“I hope that you are safe and well. I have a favour to ask. Holed-up out here in the middle of nowhere, and having never been any good at navigating Netflix, I’ve started to run out of things to watch. I’ve been asking a few people for recommendations, and I was wondering if you might have any? Perhaps also a book? There`s only so many times you can re-read Stone Junction, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, and Fear And Loathing….”
The initial plan was to just send this email to a few DJ mates, and hopefully put a couple of short lists together. But once I started working through my inbox, it expanded into something else. Anyone who “corresponds” with me, will tell you that I’m pretty shit with email. Replies are always forthcoming, but often you might have to wait a while. Having not cleared that box for about 18 months there were all these people in there who I`d engaged with over music, and I did – having suffered a few moments of loneliness lately (who hasn’t?) – feel blessed to be in touch with such a wide range of people from all around the globe. All of them experts in their chosen “field”. And then I thought that if I contacted everybody, and posted all of their answers, then these lists might serve to demonstrate how the world we live in – one of niche musical scenes – overlaps. That how – no matter if your expertise is in ambient, dub, disco, house, avant-garde noise, or dance floor bangers – we are a pretty close knit community. The overwhelming response I received proves this…It also gave me an excuse to check that everyone was OK.
Sharon Andrews (Shine PR, UK)
Haha. Well you catch me reading Ray Bradbury`s Fahrenheit 451. A dystopian novel by an American writer first published in 1953. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found.
Mark Barrott (International Feel, Ibiza, Spain)
The current situation made me realize that I’ve been self isolating for years. There are few books, and audio books, here. And yeah I read a lot!
James Clavell – Shogun, Taipan, Nobel House
Robert Moriaty – Nobody Knows Anything
Charles Mackay – Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds
Abir Mukherjee – all his books
Chris Heath – Pet Shop Boys Literally / Pet Shop Boys vs America
Shaun Bythell – Diary Of A Bookseller
Robert Harris – Second Sleep
Mixerman – The Daily Adventures Of Mixerman
Keigo Higashino – Malice
Jane Harper – The Lost Man
Jake Adelstein – Tokyo Vice
Graham Greene – Our Man in Havana
Giles Milton – Samurai William
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
Alec Le Sueur – The Hotel On The Roof Of The World
Basso (The Growing Bin, Germany)
Neal Stephenson – Amalthea
Rob Butler (Be With Records, UK)
I’m currently reading A Gentleman In Moscow (Amor Towles). I also just finished the latest Pelecanos (The Man Who Came Uptown) which was a real return to form. My reading has fallen off a cliff since having kids in the last 4 years though. So I’m nowhere near as voracious as I’d like to be. I’m sure you can sympathize! (I can indeed…)
Chris Coco (Melodica, UK)
Patti Smith – Just Kids
Obvious, maybe, but such a treat being thrown into New York in those heady, dangerous crazy days, when she first arrived in the city and fell in love with Robert Mapplethorpe.
Miles Copeland (Wonderfulsound, UK)
Fiction never really sits with me …. so one story that leaves me speechless is the book by Hannah Rothschild, The Baroness. The rebellious Rothschild – who seemed to bankroll jazz. That’s not a bad way to spend your money! Currently I’m reading SOHO – The Heart of Bohemian London by Peter Speiser. The history of somewhere I can call home!
Deep88 (12Records, Germany)
Maybe 1984 (George Orwell) and Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) due to our current situation?
Max Essa (Jansen Jardin, Japan)
George Saunders – Lincoln In The Bardo
Marco Gallerani (Hell Yeah!, Italy)
Book-wise, I got again into Norwegian Blues by Levi Henriksen… it’s the story of an A&R, record business man, disillusioned by the current market and its commercial rules. After night out drinking, he finds himself hungover and in a church where he falls in love with the voices of a gospel trio aged between 70 and 80 years old…. Funny and pure.
These days there’s also a lot of time for cooking… and The Cook Book Of St. John (Fergus Henderson & Trevor Gulliver) is great for some “not Italian / Japanese” ideas. It`s the only cookbook I own.
Something else, which has really cheered me up, and inspired me, is going through my collection of English 90s /early 2000s music mags, especially Jockey Slut. I found one with a young Phil Mison, his milkman days, and even one from 96, that I had signed by Weatherall.
