Tired of reading the same recommended books from the usual sources? Just think of our weekly What We’re Reading column as your non-committal book club with The FADER and some of your favorite bands. For this installment, Amber Bravo takes a break from the NYTimes and Hurricane Sandy updates to talk about some of her recent, visually transportive faves.
Universen by Markus and Reto Huber: This is a hybrid artist's book and catalogue by artists Markus and Reto Huber. Largely comprised of a body of their collected collage and ink drawings called MIKROUNIVERSEM (2005-2011), presented chronologically and interspersed with other works, this book is beautiful, and quite literally, otherworldly.
Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee: Despite being shamed by friends and coworkers on a regular basis, I lugged this tome to and from work for a few weeks until I finished it in its entire 700+-page glory. (I also felt deeply vindicated when Vogue published that huge fashion story inspired by Edith Wharton, with weird cameos from contemporary writers.) My shoulders hurt from the weight of my bag, I got bored during the chapters about Wharton's relationship to French politics and honestly, I wasn't even that curious about her affair with William Morton Fullerton, but still, I could not put this book down. From her interest in gardening, architecture and landscape and interior design, to her horrendously difficult marriage to Teddy Wharton (who, without question, suffered from acute bioploar disorder but was never diagnosed properly because it was the early 20th century), to her spirited and engaging friendships with Henry James, Bernard Berensen and Walter Berry, to the fact that she lived in a sort of self-exile from the country she characterizes so perfectly in her best novels, I find her to be an incredibly compelling, dichotomous character—at once completely renegade in her tastes and lifestyle, but also totally dogged by her Old New York upbringing. Enough cannot be said about Hermione Lee, too, who is truly a phenomenal biographer, and keeps the pace up even in the most lagging parts of Wharton's life story.
The Plant: A Journal About Plants and Other Greenery: This is a small journal out of Barcelona that is dedicated to, ummm, plants. And other greenery! Seriously, though, if you're a plant geek, like me, and want to feel at once inspired and insanely jealous—or, apologies in advance, green with envy—you should check out this mag. Just perusing the issue descriptions will give you an idea of what I mean. If the phrase "atypical and magical garden" makes you swoon, then this is your jam.
Milk Decoration: Milk is a pretty great French children's style magazine that makes you feel depressed about being a schlubby adult. It's also a little weird to go to the magazine store and be super excited to buy a magazine filled with pictures of young children. You may even get in trouble. That said, the magazine just launched a new design version that is pretty great, too, so now you can feel inspired and awestruck not only by the the cool little kids' clothes, but also their parents' clothes and their amazing homes. English texts are in the back.
Erwan & Ronan Bouroullec: Works: If you are interested in design, you probably are very well-acquainted with Erwan & Ronan Bouroullec, the French frères who are responsible for a good portion of the best contemporary design happening, period. If you're not familiar with them, or if you don't care much for design, you still might enjoy this book, which features a complete catalogue of the brothers' work, but also some of their beautiful physical and drawn prototypes. Their work for Galerie Kreo is particularly amazing.