Whether you consider yourself a bookworm or a literary bystander, a great read is the perfect addition to all of your epic road trips and poolside hangs. Books make you wiser, give your eyes a break from screen-glow, and is it just me, or does everyone look immediately cool holding a vintage copy of their favorite novel? If books make you cool, writer Leanna Robinson might be the coolest of them all. Here, she takes us to iconic indie bookstore Stories, to spell out the books we should all be obsessing over this summer.
Summer reading lists can be a drag. Often times they're long and arduous, and include catching up on the classics you ignored in high school like Sense and Sensibility and War and Peace. Instead, here's an easy-to-tackle list of 10 books, five art-related, one poetry, two nonfiction, and two fiction, most of which you probably haven't heard of, to buff up your bookshelf and brain.
1. Wabi- Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren
This short book is an exploration in the concept of wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic (associated with tea ceremonies) that seeks the beauty in all things imperfect. Koren explains the concept of capturing a certain essence of art and objects with metaphors, adjectives, and loads of photos, making this a great book for those just dipping their toes into learning about aesthetics, Japanese metaphysics, or those seeking a new way of looking at art.
2. Antiepithalamia Other Poems of Regret and Resentment by John Tottenham
John Tottenham's poetry is a soothing tonic for those disenchanted with relationships, love, and the institution of marriage. An odd kind of pick-me-up, these eloquent and often hilarious musings are soothing to those who can laugh at loneliness and revel in sharp-witted observations about contemporary life. You've never read a book of poetry as cool as this.
3. Homo Americanus: Collected Works by Raymond Pettibon
Most known for his iconic Black Flag logo, Raymond Pettibon is a cornerstone in American punk rock from his flyer and album artwork. This monster of an art book presents over six hundred works from various parts of the artist's life, many of which have never been seen before. Personal politics aside, Pettibon is an inspiration to illustrators and music-lovers and this collection is an unparalleled volume for know-it-all's and beginners alike.
4. Yes Yes Yes Alternative Press '66-'77 from Provo to Punk by Amadeo Martegani and Emanuele de Donno
This shoves readers head-first into the print-saturated world of the 60's and 70's with full-page reproductions of alternative magazines from the period. First things first, this compendium of counterculture press is humongous (nearly 500 pages) and expensive (around 80 bucks), but absolutely worth it. "Yes Yes Yes" is raw and vigorous with pages upon pages to gain inspiration from. It features scans of rare and out-of-print publications from purveyors of free love, the black panthers, women's rights, anti-establishment, anarchists, and everything in between.
5. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
If you haven't already completed this seminal artist how-to manual, go out and get it now. How-to's can be lame and are often times not helpful, but if anything, "The Artist's Way" can be a fun exercise to do over the summer. Originally published in 1992, this book continues to sell out at the bookstore I work at, and for good reason.
6. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
This is a bizarre, dark, brutal short novel that is impossible to put down. Originally from South Korea, Kang blends the real and surreal in her story of a woman gone mad with nightmares. The main character Yeong-he is spun into a chain of events that is both difficult to watch and impossible to turn away from.
7. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson's "The Argonauts" is a gender-bending memoir that uses many forms of creative nonfiction (essay, poetry, prose) to present a text on identity politics, desire, love, and the self. Nelson has such a way with words that you might find yourself sighing in anger, laughing, and crying all while reading this book.
8. Eve's Hollywood by Eve Babitz
Get ready to catapult right in the center of the Hollywood social scene of the 1960's with rock stars, sex, and stints at the Chateau Marmont. This book is by "it" girl Eve Babitz, who was immortalized in the famous photo of her nude playing chess with Marcel Duchamp. A self-proclaimed artist, Babitz is a joy to read, capturing everything that is unique and eye-rolling about LA. "Eve's Hollywood" is published by New York Review of Books, so if you enjoy the read you can count on picking up any one of their releases and being riveted.
9. We go to the Gallery by Miriam Elia
This hilarious satire on contemporary art masquerading as a children's book is a must-have for your coffee table. Thought-provoking and sharp as a tack, this book is perfect for those who are sick of the art world and disenfranchised by the capitalist art-culture and conceptual art.
10. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Everything written by the mysterious Elena Ferrante is worth reading, especially the first in her trilogy of Neapolitan novels focusing on the life of two young women living in a poor but vibrant neighborhood in Naples. This is probably the most "summer reading" in the whole list. Series are usually reserved for teen-lit and genre fiction, but not Ferrante. "My Brilliant Friend"Â is a modern masterpiece that will have you running to the bookstore fiending for the second book in the series.
Photos by: Kenny Laubbacher
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