Chris Galloway (Kinfolk, UK)
Books are a real problem for me time-wise, but I am making a big effort to read more. Here are a few things that I’ve either bought, or been given, recently, and that I WILL finish before 2021!
The Beastie Boys Book
Prince – The Beautiful Ones
Knut Hamsun – Hunger
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
James Ellroy – The Big Nowhere
Barry Hines – A Kestrel For Knave
Jolyon Green (Lowlife, UK)
The Kenneth Williams Diaries. Easily the funniest and bitchiest diaries ever written but also full of pathos and a fascinating window into the closeted world of gay life in the 1960s.
Kevin Griffiths (Isle Of Jura, Australia)
I’ve always been a huge fan of dystopian / apocalyptic books and movies so my recommendation is Station Eleven By Emily St John Mandel. A really well written book, not your typical end of the world story – though it is based on a pandemic – touching upon love, loss and respecting humanity.
Brandon Hocura (Seance Centre, Canada)
I just read Amina Cain‘s Indelicacy which was re-read-right-away incredible. Also, recently read Rachel Cusk‘s trilogy (Outline, Transit, and Kudos) which I loved, and lived up to the hype. I re-read Mary Robinson‘s Why Did I Ever, which I think is one of the most underrated novels of the last 20 years. Oh, and the new Ben Lerner, Topeka School, is great, but I think I still prefer his first two. I’m halfway through Wayne Koestenbaum‘s My 1980’s collection of essays which is every bit as good as I expected. Also have you read David Keenan‘s This Is Memorial Device? It captures being a music obsessed teenager in a small town. It felt so familiar, even though it’s set in Scotland.
Sean Johnston (A Love From Outer Space, UK)
Fiction: William Gibson – The Peripheral
An absolutely barnstorming return to form by Gibson, author of the most mind-blowing sci-fi of my youth. It makes your brain hurt, but well worth persevering with!
Non-fiction: Peter Hopkirk – The Great Game: On Secret Service In High Asia.
The story of the 100 year cold war between the British Empire and the Russian Empire, fought by stealth in the passes and mountains of the Himalaya.
Quinn Luke Lamont (El Triangulo, Mexico)
I’m in Mexico now, and only have a few books with me so I’m trying to remember what I’ve been reading or what’s on my shelf. Over the last couple years I’ve been reading a lot of course material for some training I’ve been doing in somatic studies and mediation, so I haven’t been ripping through regular books as much.
Bessel van der Kolk – The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
You don’t have to have experienced extreme trauma – I haven’t – to appreciated this book. It`s a fascinating explanation of how we hold stress and trauma – even micro traumas – in our body, and how they can be released.
Lynne McTaggart – The Field
Scientific – or pseudoscience some may say – research on energetics between humans.
R. Buckminster Fuller – Critical Path
A hero of mine. Epic.
Yvon Chouinard – Let My People Go Surfing
A great autobiography by the man behind Patagonia. Super inspiring. Not the most well written book but enjoyable none the less.
Adrian Luvdup (Eclectic Circus, UK)
Hmmmmm…. Taste is incredibly subjective but here goes. The last book I read was one I`d read already a few years back but found really fascinating. It’s by John Higgs and is called Stranger Than we Can Imagine.
Man Power (Me Me Me, UK)
Books wise, I’ve been working my way back through Kurt Vonnegut‘s entire catalogue. The last one I read is one of the best he’s written I think. It`s called Breakfast of Champions, and it eerily chimes with the modern fear of whether we’re all living in a simulation. I also did have me questioning if I’d gone insane at several points too. As disconcerting as that is, it`s also an incredibly impressive achievement for a book.
Manu (Archeo Recordings, Italy)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I read this book for the first time in 2014, during a big change of my life – it was also the year in which I finally started my current journey with my label Archeo Recordings. I have read it again these days and it has given me other keys and a new awareness and great peace, in this uncertain situation we are all living. The book, the story, describes how everyone has their own “personal legend” – what you have always wanted to accomplish. The story is built on the idea that when you really want something to happen, the whole Universe will conspire so that your wish comes true! Wow! I think that’s a great and positive message.
