Raymond Pettibon: TOP TEN BOOKS


There is some dark magic afoot in the books on Raymond Pettibon’s bookshelf. The artist, who began his career making album covers for hard-core punk band Black Flag (formed by his brother, Greg Ginn), specializes in caustic ink drawings that quote from classic texts, including the Victorian art critic John Ruskin, the 17th century essayist Sir Thomas Browne, and the 16th century Spanish mystic, Saint John of the Cross. All find their way on to his desert island bookshelf.

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



by Sir Thomas Browne
For the pleasure of the prose, not the whip of the Spanish Inquisition!
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Modern Painters

by John Ruskin
His prose, not his politics. You could say the same of Thomas Carlyle: Sartor Resartus over any of the later stuff. Walter Pater would fall under the same category - one of the great prose stylists, like Ruskin.
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The Death and Letters of Alice James

by Alice James
Alice was Henry and William James' sister. I love Henry James, but Alice was brilliant in her own right.
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The Art Spirit

by Robert Henri
Notes collected by Henri's students over the course of his years as a teacher. Still some of the best advice available to art students. Henri is never condescending, always speaks to students as peers.
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The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides

by James Boswell
Boswell wrote Samuel Johnson's bio, but I particularly like his descriptions of this trip and their friendship.
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Theory of Moral Sentiments

by Adam Smith
The impartial spectator as life's third-person narrator.
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Don Quixote

by Miguel de Cervantes
Sancho's my Friday on Tuesdays, with a pot to piss in.
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The Fight and Other Writings

by William Hazlitt
The great essayist on everything from Shakespeare to Rounders, the English forerunner to baseball.
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The Letters of Charles Lamb

by Charles Lamb
Great friend to the Romantics and to what was left of his family. His letters rather than his Reader's Digest condensed version of Shakespeare.

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Dark Night of the Soul

by Saint John of the Cross
The black hole of literature. The Cloud of Unknowing is sucked in the same hole.
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