• Charles-atlas-bookshelf-hero
Bookshelf

This week's bookshelf is from Charles Atlas, video artist and director of TURNING with Antony & the Johnsons

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

In August, Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) is directing the Meltdown festival at London’s Sountbank Centre. His 12 day line-up of music, performance art, talks and films includes the likes of Marina Abramović, Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed – so clearly excellent taste. Also billed is a truly extraordinary film by director/video artist Charles Atlas who collaborated with Antony in 2006 for a live concert, TURNING, which starred 13 unique New York women as they rotated on a platform as Charles created “intimate and hypnotic video portraits which are then captured, processed and projected on a giant screen.”

Charles, who is New York-based and best known for a longstanding collaboration with the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham, is also a pioneer of media-dance and electronic performance, and has been widely awarded and recognised as such. This week he is kindly hosting our Bookshelf feature with his five invaluable literary volumes…

Joe Westmoreland: Tramps Like Us

Tramps Like Us is the story of a guy coming of age in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s and coming out during the period after Gay Liberation and before AIDS hit. It’s a first-person narrative with lots of details about gay life in New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco. It’s a tale of wild youth pushing the boundaries of its new freedoms, complete with gay sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.

Then AIDS hits and the party boys grew up fast. Joe Westmoreland captures what it’s like to be innocent and exploring the dark underworld of urban gay culture. This book brings home how devastating AIDS was, cutting so many vibrant lives short. It’s one person’s story, but repeated by the thousands in the early to mid-1980s. Beautiful.
www.amazon.co.uk/tramps-like-us

Laurie Weeks: Zippermouth

One of the funniest and most painful books I’ve read in a long time. It’s another first-person drug-filled narrative. This time the voice is surreal and lesbian. It’s a story of unrequited love in New York’s East Village in the early 1990s, before the artists’ migration to Brooklyn.

Weeks’ impressionistic writing reads like stream of consciousness. Her voice is so strong that the confusing drug-induced “ramblings” start to make sense. This book made me squirm, ache and giggle. It’s dry wit and delivery had me laughing out loud. Terrifying and hilarious.
www.amazon.co.uk/zipper-mouth

Chris Hedges: Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Chris Hedges, has written an insightful critique of contemporary American society. He writes about the World Wrestling Foundation, the porn industry, the ideology of “positive psychology”, and the failure of elite universities. Hedges’ thesis is that there is a “culture of illusion” dominating the country, a great substitution of images for reality in which America is plied with entertainment while real power is robbed from it by self-serving corporate interests. He is also the author of War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.
www.amazon.co.uk/empire-of-illusion

Carl Hiaasen: Star Island

I spend a lot of time on planes. I often read mystery novels to pass the time. I can usually read a book from start to finish during the course of a trans-Atlantic flight and Carl Hiaasen’s books are among the most entertaining airplane reads that I know.

He writes about life in southern Florida – the actual and metaphoric climate of both its landscape and politics. In Star Island, he writes about vacuous celebrities, crooked politicians, and environmental destroyers. You can always count on Hiaasen to dish out just desserts in an unexpected way by the end of the book. His writing is sharp, funny and engaging – a very good writer.
www.amazon.co.uk/star-island

Pam Johnson-Bennett: Cat vs. Cat, Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat

Who knew two brother kittens could grow up and declare war on each other over small areas in a New York apartment? After lots of flying fur, growling, hissing and scary cat fights, I found this book.

It explained a cat’s need for territory and described warning signs that humans often don’t recognise.  It’s a lot about cat psychology, redirecting feline attention, and helping the little monsters adjust to sharing a small area.  What I learned from this book can be useful in dealing with human interactions as well!
www.amazon.co.uk/cat-vs-cat

  • Charles-atlas-bookshelf-lead
Portrait9

Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Bookshelf View Archive

  1. List-2

    Where some printed publications shy away from British culture as it exists beyond Union Jack flags and Yorkshire tea in floral china, LAW Magazine, which stands for Lives and Works is already knee-deep in the grit and the grime. Now in its fifth issue, the staple-bound bi-annual describes itself as a platform for “the beautiful everyday… A window into the world of the current undercurrent that nobody is catching and which is therefore of greater importance to document.” It’s a kind of Britishness so ubiquitous that you’d have to be wandering the streets with your head in a bag to miss it – one defined by full-suspension mountain bikes, Sunday League referees, Hackney estate maps and Vauxhall Novas.

  2. List

    Having founded London-based design studio Build in 2001, creative director Michael C. Place has amassed his fair share of books in his time, with a healthy combination of design knowledge to be found tucked between the spines on the studios (admirably well-organised) shelf. We’ve been championing Build’s work on the site for some time now, so what better way to get an insight into the inspirations behind their snazzy work than by hearing from the creative director himself about his favourite reading material? Between Letraset catalogues, reflections on legend Wim Crouwel and Michael’s mate Blam (who has excellent taste in books) we were not disappointed.

