Books of Inspiration: 16 – 20

Presented in no particular order of significance or importance, here are books sixteen to twenty on my bookshelf of inspiration:

Books 16 to 20

  1. Pleasure by Nikki Gemmell – This is a beautiful book with a gorgeous layout, containing thought-provoking words and stories which are from the heart and yet bluntly delivered. There is much loveliness to enjoy here, and like a very close friend it is able to deliver that which you most need to hear, whether that is what you wanted to hear or not. 
  2. Familiar Studies by RL Stevenson – I love the small presentation of this book, the fact that it is second-hand and holds such appeal in its knocked about hard cover and age-stained pages. Collections of essays take up quite a lot of space on my bookshelves as I find them the most interesting way to learn more about admired authors or to think more on a particular topic. Here Stevenson speaks of Victor Hugo’s romances, discusses Robert Burns and shares thoughts on Thoreau’s character and opinions.
  3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – Probably the most recent addition to my ‘books of inspiration’, this was the first Truman Capote book I’ve read and it really opened my eyes to his talent (and has since led me to open more of his books). I love how he creates flawed characters which you can’t help but love, or at the very least, characters you want to know more of. Without this book I would not know of ‘the mean reds’ as opposed to suffering from ‘the blues’ and that would be a very great shame indeed. 
  4. How To Be Idle  by Tom Hodgkinson - Contrary to the thoughts of many, being idle does not necessarily mean being lazy. This book describes itself as being a ‘manifesto for living’, and I wholeheartedly concur. Hodgkinson presents the ways in which we can reclaim our right to take control of our lives against the demands and busyness of  modern society. While this is at times a funny book, I resent the fact that it is often presented for sale in the ‘humour’ section of bookstores as it actually presents serious ideas and philosophies. 
  5. Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard – This was the first Elmore Leonard book that I read and I have to say that I’ve been hooked ever since. His writing is clipped and succinct and yet he still manages to say so much. This is the story of Deputy US Marshal Karen Sisco and her relationship with bank robber Jack Foley, and was later adapted for the screen in a film featuring Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney. Set against disturbing insights to the seedier, crime-filled side of the streets, I am in complete awe of Leonard’s ability to build chemistry between unlikely characters. Sexy, fascinating and completely absorbing, there is little more to ask for in a really great story.

The Beautiful Creature

CreatureBeauty can sometimes be found in complexity, in intricate twists and turns, and hidden messages. In rarer, yet often more stunning fashion, true beauty can be found without so much effort…It simply exists. It shines in an indescribable way and with an unconcerned sense of self.

It is in looking at the true essence of something that we can learn so much about the world and our place within it. As the layers peel away to reveal the delicate inner core, there is a real sense of connection with something fundamental, something real.

Art in all its forms can reveal something pure and unashamedly unique, whether that be in print, image, dance or song. Elmore Leonard does this with words, Bill Callahan does this with song and Andrew Zuckerman does this with photography.

A recent addition to my ever expanding collection of photographic books is Andrew Zuckerman’s sublime ‘Creature’. Often animal photography swings between extremes – from sickly sweet and painstakingly posed, to stock standard portraiture that lacks in style and substance. Thankfully Zuckerman is a freakishly talented artist with the ability to transcend all such problems.

With each animal shot against a startling white background, the uncluttered, unpretentious photographs allow the viewer to enter into a visual dialogue and peer through a hidden window into the creature world. In inviting us into their world, Zuckerman lets the animals simply speak for themselves.

With his collection of subjects ranging from lions, to bears, elephants and leopards, this book is a visual feast for all animal lovers. The detail and clarity captured by Zuckerman is startling and inspirational, leaving the eyes hungry for more. He is everything I would ever want to be as a photographer.

If clean lines and pared back photographic imagery is your thing, then Creature is the book for you. Aside from Creature, Zuckerman does a lot of other pretty amazing things with his photography, so some time spent at his website is well worth the visit.