• Good Mail Day

    Jennie Hinchcliff & Carolee Gilligan Wheeler

    Image of Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art

    The news about the USPS a few weeks ago was dire, so I bought some new stamps (I recommend a couple panes of the

  • Consider the Lobster

    David Foster Wallace

    Image of Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays

    After reading Infinite Jest two years ago, I didn’t become a DFW fanatic, settling instead for a measured respect for a writer who manages to be incredibly brilliant and hilarious at the same time.

  • Girls to the Front

    Sara Marcus

    Image of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

    I became aware of riot grrrl late, mostly from a distance through zines and records. I can still conjure some sadness that Huggy Bear actually played a show in northeastern Connecticut, but on a Tuesday night when there was no way I could go. What I experienced influenced me greatly, but I never felt like I was a part of the movement in the political sense. There was a lot that I didn’t know about the origins and history. I’m glad this book exists now, though it doesn’t feel like the “definitive” record it claims to be.

  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

    James Agee & Walker Evans

    Image of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: The American Classic, in Words and Photographs, of Three Tenant Families in the Deep South

    Words could, I believe, be made to do or to tell anything within human conceit. That is more than can be said of the instruments of any other art. But it must be added of words that they are the most inevitably inaccurate of all mediums of record and communication, and that they come at many of the things which they alone can do by such a Rube Goldberg articulation of frauds, compromises, artful dodges and tenth removes as would fatten any other art into apoplexy if the art were not first shamed out of existence…

  • True North

    Rebecca Solnit

    Image of True North

    True North was a 2008 exhibition at Deutsche Guggenheim; this catalog is technically not by Rebecca Solnit, but I borrowed it to read her opening essay, “The Needle Points, the Ice Melts: Thoughts Facing North.” Solnit manages a fairly broad survey of the north, framed through Mary Shelley’s Fra

  • On Photography

    Susan Sontag

    Image of On Photography

    Although photography generates works that can be called art — it requires subjectivity, it can lie, it gives aesthetic pleasure — photography is not, to begin with, an art form at all. Like language, it is a medium in which works of art (among other things) are made. Out of language, one can make scientific discourse, bureaucratic memoranda, love letters, grocery lists, and Balzac’s Paris. Out of photography, one can make passport pictures, weather photographs, pornographic pictures, X-rays, wedding pictures, and Atget’s Paris.

  • No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4'33"

    Kyle Gann

    Image of No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" (Icons of America)

    John Cage’s 4'33" is one of the most misunderstood pieces of music ever written and yet, at times, one of the the avant-garde’s best understood as well. Many presume that the piece’s purpose was deliberate provocation, an attempt to insult, or get a reaction from, the audience. For others, though, it was a logical turning point to which other musical developments had inevitably led, and from which new ones would spring.

  • Just Kids

    Patti Smith

    Image of Just Kids

    A memoir for anyone who gets a little romantic about New York City in the 1960s and 1970s, Smith sketches out her early years in the city and her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. Early on they were lovers, but for most of their time together (and up until Mapplethorpe’s death from AIDS in 1989), they had what could be called an artistic partnership. They shared their early, struggling years, both knowing they wanted to be artists but not knowing exactly how to go about it.

  • HTML5 for Web Designers

    Jeremy Keith

    Image of HTML5 for Web Designers

    I don’t read many books concerning web design since the web is always changing and often I can find out what I need to know straight from the source, which seems more appropriate anyway. But A List Apart is one of the best (and most attractive) resources I refer to online, and this is their first printed piece, published under the moniker A Book Apart.

  • Ways of Seeing

    John Berger

    Image of Ways of Seeing: Based on the BBC Television Series

    Kind of the Camera Lucida on fine art, this book is based on the BBC documentary of the same name. Seven essays, three composed entirely of images and four primarily of text that aren’t too heavy with the theory. Of those that are textual, they look at the mystification of art —