I'm kind of a hoarder. I mean, I don't keep food under my bed and there are no rats crawling in and out of my belongings, but there are certain things I like to collect and you'll have a hard time prying them from my cold, clammy hands even when I'm dead. Cosmetics, stationery,\ and books are the primary offenders.Working in a thrift store when I was in high school kick-started the book thing. I mean, yeah I was obsessed with books as a kid and got giddy whenever the Book Fair came around at school, or the Scholastic fliers were passed around. But the thrift store, that's when things started to get a bit crazy.
With a 50% discount on top of the super-cheap prices of paperbacks as it was, I began hoarding poetry collections, whatever I'd come to recognize as a "classic", and pretty much anything with an interesting-looking cover.
Then I started a new job at a discount home decor store, where there was a book section. I was constantly buying big ol' hardcovers covering everything from classic film, home design and vintage fashion. I became obsessed with seeing these heavy, glossy books stacked on my shelf organized by the colour of their spines.
And now, here I am living in Toronto, a treasure trove of used book stores that stock endless copies of dogeared Penguin editions and excellent condition coffee table tomes for temptingly afforable prices. My addiction has no sign of slowing anytime soon so I decided to compile a very compressed list of my personal favourites, all available for purchase on Amazon.com. (I'd also recommend buying from the used sellers on Amazon. I've purchased tons of books from them for plenty less than the cover price and they're always in excellent condition.)
1. Art Of The Modern Movie Poster: International Postwar Style and Design ($52.81 new, Amazon.com)
This book makes me drool like a dog on a hot day, and I feel even better knowing I paid only 20 bucks for it. It combines my love of classic film, incredible eye-catching graphic design, and a good dose of mid-century stylistic sensibility. Total heaven. This book is basically me, in paper format. It's organized by country or region and features all of the amazing foreign posters for films like Rosemary's Baby, Blow-Up, and classics from Godard, Fellini, and other famous directors who changed the face of movies for the years to come. If you like eye candy, and you like movies, you need this.
2. The Audrey Hepburn Treasures ($28.78 used, amazon.com)
I consider Audrey Hepburn to be a consistent classic, whether you focus on her sense of style or her warm, charitable presence and constant good work with UNICEF. I collect books on her, but this one has to be my favourite since it's INTERACTIVE. Yes, the book is full of removable reproductions of photos, letters, postcards and the like which makes me so incredibly giddy since I'm an ephemera nerd. Other books in a similar vein of interactivity include the super-cool Bob Dylan Scrapbook: 1956-1966 and Greetings From E Street: The Story Of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
3. Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s ($27.72 used, amazon.com)
This book is a veritable history lesson which is a pretty incredible feat for something with barely any words. It covers lifestyle illustration, that is, the drawings that accompanied little bits of romantic fiction in women's magazines back in the day, from 1960-69. It starts off with the typical, Mad Men-esque look of prim and proper women in their suits and full skirts, on picnics with their handsome quarterback-like men and then heads out toward sleek European looking mod babes and wild, flower-covered hippie girls toward the end of the decade. It's chockfull of inspiration for anyone into fashion, beauty, art or interior design and the varied illustrators featured all have their own amazing styles.
4. The Griffin & Sabine Series by Nick Bantock, starting with Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, (around $12 a book, Amazon.com)
I was introduced to the Griffin and Sabine series in high school and I've been fascinated and inspired by it ever since. Without spoiling anything, it's an illustrated love story that spans over a bunch of books and covers the correspondence of Griffin and Sabine, a man and a woman who seemingly have never met. It gets all mysterious and gorgeous and continues on in the books with these beautiful postcards and letters that are once again INTERACTIVE, meaning you can take the letters out of their envelopes and pore over every detail. If you have a romantic snoop inside of you, these books will be right up your alley.
5. Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000 ($61.49, amazon.com)
OL, so I don't actually own this book yet, despite the fact that I've been pining after it and its holographic-Jean-Shrimpton-eyeball cover for years. But I already own and love the OOP Avedon's The Sixties and know and love Richard Avedon's famously influential fashion photography, so someday, laying down the cash for this gorgeous book will make sense.
And if we're talking dream books to own, someday I'd love a copy of Bruce Davidson's gorgeous Brooklyn Gang. But at $600 used, and upwards of $1,000 new, I'm gonna keep dreaming (for now).
So, which of your glossy, stylish (and heavy) books are your favourites? The ones that even when you move, you lovingly pack up in boxes and cart up and down multiple flights of stairs? I wanna know.
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