Reading list

We asked our favourite people to tell us which books they would be reading this summer. Writers, artists, directors, actors and designers helped us to create the ultimate poolside reading list.

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _1
Francesco Vezzoli, artist
Hearts of the City by Herbert Muschamp
“A joyful, hilarious, sarcastic, often painful but always very witty journey through the many hearts of New York, through the many faces of architecture, the masquerades of arts and the true soul of culture.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _4Asif Kapadia, director
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X 
“A powerful book following Malcolm’s spiritual journey from street hustler to political activist to man of peace. It’s a book I go back to year after year. Malcolm X, the early films of Spike Lee, and the music of Public Enemy were a massive inspiration to me when I was growing up in Hackney in the 1980s.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _7Mary Gaitskill, novelist
Night of The Animals by Bill Broun
“This is a first book by a rare writer and it’s almost impossible to describe, partly because the beauty of it is in the language rather than in the plot, although the plot is pretty great: a mentally ill, drug-addicted man in his eighties believes that animals can communicate with him and are asking him to free them from London Zoo.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _2
Thomas Ligotti, novelist
Mindful America by Jeff Wilson
“To my awareness, this is the one book that serves as an antidote to this plague of mindfulness.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _5Ally Capellino, fashion designer
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Americanah brings another perspective to some of the few things that I knew already about the history of Nigeria.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _8 Shumon Basar, Tank editor-at-large
Hidden Islam by Nicoló Degiorgis 
“When I was looking for a mosque in Milan for Eid my (futile!) research yielded the (sad?) fact there are basically two official mosques in the whole of Italy. The rest are informal gathering places: factories, warehouses, anywhere other than an actual mosque.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _3Wolfgang Streeck, academic
Capital Vol. I by Karl Marx 
“Its first edition appeared in 1866, exactly 150 years ago, which is why for German national public radio, I am to write an essay on Capital’s historical chapters, in particular the theory of ‘primitive accumulation’. Where does capitalism come from, what is it that makes it particular, and what does this tell us about our way of life today?”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _6Hisham Matar, writer
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
“This is one of those rare works of art that light up new landscapes of thinking and feeling. No one has written sentences of such extraordinary beauty, intelligence, sensitivity or lucidity as that fragile man who hardly left his room.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _9Michael Stipe, artist
M Train by Patti Smith 
Smith’s second memoir is a meandering amalgamation of thoughts and memories, played out in New York cafes.

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _10 Paul Smith, fashion designer
The World of Cycling According to G by Geraint Thomas
“Related to my love of cycling, this summer I’ll take a look at Geraint Thomas’s new autobiography. He’s a Welsh cyclist who twice took gold in the Olympic team pursuits.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _13Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator and art critic
Sitt Marie Rose by Etel Adnan 
“When I started to read Sitt Marie Rose, Etel Adnan’s masterpiece and the great novel of the Lebanese civil war, I was immediately and magnetically attracted to her energy. I wanted to know more. Reading Adnan was the first time since high school that I had felt the urgent need to read the complete works of a writer. As poet Mahmoud Darwish once said, Adnan ‘has never written a bad line’.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _16Helen Oyeyemi, novelist
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan 
“A story about the end of the world in prose that’s tragic and comic, tender and fierce. It’s language that knows more or less what Emily Dickinson meant way back in 1848 when she wrote to her friend, Abiah, ‘...but it is hard for me to give up the world’.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _11Martine Syms, artist
Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya
“This book is a hilarious panic attack. The pace is dizzying and the prose is dense. I can be laughing my fucking ass off at the top of the page, feel genuine terror towards the middle, and be bummed out by the full weight of imperialism by the end.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _14 Luca Guadagnino, director
Renoir, My Father by Jean Renoir
“It is a wonderful book about a son-father relationship, completely void of sentimentality, but full of intense passion. A masterpiece.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _17 Fabio Piras, director of Central Saint Martin’s Fashion MA
Some Rain Must Fall: My Struggle, Book 5 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
“I have been absorbed in Knausgaard’s life struggle since volume one. It might sound like bleak or self-centred dwelling on himself; it is, in fact, compelling and addictive reading.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _12Erik Davis, academic
Hyperobjects by Timothy Morton
“Living in the Anthropocene does not mean living in a more human reality, but rather inside a chaos of non-human things. No writer and thinker is as helpful, surprising, and poetically engaged with this new Sensurround encounter as Morton.”  

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _15Peter Jensen, fashion designer
Collected Poems by Philip Larkin
“This summer I need to read more Philip Larkin poetry. Why? Because he is funny, weird and from a different time. It might sound dry, but I think he is full of humour.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _18Adam Thirlwell, novelist
Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue
“I love novels disguised as essays. I love history disguised as farce. I love real tennis. So no wonder I think this novel is a masterpiece.” Read an extract in the issue.

