Books to kickstart 2024

Culture lovers, this post’s for you! Whether a personal treat or one for a friend, what better gift to give than a visually inspiring book? We present four newly-published favourites, perfectly suited to the architecture, photography, fashion and food fanatics we know you are. 

FOR THE ARCHITECTURE LOVER
GLASS HOUSES
(PHAIDON)

When it comes to construction, it’s glass that connects us as humans to our surroundings, that allows us to go about our lives inside homes while still feeling in harmony with the world beyond. Phaidon’s Glass Houses is, cover to cover, crammed with large-format photographs of glass homes worldwide. Fifty homes, including several pioneering structures that today are regarded as classics –Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House (1951), John Lautner’s Sheats-Goldstein Residence (1963) – the latter popularised in films including The Big Lebowski and Charlie’s Angels. Alongside them, you’ll find contemporary homes that exist in intimate conversation with their environments: coastal cabins, forest chalets, urban apartments, seaside pavilions. Herzog & De Meuron in California, Richard Rogers in London, our own Nadine Engelbrecht in Pretoria. Floor to ceiling windows that look onto snowy landscapes, sliding walls that reveal arid deserts, conservatories that are immersed in lush jungles. Solo House II (2017), an entirely circular home in Spain, Villa Kogelhof (2013), an elevated monolithic structure in The Netherlands, and an undulating and almost invisible home (2020) in Los Vilos, Chile are particularly memorable.


FOR THE FOODIE
NOW & THEN by TESSA KIROS
(MURDOCH BOOKS)

Food writer Tessa Kiros consistently delivers the goods. Her eleventh cookbook, rich in the visual indulgence and gorgeousness we’ve come to expect from the Tuscan-dwelling cook, Now & Then is described as ‘part memoir, part travel guide, part food odyssey – a definitive reflection on a lifetime of cooking and eating’. Of particular interest to us South Africans are the recipes and recollections that explore her childhood (aged four to eighteen) living in South Africa… braaied chutney drumsticks, boereboontjies – green beans and mash, warm malva pudding cake with whiskey sauce. There’s global cuisine too. Across chapters with titles including ‘What I would miss if I left Italy’ and ‘A few things I’m obsessed with’ Kiros offers all-new recipes that explore Italian, Thai, Greek and Mexican flavours. The visuals are enchanting, with images combining Kiros’s trademark combination of nostalgia-inspiring tableware, vintage crockery and cutlery, pretty postcards and fabrics, and flowers. And, of course, food. Glorious food.


FOR THE CELEBRITY OBSESSED
VANITY FAIR OSCARS NIGHT SESSIONS by MARK SELIGER
(ABRAMS)

If the ‘heyday’ covers of Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood Issue were for you a thing of beauty, then this photographic exploration of a decade of portraits from the awards nights’ after-parties is a coffee-table collection must-have. Whereas months of planning precede the shooting of such celebrity-heavy magazine covers, in stark contrast, Seliger’s images of Hollywood’s film community on the night of their award wins is almost spontaneous. As he describes it, “Every rule is broken in service of momentum. We have a compact studio, a spacious box, really. We have a condensed period of time. We have dozens of subjects to photograph. And we have to make magic happen, lightning in a bottle.” His years of experience and his honed eye for beautifully capturing the essence of each personality, make the images feel anything but unplanned. Whether shot individually, in couples or groups, the film industry favourites that fill the pages of this book (photographed between 2014 and 2023) are those you’ve come to love and watch repeatedly. Our favourites include the pairing of Paul Rudd and Adam Scott, Oliva Colman, Ethan Hawke, and Joni Mitchell.


FOR THE FASHION LOVER
LITTLE GUIDES TO STYLE COLLECTION
(WELBECK)

Tagged as ‘the history of eight fashion icons’, the boxset of Little Book Of delves into the legendary and iconic worlds of fashion houses Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent. Until now sold individually, the eight books as a boxset are a weightier anthology. Each pocket-sized book tells the story behind the brand, the creative forces at work within its ateliers, and the genius of its fashion. Paging through each book, you’ll discover archival imagery, gorgeous portraiture and loads of the fashion you’ve come to love and desire. Authors Karen Homer, Emma Baxter-Wright and Laia Farran Graves reveal what they call their ‘unofficial and unauthorised’ insights into the workings of these illustrious brands. Expect familiar stories, scandalous historic moments, and haute couture that’s changed the course of fashion.

Books available from leading bookstores.

Words: Martin Jacobs
Opening image: Mark Seliger