Glenn Ligon: TOP TEN BOOKS


Photo by Paul Mpagi Sepuya. Courtesy the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Bronx-born Glenn Ligon ranks as one of America’s more literary artists. A one-time proof reader for a law firm, whose mother once told him, “The only artists I’ve ever heard of are dead,” he made his way as an artist by working nights and weekends, and today finds a home in permanent collections from London’s Tate Modern and the Pompidou Center in Paris, to MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Below are Glenn Ligon’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


Citizen: An American Lyric

Claudia Rankine
Claudia Rankine’s book length poem Citizen was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in the categories of poetry and criticism. It is one of the most devastating takes on American culture I have read in a long time, laying bare the stakes of being black in a country long ambivalent about our presence here.
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DUETS: Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz in Conversation

Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz
One of the most honest, clear, wide-ranging, and engaging conversations between two artists that I have ever read, each in his own way stretching the boundaries of what we imagine art to be.
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Open City

Teju Cole
A flanêur of the first order, Cole walks the streets of New York with eyes and ears open, presenting a fictional account of the tastes, sounds and smells of this dynamic city.
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A Book of Silence

Sara Maitland
Sara Maitland’s cultural history of silence is a stunning investigation of what it means to leave the world of human interaction behind for a world of quiet.
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In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition

Fred Moten
Less a book of criticism and more a book-length poem, In the Break is a book that keeps giving long after you have finished the last chapter.
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Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Gabrielle Hamilton
I don’t cook and I don’t care to but Gabrielle Hamilton made me realize that food is about love and connection. And, she has had a hell of an interesting life.
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Yes, Chef: A Memoir

Marcus Samuelsson
Marcus is a friend but until I read his haunting memoir I hadn’t realized how extraordinary his journey was. How does a refugee from rural Ethiopia end up a world-class chef? Read the book and find out.
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On the Move: A Life

Oliver Sacks
Look at cover image of him all Marlon Brando in leather and jeans astride a motorcycle. Hot. And the book is good too.
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Kippenberger: The Artist and His Families

Susanne Kippenberger
Kippenberger was kind of a bitch, but he was a hard working bitch. Written lovingly by his sister, this biography is a perfect introduction to a time when bad boys ruled the art world.
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Lightning: A Novel

Jean Echenoz
A novel based on the life of Nikola Tesla, Lighting is a tale about the invention of just about every electronic device we use today and the psychic cost of genius.
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