The top ten books on my shelves
Back in early 2012, I challenged both myself and my friend, Jason Dewinetz of the Greenboathouse Press in Canada, to that most difficult of tasks: choosing the top ten fine press books in our personal libraries. Dewinetz’s response was that we should not only come up with our chosen titles, but write a little on each of them, detailing what makes them special enough to make the cut.
As I started collecting at a relatively young age, and remain reasonably fresh-faced (I was ‘only’ 38 at the time of the challenge!), I wonder whether it might make for an interesting insight into my tastes and what shapes them. Will they be any different to those of the typically older generation that form the main core of those actively interested and passionate about such things?
There are several areas in the fine press world that interest me, but the running theme behind my collection is that of the book as a beautiful object by force of its sum parts; the text matter, design, typefaces, papers, illustrations, presswork and binding. I see fine printing as an art form and view many of the items I own as pieces of art as well as being finely printed books. If, by its visual and tactile nature, a book brings me joy, then it’s the kind of item I’ll want on my shelves.
To list my ten books in order of preference would be far too difficult; it was hard enough picking ten favourites. Instead, my selection is presented in the approximate order of their acquisition, with the earliest first. It’s inevitable that some of them will change over time, but I think a good few will always remain.
Being a personal list, and clearly subjective, other like-minded aficionados will no doubt disagree with my selection. But to me that is part of what doing such things is about: to offer one’s choices for others to consider and debate – perhaps leading them to consider their own ‘top ten’.
Click on any of the titles below to read further on that book.
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