Just Kids by Patti Smith. It's been widely praised and well lauded, and all for good reason. Smith's memoir captures a long gone time when she and Robert Mapplethorpe were young, poor and unknown, barely surviving in New York City and dreaming of better things. A personal and evocative look inside the private world of two unique young people who became stars.
The Bog People by P. V. Glob. A compulsively readable introductory archaeology course, taught by an eccentric and enthusiastic professor, about the ancient bodies discovered in Denmark’s peat bogs. Though the book is replete with archeological details, it is also rich with Iron Age poetry, mythology and truly amazing photographs.
Oranges & Peanuts for Sale Eliot Weinberger. An embarrassment of riches from a contemporary thinker and man of letters. In a few dozen essays, Weinberger offers a reassessment of E. B. White’s Here is New York, a manifesto for rudderless poets, a poetic assesment of Barack Obama's language and his election campaign, and a lush collage of impressions gathered during a trip on the Yangtze River. Like the State of the Union address delivered by a Confucian sage.
Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus by Aaron Cometbus. Cometbus is a legendary zine, self-published irregularly for more than 20 years from locations around the world. This is an extensive retrospective collection, weighing in at more than 600 pages, featuring comics, interviews, low-budget trips through Europe, stories of hitchhiking, reviews of coffee, cereal, bookstores, and lots of punk rock adventures. Cometbus remains a testament to what can be done when an artist rigorously applies DIY punk ethics to his own life. Entertaining and inspiring.
The Photographer by Didier Lefèvre and Emmanuel Guibert. A beautiful and terrible book, part photojournalism and part graphic memoir, telling the true story of a group of French doctors and nurses who traveled into northern Afghanistan by horse and donkey train in 1986 at the height of the Soviet occupation. Using small sequential frames of photographs combined with drawings, the book details the damage done by war and the frantic struggle to mend the broken. It's a powerful and arduous story, with the misery of war presented so powerfully that it's impossible to look away.