Best books

© Ellius Grace

Sinéad Burke, disability activist and CEO of accessibility consultancy Tilting the Lens
“The best book I’ve read in the past year is Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. It uses media by black creators to tell stories by, with and for a group of people, a sort of encyclopedia of the thinking around what a progressive future might look like. I dip into it when I need hope, connection and to feel rooted in something bigger than me.”


Tadao Ando in his Osaka atelier
Tadao Ando in his Osaka atelier © Yasuyuki Takagi

Tadao Ando, architect 
Botchan by Natsume Soseki, which in its beauty and depth is the origin of modern Japanese literature. I picked it up again this year for the first time in decades. It encapsulates the spirit of humanity, and like all great literature offers varying interpretations depending on what stage of life you are at when you read it.”


Violette Serrat, make-up artist
Bonjour Tristesse by the late French author Françoise Sagan, which she wrote when she was 18. Since I had my daughter I haven’t been able to read much, but this was one of two books I managed to finish this summer.”


A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden and her book of the year: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden and her book of the year: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner © Lydia Goldblatt

Claudia Roden, food writer
Crying in H Mart is a memoir by Michelle Zauner, a musician and singer who was born in Seoul and raised in America. The writing is frank, lyrical, humorous – and food plays a big part in it. The H Mart of the title is the name of a Korean supermarket.”


Mouzat at home in Paris
Virginie Mouzat at home in Paris © Alex Crétey Systermans

Virginie Mouzat, former fashion and lifestyle editor of French Vanity Fair
Fairyland by Alysia Abbott – it’s a story of survival and going through an extremely difficult childhood; it made me reconsider my own childhood and how easy it was in comparison. I was totally taken by this book, by her voice, by the finesse she shows in her writing. It made me laugh and cry.”


Patrick Kinmonth says Gigantic Cinema is “like a beautifully constructed museum of our complex relationship with weather”
Patrick Kinmonth says Gigantic Cinema is “like a beautifully constructed museum of our complex relationship with weather” © Tessa Traeger

Patrick Kinmonth, artist and designer
Gigantic Cinema, an anthology of prose and poetry about the weather that runs from Homer through to scientific reportage. Edited by Alice Oswald and Paul Keegan, it’s like a beautifully constructed museum of our complex relationship with weather. Nothing could be more current.”


Shiza Shahid, of Our Place cookware and ex-CEO of the Malala Fund 
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily and Finding Home by American actress Tembi Locke. When Locke’s husband died, she and her daughter went to his small hometown in Sicily to see his mother and try to deal with the grief. In many ways Locke doesn’t fit in, but the longer she spends there, immersed in the community, the more it begins to feel like home. It’s a powerful and moving memoir of finding healing through food, family and love.” 


San Francisco-based interior designer Ken Fulk in his living room
San Francisco-based interior designer Ken Fulk in his living room © Brian Flaherty

Ken Fulk, interior designer
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I actually re-read this book as it’s a big Herculean read and I wanted to really enjoy it. It’s the story of a mute boy, his mythical dogs and of his coming of age in the wild. It’s heroic and was even better the second time.”


“A bleak but at times incredibly funny American landscape”: Rufus Wainwright on John Updike’s Rabbit quartet
“A bleak but at times incredibly funny American landscape”: Rufus Wainwright on John Updike’s Rabbit quartet © Arianna Lago

Rufus Wainwright, musician and composer
“The best books I’ve read in the past year are the Rabbit series by John Updike – I’m on book three of four. It’s an epic tale of America that takes place in Pennsylvania in the mid-to-late 20th century. It has a similar vibe to the TV show Mare of Easttown: real gothic American decay with confusing class struggle, race relations and a bleak but at times incredibly funny American landscape.”

Best podcasts

Golden at home in New York
Museum director Thelma Golden at home in New York © Makeda Sandford

Thelma Golden, director of The Studio Museum in Harlem
The New Yorker Radio Hour; Kai Wright’s The United States of Anxiety; On Being with Krista Tippett; Questlove Supreme; and Brooke DeVard’s Naked Beauty podcast, which looks at beauty through the lens of culture. My days are filled with meetings and calls, so listening to podcasts in the early mornings and late at night is a form of relaxation.”


Jimmy Chin, climber and film-maker 
“Alex Honnold’s Climbing Gold, which is all about rock climbing.”


“Listening to artists’ stories helps me think about what kind of role I want to have in the industry”: gallerist Arthur de Villepin
“Listening to artists’ stories helps me think about what kind of role I want to have in the industry”: gallerist Arthur de Villepin © Amanda Kho

Arthur de Villepin, gallerist
Toute Une Vie, which tells different stories about people in the arts. I recently listened to an episode about Peggy Guggenheim, who collected art over her whole life. There are also episodes about art dealers such as Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler – I listen to their stories because it helps me think about what kind of role I want to have in the industry. I don’t just want to sell paintings – I want to grow a community and bring artists and collectors together.


Leanne Shapton at home in Greenwich Village, New York
Leanne Shapton at home in Greenwich Village, New York © Beat Schweizer

Leanne Shapton, author, editor and artist
The World As You’ll Know It – it’s about the world post-Covid and is very optimistic, which I love. And there’s Someone Knows Something, put out by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, about true-crime mysteries. That was great because who doesn’t love a true-crime story?”


Laila Gohar, food artist 
Time Sensitive discusses pressing issues around the environment and climate change. I recently heard an episode with Dan Colen, an artist who now spends most of his time on his project Sky High Farm in the Hudson Valley. His mission is to increase access to fresh, locally produced food while investing in long-term solutions for food security. I find his work very inspiring.”


Zwirner at his home in Montauk
Gallerist Lucas Zwirner at his home in Montauk, New York © Weston Wells

Lucas Zwirner, gallerist
Forgotten: Women of Juárez, a 10-episode series from iHeartRadio about a number of women who went missing in Juárez, a border city in northern Mexico. It’s a really great piece of investigative journalism.”

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