• Hero

    Bookshelf: Sarah Maycock

Bookshelf

Bookshelf: Beautiful publications on the bookshelf of illustrator Sarah Maycock

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Sarah’s the first Bookshelf contributor (to my knowledge) that has used the phrase “yum” when describing a publication. And why not when the book is as lovely as the tomes Sarah has picked from her evidently weighty shelves? Only last week we were gushing about how spectacular she is at drawing but we just couldn’t resist peeking into her bookcase. What did we find? A bunch of beautiful short stories and some truly delightful art books, naturally. Here she is…

  • 9

    Primo Levi: A Tranquil Star

  • 10

    Primo Levi: A Tranquil Star

Primo Levi: A Tranquil Star

I bought this book from a fantastic book shop in Yorkshire, in an RHS garden called Harlow Carr. It’s a selective shop so you can be assured that anything you buy from there will be incredibly interesting.

I love short stories, every sentence has to multitask and fill in all sorts of gaps and make suggestions which add to the story, but feel incredibly simple at the same time. His writing is straightforward, whilst being witty and dark, playful and imaginative. So conceptually agile. This was the first Levi book I read and I knew nothing about him at the time. It is a fantastical book that just sort of floats, I couldn’t place him at all. Last year I designed a cover for probably his most famous book, If This Is A Man and The Truce about his time during the Holocaust, and have since learnt about him. His writing If This Is A Man is equally as plain, he can say everything without spelling it out, just in the storytelling.

For example, he starts the book with a foreboding poem expressing his feelings towards the perpetrators, and then the book starts, without really expressing opinions again. Knowing this about him just heightened my feelings towards this collection of stories. My favourite is probably The Fugitive in which a lowly office worker writes the most beautiful poem ever written, so beautiful that it destroys itself. Another is In The Park which is about a place where figures from history and literature are trapped after they die until their names stop appearing in books and statues, until they stop being mentioned. I wish I could speak Italian so I could read them in the language they were written, as language is central to many of the stories.

  • 2

    Kay Thompson: Eloise

  • 3

    Kay Thompson: Eloise

  • 4

    v

  • 5

    Kay Thompson: Eloise

  • 6

    Kay Thompson: Eloise

  • 7

    Kay Thompson: Eloise

Kay Thompson: Eloise

I probably read this book, or had it read to me every day as a child. My copy was published in 1958 and has a brilliant drawing of a prince in it that my mother made when she was little. It’s about a six-year-old girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel with her turtle Skipperdee and her pug dog Weenie. She is endlessly causing mischief and drives her nanny and the hotel staff berserk. The gorgeous illustrations by Hillary Knight are so well observed, and there is so much in there for the adult reading it. The subtlety in the characters and the expressions still amaze me. I thoroughly recommend anyone with children to buy it.

  • 23

    Gerhard Richter: Overpainted Photographs

  • 24

    Gerhard Richter: Overpainted Photographs

Gerhard Richter: Overpainted Photographs

I am a huge fan of Richter’s paintings, and I based my dissertation around a particular one of these images, within the context of whether abstraction can tell you more about the “real” than realism and photographs. I could look at them forever, they are just the most unctuous, visually generous images.

  • 11

    Guy de Maupassant: Boule de Suif et Autres Contes de la Guerre

  • 12

    Guy de Maupassant: Boule de Suif et Autres Contes de la Guerre

Guy de Maupassant: Boule de Suif et Autres Contes de la Guerre

Again this is a series of short stories. Maupassant wrote hundreds of them. I read this text as part of my French A-level course and absolutely fell in love with Maupassant’s stories. Despite being very much centred around the Franco-Prussian war, the themes in the stories are completely universal. Boule de Suif (a term of endearment for a somewhat rotund woman, something like “dumpling” or “ball of lard”) is a prostitute who is trying to flee the town, along with several members of the bourgeoisie and two nuns, and it plays on twisting your perception of morals.

The stories range from heartbreaking to hilarious. One which gets me every time is Mère Sauvage who is a mother trying to come to terms with losing her husband while her son is away fighting. She is then made to look after several Prussian soldiers while they occupy the area. They are young and handsome and help her with housework, but she becomes more and more resentful in a very calm and organised way until receives the letter she was dreading, that her son has died in battle, and she sets the barn alight while they sleep, and writes a note to send to their mother, and hands herself in to the police.

Without just explaining everything that happens in every story, I don’t know how to express how brilliant they are. They are fables, I suppose, and have the dramatic quality of a soap. I remember talking aloud whilst reading them, things like “oh no no don’t do that! It’s a trap!” or “God you’re a horrible character.” His stories have also been turned into films, such as Bel Ami in 1939 and then again in 2012.

  • 13

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

  • 14

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

  • 15

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

  • 17

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

  • 18

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

  • 20

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

  • 21

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

  • 22

    The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

The Original Posters of Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Léger, Matisse, Míro and Picasso

I can’t think of a book which is more freeing and inspirational. If I get tied in a knot, this always makes me so very happy. I don’t know what more you could want from an art book. I get worked up into quite a frenzy flicking through the pages – they’re all so refreshing and exciting and they seem to have the essence of each artist distilled. Also, it’s so brilliant seeing designs by “fine artists.” Their sense of design is so inherent and integral to their identity, there’s nothing contrived about them. All the pages are falling out, I’d love to frame them all. Yum.

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. 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…

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Main1

    Want to know a surprising secret about self-proclaimed “book obsessive” and Dazed & Confused editor Isabella Burley? She can’t stand big coffee-table-sized fashion books. “I’ve always taken my references from art, pop culture, photography and sex zines rather than fashion,” she told us. “That’s really come to shape the way I approach our fashion content within Dazed.”

  6. List

    With 25 years experience in magazine design, not to mention eight years of covering the extensive subject under the title magCulture, it’s a wonder we haven’t already metaphorically burst into Jeremy Leslie’s house and insisted he share his five favourite examples of printed matter right then and there. Instead, we caught him in the build up to The Modern Magazine 2014, the conference which takes place annually in the midst of London Design Festival to shine a torch on the current state of editorial creativity, as well as new directions for the industry.

  7. List

    Danielle Pender is the brain at the helm of Riposte magazine, one of the most exciting new publications created to champion the women doing exciting work in the creative industries today, as well as working at KK Outlet, the London outpost of communications agency KesselsKramer, so can you blame us for wanting to have a poke about her bookshelf? Her selection gives a generous insight into the process behind putting together a magazine, from the issue of National Geographic which led her and Riposte’s creative director Shaz Madani to consider a text-based front cover for the magazine (“I’m really happy we had the balls to go with it”) and the all-time hero she dreams of interviewing, with a few other gems thrown in for good measure. She technically stretched her five books to seven, but we let her off because they’re all so damn interesting.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.