Phil Mison (Cantoma, Highwood Recordings, UK)
Honore de Balzac – The Black Sheep
Moonboots (Aficionado, UK)
I recently watched – and loved – Robert Eggers’ latest film, The Lighthouse. It’s made me dig out a book that’s been sat on my shelf – unread – for two decades. I’m now having a crack at Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick. It’s great so far.
Paul Murphy (Claremont 56, Leng, UK)
I found this an incredible read: Alistair Urquhart`s The Forgotten Highlander. An unbelievable tale of survival. Another good survival book if you like that sort of thing is Jonathan Franklin`s 438 Days. Completely different, there`s Blue Dog by Louis de Bernieres. It`s a kids book but “adult friendly”. I’ve also just started Jeanine Cummins` American Dirt.
Jonny Nash (Melody As Truth, UK)
Books, I can give you a load! Do you know Clarice Lispector? If not you are in for a treat. Insane mystical seer, her stuff is next level. The Passion According To G.H. is the most mindblowing book I’ve read in a while. Jose Saramango`s Blindness is good but a bit much in these times, too close to the bone! Also Javier Marias` A Heart So White is a fantastic book on family, marriage love and loss. I HIGHLY recommend this. I named our new album after it as it influenced my brain so much during the recording process.
Martyn Pepperell (Bandcamp, Dazed, Norient, Test Pressing, New Zealand)
Ambient Parking Lot, by Pamela Lu. As with records, I’m a big fan of judging a book by its cover, and the first time I saw a copy of Pamela Lu’s Ambient Parking Lot (2011), just I knew it was going to be worth reading. Lu is a San Francisco-based technical writer who occasionally steps sideways to put together the odd piece of prose and poetry. This puts her inside a similar realm to that of New York’s speculative fiction master Ted Chiang, also a technical writer. Ambient Parking Lot is Pamela’s second book, and get this; it’s the story of a band of noise musicians – The Ambient Parkers and their melancholy, wandering journey through the city and suburbia in the years following 9/11 in pursuit of the ultimate ambient noise, and the lofty artistic legacy it might secure for them in an era of paradises lost.
Salvatore Principato (Liquid Liquid, USA)
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Quatro Mundo (Portugal)
James: I recently read Samuel Beckett‘s Trilogy (Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable). An incredible journey into the self and death.
Mark Reid (Touch Sensitive, N. Ireland)
I’ve just finished Ian Maleney’s debut Minor Monuments after a couple of months of dipping in and out. It’s a really affecting piece of work that focuses on his grandfather’s last few years living with Alzheimers but framing this within thoughts on identity, family, home, music and listening. Felt appropriate finishing it during a quite reflective time in general.
Laurent Richard (Idle Press, France)
Last book I read was Le Livret Du Pupille Jean Genet by Josef Winkler (Flowers For Jean Genet, in English).
Ruf Dug (Ruf Cutz, UK)
We’re 2 weeks deep in lockdown now, and we’ve all had symptoms of the bug – which have thankfully passed – so now settling into a routine of sorts. Basically lots of exercise and also LOTS of Sonic The Hedgehog – thanks to my four year old, honest…but here’s a non-sonic book, The World Of Edena by Moebius. It’s a comic. It’s French. It’s some of the greatest most expansive science fiction ever accompanied by the most beautiful artwork and it’s full of SPACE, something we all need. Proper golden age tackle. Also it’s a reprint – the originals are worth a fortune these days – so if you’re a true balearic nause you can bang on for ages about authenticity and how u were into it back in the day while nobody listens to you.
Mikey Sibson (45 Turns, Elevator East, UK)
Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márques. I`d actually been meaning to read this for ages and am finally getting round to it now. Charming, absurd, devilishly funny, painfully awkward and, very good at bringing the vast scope of time into focus – something which we need to be doing now more than ever.
Mark Seven (Parkway Records, Sweden)
Books? I’m not so up to date but I can pass on some solid recommendations from a good friend of mine – they’ve all been top notch! So anything by Patrick DeWitt, Ian McGuire‘s The NorthWater and Jenni Fagan`s The Panopticon. All gritty, but killers.
