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    Tim Noakes: Bookshelf


Bookshelf: Tim Noakes, Editor-in-Chief at Dazed & Confused shows us his Bookshelf

Posted by Liv Siddall,

What would you expect the editor-in-chief of Dazed and Confused, one of the world’s coolest magazines to have on his bookshelf? Some big, clunky fashion titles? Some sort of bicycle book? A map of Hackney? Well you’re wrong. The very lovely Tim Noakes has kindly shared with us his selection of seriously fascinating books, a photo of his very cute son in their very nice living room, and some stories about Wu-Tang that will blow your balls off. Take it away, Tim!

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    Wonderland: Curiosities of Nature and Art by Wood Smith

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    Wonderland: Curiosities of Nature and Art by Wood Smith

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    Wonderland: Curiosities of Nature and Art by Wood Smith

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    Wonderland: Curiosities of Nature and Art by Wood Smith

Wonderland: Curiosities of Nature and Art by Wood Smith

This gold-trimmed beauty belongs to my Grandfather, “Oupa” Thomas Paulley. As the certificate on the inside cover shows, it was presented to him “For Regularity and Punctuality of attendance at the Ecclesbourne Rd Boys’ School” in Croydon. Suffice to say, I would have never received an award for that. It says November 1901, but as Oupa just turned 96, I reckon the true date is around 1925.

He lent it to me a few years ago and I was instantly spellbound by its tales of travel and adventure from a bygone era. At the start you are presented with two illustrations; one of a boy high above a Japanese mountain range pulling himself and his possessions across the ravine via a rope slide; the other shows a family sitting on top of a huge Californian tree stump, having erected their own permanent staircase to climb up and down it. It sets a fantastical tone, with Smith going on to describe everything from how to cross a river in Turkestan and fish for sponges in the Mediterranean, to navigating a bazaar in Baghdad and weaving cashmere shawls in India. I can only imagine how exotic and exciting it must have felt to my Granddad when he read it as a boy in the window of peace between the two World Wars.

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    Why Cats Paint: The Theory of Feline Aesthetics by Heather Bosch and Burton Silver

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    Why Cats Paint: The Theory of Feline Aesthetics by Heather Bosch and Burton Silver

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    Why Cats Paint: The Theory of Feline Aesthetics by Heather Bosch and Burton Silver

Why Cats Paint: The Theory of Feline Aesthetics by Heather Bosch and Burton Silver

The original LOL Cats. Our friend Katherine Rowlandson gave this formidable art theory book to my future wife in 2001, the year we all graduated from London Guildhall University. It’s made us laugh ever since. Having grown up around many cats – yet never once seeing any of them paint – I loved how Bosch and Silver had the wit and imagination to create an entire book that parodied the dryness of contemporary art criticism with photographs that made you doubt your sanity. The pioneering brushwork of Bootsie the Trans-Expressionist and Charlie the Peripheral Realest deserve your immediate attention.

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    The Wu-Tang Manual by The RZA

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    The Wu-Tang Manual by The RZA

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    The Wu-Tang Manual by The RZA

The Wu-Tang Manual by The RZA

Can I get a suuuuu? Probably not, if you haven’t read this book. My wife, Caroline, bought me RZA’s guide to Shaolin for my birthday in 2005. Part of her message inside was “You just need to find a shelf to fit it on now…” which is quite fitting for this feature. But more than that, this rap nerd bible reminds me of going to Denver to interview the group in 2007. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my career and its breakdown of Wu Lexicon came in handy every step of the way. I ended up on stage at Red Rocks in front of 10,000 people, went clubbing at a skanky dive bar with the entire Clan for GZA’s 40th birthday and shared a cheese pizza with Ghostface and Raekwon on the tour bus while RZA and ODB’s son rapped along to Brooklyn Zoo in the background. After the interviews – which ranged in length from 30 seconds (Masta Killa) to 2 hours (GZA) – I asked each living member to sign their profile page in the manual. Everyone obliged apart from Masta Killa and Inspectah Deck. Ha. Maybe I should have given them some cheese pizza.

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    Ritual by David Pinner

Ritual by David Pinner

I was going to choose J.G Ballard’s High Rise, one of my favourite novels ever (dystopian dog anyone?), but I plumped for David Pinner’s criminally overlooked debut instead. First published in 1967 and then in 2011 by Finders Keepers Records, Ritual is, as the cover handily informs potential readers, “The original seed from which grew the towering movie enigma The Wicker Man.” I’m not a big fan of that film, but this book is a beast. Set in Cornwall, it follows the downward spiral of police officer David Hanlin as he sets out to investigate the murder of a local child in a town driven mad by occult excess. Pinner’s demented characters are exquisitely realised, but it’s his hilarious phrasing – in particular Hanlin’s inner monologue as reason slips away and insanity takes root – that earned Ritual a permanent place on my shelf.

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    Peace at Last by Jill Murphy

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    Peace at Last by Jill Murphy

Peace at Last by Jill Murphy

Our two-year-old son, Arthur, loves to be read Peace at Last every night, so by proxy I’ve probably read it more than any other book in my collection. Actually, it’s a toss up between this, Each Peach Pear Plum and Where the Wild Things Are, but I’ve chosen Jill Murphy’s classic because the story revolves around a family of three bears, and in particular a Dad who has a terrible night’s sleep. Like most parents I can definitely empathise with his red-eyed plight. Strangely, even after reading it hundreds of times, I still enjoy the rhythmic, hypnotic simplicity of its plot and the charming illustrations. Perhaps I just need some more sleep…


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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    “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…

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    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!

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    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.

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    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.