Liv Siddall is a London-based writer and is the Editor of Rough Trade. She creates their monthly print magazine alongside curating and organising interviews and features for their new YouTube channel and radio station. She was previously Online Editor and Features Editor at It’s Nice That and now contributes to multiple independent publications as well as being a contributing editor of Riposte Magazine.
The Last Whole Earth Catalog: Access to Tools
I was back at my parent’s house when I was about 23 and my dad brought this up from the cellar. He said he bought it when he was motorbiking around America when he was about 20, back in the 60s, and has kept it ever since (more impressive when you know that my parents moved house around 30 times). I remember taking this book in my hands and staring at it open-mouthed. He explained that the book was designed back in the 60s as a tool for people who were fleeing the cities to live in nature to order supplies to make their life easier. A little like a very early Amazon.com. The text and image-heavy book is crammed with things you can buy and make: from hot tubs to home-birth kits, or from geodesic domes to pickling jars. Each item with a phone number to order the product to be delivered to you, wherever you are. Alongside these diagrams and adverts are poems, psychedelic musings and photos, giving it more of a mystical urgency than you would find in, say, the Argos Catalogue. This book is special to me because my dad kept it for so long, but also because it reminds me of an extraordinary life I could be having somewhere else, in a parallel universe, building geodesic domes and being at one with the earth.
Philip Larkin – Collected Poems
This is a book that I stole from my school library in the period of time after my English teacher introduced me to Philip Larkin and I become completely and utterly obsessed with him. I didn’t mean to steal it, I just found that I couldn’t give it back. It’s such a good collection of his work, and the corner of almost every page is flapped down so I can return to a poem for some reason or another. Top right hand corner flap down means “favourite,” and bottom right corner flapped down means, “come back to this one.” Another magical thing about this book is that someone else loved it before I did, and it contains pencil scribbles in the margins made by them on certain poems. I still sometimes take this book on the bus or train to work with me and dip into it, and when Im really bored I test myself in trying to recite whole poems in my head. I never get very far, I’ve got an awful memory.
Elizabeth Peyton – The Age of Innocence zine for Nieves
A friend and I joke about how sometimes you see things for sale and find yourself paying for it at a counter only seconds later: a purchase that doesn’t even need questioning, it must be done immediately. This was one of those. I got an email from Nieves about some new zines they were putting out, saw that one of them was by my favourite artist Elizabeth Peyton, and it was themed around kissing, and I was sold. What a joyous publication. No text, just paintings of famous couples in tender moments. Gives you an uncontrollable urge to make out with someone and tell them you love them, which is always nice, right?
Chris Ware – The Acme Novelty Library No. 18
Picking up this book in a comic book shop was my first encounter with Chris Ware. I had never heard of him before, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d never seen anyone draw like that, or write in such a crushingly sad, honest way. This particular book of his is a story about a lonely girl who wears a prosthetic leg. I remember seeing a panel in which you see her shaving her legs and the noise he drew coming out of it: “sktch, sktch, sktch.” That killed me. There’s no point trying to even write about Chris Ware here because there’s too much to say. If you don’t know his work, this book is actually a very good place to start. Even if you think you “don’t like comics.”
Ana Kras – Ikebana Albums
This is the most recent book I bought. Why is it when you’re at your most broke you tend to splash out on expensive hardback books? I’ve never understood. This is a collection of photographs by Serbian artist and design Ana Kras, each photo full bleed, one per page, put opposite another photo that just goes with it for some reason or another. Ana sees strange, sweet beauty in the world and captures it with an excellent eye. Helps that she has some incredibly beautiful friends and seems to travel a lot, but hey who cares. Great book. Reminds me how important it is to photograph everything, on a film camera, forever.
Nothing in this world makes me happier than Viz. When the postman delivers my copy I take it on the Tube and read it with my fist in my mouth because I’m laughing so much. It’s rude, stupid, hilarious nonsense written by a collection of almost anonymous writers somewhere up in the north of England. I can’t fault it. There simply isn’t enough nonsense in this world, especially in publishing, and I live in fear of this magazine folding for some reason or another, because nothing will ever, ever take its place. Long live Viz.
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