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The reads we’ll always come back to


These are the ones that speak to us, the ones that change our lives. We never lose the old favourites. Here, friends of RUSSH share the books that are forever on their reading lists.

Jess Blanch, RUSSH Editor in Chief

“Always on my bedside is The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934 and Vol. 5: 1947-1955, and Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing. If I had to name spiritual leaders it would be them. The book I’ve given away (to Gillian Wilkins) but can’t let go of is The Love Lives of the Artists by Daniel Bullen. As a hopeless romantic the stories of Georgia O’Keeffe and Stieglitz, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Miller and Nïn, and Lou Andreas-Salomé and Rilke stay with me always. The best book I’ve ever received is Personal History by Katharine Graham, also the greatest biography ever and the last book I’ve read was Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview.

Lizzie Nanut, artist
Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

“A lot of my travels were influenced by this book, more inspired a dreamy reality: ‘You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes.’”

Vicki Lee, artist
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
(World Library)

“‘The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it’. It’s about all the forbidden pleasures: sin, secrecy, temptation, vanity, sexuality, art and the ideal of beauty. Any book that contemplates art and beauty to that degree is going to keep my attention.”

Melanie Kamsler, ManiaMania
Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
(Little, Brown and Company)

“This is one of my favorites and resonates on several levels: I love the classic New York setting, the spiritual and existential crisis of the characters, and the subsequent Wes Anderson-meets-Woody Allen visual that it conjures in my mind. It’s a quick little read that I’ve gone back to a couple of times because I love the place it takes me to.”

Emma Balfour, model
The Red Pony, John Steinbeck
(Covici Friede)

“My favourite book has changed over the years, and it also depends on who’s asking! It’s funny ‘cause I’ve returned to one of my old favourites from when I was a kid/teenager: The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. It is so sad and I used to reread it when I was feeling unhappy just to cry. And it is also very beautiful, spare and straightforward in its language. Oh, and it’s about the relationship between a child and a horse, but not sappy and girly like most tend to be.”