Last December, in our who’s-reading-what survey, artist Kyomi Iwata selected Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 as the best book she read in 2010. (Lena McGrath Welker also selected Haruki Murakami, in her case, Kafka on the Shore , as her favorite read for 2010.) At the time, 1Q84 had yet to be translated into English, but there’s good news. A massive volume (944 pages) will be released in an English translation on October 25, 2011. http://www.amazon.com/1Q84-Haruki-Murakami/dp/0307593312. From Amazon, the book is: “A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.”
I asked the artists whose work browngrotta arts represents to weigh in with book recommendations again this year. Specifically, I asked them to provide a list of any or all of the following: “What book(s) inspired you in the past?” “What book(s) continue to inspire you?” “What book(s) remain among your favorite(s)?” and/or “What was the best book you read in the last year?” As always, people responded swiftly and thoughtfully, with enough suggestions to fill a few posts. Here are ten suggestions to start.
For Lena McGrath Welker, books that provide past and continuing inspiration include Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore, which has an excellent section on creativity, Wabi-Sabi, the original text by Leonard Koren, and poems by Anna Ahkmatova (You Will Hear Thunder and Complete Poems) and Anne Carson (Nox, Decreation and Glass, Irony and God, among others). Welker has been very involved in preparing her one-person exhibition this year (currently at the North Dakota Museum of Art – more on that in an upcoming blog) but she says the best book she listened to this year was Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
Debra Sachs says, “I mostly prefer fiction but after hearing Barbara Strauch in an interview I decided to read her book, The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind. It is so affirming to those of us of a certain age who feel like our minds are constantly betraying us.” Sachs adds; “How does it influence the artist me? I can’t remember!!!”
Heidrun Schimmel has been very interested in books about New York as “the metropolis of modern and contemporary art,” including Just Kids by Patti Smith and Fifth Avenue by Stephan Wackwitz, of the Goethe Institute in New York. Fifth Avenue was published this year by S.Fischer Verlag in Frankfurt and has not yet been translated into English. Wackwitz’ previous work, An Invisible Country, is available in English.
The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey Without Borders, is recommended by Tamiko Kawata. The serious and studious book looks at the life and art and racial problems that faced the artist, who once said that his ”longing for affiliation” was source of his creativity.
Scott Rothstein recommends Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection and the Stella Kramrisch Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz are collectors of American Outsider Art. In Kantha, which are made by self-taught artists, they saw the same spirit and vision as in the art they have acquired over the last 25 years. Scott played a role in growing the Kantha collection for his hometown museum’s collection, having discovered some of the Kathas in the Bonovitz collection while he lived in India. Scott shares the couple’s appreciation for Outsider Art. See his blog: Art Found Out: for more on Outsider Art around the world.
More to come.