1. Heading Out To Wonderful, by Robert Goolrick
It’s summer! Time to read a haunting thriller, right?
My friend, author Robert Goolrick’s latest book of fiction is about illicit passion in a small Virginia village in 1948. Charlie Beale, a charming stranger, drives to the edge of town with two suitcases: One contains a set of razor-sharp butcher knives and the other is filled with money. From here, a southern gothic tale unfolds with a well-crafted cast of intriguing characters and mesmerizing precision. I’ve read it a couple times, as I have his first novel, A Reliable Wife and his heart-gutting memoir, The End of the World As We Know It. All of Robert’s stories are dark and dangerous. He weaves them like a slow spider, and at some point along the way he gets you – with a twist, a shock, an unraveling or a full-on weep. Here’s a teaser:
“Lying down on his quilt, he remembers it all, it enters his body and he knows that he has become the thing he will be from now on to the end, unless something terrible, something imaginable happens, but believing it will not. There is such a deep silence. There is such a roar inside that silence. There is just so much.”
2. Philip Guston: Collected Writings, Lectures and Conversations
Edited by Clark Coolidge, Introduction by Dore Ashton
Philip Guston (1913-1980) is one of my favorite painters, not only for his mastery of medium and content, but his brilliant and painfully honest ability to speak in words about what it is like to be literally lost in the process of making visual work.
In 1966 Guston wrote:
“To paint is always to start from the beginning again, yet being unable to avoid the familiar arguments about what you see yourself painting. The canvas you are working on modifies the previous ones in an unending, baffling chain which seems never to finish…there is a burden here, and it is the weight of the familiar.”
I do not keep image books in my studio. The book is 328 pages, and mostly text. Marked with post-it notes, this book never strays from my studio.
3. At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is one of my favorite thinkers. Bryson is always discovering new methods to look at familiar places and things in ways that are historically limitless and thoroughly entertaining. At Home is a history of domestic life via a room-by-room tour of his house. He takes us through the hall, the kitchen, the fuse box, the dining room, the cellar, the stairs, the attic and more. As we follow along, looking at rooms and objects with a nod to history, scrutiny, comedy and wonder, Bryson cleverly reveals how the outside world literally shapes our private shells.
4. A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit
In A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Solnit acts as a guide, scavenger and flanuese, making connections between the hidden life of the outside world and our latent fear of losing our inner way. Utilizing borrowed history, personal anecdotes, color theory, nature, ruins and landscape, Solnit paradoxically provides an encouraging how-to-book for wandering. Written in a meditative and expressive style, Solnit reveals how we lose ourselves daily, if only for minutes in order to find something we did not remember we possess.
5. From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association, by Kriz Harzinzki
Do you keep those little maps you draw on napkins? Founder of The Hand Drawn Map Society, Kriz Harzinski’s book provides a visual collection of the accidental slips of paper that document a time or moment: a note and map on a post-it note for a friend, a diagram of our trips, and even fictional maps of thoughts and dreams. Each hand drawn map is accompanied with a small story.
I love to read regional cookbooks filled with big, luscious photographs. Lately, I daydream of dinners and friendly chatter while flipping through these two: Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook, by owners Chris and Idie Hastings and Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis. (Someday, I’ll make the short road trip to Hot and Hot in Birmingham, Alabama for a treat.)
Helen Ferguson Crawford was born in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Parsons School of Design and Princeton University, she is a painter and an architect. She lives in Atlanta and thinks it is awesome.