Book List of the Week

The Needs of Work and Pleasure—Angus Hyland’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter May 10, 2011
Angus Hyland

Graphic designer Angus Hyland: Pentagram (London)

book list

Angus Hyland is a partner in Pentagram’s London office and also consultant creative director to Laurence King Publishing. He agreed to answer some questions from us about books—those on his list (which he describes as “divided in half by the needs of work and pleasure”), those he’s written, and those he’s about to read.

Designers & Books: You describe yourself “spending your life in books,” so we are guessing you have a lot of them. How many books are in your personal library, and how do you have them arranged?

Angus Hyland: I should probably have said that I spend my life “around” books rather than “in” them. Currently a great many of them are arranged in piles in the corners of my small house. I’m a slow reader and many of them are file copies for my archive rather than having been acquired to satisfy a voracious reading habit.

D&B: It has been said that one’s book list can be seen as a sort of revealing self-portrait. What are the two or three most important things that your book list says about you?

AH: I am not sure I entirely agree with the first part of your question since any list is by necessity a construct. So whilst a book list might be seen as a self-portrait, it is debatable how revealing it truly is. It may well be more revealing to open my fridge rather than to rely on any conscious list making.

D&B: You noted that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was the first book you owned. Do you still have that copy? Do you have any other books from your childhood that you’ve kept and that occupy a special place in your library?

AH: Sadly, I don’t still have my original copy of Alice, but I recently bought one to read to the kids. As a child I hadn’t appreciated quite how surreal or “trippy” it is. The only books kept from my childhood are my collections of Asterix and Tintin.

D&B: We have to ask: what was it about Tintin in Tibet that changed your life?

AH: Well, I won it as second prize at the school fancy dress competition. I was a pirate and had even blacked in my own teeth. First prize went to a candy bar (Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut). Thank God, since the candy bar didn’t win a book. I didn’t come from a reading family. Aside from the aforementioned Alice and an old copy of The Wind in the Willows there wasn’t anything to capture my imagination amongst the volumes on horticulture and animal husbandry on the shelves. Tintin seemed miles more sophisticated than the comics I bought every week and along with Letraset catalogues they opened a whole new world to me.

D&B: What’s the next book on your “to read” list?

AH: The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock—she is a friend, and the publisher, Jamie Byng, is both a friend and a client. I have promised them both that I will read it the next time I get on a long-haul flight.

Note: Angus Hyland will be speaking and signing copies of his new book, Symbol, co-authored with Steven Bateman, at The Design Museum in London on Wednesday, May 18.

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