• 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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. List

    When we received a copy of illustrated sine Steak Night through the door a couple of weeks ago (check it out in Things here) we were pleasantly surprised to find that Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke is not only a musician, but a keen writer too. Intrigued, we hunted him down and grilled him about his Bookshelf, which turns out to be an incredibly well-stocked selection of graphic novels and comic books, with a little photography thrown in too. He’s multi-talented and he’s got great taste! Here’s Kele telling us about his choices.

  6. Main5

    I get the same feeling receiving the zip file from weekly Bookshelf contributors as I did when I used to babysit as a teenager and casually rifle through people’s drawers (by the way, don’t do that). Witnessing the telling spines residing on people’s shelves will always be intriguing, and Holly’s top five is no exception. The editor in chief of i-D has an absolute terasure trove of some of the glossiest, coffee table-worthy tomes money can buy. What’s brilliant about her selection is just how telling it is of her true passion for the world she has been submerged in since beginning as an intern there many moons ago, and of why i-D is so consistently brilliant with her at the helm.

  7. Main

    The amount of times we’ve checked out new work from Joe Cruz at It’s Nice That and just sat around with our heads in our hands, gobsmacked at how simple and effortlessly beautiful his work is. Not just that, but his style is probably one of the most easily recognised of the editorial illustrators we chat about here. We love him so much that we even asked him to illustrate a piece in our own magazine, Printed Pages. Here’s Joe on the artists, books and African fashion that have influenced his work over the years. Take it away, Joe!

  8. Bookshelflist

    Louise Benson from POST Magazine has curated a selection of books from her bookshelf for us! Since we first wrote about POST in 2011, the digital magazine dedicated to showcasing cutting-edge creativity has spectacularly grown, and has become a very intriguing and forward-thinking online platform. The site explores the blurring boundaries between art, fashion, science and technology, and in the past they have published iPad editions of their magazines. For an afternoon, Associate Editor Louise pulled herself out of the digital realm and spent some time with her physical bookshelf. On to Louise for her list of all time favourites.

  9. Main

    Reel off a list of highly-publicised albums recently and chances are that their artwork was designed by creative director and artist, Leif Podhajsky. From Bonobo to Mount Kimbie and Kelis to Tame Impala, Leif’s psychedelic-inspired designs turn these albums from listenable into incredibly desirable in a matter of seconds. Drawing inspiration from the mystic, the kaleidoscopic, the mysterious and the wild, Leif’s site and blog are a treasure trove of beautiful, technicolour work to marvel at. You can almost smell the sandalwood. Here he is on his top five most inspirational tomes, check out that National Geographic collection!

  10. Main

    Can you believe Mr Bingo has never done a Bookshelf for us? We’ve been posting about his work, reading his vulgar Tweets and laughing at his books for years and never thought to ask him. Well, maybe we did ask him and he said no – that sounds more like it. In between Tweeting at Alexa Chung, writing alarmingly insulting hate mail and illustrating for big companies, Bingo is a seemingly avid collector of weird-as-shit books. Are titles such as Dancing with Cats and Self Defence for Women up your street? Then read on dear friend…

  11. Main

    Sometimes at It’s Nice That we like to dip our timid toes into the world of fashion, and what better way to do so than to approach a big dog at one of the best online fashion resources known to mankind? Leon St-Amour is the Creative Director of Mr Porter, the luxury menswear site that – much like us – likes to make people happy each and every day. Where we do it with featuring people’s work, Mr Porter do it with a very special knack for delivering their goods in the most luxurious and hand-clappingly exciting way possible, usually involving a very beautiful white shopping bag being hand-delivered to sartorially-minded folk all over the globe.

  12. Main

    Wahey! We love booze and books in equal measures here at It’s Nice That, so it’s our pleasure to introduce Simon Lyle and his five favourite books to you today. Simon is the editor of Hot Rum Cow, the printed publication containing the hottest news on all things booze – from cocktails to beers and from bartenders to barflies, this magazine’s got it all. Here he is on which publications have inspired him along the way to becoming editor of Hot Rum Cow

  13. List

    Our weekly Bookshelf feature must be fairly nerve-wracking stuff for book artists like Owen Gildersleeve, whose recurring presence on the walls of It’s Nice That is about as unquestioned as the changing of the seasons. How do you represent your own book collection when half of your practice is about creating images for new ones? Fortunately Owen’s passed our test with flying colours, a 10 out of 10 for his five publications that have not only informed and educated him, but make excellent eye candy for us book-lovers too. And if you keep your eyes peeled, you might just spot a very exciting new one all of his own, due to hit bookshelves very soon…