• Jd

    Joe Dunthorne: Bookshelf

Bookshelf

Bookshelf: Submarine author Joe Dunthorne shows us his brilliant book collection

Posted by Liv Siddall,

I’m not afraid to admit that I was a little startstruck when Joe agreed to do this. Joe Dunthorne, one of Britain’s most energetic and engaging writers of cult novels and game-changing poetry has kindly let us have a sneaky peek at his bookshelf. Of course, it’s a brilliant collection chosen by someone with very good taste, his description of Austerlitz alone is enough to make you go out and buy three copies immediately. No more time wasting, take it away, Joe!

W.G. Sebald – Austerlitz

The main character of Austerlitz lives in Mile End, not far from my flat. He discovers that “you can traverse this vast city almost from end to end on foot in a single night…I would leave my house as darkness fell, walking on and on, down the Mile End Road and Bow Road to Stratford, then to Chigwell and Romford, right across Bethnal Green and Canonbury, through Holloway and Kentish Town and thus to Hampstead Heath…”

Austerlitz was a useful companion text to my arrival in London. As he walks around the city the narrator draws out histories through gaps in the scenery. “Before work began to rebuild it at the end of the 1980s (Liverpool Street Station), with its main concourse fifteen to twenty feet below street level, was one of the darkest and most sinister places in London, a kind of entrance to the underworld, as it has often been described.”

He talks about the hospital for the insane – better known as Bedlam – which, in the 17th Century, existed on the site of the station. “On the site where the station stood marshy meadows had once extended to the city walls, meadows which froze over for months on end in the cold winters of the so-called Little Ice Age, and that Londoners used to strap bone runners under their shoes, skating there as the people of Antwerp skated on the Schelde…”
W.G. Sebald: Austerlitz

David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest

I had to cut my copy of Infinite Jest (bottom right in the photo) into three parts and rebind it myself with gaffer tape to make it easier to carry. But then, each night, I had to come home and catch up on the footnotes. It was annoying or rather, it would have been annoying, if the book wasn’t brilliant. Still, an excellent advert for buying an e-reader.
David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest

Cormac McCarthy – The Road

“Hey,” I hear you cry, “is that a first edition of The Road by Cormac McCarthy?” Well yes, as a matter of fact, it is. One of my favourite books by one of my favourite writers. Never has the end of the world read so beautifully and been so sad. No matter how bad things get in the forthcoming apocalypse, they’ll probably not get as bad as this.
Cormac McCarthy: The Road

McSweeney’s

A recent issue of McSweeney’s magazine included a severed head (opening that morning’s post was like the final scene in the film Seven) and before that, there was a full-scale broadsheet newspaper and a cigar box full of letters and photos. Those issues are difficult to make room for on my bookshelf. Luckily, more often than not, McSweeney’s is just a beautifully published book of great short stories, both fiction and non-fiction. Would it be immodest to mention that – after a decade of dreaming – I’ve got a piece in the next issue? It would, yes, but too late.
www.mcsweeneys.net

Don DeLillo – White Noise

When I love a book, it damages my own writing style. Since reading White Noise I have been ruined by ambitions of “the great literary set-piece.” In Underworld, DeLillo describes the baseball game in 1954 which decided the World Series and occurred simultaneously with the explosion of the Soviet Union’s first H-Bomb. In Mao II, it’s a Moonie wedding. In White Noise it is a chemical spill – the Toxic Airborne Event.
Don DeLillo: White Noise

Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Bookshelf View Archive

  1. Fonshickmann-bookshelf-2

    It’s not very often we have a selection of vintage porn magazines masquerading as a book about the history of cinema on It’s Nice That, and for this special occasion we have Professor Fons Hickmann, founder of Berlin studio Fons Hickmann m23, to thank – he stumbled across the rare finding at a French flea market.

  2. List

    Last week Apartamento’s co-founder and art director Omar Sosa mentioned an upcoming collaboration with artist Nathalie Du Pasquier in his Bookshelf feature, and purely by chance this week we have Nathalie herself running us through her favourite books. What a nice coincidence!

