“If you want to make more interesting pictures, become a more interesting person.” – Jay Maisel
I can’t say it works for everyone, but one of those ways to become a more interesting person is just to read more; I have found that expanding one’s horizons does not necessarily mean you have to step out of your home, even though that certainly helps. (It’s another reason/excuse I also play a fair few games, beyond it being a coping mechanism.)
While reading photography-related books is great, what’s more important is to read more widely than one’s chosen field and preferences. Mix it up. Experiment. Get some recommendations from friends. And start reading, don’t think about starting, just start.
My current reading list is a mishmash, and I’m trying to get more organised this year. Right now I’m juggling between Justin Cronin’s The Passage*, recommended by fellow photographer and friend Bryan va der Beek, and Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which I have taken about a year and have yet to finish. I managed to finish five books from Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series, with the final book due to be released (on Amazon) in March—a very readable fantasy series, if you ask me, and bonus points if you’re a fan of the game—while my photobook habit has taken a backseat to the more affordable hobby of video games.
That said, when I was in Taiwan I purchased a copy of Nobuyoshi Araki’s Tensai Araki Shashin no Ai•Jo**, translated to Mandarin from its native Japanese; sorry, it doesn’t seem to be available in English, at least not that I know of. I’m halfway through it and it’s rather brilliant. I’ve yet to start on Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind, nor have I finished Mark Miodownik’s fascinating Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvellous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World.
So many books/games/movies. So little time. Different year, same shit. I’d love to hear what you are reading though!
* Bryan also introduced me to the wondrous app called Overdrive, which allows me to borrow books from the National Library Board (and other libraries) without needing to step into one of their libraries. Freedom and indolence via technology!
** The only hardcopy, dead tree book in all the titles named in this post. Another victory for technology—where 300 books weigh just as much as 1.