Bookseller One Grand Books has asked celebrities to name the ten titles they’d take to a desert island, and they’ve shared the results with Vulture. Below is Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor’s list. His solo album Beautiful Thing is out April 20.
Patient, by Ben Watt
Like a lot of my most recent reads, I found a copy of this in my local Underground station book swap/donation area. It’s a very moving and insightful, disturbing and sometimes humorous account of Ben coming to terms with a rare illness, a massive change to his life, and the seemingly unending search for clarity about his condition, and an improvement in his health. It is gripping from the first page, and barely touches on his music career, focusing much more on family and his experiences with the NHS. I’ve not read anything else quite like it.
Photographs, by David Hockney
My friend Matt Connors sent me a copy of this fascinating book as I was researching the location of a specific Hockney painting for a video shoot and getting nowhere. The book shows Hockney’s own photographic workings — scrapbook-like, notes on paintings, wonderful pictures in their own right — they show both a working process and reveal what lies behind some of the most iconic images in modern art.
Gitanjali, by Rabindranath Tagore
This collection of devotional songs (or poems) is a very moving and insightful read. Tagore makes you feel his own sense of wonder at the ways in which he feels connected to God and also his distance from him in very personal and original ways. Will Oldham and Mick Turner set some of these to music and I have been very inspired by their readings. Going back to the original works again and again over the years is very rewarding.
Collected Poems, C.P. Cavafy
In these poems the private and confessional worlds of Cavafy’s longing and yearning sit side by side with metaphorical explorations of our relationship to expectation and impending social invasion.
Mark’s Little Book About Kinder Eggs, by Mark Pawson
Pawson’s personally printed, handmade, small book collecting information and anecdotes as well as images of and from his collection.
This Is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay
Disturbing but also very funny memoir of a former NHS junior doctor, his steep learning curve, and his memories of the job in graphic detail.
The Stranger, by Albert Camus
I read it as a school student. It remains strange and unsettling, very original and powerful still.
Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges
He was clearly one of the greatest and most original thinkers. You’ll feel like you are reading brand-new thoughts; it’s very funny in places, it seems effortless in its cleverness, but it isn’t showy at all. Very readable and intimate.
Perfecting Sound Forever, by Greg Milner
Chapter after chapter reveals the history of recorded music, the developments and trends within that world, and in a language that any reader with a passing interest in music can both understand and be blown away by.
Are We Still Rolling?, by Phill Brown
The most detailed and fascinating book about a recording engineer who worked on some of my favorite records. I wish there were more music books as good as this. Even though it seems impossible to know the final two Talk Talk albums and Mark Hollis’s solo album better than by listening to their murky, beautiful, sparse sound worlds, this series of firsthand accounts of the sessions — and those for Nilsson, Bob Marley, and others — is incredibly illuminating.