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    Rob Hunter: Bookshelf

Bookshelf

Bookshelf: The brimming bookshelf of one of our favourite illustrators, Robert Hunter

Posted by Liv Siddall,

You may recognise Rob’s incredibly friendly illustration from such publications as the much-adored Young Colossus which almost single-handedly changed the way we look at album artwork. The publication, made in collaboration with Maccabees singer Orlando Weeks, is a testament to the good-natured, happy style for which he has become so well-known. This illustrative style seems to carry through to his bookshelf too, as you’ll see below when Rob tells us about the lengths he once went to to get Vladimir Nabokov’s Collected Stories to a friend…

Ted Hughes: Tales from Ovid

This was a spontaneous purchase and has since been one of my most reached-for and best-travelled books. It’s a retelling of 24 poems from Ovid’s Metamorphoses . I’m a big fan of Ted Hughes’ creation stories for kids – they are filled with really unusual and often humorous reasons for why things are the way they are in the world. He brings a similar feeling to this book but with occasional dips into darker territory. The verses are written in a way that carry you through the narrative easily and you can enjoy some of the classic legends as well as a few of the less well known ones in a language that’s easy to grasp, which is perfect if you are a bit daunted by the thought of reading a poetry book. When I start a new project this is one of two books that lives in my backpack to help inspire ideas.
Ted Hughes: Tales from Ovid

Vladimir Nabokov: Collected Stories

Of all the books on my bookshelf this is the most beaten up. This is partly due to its cumbersome size but mostly because of its attractive content. I was first recommended Vladmir Nabokov by my good friend Jon McNaught who, by the way, would provide an excellent bookshelf feature. I read Lolita and was blown away by the language, the book is so beautifully written which makes the theme all the more horrific. I’m not a particularly good reader but I get on really well with Nabokov’s writing which can be abstract and usually feels like you’re reading a poem.

The reason for this, I think, is that his observations are perfect. He will highlight something subtle in day-to-day life I would never think about but subconsciously seem to know in great detail, and it’s these moments that carry his collected stories along and make them accessible as well as poetic. One of the most visited stories in the book is Details of a Sunset and I have recommended it to many people to the extent that I once went to a post office and photocopied it, glued it together and posted it.
Vladimir Nabokov: Collected Stories

David Eagleman: Sum: Forty tales from the Afterlives

I think this is the most recent book I have bought so it’s done well to be in my top five. It is – as the title says – 40 very short stories of what the afterlife might hold. This book was in my studio and I picked it up, read the first few pages and immediately went and ordered a copy for myself. The opening story called Sum explains that when we die we will relive everything we did in our past life but rearranged and categorised together, for example sleeping for several years. As this progresses, its pace and delivery becomes funnier and sets the tone for the book nicely. Each mini story is packed with weird and wonderful ideas and for such a short book is one that I think about a lot.
David Eagleman: Sum: Tales from the Afterlives

Peter Blake: Venice Fantasies

I recently noticed that the colours are fading from the cover on this one – I have had it on display in full view of the sun which the price you pay when you want to show off a book. Venice Fantasies is simply a real visual treat and it’s only recently that I read the interview and little captions that accompany the artwork. I really enjoy the immediacy of the work in this book and considering it was made when he was in his 70s, it’s refreshing to see and read about his spontaneous approach to this collection of collages.  I see it as a big reminder to find time to experiment, have fun and revel in the process.
Peter Blake: Venice Fantasies

Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita

The Master and Margarita is another book that I recommend to a lot of people. The serial imagery throughout this story and the intriguing premise of the devil visiting Moscow makes it really fun to read, the structure is quite amazing as it has two parallel narratives that weave together throughout. If you get an edition of this book from Penguin or Everymans Library it has an interesting introduction about how the author wrote the book in secret and even destroyed a first manuscript of it. I recently found out that he book has also been made into a theatre production that is on this December at The Barbican. Having tickets for it myself I have been recommending the book more than usual so my friends can read it before we see it.
Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita

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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. 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.