An illustrated compendium of first-person musings by writers, artists and other creative types about the books that inspired them and helped shape their identities.
When writer/editor La Force and illustrator Mount decided to put together this delightful collection of essays, it wasn't simply to express their love of reading and the written word. They sought to make the statement that "in an era when digital technology…threatens irreversibly to change our reading experience, there is nothing that parallels the physical book." They chose friends, acquaintances and people whom they "admired from afar"—Jonathan Lethem, Jennifer Egan, Alice Waters, Mira Nair and Patti Smith, among others—and asked them to pick the books that most influenced them. La Force pairs each of the 100 essays she gathered from personal interviews with images Mount painted of the books (specifically, their spines) each participant chose for his or her "ideal bookshelf." The pieces are as unique as the people they represent and reveal the particular relationships participants have with the texts they mention. Lethem calls his choices "eccentric," a reflection of a "decrepit attraction" to old books and the "literary history that lie[s]…waiting to be discovered" in early editions. Chef and restaurateur Alice Waters identifies her bookshelf as commemorating the texts that started her on her epicurean journey. Nair spotlights choices that not only introduced her to English, Urdu and Hindu poetry, but also to the writer who later became her husband. La Force and Mount's joint efforts do "sentimentaliz[e] the book as object," but what they achieve clearly demonstrates that, despite the encroachments of computers and the Internet, books still matter. Other contributors include Chuck Klosterman, Dave Eggers, David Sedaris, Michael Chabon and Judd Apatow.
A bibliophilic feast for the eye, mind, heart and soul.