  3. New-omar-list_

    You know how, when going to the hair salon, you automatically and perhaps unfairly expect your hairdresser to be perfectly coiffed? We had a similar sense of anticipation when it came to admiring Omar Sosa’s favourite books – a kind of nervous hope that the man responsible for getting together with Nacho Alegre to co-found Apartamento, an eclectic and deftly-curated compilation of cool characters and the spaces they inhabit, has a similarly intriguing collection of books in his own home too.

  4. Lenka-list

    Artist Lenka Clayton has been a mainstay on It’s Nice That since way back in 2009, whether she’s doing very slow magic tricks, making drawings on a typewriter with friend and collaborator Michael Crowe, or making books about the 63 objects she has removed from her son’s mouth. With such a multidisciplinary practice we knew Lenka would have stacks of wonderful books tucked away, and we weren’t mistaken. “A few years ago I moved to America from England,” she explained, “so I have far fewer books at home than I used to, making this exercise quite easy. The books I chose are the ones that I sacrificed clothes space for in my suitcases.” It seems a good tactic, as these five are a wonderfully eclectic insight into Lenka’s work. Read on!

  5. Unnamed

    As co-founder of London-based studio 8vo, co-editor of Octavo, International Journal of Typography for all of its eight year-long life and now one half of typographic powerhouse MuirMcNeil, you’d imagine that Hamish Muir has built up a fairly comprehensive collection of design and typography-based publications over the 30 odd years he’s been working. Fortunately for you, we’ve done the legwork and gotten cold hard proof of it in the form of photographs of his top five, and it’s even better than we imagined.

  6. List

    Antenne Books is to independent art bookshops what cool kids are to playgrounds – generously exchanging the very best in Pokemon cards from their reserved spot on the climbing frame – except for the Pokemon cards are beautifully made books about art, photography, design and illustration, and the climbing frame is a neat website. They shared five of their favourite out-of-print publications, including some absolute bangers from Ari Marcopoulos and Ed Templeton, leaving us envious and awestruck in equal parts. For their full range, check out their website.

  7. List

    Last week Clive Martin from Vice called him “the David Bailey of grime” which sums up Ewen Spencer’s oeuvre beautifully, really. The documentary photographer has made British youth and subculture his bread and butter, photographing the UK garage scene in all of its gritty glory as well as working for the NME, photographing The White Stripes, making the very brilliant Brandy & Coke and producing a host of books and exhibitions as well. As far as perspectives on Britishness go, Ewen’s is basically unrivalled.

  8. List

    Yesterday marked the launch of the brand new issue of bi-annual hardback Twin magazine, the defiantly substantial glossy publication that clubs fashion, art and culture together through interviews and gorgeous imagery. This issue includes photographs by Petra Collins, an archive of childhood shots of Kate Bush taken by her older brother and an interview with the remarkable Neneh Cherry, so to celebrate we thought we’d have founder Becky Smith show us the five books which have inspired and influenced her. In the process, we learned who her favourite photographers are, whose rare books she’s lucky to have laid her hands on and the unlikely inspiration behind the name “Twin”. Read on!

  9. List

    When we get in touch with the people whose work we admire to ask if they’d like to be involved in the Bookshelf feature, we ask them to pick books which have been particularly inspiring or influential to them in their lives, and this brief might never been more closely followed than by Jessica Svendsen. Jessica is a graphic designer at Pentagram and teaches Typography at both Parsons and Pratt in New York, as well as working on a number of freelance projects which are as remarkable for the degree of research which informs them as for their bold, impactful imagery.

  10. Lisst

    Longtime fans of Toro Y Moi will already know Chaz Bundick to be a man with impeccable visual stylings, and a portfolio which stretches way beyond logos and album covers to include album launches turned art exhibitions, screen-printed posters and a heavy involvement with the concepts behind his music videos as well. Today marks the launch of Chaz’s debut album Michael under the name of his dancier side project Les Sins, which we decided made for an ample excuse to get a look at his Bookshelf. And my god it’s a good one.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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…