Temple St. Clair

Jewelry Designer / United States / Temple St. Clair

Temple St. Clair’s Book List

This is just the beginning of my list of favorite books. Books, for me, are like stepping stones that go on and on. I constantly discover new books that I want to read and am drawn back to old favorites that I reread or return to for reference. Books relate to different phases of my life and different parts of me—the child, the student, the traveler, the scientist, the designer, the artist, the mother, the explorer. I have eclectic tastes in books, as in other art forms, from the classical to the contemporary and am happy to share a few that I particularly treasure.

13 books
Leo Tolstoy

I have reread Anna Karenina about once per decade since the first time I read it in my twenties. It vividly colors my perception of pre-revolutionary Russia. I love the descriptions of the clothes and jewels—Anna’s hands, the social order depicted, from the peasants to the aristocracy.

Jonathan Weiner

So many books I love are associated with my travels. I read this book before and during an incredible trip to the Galapagos. It is a detailed account of evolution, and the lengths that scientists go to to study and gather their data. This book was essential to my understanding and appreciation of those islands.

Giovanni Boccaccio

From years of studying in Florence, I often recall stories and lines from both Boccaccio and Dante. My favorite story comes from the fifth day in the Decameron that entertains the theme of true love. It is the story of Federigo degli Alberighi and his falcon—an incredibly romantic tale of love lost and regained. The whole Decameron is a wonderful read and worth learning Italian to enjoy it completely.


Herodotus may be the greatest historian and storyteller of all time. This volume has accompanied me on many trips through Greece and the ancient sites along the Turkish coast. It brings Ancient Greece alive.

I read this while my husband and I were renovating a ramshackle building that we bought in Manhattan’s East Village. It’s a fascinating study of the concept of “home.” Some of the functionality of our home—the kitchen, for example—is based on Rybczynski’s theories: our kitchen is like a workshop with all its tools exposed instead of a gleaming sterile environment that looks like it’s never used.

Konrad Lorenz

I am fascinated by animals and nature and turn to both for inspiration. Despite being an acclaimed Nobel prize-winning scientist, Lorenz still communicates boyish marvel while conveying insights into animals in this charming book.

Titus Lucretius
Translated by Frank Olin Copley

This is another classic that I keep nearby. The modernity of this 200-year-old text is astounding.

Helen Scales

Aptly named “Scales,” the marine biologist author merges science with storytelling in this in-depth, yet poetic look at the elusive seahorse.


Michael Ondaatje

Someone recommended this book to me before one of my first trips to Sri Lanka to buy gemstones. This is an autobiographical account of Ondaatje’s Sri Lankan roots. From chasing cobras from his grandmother’s living room to summering in the high tea country, he gives colorful insight into the social order of this mysterious, somewhat unexplored island.

Walter Isaacson

I found the story of Jobs completely inspiring, especially his defiant refusal to compromise on design and quality. His personal habits were quirky but his overall vision impeccable. So sad that he is gone.

Munro Leaf

This is one of my favorite childhood stories and one book that I will keep on the shelf long after my own children are grown. The depiction of this bull who preferred smelling flowers to fighting inspired my depiction of a gentle bull on my Taurus astrological pendant.

Warja Honegger-Lavater

A pocket-size early graphic depiction of this classic tale. Its simplicity is intriguing. Each character is represented by a colored square, circle, or triangle.

Mark Helprin

I love Helprin’s stories. (It was hard to choose between this one and A Soldier of the Great War.) This is a magical story of New York City. I love the descriptions of the Hudson being frozen solid and of people disappearing into Brooklyn. Helprin’s descriptions are fantastical but still seem somehow real in this amazing city.

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