This week: book recommendations from my year in reading.

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A newsletter from Austin Kleon
reading at bookpeople
Hey y’all,

Happy New Year! Here are 20 good books I read in 2015
  1. Tove Jansson, The Complete Moomin Comics - No book gave me more pleasure this year. When my son Owen was born, all I seemed to be able to read was old Nancy comics. After my son Jules was born, it was Moomin. These comics are so, so wonderful. They belong in everyone’s library.
  2. Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed - Made me rethink the way I operate online. Smart and entertaining.
  3. James Sturm, Market Day - A beautiful comic about the struggle of the artist to produce work of value in a market economy.
  4. Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy - Some of the best writing about art and culture I’ve ever read. My highlights.
  5. Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs - Mann is that rare master of both pictures and words, and her memoir shows off that mastery: the visual images are perfectly woven into the text to tell her story.
  6. Sarah Ruhl, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time To Write - Short essays about making art and raising children, and the interesting ways that one influences and provides insight into the other. I really liked it. My highlights.
  7. Blexbolex, Ballad - I can’t count the number of nights I read this book to my son. Fantastic illustrations. Weird and bizarre. A modern fairy tale.
  8. T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets - Classic poems to read when you’re traveling, or moving from one place to the next. (When aren’t we?) My highlights.
  9. The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems - A perfectly-executed book in form and content. My highlights.
  10. Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity - Joe Hill called this â€œthe Moby-Dick of parenting books,” and he’s right: it’s too long and it takes forever to get through, but you get taken somewhere, and you’re really glad you read it.
  11. Jenny Offill, Dept. Of Speculation - A wonderful novel about art, marriage, and motherhood that you can read it in one sitting. My highlights.
  12. James Marshall, George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends - When you find books you love reading to your kid as much as they love being read to from, you know you’ve got something special.
  13. David Allen, Getting Things Done - A productivity classic for a reason. I even went out and bought a filing cabinet after reading it. My highlights.
  14. Corita Kent and Jan Steward, Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit - A wonderful book about making art that deserves a better cover and better printing. My highlights.
  15. Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts - This one didn't hit me the way it hit some readers I know, but it’s very good, with a really smart system of quotation, and a solid ending. My highlights.
  16. Oliver Sacks, On The Move - Messy and loses a little steam at the end, but it’s incredibly readable, and just a tad smutty at times, which is pretty delightful. Dang, what a life! (My highlights.)
  17. John Seabrook, The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory - If you’ve suspected lately that you’re not just old but pop music really is getting worse, Seabrook does a great job of explaining why. My highlights.
  18. Mary Karr, The Art Of Memoir - Lots of underlines. She sure can write a sentence. (My highlights.)
  19. David Markson’s four “anti-novels” - I don’t know why these books work for me — they’re like stumbling on the Twitter feed of the most fascinating art buff, and scrolling and scrolling, but yet, they build and build towards something. I read them at night, and they put me into a kind of hypnotic state. (I got through about 20-30 pages until I fell asleep.) I consider these one big book and would love to see a collected edition of all four.
  20. David Lee Roth, Crazy From The Heat - If I believed in guilty pleasures, this would be one of them. So ridiculous and good.
Want more? Here are my reading lists from the past ten years. (!!!)

Next week I’ll be back to my normal 10 things. If you enjoyed this email, please forward it to a friend.


Austin Kleon is the author of Steal Like An Artist and other books.

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