Every year I make a recap of the books I read through the year next to some thoughts after finishing them. Here is the list of books from 2022.
Going through the books I read during the year is a personal way to make a journey through projects but specially through key learnings and growing. This year was a peculiar one since it went from learning more about the 70s decade in Fashion, which was with no doubt a great momentum, to books that guided me through a personal growth when very much needed. Also, something interesting from this year is that I read less books than past years; I can defend myself saying that I read many more academic articles and magazines this year, which is true, but still the list has to be limited to 10 books this time. So, here there are the 10 books I read on 2022.
1. "The End of Science: facing the limits of knowledge in the twilight of the scientific age" by John Horgan
My favourite one of the year, as simply as that. As part of this fatalist knowledge bague where a series of books killed art, fashion, history, and many other practices, this book is a deep critique to s
cience and specially scientists. For me was an opening reading to understand science in a different way. Coming from a positivist background of education, this was a pleasure to read since it made me debate many stablished ideas of science in biology, metaphysics, among other science studies; also, to debate some ideas that I already had about the 'natural' world and overall knowledge; and finally it gave a new perspective for a paradigm of what is coming. Since there is nothing relevant to come in science what comes next? I find this question an interesting be
ginning for the next decades.
I am a very conceptual, logical and natural science based mind in many ways, evidently this kind of books are treats for my mind.
2. "Jacques de Bascher - Dandy de l'ombre" by Marie Ottavi
We can criticise in many ways Jacques de Bascher lifestyle, however for me it has been always interesting how he was the true last bonvivant of our years. The way of living just through living and because of living with no more other achievement or purpose is perhaps an objectionable way of living, but it cannot be denied his impact in fashion from his fashion films, to his love stories with the Saint Laurent and of course Lagerfeld, and by simply being a total outrageous soul beautifully dressed.
This book is a personal biography of Jacques de Bascher from his very young years scandalising the navy to his dramatic death as a consequence of a clear hedonistic life.
3. "The Beautiful Fall - Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris" by Alicia Drake
What a book! An amazing descriptive book about one of the most iconic decades in Fashion. A very close biography of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld through the voices and memories of those close to them during these years, being Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld's perspective the only ones missing. A very well-enjoyed discovery of the love story between Lagerfeld and Jacques de Bascher, and their relationship with the famous Cafe de Flore; the rise and fall of the golden years of YSL and his addiction to drugs; the music, the art, the the people who made this decade unique... in a few words, a most read for those who want to enjoy a bit of History of Fashion in a bombastic way.
4. "Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano" by Thomas Dana
I have to be honest, I did not enjoyed this book. I read it because I enjoyed so much reading 'The Beautiful Fall' that I was expecting a kind of second part of that experience but now with the stories of McQueen and Galliano. But I did not have that, it is a mild experience of this other first book I read. I did not felt the personal connection with the designers stories while reading and did not felt an immersive experience of the decade I was reading about. As a big admirer of McQueen's career, the best recommendation is to better watch any of the documentaries that have been recently launched about him; 'McQueen' the 2018 documentary is especially extraoridinary.
A big lesson from this book though, is that fashion is a momentum. It comes and quickly goes, and that window is the glory of it all.
5. The Letter of St. Louis IX to his son
Maybe not a proper book, but with no doubt an interesting reading. Legend has it that when Louis IX of France was dying after fighting in the Holyland, he wrote to his son this letters as a guide on how to be a good king. However, although it has good recommendations on ruling, it is more a spiritual guide. Beyond his Christian importance, I found Louis IX a very peculiar character in history, mostly because of his character and him becoming a role model of the good king during his times. And, let's be honest, he left behind one of the most amazing building in Paris: La Saint Chapelle, which used to be his private chapel. When I received this documents as part of a newsletter, I decided to read them and simply do not regret it at all. I was in the middle of some complicated weeks and this lines from a king of the past just arrived in a good moment. Beyond his lessons sharing that a good king focuses on love, peace and solidarity, and should always work for the less fortunate ones, the lines that were kept in my mind were - and I am paraphrasing - that when everything goes bad around us while nothing that we ends as planed, giving us the feeling of defeat and uncertainty, then we should meditate that is God redesigning our plans and paths for a better cause.
