This week’s beautiful bookshelf selection comes from Jasmine Raznahan, editor-in-chief and creative director of Noon magazine, a stunning new publication which we wrote about a little while back and whose spellbinding pages have held our concentration through many lunch breaks. Jasmine’s brilliant bookshelf contains all sorts of beautifully bound publications, including a lovely looking book about an old lady and her cat, and a very striking study of geometric shapes. Jasmine is also the Director of ARPA, and her impeccable graphic designer’s eye certainly shines through in her choices. Here she on some of her absolute favourite books…
Miyoko Ihara: Misao the Big Mama and Fukamara the Cat
A portrait of an old lady and her cat, Fukamara, as seen through the eyes of her granddaughter. In 1977, John Berger wrote an essay called Why Look at Animals? in which he talks of the “unspeakable companionship” between animals and humankind. This small Japanese book is testament to that idea. Part of me would be very happy having a life like this once I reach my 80s. Note Fukamara’s Bowie-esque eyes too. Very good.
Bruno Munari: The Triangle
The Triangle is one of a trio of books that Munari published in 1976. They act as a series of studies, each one focusing on one of three geometric shapes; the triangle, the circle and the square. This small square monochromatic book is fascinating in its own right, rigorously delving through history to find examples of the equilateral shapes in various natural and man-made iterations – Buckminster Fuller’s Atlas (1934), Hydrodictyon, the triangular embryonic attachments of a coconut and yoga positions to name a few – illustrating them alphabetically. I also enjoy thinking about what compelled Munari to produce these curious homages to three very everyday shapes.
Roger McGough: Summer with Monika
When I was a teenager, my brother bought me The Mersey Sound, one of the Penguin Modern Poets anthologies that saw Mersey Poets Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri published together for the first time. I’ve been obsessed with these three poets ever since. Written in 42 parts, Summer with Monika is a beautifully written series of poetic vignettes, documenting a love story over the period of one summer time between the narrator and Monika. It’s funny, sad, deceptively simple in its language, and complemented by Peter Blake illustrations. Everyone should own this.
Julian Germain: For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness
Germain met Charles Albert Lucien Snelling one weekend in 1992, and as they gradually became friends he started to visit him more and more regularly, spending days with him at his allotment drinking tea, eating cheese sandwiches and talking about his late wife, Betty. This book is the outcome. I was given this book as a leaving present from my first internship after graduating in 2004. My tastes have changed since then but there is a quietness and a truth about the images that I still love.
Crash: Homage to JG Ballard
Crash was a major group show at Gagosian Gallery that brought together artists working with Ballardian themes; dystopian futures, bleak man-made landscapes, the psychological fallout of technological development. Aside from the subject matter being something I’m very much interested in, the book itself is a perfect combination of innovative production values and beautiful design. It is process overload in the best possible way – foam-padded plastic cover with pockets holding photographic inserts, spot colours, fold-outs, foiled duotone images, flat file metal binding – and it correlates seamlessly with its subject matter.