had small circulations and short runs, but they frequently changed the tide of literature in their brief lifetimes. This is a thourogh exploration of the best of these beautiful projects.
Adolf Loos was a pioneering modernist architect who I admire but know too little about. I look forward to digging into his life and work through the lens of his first important building in this beautifully produced study of the Goldman & Salatsch Building (commonly known as "the Looshaus"), built in Vienna in 1911.
I came across this book in a secondhand shop recently and had a powerful flashback to reading this exact edition under a tree in high school. I remember that I was supposed to be in an English class at that hour & I figured I was still attending an English class, just a better one in fresh-air surroundings. I look forward to reading it in the open air again this summer...
The visual artists of the Bloomsbury Group hold a strong fascination for me. They stood at the door of a Modernism they embraced, but differently than the Modern artists around them who sought to discard the past and celebrate the speed, distraction, and disassociations of life in big cities. Bloomsbury artists like Dora Carrington sought to look forward while holding on to the best of the past, seeking a way of living that still embraced classic literature and a love of nature and country life enlivened by art and connected to England. Carrington's diaries and letters are loaded with bright afternoons, witty and playful letters to friends and lovers, and charming drawings, made poignant by the underlying current of deep depression that ultimately led to her untimely end.