Words & Pictures

It might have been Hugh Hefner who stated that while some people like to read, others prefer to just look at pictures.  We present three books this month that offer a little bit of each.

A Visual Tour of a Reader’s World

How would you quantify the world of an avid reader? By pages turned, words read, the number of books stacked bedside?

Jessica Royals takes another approach to that question in her book, aptly titled “This Is About Books.” In it she creates an infographic self-portrait of her reading life, melding her two passions – information design and reading.

Accompanied by thoughtful prose (the woman is proof that avid readers make good writers), beautifully designed typographic charts illustrate all aspects of her bibliophilic ways, from number of total books read to genres covered to her all-time favorites, both fiction and non-fiction.

Great fun to flip through and a pleasure to read, this is a book that will please readers and lovers of design alike. In short, dare we say it – “Word.”

Lost in the L.A. that Was

Photographer Jim McHugh is kind of a big deal. His work has been in the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, and is part of the Polaroid Collection. He’s also famous for large-format Polaroids of Los Angeles.

His most recent book, “Let’s Get Lost,” takes us on a tour of forgotten Los Angeles – the architecture, statues, and corners of the city that evoke the heady days of a bygone era.

As McHugh writes, “It is the city of Raymond Chandler, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Wells, and other iconoclasts who saw a place infinitely more complex than a collection of studio sets, tinsel, and glitter.”

The photos in the book are grainy, faded, and dreamlike and each of the prints featured are part of McHugh’s traveling photographic exhibit, currently on view at LAX airport. So if your travel plans don’t include a layover at LAX, consider checking out the book. No passports or security check required, all you need is a love of great photography and a desire to own a book that artfully captures forgotten L.A.

A Side Trip Fantasy

Photographer Cynthia Wood is also a big deal. Her work has been recognized in Blurb’s Photography Book Now competition and she received American Photo’s 2011 “Emerging Photographer” award. And while her career doesn’t span the years that McHugh’s does, her talent and vision are definitely well honed.

Case in point is Wood’s book “Brighter Faster.” Simple layouts and striking images capture overlooked corners of passing moments – night swimming in a Palm Springs pool, a velvet rope at rest on a theater banister, pale legs against a red towel on a sun-soaked beach. The images are spare, the feelings and memories (real or not) that they evoke are complex. Well worth a look, folks.

We’ll be back next month with more of “Blurb Recommends,” so stay tuned!

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