Guys it’s World Book Day! One of the only “days” of the year that people should really give a shit about (yeah I’m looking at you “National Play your Ukulele Day”). People all over the world are encouraging kids and adults to get their hands on a brand new book, or just glance at the spines of your well-thumbed publications on your dusty shelf that perhaps changed your life at some stage or another. In honour of this sacred day, we book-lovers at It’s Nice That have decided to pay homage to our own favourite tomes by listing them here for you today in our very own It’s Nice That Bookshelf. So in no particular order, here are the It’s Nice That editorial team’s favourite ever books. Tweet in yours too!
Billie Muraben: The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside. Edited by Diedrich Diederichsen and Anselm Franke, published by Sternberg Press
Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog is recognised as an analogue forerunner to the popular online search engine, a catalogue that mediated between cyberneticists and hippies, technology geeks and nature romantics.
The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside accompanied the exhibition The Whole Earth, an archive of cultural-historical materials and artists’ work addressing ecological awareness, unity and globalisation, particularly in the context of the Cold War.
The book is packed with essays on pop music, utopia, the space race, domes and the apocalypse. It is packed with psychedelic printed matter, people with globes and great essays. It’s also published by Sternberg Press, who I really couldn’t recommend enough.
Liv Siddall: Nishi Saimaru: The John Lennon Family Album
This time last year, just as spring was peeping out from behind the trees, I was sitting in a park with three very close girl friends. One of them, my pal Lerryn, took this book out of her bag and presented it to me as a belated birthday present. It’s called The John Lennon Family Album and is a floppy, square book full of photographs of John, Yoko and Sean. The photos were taken by a guy called Nishi Saimaru who was commissioned by John and Yoko three years prior to John’s death to follow the family around on their holidays, homes, birthday parties and trips to collect up images for a private, personal family album they could send to friends.
When John died, Nishi Saimaru had permission to make the beautiful photos public and did on the tenth anniversary of his death. John Lennon changed so much over his life in his style, aesthetic and attitude, but the John we so rarely see is in all of these images. A bit gawky, some questionable shirts, a loving family man with bags under his eyes like any other new dad. This book is just love, printed and bound.
James Cartwright: John Fowles: The Magus
This is hands down the best book I’ve ever read, and I think the second best one – The Secret History by Donna Tartt – is based on it. It follows the story of a young Oxford graduate who gets embroiled with a mysterious aristocrat on a Greek island while he’s teaching English there. There’s a Dionysian cult, Nazi sympathisers and a huge amount of power play between the two main characters. Oh and lots of sex. In the end you don’t know what the hell is going on but it’s a totally intoxicating read. I once gave it to a girl I was trying to persuade to go out with me to show how intellectual I was. It didn’t work.
Emily Gosling: Joe Brainard: I Remember
It’s a poem, a memoir, a collage and a glorious reminder of what it is to live and love and not be quite sure of yourself. It’s totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and has the power to make you simultaneously laugh and cry, using only a long series of sentences that each begin with “I Remember.”
Maisie Skidmore: Yves Saint Laurent: Catalogue for show at the Petit Palais
At the risk of perfectly fulfilling the cliché of an English teenager in France, when I was 18 I spent a year in Paris drinking crap wine on bridges and snogging French boys, and while there I went to the hugely-lauded Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Petit Palais. I actually went twice – the first time I queued for two and a half hours on the Champs Elysées before realising I couldn’t make the show and still be on time for work – so managing to get through the doors the second time around felt like a real victory.
The exhibition was like nothing I’d ever seen up to that point; every element of YSL’s career had been included, with hundreds of his original designs influenced by references from around the world, including a whole 20-foot-tall wall covered in mannequins wearing variations on his Le Smoking. The exhibition catalogue was an incredible treasure to me at the time. It contains every outfit included in the show as well as scans of original ephemera YSL had collected, textile samples and show invites, etc. It cost more than half my week’s wages and it was a proper ball-ache to lug back on the Eurostar when I finally packed up all my stuff and left, but looking back through it now it feels like a souvenir from my romantically-minded teenage self.
Rob Alderson: Chuck Klosterman: Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs
I didn’t ever realise that people really studied pop culture until I came across Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs in an Urban Outfitters store in California. His writing is scathing and funny, but he’s also really erudite about things like Saved By The Bell. Pop culture is the main form of culture we consume and so it makes sense to treat it with this kind of robust analysis, but the book has no pretences and understands it’s taking some silly things very seriously.
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