Timm Sure (Is It Balearic?, UK)
Wild Thyme In Ibiza by Stewart Andersen is a great read. I’m also a fan of James Lee Burke. There’s a series of books going back decades about an alcoholic detective, Dave Robicheaux, based in Louisiana.
Kay Suzuki (Time Capsule, UK)
I’m a huge Haruki Murakami fan, have been ever since I was teenager. I’ve read most of his books more than twice, even some in English. I’m also a fan of musician’s auto-biographies. Miles Davis` one is the bible for any artist who feels they are born to express themselves musically. Quincy Jones` one is another bible for anyone in the music industry. Herbie Hancock‘s Possibilities is highly recommended for all human beings as to how to live your life full of positive attitude.
Steve Terry (Wildlife Archive, Germany)
I literally just finished reading Generation X by Douglas Coupland, so let’s go with that. It`s a book I`ve read a few times over the years. Andy, Dag and Claire have been handed a society priced beyond their means. Twentysomethings, brought up with divorce, Watergate and Three Mile Island, and scarred by the 80s fall-out of yuppies, recession, crack and Ronald Reagan, they represent the new generation – Generation X. Fiercely suspicious of being lumped together as an advertiser’s target market, they have quit dreary careers and cut themselves adrift in the California desert. Unsure of their futures, they immerse themselves in a regime of heavy drinking and working at no-future McJobs in the service industry. Underemployed, overeducated, intensely private and unpredictable, they have nowhere to direct their anger, no one to assuage their fears, and no culture to replace their anomie. So they tell stories; disturbingly funny tales that reveal their barricaded inner world. A world populated with dead TV shows, ‘Elvis moments’ and semi-disposable Swedish furniture…
I`ve now just started reading Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon – founding member of Sonic Youth, fashion icon, and role model for a generation of women. This is her story, a memoir, and as one of the first women of rock and roll, it`s written with the lyricism and haunting beauty of Patti Smith’s Just Kids. Often described as aloof, Kim Gordon opens up in Girl in a Band. Telling the story of her family, growing up in California in the ’60s and ’70s, her life in visual art, her move to New York City, the men in her life, her marriage, her relationship with her daughter, her music, and her band. Gordon takes us back to the lost New York of the 1980s and ’90s that gave rise to Sonic Youth, and the Alternative revolution in popular music. But at its core, Girl in a Band examines the route from girl to woman in uncharted territory, music, art career, what partnership means—and what happens when that identity dissolves.
Jon Tye (Seahawks, UK)
Erik Davis` High Weirdness . I read this over Christmas and New Year…It`s an incredibly deep voyage into the minds of 3 of the most fascinating writers and thinkers of the last 100 years – beautifully structured and truly mind blowing. Before this I read Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Maurice Buck, and afterwards Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson. An almighty trilogy indeed.
Cedric Woo (Beauty & The Beat, UK)
I’m currently reading loads of essays about Caribbean music, creolité and anti colonialism, such as Frantz Fanon`s The Wretched of the Earth. Silvia and I have also started to read poems to each other every day, picking from the collection Poems of Fernando Pessoa, and Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs Du Mal. Never been a better time for that.
A Life by Elia Kazan
Bass Culture by Lloyd Bradley
Christian Zingales (Blow Up!, Italy)
Books, I’d say classic comics, something like Lee Falk & Phil Davis’ Mandrake.
Dr Rob (Ban Ban Ton Ton, Japan)
I’ve spent the last 12 months trying to write a comprehensive history of “the balearic beat” and so to be honest everything I’ve read recently has been relevant to that. But before I got lost on the time-line of “the genre that cannot be defined” I moved between the following…
David Keenan`s This Is Memorial Device – very much the book I`d like to write. Marlon James` A Brief History Of Seven Killings – an incredibly researched weave of fact and fiction. Matthew Syed`s Black Box Thinking – helping me to learn from my mistakes, and make marginal gains. Junot Diaz` This Is How You Lose Her. Diaz` debut Drown is a benchmark / touchstone for me that I never tire of re-reading. The prose is so fucking sharp. And then there’s Jean Giono`s The Man Who Planted Trees, which I received as a gift as I left for Japan. A fable that perhaps everyone should read and pass on.
A huge thank you to everyone who took part and offered suggestions. There are films, documentaries, and more books to come. Stay safe.