let's talk about books

So, it's not news that I am banana's for books. 
I love books, reading... and sharing. So, here we are at the second installment of Let's Talk About Books (sung by me to the melody of Let's Talk About Sex, you can thank me later for getting that catchy lil' number in your head for the rest of the day). If you missed the first LTAB post you can see it here. This is a regular feature where I ask friends and people I admire to share what they have been reading. I hope that it can be a place where when you are looking for a good read you can check out some titles shared here. 
This group of ladies is pretty darn special and unique. Jennifer is a friend I met through ACME, where her husband shows (he is a rad painter). She is the designer of Ermie and is just overflowing with talent! I am always inspired by her dedication to her creative vision. Joanna... well, I have been an admirer of Joanna's, and we have become new friends through Jennifer. This lady has some serious style! She runs the amazing online marketplace Kneeland Co. Mercado. And Christine is a dear friend I met in undergrad at Art Center. We bonded over tears and immediately became close friends, she is brilliant and is currently in the PhD program at UCLA for Art History (she's not messin' around)

Here are their picks!

e  n  j  o  y  !

-  J e n n i f e r  -

The Book I Just Finished “Reading”

I have a confession to make: I have been very a poor reader in the last year. In fact, one of my resolutions for 2013 is to Read More Books and Spend Less Time on the Internet.
 When Lauren asked me to contribute to this feature on her blog, I thought (somewhat ironically), “Perfect! This will get me to read again.” But I also thought, “Oh, Crud. What was the last real book I read?”

While it is not a novel, did just finish looking at an old, favorite art book of mine: Lola and Julian Schnabel.
I also must confess, while I very much respect Mr. Schnabel’s place in art history, I am not huge fan of his paintings. I do, however, think he’s a very good filmmaker, and I love this book he put out with his daughter, Lola, when she was a young child. 
The book is a collection of Schnabel’s expressive marks in paint, combined with Lola’s drawings. There are no words, except for Lola’s text in some of the drawings. I love the spontaneity, and the inventiveness of both Schnabel’s here. The images have a freshness and a joy which I always strive to achieve in my own work.

Book I am Reading Now

I am currently reading The Invention of Everything Elseby Samantha Hunt. I received the book as a gift from Samantha, who is one of my clients! Once again, Lauren’s invitation to contribute prompted me to finally read it, and I am so glad that I am! The Invention of Everything Else is a fictional account of the real life inventor Nikola Tesla’s friendship with a chambermaid, in the Hotel New Yorker, where Tesla lives out his last days. The love of words, writing, and Hunt’s imaginativeness are remarkable. Her love for New York City, past and present, real and imagined, is almost palpable. I feel she had such a wonderful time writing this book. I look forward to reading more of Samantha’s work!

The Books I Will Read in the Future

There are two books that are on the top my reading pile: a Penguin Books edition of the the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca’s essay: On the Shortness of Life, and Yohji Yamamoto’s My Dear Bomb. My last confession: I admit I judge books by their covers (Not really! But I Do appreciate beautifully designed books…These are two lovely examples of such). I love the letter pressed cover on the Seneca book, and the black on black design of the Yamamoto text. Of course, it also ultimately matters what is contained within - and I have a feeling the content both of these books will prove to be very inspiring (I also have feeling that I will be reading both Joanna’s and Christine’s recommendations! Thank you, in advance Joanna and Christine, and thank you Lauren for asking me to contribute!)

-  J o a n n a  - 

My 3 Favorite Books

It's hard to choose my 3 favorite books.  I love to read, and I'm the type of person who can become obsessed with a particular thing if it affects me in some way, and books are probably the most affecting thing for me aside from magazines and movies.  These are just 3 of my favorites, but I have more favorites and I'm sure if I become affected by a future book that will also be added to my list of favorites.  In the meantime, these sit at the top.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: I read this a few years ago when it was assigned in my book club.  My good friend and book club member, Alexis, recommended it and I literally could not put the thing down.  The story is set in Barcelona (the book was originally written in Spanish) after the Spanish Civil War and is centered around Daniel, the son of an antiquarian who is taken to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a place where all reading material is kept from the public.  He's told to choose one book and protect it, and he chooses The Shadow of the Wind written by Julian Caráx without knowing that it's very valuable and very dangerous.  It's all a journey to find out why the book is so dangerous and mysterious, and the plot just thickens and thickens throughout.  It's a haunting story filled with adventure, love, loss, and immortality and made me feel as if I were in some epic maze trying to find my way out.  There is also a prequel, The Angel's Game, written by Zafón that I recommend reading after.  

