Can you make it to the Akron Art Museum’s next book club meeting? We’ll be chatting about Just My Type on Thursday, August 28 at 6 pm and exploring the exhibition Language in Art.
Even if you like to read solo and are just looking for a good summer read here are some artistically inspired titles that should keep you busy as you soak up the sunshine.
Just My Type by Simon Garfield
Just My Type is a book of stories about fonts. It examines how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. It explains why we are still influenced by type choices made more than 500 years ago, and why the T in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters. It profiles the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, as well as people like Neville Brody who threw out the rulebook. The book is about that pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers, and typefaces became something we realized we all have an opinion about. And beyond all this, the book reveals what may be the very best and worst fonts in the world – and what your choice of font says about you.
Just My Type is available at the Akron Art Museum Shop for $16.
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
This book, which topped several top ten lists for 2013, delves deep into the world of Italian motorcycles, earth art and the New York art scene of the late seventies. “The two things I loved were drawing and speed,” says Reno, the protagonist and narrator of most of the novel. The book follows Reno and her minimalist art making boyfriend, Valero, around the globe. It’s well written, but slow going- recommended to those looking for an arty read.
The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt by David Giffels
You’re probably wondering why this book is on a list that seems to be limited to art-centric books. This title tops our summer reading list because the finally crafted essay “The Chosen Ones” discusses Lee Friedlander’s Factory Valley’s, a body of work commissioned by the Akron Art Museum. You can explore the Friedlander photographs on the museum’s collection website, which really complements essay. http://akronartmuseum.org/collection
Speaking of literary Akron Art Museum references, The Coast of Akron by Adrienne Miller is the story of an Akron based artist-couple and their family. Miller actually interned at the museum in college and named one of the book’s characters Meatyard after the artist Ralph Meatyard who had a landmark photography exhibition at the museum.
The Hard Way on Purpose is available in the Akron Art Museum Shop for $15.
The Art of Secrets by James Klise
Who doesn’t love to escape into a good young adult novel, especially those that get beyond the world of vampires and dystopian futures? Here’s one for the young person in your life or just the young at heart.
When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her Chicago high school rallies around her. Her family moves rent-free into a luxury apartment, Saba’s Facebook page explodes, and she starts (secretly) dating a popular boy. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba’s life turns upside down again. Should Saba’s family have all that money? Or should it go to the students who found the art? Or to the school? And just what caused that fire? Greed, jealousy and suspicion create an increasingly tangled web as students and teachers alike debate who should get the money and begin to point fingers and make accusations. The true story of the fire that sets events in motion and what happens afterward gradually comes together in an innovative narrative made up of journal entries, interviews, articles, letters, text messages, and other documents.
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
The Blazing World tells the provocative story of the artist Harriet Burden. After years of watching her work ignored or dismissed by critics, Burden conducts an experiment she calls Maskings: she presents her own art behind three male masks, concealing her female identity. The three solo shows are successful, but when Burden finally steps forward triumphantly to reveal herself as the artist behind the exhibitions, there are critics who doubt her. The public scandal turns on the final exhibition, initially shown as the work of acclaimed artist Rune, who denies Burden’s role in its creation. What no one doubts, however, is that the two artists were intensely involved with each other. As Burden’s journals reveal, she and Rune found themselves locked in a charged and dangerous game that ended with the man’s bizarre death.
Ingeniously presented as a collection of texts compiled after Burden’s death, The Blazing World unfolds from multiple perspectives. The exuberant Burden speaks—in all her joy and fury—through extracts from her own notebooks, while critics, fans, family members, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of who she was, and where the truth lies.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This massive and sometimes heartbreakingly sad and addictive book is worth delving into even though it clocks in at a massive 775 pages. This book examines the power of art as it follows Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, who miraculously survives a terrorist bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver
In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of the road in central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting migrant laborers in search of work. Few personal details are exchanged and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced one of the most iconic images of the Great Depression. In present day, Walker Dodge, a professor of cultural history, stumbles upon a family secret embedded in the now-famous picture. In luminous prose, Silver creates an extraordinary tale from a brief event in history and its repercussions throughout the decades that follow—a reminder that a great photograph captures the essence of a moment yet only scratches the surface of a life.
The Painter by Peter Heller
Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.
Check out past Akron Art Museum book club reads at http://akronartmuseum.org/bookclub/.