Saturday, 11 October 2014

Book Club

Christmas is coming, so here are a few book recommendations.

Eric Ravilious:  Artist & Designer / by Alan Powers (ISBN 978-1-84822-111-6)

If you like Ravilious, you will love this book.  Mind you, if you like Ravilious, you've probably already got it.  Design, binding, reproduction quality -- it's all there.  The whole span of his creative life is covered, from plates and mugs to book illustrations and prints.  Possibly the most quintessentially English artist of the 20th century (not always or necessarily a good thing), and yet another life cut tragically short by war.

A Ted Hughes Bestiary: Poems / selected by Alice Oswald (ISBN 978-0-571-30143-0)

Alice Oswald is emerging as a major figure on the British poetry scene (if you're a poetry reader, and don't know her book Dart, buy it immediately) and her selection of Hughes was bound to be an interesting one.  I find her focus on the "animal poem" theme has identified pretty much all my favourite Hughes poems, plus plenty more from collections I've never seen, and it's a real pleasure to have this well-presented volume to browse through.

Empire / by Jon Tonks (ISBN 978-1-907893-49-0)

This is another substantial and beautifully-produced book, from that very reliable photo-publisher Dewi Lewis, presenting Jon Tonks' photographic project to visit the remote island dependencies of our former empire, such as the recently-mentioned Tristan da Cunha.  A very original idea, very nicely executed in the spirit of Chris Killip and Martin Parr, now into its second edition, though copies of the first edition are still around (my own copy, as an early purchaser direct from Jon Tonks, is signed and inscribed).

[Note to self:  it's time you stopped buying your own Christmas presents.]

By the way, if you're ambivalent about using Amazon, you may not know that the Guardian has quietly launched its own online bookshop, currently selling EVERYTHING at 20% discount,which makes it even cheaper than Amazon.  I bought the Hughes Bestiary from them, and it arrived quickly, even using free second-class postage, and well packaged in one of those excellent and now universal corrugated card mailers that Amazon pioneered.  For everything but the most obscure books (and e-books for the Kindle, obviously) I may be a convert.  And, as they say, by buying books from their shop, you'll be helping to keep independent journalism alive.

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