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _19Max Porter, novelist and editor
I Must Be Living Twice by Eileen Myles
“Eileen Myles is straight-up, nasty beautiful, dry as a bone, hilarious, sublime. Her work blends the real world (a razor-sharp, uncanny, hip world) with a dream world, and it is addictive, and unlike anyone else. When I read Eileen Myles I’m reading Eileen Myles, there’s nothing else going on, ‘always naked fading truth’.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _21Phoebe English, fashion designer
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
“These would take much, much longer than a summer to get through, but I think it’s probably my favourite book of all time. It is so intensely rich; it’s like reading an immense, epic painting that seems to have no end – extraordinary, exhausting and stunning, all at the same time.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _23 Douglas Coupland, novelist and artist
The Time Element & Other Stories by John O’Hara
“John O’Hara is acknowledged as the master of American dialogue, but in person he was basically a dick to everyone he met, so he had few friends, and after his death in 1970 he had little, if any, estate or publisher to champion his legacy. He was also insanely prolific, so if you like one of his books, you’ll love all 62 (yes, 62) of them. I chose The Time Element because it’s the one I’m reading this week, but any of them will do.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _20Álvaro Enrigue, novelist
Seeing Red by Lina Meruane
“Susan Sontag famously wrote that there are only two nations: the one of the healthy and the one of the sick. Meruane’s corrosive writing is a meditation on a soul blinded not by illness, but by the peculiar destructive spirit produced by self-pity – that dark feeling familiar to any who has suffered their own body’s treason. In other words, all of us. Seeing Red’s spine is a deliciously perverse love story, loaded with surprising, sickening, wonderful erotic material centred in the eyeballs.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _22Thomas Tait, fashion designer
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
“David’s writing is characterised by his honest and witty recollections of day-to-day, sometimes mundane scenarios. His essays provide an insight into his peculiar family life and his unique views on the human condition. Watching interviews of David, I’ve also taken a strong liking to his voice – high-pitched with a touch of vulnerability – which then sounds in my head as I read his writing. He is one of the few writers who can bring on serious LOLs. So a warning to those who enjoy their literature whilst commuting: shrieking with amusement is not uncommon when this book is in hand.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _24 Ian Cheng, artist
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
“This book is controversial in detail, mind-blowing in spirit. Jaynes speculates that ancient humans were not conscious, and so unable to conceptualise a self and to imagine possible narratives for their selves in moments of stress. Instead, they hallucinated right-brain authority voices that animated their bodies like schizophrenics.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _25Paul Pieroni, curator
I Ching
“Everything’s peachy. That selfish fucker. You’re dying. Read this book, whatever. My copy lives bedside, three big-ass Swiss coins closed in its pages.”
 Tank _summer 16_readinglist _28Owen Hatherley, writer

For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian
“This novel takes the form of a sporadic diary by a Jewish-Romanian student, then architect, from the 1920s to the 1930s. Painfully honest and committed to arguing with his anti-Semitic fellow academics and architects, the impeccably liberal protagonist encounters casual violence, committed communists and Zionists, and mostly, relentless and poisonous racism.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _31Ariane Labed, actor
Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes
This prize-winning novel by sex-worker-turned-novelist and filmmaker Virginie Despentes recounts the eviction of a record-store worker – another profession that Despentes herself tried.

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _26Sophia Al Maria, artist and writer
Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer
“This book is a beacon of printed words in the gloaming. It stares down into the open maw of something massive, something that I sense but cannot see about living as a human right now. Boyer’s words are warm to the touch and the whole book ripples with sensitive hypertexts, peripheral references and relatable experience.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _29
Ran Huang, artist
Things: A Story of the Sixties by Georges Perec
“The characters in the novel are absent. The story is constructed by an elaboration of things that they own or desire. It is a kind of promising happiness, a price that one has to pay for in order to fit into society.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _32Margaret Howell, fashion designer
How to Climb Mont Blanc in a Skirt by Mick Conefrey
“Whatever kind of holiday you’re having, I’m sure you’ll be amused and impressed by the journeys in this book. True accounts of extraordinary, strong-minded, often eccentric women making their own adventures.” 

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _27Miranda July, director, artist and writer
Kuntalini by Tamara Faith Berger
“I bought this book hoping for good masturbation material, but honestly my mind was too blown to even move my hand. Published by the artist Paul Chan’s Badlands imprint, it is part of a beautifully designed series of erotic books.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _30
Hito Steyerl, artist
Machine Dreams by Philip Mirowski
“It’s about the world’s operating systems. Required reading.”

Tank _summer 16_readinglist _33Iain Canning, film producer
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
“I was given this book by artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. As two essays, it is not something that is screen adaptable so there was a joy in knowing I could fall in love with the writing without the crushing feeling of not being able to turn it into a film.”