Maira Kalman

Graphic Designer / United States / M&Co

Maira Kalman’s Book List

The authors I love tend to be lyrical and slightly absurd in one way or another. You could read any or all of the books by the authors listed. There are photographers you should look at—such as Diane Arbus and August Sander—who all have monographs. There are children’s book authors and illustrators that you should know—like Ludwig Bemelmans and William Steig.

But mainly, just read. That will show the way. Walk to a garden. Take a book with you, maybe a cup of coffee or tea. Just sit under a tree and read. That is the only answer to everything.

11 books
Robert Walser

All the people in Robert Walser’s books are mad—angry and insane—as are all of us.

W. G. Sebald

Sebald combines dreamlike narrative with vague and haunting photographs. Read everything he has written.

James Joyce

Every sentence. Every single sentence.

Marcel Proust

Ditto what I said about Ulysses.

Gustave Flaubert

The tragedy. The grandness of the small. The tiny color phrases.

Samuel Beckett

Read everything Beckett wrote. Because if you understand the minimalism and despair of Beckett, you can create good work. And you can go on.

W. G. Sebald

 Ditto what I said about The Emigrants.

Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov's memoir—from his early childhood in privileged Russian high society to his refugee days in Paris. Nabokov is my favorite writer. There is both rigorous precision and strange melancholy. And joy. And beauty. And humor.

Jane Austen

Elegance and humor. These are critical elements in doing anything.

Lewis Carroll

None better. Logic. Mathematics. Madness. Screwball comedy. Hallucinatory magic. And wondrous everything.

A. A. Milne

Oh, Winnie. Oh, Pooh. Tenderness. Humor. Paintings.

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