What are the world’s most stylish people reading?

How To Spend It Aesthetes share the books they love

Jessica McCormack at home in Kensal Green
Jessica McCormack at home in Kensal Green | Image: Jooney Woodward

Jessica McCormack, jewellery designer

The Overstory by Richard Powers is a giant of a novel, essentially about man’s relationship with forests. Meditative escapism.”

The Overstory by Richard Powers, recommended by Jessica McCormack
The Overstory by Richard Powers, recommended by Jessica McCormack
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Kaffe Fassett, artist

Educated by Tara Westover is an extraordinary book. I read it because I am intrigued by Mormonism, but I wasn’t expecting the high drama, the opera. The relationships ­– with her abusive brother; her father, such a fascinating creature; and her mother – are so complex.” 

Kaffe Fassett at home in London
Kaffe Fassett at home in London | Image: Guen Fiore
Fassett enjoyed Educated by Tara Westover
Fassett enjoyed Educated by Tara Westover

Wes Gordon, creative director of Carolina Herrera

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is the story of four siblings who learn their fate from a fortune teller. Since they know the day they will die, each chooses to live a certain way. The one who is told he will die young acts recklessly, while the one who is told she’ll get to be very old lives timidly, raising the question of which is a fuller life.”

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann

Mary McCartney, photographer

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs is the story of American photographer Sally Mann. It’s beautifully written and very personal; you come away with a strong idea about who she is.”

Tim Little, shoe designer

“I recommend London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd. I’ve been in this city since 1985, and every little fact the author reveals is fascinating. When you read how six or seven hundred years ago it was all mud huts around here, it puts today’s political horror show into perspective.”

London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd
Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse by Andrea di Robilant
Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse by Andrea di Robilant

Mimi Thorisson, food writer

Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse by Andrea di Robilant is a good read for anyone interested in northern Italy, Hemingway or both. It’s an account of a period in Hemingway’s life when he rediscovered Italy and it set him on the path to writing The Old Man and the Sea.”

Anicka Yi in her New York apartment
Anicka Yi in her New York apartment | Image: Weston Wells
Yi was inspired by After Ethnos by Tobias Rees
Yi was inspired by After Ethnos by Tobias Rees

Anicka Yi, artist

“The best book I’ve read in the past year is After Ethnos by Tobias Rees. He’s mapped out the evolutionary transformation of humans and I think it’s an important book for the next stages of our species.”

Ramesh Nair at home in Paris
Ramesh Nair at home in Paris | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty
Nair recommends Living with Complexity by Donald A Norman
Nair recommends Living with Complexity by Donald A Norman

Ramesh Nair, artistic director of Moynat

“Reading Living with Complexity by Donald A Norman was a journey of discovery; it made me realise that complexity isn’t bad. It’s all about discerning between complexity and confusion and it speaks to me about my work: what I do is extremely simple but complicated to make.”

Pierre Yovanovitch, interior architect

“I loved H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. It’s the author’s story of losing her father and how, through her love of nature and animals, she copes with her grief and rage. This book raises a lot of questions about who we are, loss in general and why animals provide such comfort.”

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Lindsey Adelman, lighting designer

“The last book I read was The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. It’s rough, elegant and insightful all at the same time, and the language and the quality of every sentence are masterful. I think she’s one of the best living writers.”

Christine Nagel at home in Paris
Christine Nagel at home in Paris | Image: Emmanuel Fradin
Nagel enjoyed The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas by Martha Zamora
Nagel enjoyed The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas by Martha Zamora

Christine Nagel, head perfumer at Hermès

“The book I would recommend to a friend is The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas by Martha Zamora. It’s the first collection of the artist’s correspondence. I was touched by her vivid writing – letters to friends, family and, of course, her partner Diego Rivera. She was passionate and funny.”

The Seven Valleys by Bahá’u’lláh
The Seven Valleys by Bahá’u’lláh
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Ini Archibong, furniture designer

“One of the best books I’ve read is The Seven Valleys by Bahá’u’lláh. I spend an hour reading spiritual texts every morning as preparation for the day ahead, and I found this allegorical description of the soul’s journey to transcendence in the form of a Sufi poem incredibly powerful.”

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