Tove Jansson, Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition
No book gave me more pleasure this year. When my son Owen was born, all I seemed to be able to read was oldNancy comics. After my son Jules was born, it was Moomin. These comics are so, so wonderful. They belong in everyone’s library.
Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
A book that made me rethink the way I operate online. You know this is an important book because it seems like every week there’s an additional chapter to be written in it. Ronson’s writing is smart and hugely entertaining — if I hadn’t already read Shamed, The Psychopath Test probably would’ve been on this list, too.
James Sturm, Market Day
A beautiful comic about the struggle of the artist to produce work of value in a market economy.
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy
Some of the best writing about art and culture I’ve ever read. My highlights.
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. My highlights.
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.
I read this book to my son so many times this year I couldn’t count. Fantastic illustrations, weird and bizarre. A modern fairy tale.
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
A classic book of poems to read when you’re traveling, or moving from one place to the next. (When aren’t we?) My highlights.
A perfectly-executed book in form and content. My highlights.
Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
Joe Hill called this “the 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. I would lie in bed at the end of the day, exhausted, listening to my loud newborn honk and coo and wheeze and snore in the next room, read about the struggles of all the parents and their stories in the book, and I’d think, “Shit, man, I can handle tomorrow.”
Jenny Offill, Dept. Of Speculation
A wonderful novel about art, marriage, and motherhood that you can read it in one sitting. My highlights.
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. These books are perfect in format, and so much fun.
David Allen, Getting Things Done
“One of these things is not like the other…” A productivity classic for a reason. I went out and bought a filing cabinet after reading. My highlights.
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, better production value, and probably a re-release. My highlights.
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
I don’t think this one hit me the way it hit some readers I know, but it’s very good, with a really smart system of quotation, and a good, solid ending.My highlights.
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. Damn, what a life! (My highlights.)
John Seabrook, The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory
If you’ve suspected lately that you’re not just old and pop music really is getting worse, Seabrook does a great job of explaining why. My highlights.
Mary Karr, The Art Of Memoir
Hey, it’s a Mary Karr book, so there was a helluva lot of underlining. She sure can write a sentence. (My highlights.)
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.