Just Kids by Patti Smith: I'm certain this is high on the list of many fellow readers, and it's easy to understand why.  I started reading this book while I was on a trip to Big Sur with my husband, brother-in-law and his wife.  I connected with it.  I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and went to my favorite spot, Deetjen's, with Just Kids and sat for nearly two hours with my tea and just read and read and read. It's heart wrenching, soulful, innocent, honest, fucked up, beautiful, inspiring, and very human.  There is no one like Patti Smith, and to read her and Robert Mapplethorpe's story first hand is something I'm grateful for.  It is the ultimate story of unconditional friendship and love.  I finished it in a hotel room in Philadelphia and cried my eyes out, right before my friend picked me up for dinner.  I made him drive to the bookstore and I bought him a copy and said: READ THIS NOW.

Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain: I'm not normally a girl who reads a lot of spiritual books, although I consider myself to be a spiritual person.  But this book, written in the '70s has had the biggest influence on my life.  My mother-in-law used to go to Shakti Gawain's workshops back in the day and when I told her that I started reading this she said, "That's what I've been trying to talk to you about all along!"  It's not a self-help book or a religious book or anything like The Secret or whatever; but it's more of a tool to help you visualize and manifest the things you want in your life.  If you have goals you want to attain, this is for you.  If you have fears you want to overcome, this is for you.  If you just want to learn how to meditate, this is for you.  It holds a very special place in my heart as I started reading it when I first started my business, and it really helped me in tremendous ways.  I call it a "forever read", because it's on my bedside table at all times.  I have gifted this book numerous times and I can't begin to tell you how much of a positive impact it has had.

Currently Reading

I'm currently reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver at the recommendation of 3 friends.  I'm a lover of Mexico City and all things Mexican (my family is from Mexico City and I visit often) and this book tells the story of a boy and his adventures after the Mexican Revolution.  The main character, Harrison Shepherd, is the son of a Mexican mother and American father and keeps journals of his life in its various stages.  A good part of the book is set in Mexico with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera as his employers, and the other part is set in middle America where he writes his first novel about his experiences in Mexico.  It's a good read, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys Mexican history and an outsider's perspective. 

-  C h r i s t i n e  -

A favorite:
The Problem of Reading by Moyra Davey
 A beautiful meditation on the feelings and motivations connected with what we choose to read. Photographs by Davey, JoAnn Verburg, and James Welling appear throughout the book.

Recently read:
Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes
 In this seminal work on photography, Barthes intimately explores the medium and its relationship to love, loss and memory. This is a book I have been turning to for years, and it is a must-read for anyone with an interest in photography.

Currently reading:
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
 Stunning short stories of various forms of struggle from miscarriage to the Partition of India. Lahiri’s writing is touching and powerful.

And here are three more of my favorite books: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion,  The Prophet by Kahil Gibran (I gift this book to almost everyone I know), and The Hermetic Tradition by Julius Evola. 
I am currently reading a few things (along with my friend Ann's first draft of her second book, which is amazing. I'm so lucky to be one of her readers): Laura: A Journey into the Crystal by George Sand, Wanting is Easier Than Having by Debra Baxter, and listening to Just Kids by Patti Smith in the studio. 

I want to thank Jennifer, Joanna and Christine! 
Thank you so much ladies!

And readers... 
one: if you like, please post in the comments your favorite books and 
two: if you buy any of these books I encourage you to purchase them from your local independent bookstore.

photos by Jennifer, of her books 


  1. This is an awesome, helpful guide to good reads. I am always on the lookout for suggestions; spirituality mixed with arts and history is right up my alley. Thanks ladies x

  2. Love, love love! This was so fun and inspiring and I'm flattered you asked me to participate! THANK YOU, sweet Lauren! Makes me want to read even more! xoxo

  3. Excited to add some of these recs to my reading list. Thanks again, Lauren!

  4. thank YOU Joanna and Jennifer!!!
    i am honored to have you! : )

    happy reading ladies!

  5. lauren, this is fantastic! love! i'm definitely picking a few of these up for my trip to europe next month! thank you :)

  6. On The Shortness of Life! Yes!

    Great feature, keep it up!

  7. Lauren, thanks so much, it was an honor to be a part of this! Love the recommendations here! Definitely adding these to my reading wish list. xoxo

  8. THANK YOU C!!!
    i am adding The Problem with Reading to my list
    and may have to revisit Camera Lucida ;)
    AND actually FINISH Interpreter of Maladies!

    xoxo always! L