What I’m Reading

1. January 2021

I do always enjoy lists of the books people recently read and usually discover one or more interesting titles that I’d like to read myself. Maybe you will too? This is an ongoing list of what I read (and liked) in 2021 so far: Last updated 11.02.21

Recaps This year I intend to write a short summary of everything I read, to improve my recollection of it.

Recaps — January

apartamento: an everyday life interiors magazine — issue #25 (Spring/Summer 2020)

apartamento is an interiors magazine focused on depicting the homes of interesting people as they actually are, rather than the clean, impersonal pictures we are used to seeing on design blogs, Pinterest and Instagram.

My favorite interviews in this issue were with Carlos Matos and Lucas Cantú, founders of Mexican art and architecture studio “Tezontle”, artist and sculptor Thaddeus Mosley and Gabrio Bini, pioneer of natural wine.

Recaps — February

Jane Jacobs — The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Jane Jacob’s 1961 classic “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” is a heartfelt, but outstandingly rational defense of cities — written by someone who sincerely loves them — against megalomaniac designers clinging to utopian visions of cities that are aesthetically clean, yet bear no resemblance to what actually makes cities attractive in real life. She urges the urban planners of her time to acknowledge cities as complex systems and abuses them of the notion that their simplistic, patronizing schemes have any chance at improving urban life.

I wrote down some further notes on the book in a separate post and added some quotes from Jacob’s book to my Notes on Complexity.

Pop: Kultur und Kritik Heft 17 (Herbst 2020)

Pop: Kultur und Kritik” is one of my favorite magazines. It is published twice a year and unfortunately is German-language only. It is a cultural studies journal, publishing shorter comments, reflections, and analyses, along with a few longer essays, on current matters of popular culture. I enjoy it, because it is a very serious and academic look at topics that are not often treated with such intellectual rigor, such as TikTok, the latest TV shows, Instagram trends, and emerging micro-genres of music.

I was a bit behind reading this issue — it was published in October 2020, all texts were written in May and July 2020. In this issue my favorite notes and essays were Thomas Reinhardt’s “Max Weber und der Thermomix”, about the relationship between step-by-step fail-safe cooking instructions and protestant work ethics; Wolfgang Ullrich’s “Kunst für alle – die Vermittlerrolle des Museums” about the conflicting and ever-shifting role of art museums as a mediator (of what to whom?); and Thomas Hecken’s “Pandemie und Exekutive im Fernsehen”, where the author recaps the coverage on Covid-19 in German talk shows throughout the first half of 2020 (based on notes taken through the months). Having read about Covid-19 everywhere for about a year now I expected to be bored by this last essay, but instead, it was rather interesting to reflect and think back on how this pandemic unfolded because it seems so ubiquitous and self-evident now.

Recaps — April

032c #38 (Winter 2020/2021)

032c is a contemporary culture magazine that covers art, fashion, and politics. Even though I’d heard a lot about it, this was the first issue of the magazine I read. It was a good one to start, because it’s the 20-year-anniversary issue, with an interesting recap of the magazines history, written by New Models, my favorite aggregator and one of my favorite podcasts.

My other favorite articles in the issue were an interview with David Hockney about the amount of cigarettes he smokes (a lot), how much his artworks are worth and how little he cares; and an interview with Urs Kienberger, hotelier of “Waldhaus Sils”, a family-owned Swiss hotel, which is famous for having counted Theodor Adorno, Albert Einstein, Joseph Beuys, Max Liebermann, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Gerhard Richter, and other famous artists and writers amongst its regulars.

Currently Reading: Ernst H. Gombrich — The Story of Art

Ernst H. Gombrich’s “The Story of Art”, first published in 1950, is the best-selling art book of all time. It is an approachable summary of art history from ancient Egypt to the modern period in 27 chapters.

I am currently reading my dad’s edition, which he studied thoroughly, with his highlights and notes (and corrections!) from 1982.