  3. Main1

    “In February 2013, 18 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.” That’s the opening statement on the website of graphic novelist Matilda Tristram, who channeled this painful chapter of her life into a bestselling comic entitled Probably Nothing. We interviewed Matilda a while back on the site and were so intrigued by her story, we had to know more. In this revealing, insightful Bookshelf, Matilda shows us the fantastic books that have inspired her to be one of the most important and engaging graphic novelists working today. Here she is…

  4. Main

    Yay! Hato Press! We love them. A lot. Neighbours of ours, Hato have spent the last five years collaborating with some of the coolest young creatives and oldest institutions to create impeccably beautiful printed matter and design solutions. A number of the publications these guys have produced are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding/smelling, and it seems that every single thing they do or work on is covered in a glimmering magic dust that is exclusive to only them. Before you go and wet your pants over their multi-disciplinary work on their very nice websites (here and here) check out the books that have inspired them over the years below. Enjoy!

  5. List

    Satirical artist and very funny woman Miriam Elia is something of a pro when it comes to books; last year she self-published We Go to the Gallery, a satirical reinterpretation of a 1960s Ladybird book which seeks to help parents explain sex, death and contemporary art to their young ones, complete with a handy glossary of new words to learn. She’s since co-curated an exhibition about Pastiche, Parody and Piracy at London’s Cob Gallery, while other past works include I Fell in Love With a Conceptual Artist… and It Was TOTALLY MEANINGLESS about her relationship with Martin Creed. Hilarious? Yes. Yes it is. Miriam’s Bookshelf includes lovingly weathered books about typography, photography, flesh-eating plants and Butlins holiday camps, giving a neat insight into her brain.

  6. List

    John Tebbs is an English gardener who, frustrated by the fact that “many of his working days are held hostage to the weather” founded The Garden Edit in the winter of 2013. His idea was to spend his downtime as productively as possible, creating an online store of beautiful objects which he sourced and sold himself. The resulting curated collection reflects John’s faultless aesthetic, selling “minimal, well-designed products from craftspeople, artists, publishing houses and family-run businesses” alongside a Journal which features short articles by some of his favourite figures about their own horticultural escapades, from rooftop gardens to illustrations of plants.

  7. Main1

    Want to know a surprising secret about self-proclaimed “book obsessive” and Dazed & Confused editor Isabella Burley? She can’t stand big coffee-table-sized fashion books. “I’ve always taken my references from art, pop culture, photography and sex zines rather than fashion,” she told us. “That’s really come to shape the way I approach our fashion content within Dazed.”

  8. List

    With 25 years experience in magazine design, not to mention eight years of covering the extensive subject under the title magCulture, it’s a wonder we haven’t already metaphorically burst into Jeremy Leslie’s house and insisted he share his five favourite examples of printed matter right then and there. Instead, we caught him in the build up to The Modern Magazine 2014, the conference which takes place annually in the midst of London Design Festival to shine a torch on the current state of editorial creativity, as well as new directions for the industry.

  9. List

    Danielle Pender is the brain at the helm of Riposte magazine, one of the most exciting new publications created to champion the women doing exciting work in the creative industries today, as well as working at KK Outlet, the London outpost of communications agency KesselsKramer, so can you blame us for wanting to have a poke about her bookshelf? Her selection gives a generous insight into the process behind putting together a magazine, from the issue of National Geographic which led her and Riposte’s creative director Shaz Madani to consider a text-based front cover for the magazine (“I’m really happy we had the balls to go with it”) and the all-time hero she dreams of interviewing, with a few other gems thrown in for good measure. She technically stretched her five books to seven, but we let her off because they’re all so damn interesting.

  10. Main

    I always had a hunch that Bruno Bayley was the kind of guy with a great bookshelf – you can just tell that he’s a hoarder of the weird, the kind of person who would rather stumble upon someone’s diary in a forest than, say, a suitcase full of cash. London-based Bruno is the European managing editor of Vice, which allows him to take his curiosity for the dark corners of the world and pump them out to those who want to know but perhaps can’t be bothered to look. His articles are some of the best on Vice at the moment, so go and check them out after you’ve read his deeply interesting, peculiar top five books. Excuse us while we go and subscribe to the Fortean Times

  11. List

    London-based photographer Catherine Losing is exactly our cup of tea; working with the crème de la crème of collaborators from set designers to food stylists, she takes photographs which are colourful, dynamic, bold and immediately recognisable. Unsurprisingly then, her bookshelf is among the very best-stocked of them all, complete with Martin Creed, Barbara Hepworth and Toilet Paper magazine, and most importantly they’re all seriously well-thumbed and chockablock with Post-its.

  12. Listdie-tollen-hefte-01

    When you ask a couple of creatives who work in a former kindergarten in east Berlin (as we learned in an interview many moons ago) to show you their book collection, you hope to see some pretty cool and quirky publications. Doris and Daniel of Golden Cosmos have not let us down.

  13. New_list_animade

    Design and animation are maybe a bit overlooked when it comes to selecting people whose bookshelves we’d like to share with you. With that in mind this week’s collection comes from the very lovely folks at interactive design and animation studio Animade. They recently incorporated Hover Studio into their midst too, making them collectively one of our favourite groups of creative brains in a five mile radius. Their bookshelf has a serious digital and animation lean, so budding animators and interactive designers, gather round to find out the tomes that’ll yield the secrets of your trade.