If you haven’t been on Ben Kay’s famous blog on a Friday to pilfer what can only be described as the creme de la creme of internet share-ables, then I suggest you do so immediately. A copywriter, author and cultural commentator, Ben has managed to spice up our internet-riddled days with his articles and funny videos, and has now been kind enough to share his bookshelf. So read on, and find out just what exactly resides on the shelf of an ad-man who owns a stuffed tarantula…
The Story of Art by EH Gombrich
I had little idea of the history of art until I met my wife. She took the subject for A-Level and told me that this book was a brilliant digest that explained it all. I read it from cover to cover and planned a holiday where we tried to see as many of the works mentioned as possible. It took us all over Europe, from obscure churches to massive art galleries, and I now feel a little less art-thick. I also have two Caravaggio paintings (slightly adapted) tattooed on my arm. I wouldn’t have done that without this book.
EH Gombrich: The Story of Art
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
I love Arsenal Football Club and I love the fact that we have many more blogs devoted to us than any other club. I wonder if it all stemmed from this groundbreaking memoir, which completely changed the way many people in this country perceive football. It analysed the game with warm intelligence, elevating it and making it ok to consider Dennis Bergkamp as much of an artist as Akira Kurosawa.
Nick Hornby: Fever Pitch
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
When my son was born in 2006 I was reading to him in bed. For a joke I picked up the long-dusty copy of War and Peace that lay unloved and unread on the bedside table and started reading it to him. He seemed to enjoy it, so I resolved to read the entire thing out loud to him. It took about four months, but it was well worth it. After that we gave Ulysses a go (didn’t finish it) and then Robinson Crusoe (finished and loved), but a similar experiment to read Don Quixote to my newborn daughter ended about a third of the way through.
Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
Das Nest by Ben Kay
I know this isn’t some talk show where you get to plug books you’ve written, but I wrote a novel in 2010 and it was translated into German, Russian and Chinese. They all had different takes on the title and the cover art, which I found fascinating. I’ve also checked out the reviews on German Amazon and it seemed to go down ok. Looking at it on my shelf gives me a warm glow of satisfaction until I remember that I still haven’t finished the follow-up.
Ben Kay: Das Nest
The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
For a very long time this was my favourite book. I have re-read it many times because it’s funny, brilliantly written and helps you get through your teenage years (and in my case my twenties and thirties). It was later shifted from the top of my charts by A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which is ridiculously funny and has a wonderful central character, but I’ve still only read it once, so maybe it should go back down to number two.
Martin Amis: The Rachel Papers