harvey's ultimate book recs

you may be wondering: why does this guy seemingly only read nonfiction? I have no clue. it just kind of happens that way.
click the book covers for a link to their goodreads page!
the lonely city

the lonely city

by olivia laing

I've read and reread this book what feels like a million times - I can't recommend it enough, especially as a terminally lonely human being. I really believe this book has something for everyone: art, LGBT history, ruminations on the modern relationship between technology and man. not to mention this book catapulted my andy warhol fixation...read it and you'll see what I mean. everyone who I've recommended this to has loved it, so give it a shot if it sounds interesting to you!
greening of america

the greening of america

by charles reich

funnily enough, I found this book at the thrift store and was initially attracted to its loopy, retro font and the palette-wheting blurb on the front (see above). I was NOT expecting this book to cement itself as the framework of my own beliefs regarding politics/the environment. though this book was written in the late 60's/early 70's, it still holds up incredibly well. even if a few things are a bit dated, it gives an inspiring glimpse into a time where many felt energized to enact this kind of change in society. NOTE: I have only read the original version written in the 70's, not the updated 1995 version, so I am unaware of what changes the latter contains.
just kids

just kids

by patti smith

I never know what to say about this book except that I ADORE it. patti smith has become one of my favorite writers and biggest inspirations in regards to her approach to performance and living an artistic life. just kids details her rise to glory in new york in the 60's/70's, along with her best friend and co-conspirator robert mapplethorpe (RIP). this is a must-read for struggling young artists and musicians alike. patti's writing cuts right to the heart. if you like this, check out her poetry collections and other works of nonfiction like year of the monkey.
into the wild

into the wild

by jon krakauer

this one's less of a 'you need to read this before you die' and more 'I enjoyed reading this and I think most people will too'. john krakauer's writing and professionalism never ceases to impress. there is quite a bit of *cough* sensitive content in this book, which I say only because krakauer doesn't shy away from the subject matter necessary to tell mccandless' story. this isn't a book with a 'moral', or meant to inspire you. more than anything, it's food for thought.
talking about death won't kill you

talking about death won't kill you

by virginia morris

now this - this you should read before you die. I picked this up at the library and was hesitant to read it, even if the subject matter attracted me. I won't lie; it's a lot to swallow. most people don't want to think about death, let alone how they would handle the death of loved ones, which is a big part of how the book seeks to educate you. nonetheless, it provides an incredible framework for handling death in all its forms that's neither reproachful nor utterly emotionless. it's a sensitive foray into a sensitive topic, and I can't recommend it enough, even if you've never experienced the death of a loved one.
letters to a young poet

letters to a young poet

by rainer maria rilke

this book stands as a record of the letters between writer/poet rainer maria rilke and a novice who wrote to rilke seeking his advice. rilke's words are for everyone, but artists and writers alike will find inspiration in this short read. I love this so much I bought two different copies so I can loan the other one to friends (true story). if you like this, I HIGHLY recommend reading rilke's poetry. it's life changing.
art and fear

art & fear

by david bayles & ted orland

are you sensing a theme? most of my favorite books are about art, and this recommendation is essential for anyone looking to elucidate the creative process and break through the barriers preventing you from living an artistic life. this book is full of so much good advice I wish I could upload it directly to my brain so I could remember it forever. if you read this, TAKE NOTES! trust me on this one.
effortless mastery

effortless mastery

by kenny werner

truthfully, I wasn't expecting to get much from this book. I've always approached music from a place of improvisation, not classical skill - but it turns out the former is exactly what the book encourages. while this book is great for classically trained instrumentalists, it's for novices, too. there are tips in this book that have stuck with me ever since I read it and positively influenced my approach to playing/learning an instrument. this book touches on singing as well, so it really has something for everyone.
ten arguments

ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now

by jaron lanier

maybe you've heard of this one - in my opinion, it's an essential read, even if you come away from it still deciding to keep your social media accounts. there is so much that goes on behind the scenes of social media today that I believe is necessary knowledge for everyone. this book is also perfect for someone that might be flirting with the idea of deleting social media, but is waiting for a proper reason to do so. just read it. read it read it read it.
we are as gods

we are as gods

by kate daloz

I have to be honest: my interest in this book spurred from a deep, deep (still ongoing) hyperfixation on the 70s and specifically commune culture. if either of those things interest you, this is THE book to read in my opinion. it's incredibly engaging and details the personal stories of commune folk, clueing you in to not only the societal effects of this movement but also how it affected the personal lives of those who embraced it.
electric kool aid acid test

the electric kool-aid acid test

by tom wolfe

ok, so this book might not be for everyone, but I loved it. it's a wild, unrestrained look into a time when LSD, music, and art were the driving force behind counterculture. it's definitely an adult read, I would say, and has some unfortunate (but period accurate) instances of racism and misogyny notwithstanding. regardless, this book is a TRIP, not just due to the subject matter but the way it's written. I really enjoyed how the book came full circle at the end - read it and you'll see.
unabridged journals

the unabridged journals of sylvia plath

by sylvia plath

I haven't finished this book, and I don't think I ever plan to. it's a companion for me, sitting on my desk for me to pick up whenever I'm in need of inspiration. sylvia's honesty in her journalling inspired me to start journalling similarly, and it's had a wonderful impact on my inner life. because I only ever pick this up every once and a while, I really feel like I've grown and aged with sylvia. her writing is a constant companion, reminding me that I am neither uniquely flawed nor horrible.