6. "Le Livre de Coincidences" by Deepak Chopra
Talking about coincidences... I was just killing time to pick up some things of mine and just next to me a magazine dedicated to the death of Elizabeth II and this book where left behind. I went through the magazine and left. Some minutes later, I went back and this book was still there so I pick it up and read it. Since I already read "Buddha" by Chopra, I decided to give it a try. It is so easy to read that for the next week I finished it and went and left the book where I found it.
In short, this book is about understanding and reading life differently and a guide into meditation to approach this path. Beyond this teachings, I found extremely important to take from this book how to understand coincidences as part of our daily life, wellness and paths, and even more important the relevance of understanding that we are and live as part of a whole, that the world lives in us and it is not that the world is ours, but we are for and from the world. Today more than ever is crucial to recognise the humanity within others and as part of a whole, we are in them as much as they are in us... and yes, to learn how to read and accept what is happening around us and a deep connection with a higher inner self.
7. "Swann in Love" by Marcel Proust
Of course, a novel should be part of the list and it is Proust so just extraordinary. A story of a man falling in love and its following disenchantment. What I really enjoyed is all the description of the lifestyle around the characters, specially all the dandy life of Swann, and also how arts is part of the narrative. The way Swann falls in love is by relating it with a painting, the social club turns around music and artistic taste, and a long list of a 18th century very delightful novel.
There is a movie based on the novel stared by Jeremy Irons, although as usual different feelings and perspectives comes after reading the novel versus watching the film, the movie is an enjoyable dessert.
8. "A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk" edited by Valerie Steele
A collection of articles edited by Steele analysing fashion through the lens of queerness. The book comes after an exhibition in the Fashion Institute of Technology inquiring the same topic, showing in a varied way this complex topic going further from the typical scope of some fashion designers being gay. Among many other topics, the books discusses how fashion has been an expression for the LGTB+ community, key clothes that have been essential when fashion and queerness came together, and how fashion is chained to identity. Besides the interesting articles, the images are marvellous. The print book is also a visual pleasure with their photographies and illustrations.
9. "The Book of Kimono" by Norio Yamanaka
As some of you may know, the kimono is one of my favourite traditional pieces and a source of constant inspiration. Among other pieces like the Mexican huipil, the kimono as a base is present in most of my designs.
It was just like a reference book to learn more about the history of kimono through centuries and how the designs changed through dynasties, the contact with the Western cultures, the tackle-down of the piece through social classes, and a good reference for visual elements of kimonos through history. All in all, for me it was a mere collection of general culture around an iconic piece that I love. Also, it was a good introduction to better enjoy the exhibition 'Kimono' at Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac a few months after I read the book. The exhibition, by the way, is worth visiting.
10. "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill
This book is just a classic. Originally print in 1937 and now re edited by Napoleon Hill Foundation, the book is a guide through teaching to achieve success. Using archetypes such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and other millionaires relevant for it times, it is a list of how to think and act to grow in fortune.
I was looking for a book about investment and this one was recommended, so I read it. It was not what I was looking for and definitively did not learn what I was expecting, but it is an interesting book in its category of personal growth scoped by business and richness. Very interesting to read the book that might have created the market for iconic books such as Kiyosaky's "Rich Father Poor Father", and also - as the little subtitle suggests- it has strong personal lessons that indeed can be applied. Beyond suggesting that we should all greed for millions, I would see this book as a way to learn that economical growth is beyond our past and context and we can change the future through changing how we think and act.
If you are keen on reading personal growth books such as this one, I truly recommend reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, another old-time classic which indeed will give a guide of teaching to grow in charisma and in the art of interacting with others.
Well, this is what I read this year, as you can see it was a journey mostly through fashion and personal growth. The fashion side very much guided and intended, the personal growth side it was a very enjoyed coincidence of the year. To finish, and this might be cheating a bit because this will go to the 2023's list, I am reading "Au-revoir là haut" by the Goncourt awarded author, Pierre Lemaître, and I am loving it. It is being a challenge because of the French level is hight - very clearly on purpose to be a Goncourt book- but it is just a delight.
So, see you (or read you) next year and... what are you reading?