It’s probably no surprise that we’re avid readers here at DIY, but we reckon a collective new year’s resolution to expand our bookshelves isn’t a bad shout. And who better to recommend some titles than a load of our fave artists?
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Chosen by: Abigail Morris, The Last Dinner Party
This is one of two that have been in my rotation since we’ve been on tour. It’s this insane Western Bible; he writes incredibly grim - but incredible - Old Testament character studies.
Ain’t I A Woman by bell hooks
Chosen by: Bobby Vylan, Bob Vylan
An incredibly detailed study on the effects of racism and sexism on Black women.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Chosen by: Antony Szmierek
It manages to juggle both humour and existentialism in the most accessible and least pretentious way possible. Impossibly sharp and witty. So good I named a song after it.
Penguin Science Fiction, edited by Brian Aldiss
Chosen by: Lily Fontaine, English Teacher
Sole Solution by Eric Frank Russell and Command Performance by Walter M. Miller are my favourites from the collection - both lean away from the more space-war side of the genre and towards questions of existence, leaving the reader without closure but thoroughly satisfied in entertainment and inspiration.
Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park
Chosen by: Sadie Dupuis, Speedy Ortiz
It’s a feat of a novel which uses its converging narratives and massive research scope to touch on Korean history, American sci-fi, Buffalo hockey, literary resentments, and so many more miraculously intersecting threads - some true, some imagined. An ambitious and absorbing universe of its own, akin to the best of Bolaño or Pynchon.
How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie
Chosen by: Estella Adeyeri, Big Joanie
It’s a book full of dark humour, a variety of villains, revenge and rooting for the anti-hero. For fans of thrillers, family drama and scheming!
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Chosen by: Bill Ryder-Jones
I love how you spend much of the reading of this novel wondering what the wasp factory is. By the time you find out you’ve actually become so involved in the story that you’ve forgotten you needed to know.
This Must be the Place by Jesse Rifkin
Chosen by: Ben Hozie, BODEGA
This 2023 book is a history of downtown (and north Brooklyn) NYC music venues, scenes, neighbourhoods, and gentrification. It starts with the Greenwich Village folk movement and hits many familiar beats (Max’s Kansas City, Paradise Garage, CBGB’s, A7, Danceteria, etc.) but refreshingly emphasises the economics and real estate realities behind key musical movements instead of focusing on key heroic figures. This is a hard recommendation for everybody out there who is making a scene today.
Cold Water Eden by Richie Fitzgerald
Chosen by: Colm O’Reilly, Sprints
It tells the story of Ireland’s first pro surfer - coming from humble beginnings in Bundoran on the west coast, to surfing some of the biggest waves ever surfed in history. Self-taught when there were only whispers of surfing in Europe and putting this small island on the map.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Chosen by: Joni Samuels and Karsten van der Tol, Fräulein
Octavia’s ability to build worlds and relationships between characters is unlike any other we’ve come across. And with her centring of other Black women as protagonists in the sci-fi genre, she writes some of the most beautiful, poignant and striking stories that we’ve ever read. Parable of the Sower is a story of a displaced young woman trying to recreate community on an Earth that’s being destroyed by climate change and social inequality. It’s a great entry into this author, and feels really relevant to today.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Chosen by: UPSAHL
This book is hot and sexy and sad and heartbreaking all in one. The kind of book that had me waking up in the middle of the night just to keep reading it.
Embrace Fearlessly The Burning World by Barry Lopez
Chosen by: Felix Mackenzie Barrow, Divorce
I came across Barry Lopez’s work in the winter of 2020, just a month before he died. This posthumous collection of some of his essays moved me deeply with their vital clarity, their urgent wisdom and the love in their descriptions of the multiplicity of human life and the natural world.
Y/N by Esther Yi
Chosen by: Nuha Ruby Ra
It’s a hallucinatory account of fan fiction and deep fan obsession that’s firmly unrooted from reality. I enjoy surrealism in writing and this book has quite a special brand of poetic surrealism in some of the dialogue. It’s fandom to nihilistic extremes. Based on the agonising world of K pop fandom.
Brian by Jeremy Cooper
Chosen by: Paul Smith, Maximo Park
It’s a deceptively simple story about a solitary man whose life is enriched by nightly visits to the BFI cinema, subtly revealing the power of art and community.
Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape by Jeremy Harte
Chosen by: Sean Harper, Folly Group
It’s about England’s - to quote the press release - “deceptively bucolic rolling hills”, and why so many of them are named after the Devil himself. Unsurprisingly, the answer always stems from one piece of folklore or another. It’s not a dark read, though. The Devil of English folklore is basically an idiot. Anyway, it really encourages me to learn more about my surroundings, particularly in my native Devon, and I’m sure it would do the same for anyone.
The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan
Chosen by: Andy Bell, Ride
It’s a history book, and as I never learned any of this stuff in school, it’s incredibly interesting hearing about how different empires have ruled much of the world at different times, and how it all plays into current world affairs.
Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
Chosen by: Albert Haddenham, KEG
This is a firm favourite in the KEG household. A great jape about friendship, boozing, stealing your friend’s trousers and selling them back to them.
Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan
Chosen by: Hannah Joy, Middle Kids
This is a conversation turned into a book and it is such a privilege to be able to hear from Nick Cave at length in this way. He is an artist dripped in wisdom and love and grief and courage. Truly I have been so bolstered by his story!
White Noise by Don DeLillo
Chosen by: Sean Murphy O’Neill, Courting
I just love how the writing flows so interestingly and keeps you on your toes without ever trying to mislead you.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Chosen by: Nate Amos, Water From Your Eyes
Picked up a copy of The Road at a goodwill on tour - I’d forgotten how much I love his writing style, I think I blew through it in two drives. Unconditional love in the face of it all.
All the Devils Are Here by David Seabrook
Chosen by: Harrison Charles, Blue Bendy
A deranged biography of place where the Kent coastline is a character insipidly burying madness into its inhabitants. Seabrook writes about fascist Oswald Moseley to poet T. S. Eliot (on the verge of a breakdown setting down the first lines of The Waste Land); there’s relentlessly drunk Carry On star Charles Hawtree leading on from the insane, murdering artist Richard Dadd. It’s all written by an author infected by his subject’s madness. He’s watching over his shoulder, in danger himself. The past reflecting the present. We read him narrating his own exile. The book, a premonition. Seabrook died under mysterious circumstances after its publication. A book whose subject reflects its author in the strangest and most disturbing of ways.
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Chosen by: Helena Deland
I was surprised by how funny Middlemarch is, and I value the insight it offered on Victorian society at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. Reading about previous generations’ discomfort in the face of change is fascinating at a time when we are constantly called to adjust. The love stories and inheritance drama makes it read like a page-turner.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Chosen by: Etienne Quartey-Papafio, Whitelands
Our debut album is named after a quote from the book - to be revealed soon! - as well as having our recent single ‘The Prophet and I’ referencing it. It’s a beautiful book that romanticises the human experience through its pain, its joys and the mundane. It’s a book that can really inspire grounding without being nihilistic. A guidebook unto how a human can be… human.