• Richard-embray

    Bookshelf: Richard Embray

Writing

Bookshelf: Richard Embray

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

As publishers who seek a happy medium between championing writers or artists who have been erroneously overlooked and the brilliantly considered Familiars series which reintroduces us to the classics – it is safe to say that Four Corners Books know their stuff. The wonderfully original interpretations include illustrated books for adults, Dracula and Vanity Fair being notable, and some great referential art book editions – like Eduardo Paolozzi and Sister Corita. We invited Richard Embray, one half of the Four Corners duo, to pick five books from his shelves and in turn, offer an insight into their own publishing motivations.

Pale Fire Vladimir Nabokov, published by Putnam’s

I have a fondness for books that masquerade as one thing while being something else entirely: Nabokov’s novel, possibly his most beautifully written book, is in the form of a long poem with extensive editor’s notes that combine to tell a story of their own. The narrator also makes a compelling case for buying two copies of the book – something that all publishers can admire.
www.wikipedia.org/pale-fire

Brewer’s Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (An A-Z of Roguish Britons Through The Ages) William Donaldson, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Another book that pretends to be something else. Its title, and original jacket, proclaim it as a reference book to be placed alongside the same publisher’s Phrase and Fable, but what you actually get is a brilliantly written, very funny and highly partial account of the lives of con men, East End thugs and members of the Conservative Party. There is also a delightful approach to indexing – the entry for HRH Elizabeth II ends: “See also: MISERS.” A very good biography of the author is also in print, with a great title: You Cannot Live As I Have Lived And Not End Up Like This.
www.spectator.co.uk

McSweeney’s Quarterly Various authors, published by McSweeney’s

Short story collections always sell badly compared to novels, but publisher Dave Eggers found an ingenious way of selling anthologies to a new generation, through the quirky (sometimes self-consciously so) packaging of the quarterly journal that always delights. Whether publishing the entire volume as a pile of junk mail, or as a clothbound hardback with a comb on the inside front cover, these prove that beautiful books can be humorous, even silly.
www.mcsweeneys.net

Ways Of Seeing John Berger, published by Penguin

This is so well-known that I feel a little guilty for including it, but it was the book (along with the accompanying TV series, well worth tracking down on YouTube) that got me interested in art history as a teenager. It is full of big ideas (many taken from Walter Benjamin’s Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction) all presented clearly and succinctly.
www.penguin.co.uk/ways-of-seeing
www.youtube.com/ways-of-seeing

Bestiary Julio Cortazar, published by Harvill

Borges, Carver, and Barthelme all have very good anthologies of their short stories available in the UK, but Cortazar is a wonderful writer who seems to have been a bit overshadowed by his contemporaries and this volume (his collected stories) is long out of print. The most famous of his stories influenced 1960s films (Antonioni’s Blow Up, Godard’s Weekend) but the originals are better than any of the movie versions. (Still in print is a smaller, but excellent collection: All Fires The Fire)
www.marionboyars.co.uk

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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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…

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.