Books to Buy Now for Instant Summer Vibes

We’ve got your coffee table covered with spring and summer’s most inspired titles



From voyeuristic travel tomes to monographs of California’s most inspiring artists, we’ve rounded up the latest crop of must-have titles, each bringing a creative spark to your lazy afternoons.


Californication by Oliver Hadlee Pearch, British Vogue, March 2019. The cover of Pools, edited by LOU STOPPARD.

DYLAN and PARIS BROSNAN photographed by Alice Hawkins for “Hollywood Sons,” L’Uomo Vogue, Bel Air, 2016.


Pools: Lounging, Diving, Floating, Dreaming: Picturing Life at the Swimming Pool
“The glamour of a pool, even when it fails, is always sincere,” writes Leanne Shapton in the introduction to this new contemporary photography tome (Rizzoli New York, $65). Curator and writer Lou Stoppard pays homage to the glistening symbol of leisure, foregrounding aquatic-centric work by Stephen Shore, Mert & Marcus, Martin Parr, Alice Hawkins, Nick Knight and many more. Also available through Bookshop.



Cultivated by CHRISTIN GEALL. An arrangement as seen within the book’s pages; photo by Christin Geall.

A floral arrangement that plays with multiple hues. Photo by Christin Geall.

Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style 
Floral designer Christin Geall brings a fine art lens and “deep ecology” philosophy to arranging in her new book (Princeton Architectural Press, $28). Filled with historical references to the Dutch masters and Baroque music, explorations in color theory and poetic personal anecdotes, the title is simultaneously an engaging read, conversation piece and manual. Above all, it makes a case for seasonal arranging: “I want flowers that smell of more than money, and I want flowers at their peak of perfection,” she writes. Also available through Bookshop.


Collage Pattern Entry Door, 2017, bronze and porcelain; photo by Mark Hanauer. David Wiseman by MAYER RUS, DAVID WISEMAN and SUSAN WEBER.

David Wiseman 
Arguably L.A.’s preeminent decorative arts star, David Wiseman has built his reputation on mastering Old World techniques to manifest nature indoors — signature moves include casting chandeliers from fallen tree limbs. Now, in addition to his portfolio of ornate installations and sculptures rendered in bronze, porcelain and crystal, he has a proper monograph (Rizzoli New York, $75) to his name, written with Architectural Digest West Coast editor Mayer Rus. Also available through Bookshop.


Live Beautiful by ATHENA CALDERONE. The 1950s Spanish Colonial home of Vanessa Alexander in Point Dume; photo by Nicole Franzen.

Live Beautiful 
A tastemaker in every sense of the word, Athena Calderone is best known for her aspirational lifestyle platform EyeSwoon. Now, the design expert and interior designer unpacks the secrets that make an interior sing, visiting the homes of her creative circle — including Los Angeles denizens Nate Berkus, Pamela Shamshiri and Vanessa Alexander — for this impeccably curated interiors title (Abrams, $40) with images by photographer Nicole Franzen. Also available through Bookshop.


ISABEL GOULART poses with the region’s signature ceramics; photo by Lucas Mennezes Serpa. Amalfi Coast by CARLOS SOUZA and CHARLENE SHORTO.

The Spring Awakening party at Palazzo Avino’s beach club, 2019, as seen in Amalfi Coast; photo by Carlos Souza.

Amalfi Coast 
The next best thing to your dream Italian holiday? Assouline’s lush, photo-illustrated Amalfi tome (Assouline, $95), filled with pastel-washed architectural displays and dazzling cliffside views from the pristine 50-kilometer stretch of coastline set on the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. Composed of images by Carlos Souza, a global brand ambassador for Valentino, the title is best enjoyed with a limoncello. Also available through Bookshop.


Alma Allen by GLENN ADAMSON and DOUGLAS FOGLE. Not Yet Titled, 2014, bronze; photo by Sam Kahn.

Alma Allen
Drawing comparisons to Brancusi — and sought out by such mega collectors as Beth Rudin DeWoody, Tobias Meyer, and Ronnie Sassoon — Alma Allen is an art star with a perfectly dramatic career arc: He got his start whittling sticks in the Utah desert and later graduated to raves at the Whitney Biennial. This debut volume (Rizzoli New York, $65) of his work goes behind the scenes at his studios in Joshua Tree, California, and Tepoztlán, Mexico, celebrating his jaw-dropping, mammoth creations in burl wood, sculpted marble and cast bronze. Also available through Bookshop.


Untitled, 1967; photo by John Wronn. The cover of Judd, published by MoMA. 

“I am not interested in the kind of expression that you have when you paint a painting with brush strokes,” iconic 1960s artist Donald Judd once said. “It’s alright, but it’s already done, and I want to do something new.” Originally slated to accompany MoMA’s first US retrospective exhibition of Donald Judd’s sculpture in more than 30 years (one of many anticipated shows that had to be postponed this spring), this book (The Museum of Modern Art, $67.50 for members/$75 for nonmembers) serves up a master class in the career of the man credited with putting Marfa on the map and transforming the field of modern sculpture. Also available through Bookshop.


The cover of JB Blunk, published by Dent-de-Leone. #2 Arch, 1976, by JB BLUNK, made of redwood, 60 by 51 by 21 inches; photo copyright JB Blunk Collection.

JB Blunk
A quintessential Midwesterner transplanted to Northern California, the late American sculptor JB Blunk is admired for his holistic, organic approach to art and design. Since 2002, his daughter — architect, curator and design consultant Mariah Nielson — has been cataloging his work; the fruits of that effort are collected for the first time in a publication (Blunk Books/Dent-de-Leone, $55) that plumbs Blunk’s entire oeuvre, from stone to clay and painting to jewelry. Also available through Bookshop.


Feature image: The breakfast terrace at Villa San Giacomo in Positano, as seen in Amalfi Coast. Photo courtesy of Villa San Giacomo.


July 14, 2020

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