Our Favourite Books For World Book Day
To celebrate World Book Day today we’ve asked some of our Independent Oxford members to share a favourite book, or a book that has stayed with them, to make our very own Indie Oxford reading list! >>
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Charis Sharpe General Manager at Turl Street Kitchen
“To you perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…”
I’ve lost count of how many times I have reread Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. A modern twist in the story of Dracula; spanning four decades, America, Turkey, England, Romania & Bulgaria and weaving in old European folk songs and myths, every time I read it I’m just as drawn in as I was the first time. For me The Historian is a modern classic in it’s own right.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Rosie Jacobs Owner of A Rosie Life & Co-Founder of Independent Oxford
Choosing just one book for this blog was a challenge, but The Lacuna is a book that I read some years ago, and it has stayed with me. Kingsolver’s talent for painting vivid pictures of nature and art interwoven with a rich pallet of characters, both real and fictional, make the heavy subject matter of the book universal and tangible.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Anna Munday, Co-Founder of Independent Oxford
I’ve been an avid reader ever since I was little, reading more books than I can count but this recent one really stood out to me, and I’ve recommended it to so many, including Rosie. I love the fact that it is a Russian children’s fairytale told for adults. It feels so indulgent and comforting reading it and you just want to keep turning the page.
Make Your Own Luck by Kate Moross
Rianna Low Owner of Jam Puppy Design Studio & Designer and Marketing Coordinator at Independent Oxford
Kate Moross is one of my favourite designers, but this book is so much more than just a beautiful portfolio! Make Your Own Luck is full of advice, from developing your own style, to self-promotion and collaboration. I often re read parts when I’m looking for a bit of a boost or direction career wise! Plus, it’s super hard not to feel motivated when you look at her amazing career!
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
Harriet McAtee CEO of Yoga Quota
This was very evocative and moody — I liked the main character a lot, and the examining of her relationships was interesting and nuanced. I quite like books that are just told over the course of one day, or one evening, and I enjoy those feelings of time being stretched and diverted.
The Sacred Art Of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyre
Michael Jelley Co-Owner of Grape Minds
I’m a voracious re-reader, and to not mention Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Wodehouse and Dumas feels a bit like cheating on them given how many of my formative hours were spent in their company. But if I only got one go, my favourite book at the moment is The Sacred Art of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyre. It’s a funny, brutal crime thriller set in Glasgow with a page-turning, cinematic plot, glorious language and, woven through the grime and darkness, the most evocative description of falling desperately in love that I’ve ever read.
South From Granada by Gerald Brenan
Hugo Thurston Co-Owner of Hamblin Bread
South from Granada is a description of seven years spent in a village in the Alpujarra mountains in Andalusia. The author, Gerald Brenan, moved there after serving in the first world war. I love this part of Spain and the book is magical. There is also an extraordinary chapter on what it was like to hang out with Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set.
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
Hazel Dexter Owner of Objects Of Use
Having read Moomins books with my children, I tried The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, which is a really beautiful, evocative book, and funny too. It leaves you with a lingering feeling of a special place – I still want to end up on a small island with a hut one day.
The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien
Steve Ash Owner of Warborough Honey
The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien could be described as a murder thriller, and a comic satire of a local Police Force. Even at its most chilling moments, the language has comic and human undertones, which at least partly inspired Father Ted, and other modern Irish humour. You learn about the main character and narrator both through a series of revelations, although these never include his name, and some very impressive footnotes which at times threaten to overtake the main narrative (they never do, they are part of the story). I really enjoyed reading it, many years ago, and still find it fresh and funny after many re-reads.
The Vintage Showroom by Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett
Robbie Haddock Owner of Oxford Alterations
The Vintage Showroom is the brainchild of Roy Luckett and Douglas Gunn. The company formed in 2007 to house an ever growing archive of vintage showroom and accessories collected by the co-founders. The Vintage Showroom has become one of the leading resources for vintage menswear globally with an extensive, curated archive which continues to develop and grow. (http://www.thevintageshowroom.com/bio/)
The book itself is a curated guide to some of the showrooms more interesting pieces, stylistically and historically – it’s packed with vintage garments from every era, gives you a short history, and then focuses on the fine details of each piece.
I find it endlessly inspirational and I’m often dreaming over my next make and which of the details to poach from the book.
Resoures such as the Vintage Showroom and their publications are increasingly valuable for developing your own stylistic handwriting as a designer and maker. ‘Desk research’ fed by online image sources such as Pinterest is a useful tool but it’s really nice to be able to pick up a tone, or travel to see a collection of inspiration garments.