Travels with Herodotus
“In times of uncertainty or turbulence I like to read history because it helps me put things into perspective and remove the sense of urgency. Three books that I have reread recently are Ryszard Kapuściński’s Travel with Herodotus, Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes and Fruttero & Lucentini’s No Fixed Abode.
Travels with Herodotus is a double account of the Polish journalist’s travels from the 1950s onwards, and his reading of Herodotus travel accounts from the fifth century BC. It’s a great reminder of how much of the human experience is constant across the ages, and also a reminder of the wonder of discovering new landscapes and customs, something we are probably all dreaming about right now.
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes is exactly what its title announces it to be, a history of the Christian Crusades in the Middle East in the 11th to 13th centuries, told from the perspective of those invaded. A reminder that different participants will recount the same event differently, and that the story that’s told in history books in schools usually only takes one perspective.
No Fixed Abode is hard to find in English, but if you can read it in its original Italian (L’Amante senza fissa dimora) or the French translation you’re in for a treat to a suspense-mystery novel with a twist. Another mystery by the Italian duo that is more readily available in English is D. Case, a pastiche detective story of Charles Dicken’s last unfinished novel.”
President of Paris College of Art
“Richard Powers is one of my favourite authors whose books I can’t stop reading and I am always sad when I arrive at the end. In this last book The Overstory, through the destiny of very different characters, we follow their common fascination for nature and trees in particular. Through the eyes of children becoming scientists, artists, engaged ecologists, or simple citizens we follow their lives growing as the trees they describe and defend from the certain destruction pending in today’s ecological disaster. I never read anything like this before.
Killings Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
Another of my favorite authors. I finished the second volume during my trip to Japan this winter. In this novel we follow the story of a painter, separated from his wife, living isolated in the mountains in the house of a very famous Japanese traditional painter. The discovery of one of his paintings in the cellar titled the Killing of the Commendatore will obsess the narrator and release a parallel world, that will change his daily routine forever. For all the Murakami fans these 2 volumes are as fascinating as Kafka on the Beach or IQ84.”
Chair of BFA Fine Arts and MA/MFA Drawing
If on a winter's night, a traveler
This postmodern fiction is truly a one-of-a-kind experiment in postmodern literature. Much of the book is written in second-person, meaning you, the reader, are the protagonist – and your goal is to try to read the book ‘If on a winter’s night, a traveler’.
The way Calvino is able to make this zany and meta premise leap from the pages and extend to your own life is nothing short of fascinating. It’s an amazing feat to pull off in literature and I can’t say I can think of a book that reconfigures itself from page to page this successfully.
BFA Film Art student
Marguerite Duras’ fiction L’Amant is a powerful (autobiographical) memoir about age, sexuality, circumstances and complex emotions. I love her style, and that the book takes you into the protagonist’s unique story but also keeps you in the realm of universal questions / experiences.
Another fiction I recommend is Kobo Abe’s The Boxman. I liked the magically real, Kafka-ish absurdity. There is an extended metaphor for photographic practices through the entire book and I enjoyed thinking about that.
Alumni Ambassador (BFA Photography Class of ’13)
"Rules of Civility" and "A Gentleman in Moscow"
Amor Towles is an amazing writer who is capable of evoking a time period with amazing detail.
Rules of Civility feels like it could have been written by Fitzgerald and A Gentleman in Moscow, which tells the story of a man in confinement at the Hotel Metropol, is a perfect read for the time we are currently living.
Executive Director of Admissions & Communications
I would suggest reading this on a chilly autumn day, but there’s really never a bad time for a good horror story. A more unsettling, re-imagined tale of Hansel & Gretel, but with more savagery, semi-cannibalism, and grotesque imagery. It’s a short read, but it sticks.
BFA Communication Design student