Monday, November 19, 2012

My Ideal Bookshelf: Portraits of Famous Creators Through the Spines of Their Favorite Books

from Brain Pickings Weekly

Reverse-engineering identity through the love of books.
In 2007, artist and illustrator Jane Mount began painting "portraits of people through the spines of their books" – those aspirational bookshelves we all hold in our heads (and, ideally, on our walls), full of all the books that helped us discover and rediscover who we are, what we stand for, and what we'd like to become. A kind of book spine poetry of identity. In 2010, she paired with Paris Review writer Thessaly La Force and the two asked more than a hundred of today's most exciting creators – writers, artists, designers, critics, filmmakers, chefs, architects – what those favorite, timeless books were for them. Thus, My Ideal Bookshelf * (public library) was born – a magnificent collection of Mount's illustrated "portraits" of these modern-day icons, alongside short essays by each contributor explaining why the books included are meaningful to him or her. Besides the sheer voyeuristic pleasure of peeking inside the personal libraries of great minds, the project is at once a celebration of bibliophilia and a testament to the fact that the most interesting people are woven of incredibly eclectic influences.
La Force offers a necessary disclaimer in the introduction:
So much depends on where you, the reader, are – physically and metaphorically – when you decide to pick up a book and give it a chance. Which explains why there's no such thing as one ideal bookshelf; there is no ur-bookshelf. It would be a mistake to try to read this book with that goal in mind. In the end., the one element that links all the ideal bookshelves in these pages is the never-ending search. e're all still hunting, still hoping to discover one more book that we'll love and treasure for the rest of our lives.

Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon speaks to the influence ecosystem that William Gibson once so eloquently termed "personal microculture" and captures the essence of combinatorial creativity:

Read the full story at Brain Pickings Weekly

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