Alexis Taylor: TOP TEN BOOKS

AlexisTaylor by Ronald Dick

Alexis Taylor photographed by Ronald Dick

Musician Alexis Taylor is best known as the lead singer and keyboardist of Grammy-nominated UK dance pop darlings, Hot Chip, though he has spent plenty of time experimenting on the side, including in David Byrne’s Atomic Bomb! Band and About Group, and producing and remixing artists like Katy Perry, Simian Mobile Disco, and Kraftwerk. His reading list is international, from French absurdism (Camus) and Latin American fantasy (Jorge Luis Borgest) to his own Greek roots, as represented by the late 19th century poet C.P. Cavafy.  “Every Saturday morning, when I was a child, my grandmother used to give us Greek lessons,” he told Atlantic magazine. “She gave us poetry as part of her lessons, sometimes—and some of them really stuck with me. I was still very young when she gave me C. P. Cavafy’s “Waiting for the Barbarians” for the first time. As a famous Greek poet and cultural figure, he was someone my family really admired. My dad used to have—still has—a David Hockney sketch of Cavafy hanging on the wall of the house where I grew up.” Taylor’s latest record, his fourth solo venture, is Beautiful Thing.

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



Ben Watt
Like a lot of my most recent reads, I found a copy of this in my local Underground station book swap/donation area. It's a very moving and insightful, disturbing and sometimes humorous account of Ben coming to terms with a rare illness, a massive change to his life, and the seemingly unending search for clarity about his condition, and an improvement in his health. It is gripping from the first page, and barely touches on his music career, focusing much more on family and his experiences with the NHS. I’ve not read anything else quite like it.
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David Hockney
My friend Matt Connors sent me a copy of this fascinating book as I was researching the location of a specific Hockney painting for a video shoot and getting nowhere. The book shows Hockney's own photographic workings — scrapbook-like, notes on paintings, wonderful pictures in their own right — they show both a working process and reveal what lies behind some of the most iconic images in modern art.
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Rabindranath Tagore
This collection of devotional songs (or poems) is a very moving and insightful read. Tagore makes you feel his own sense of wonder at the ways in which he feels connected to God and also his distance from him in very personal and original ways. Will Oldham and Mick Turner set some of these to music and I have been very inspired by their readings. Going back to the original works again and again over the years is very rewarding.
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Collected Poems: C.P. Cavafy

C.P. Cavafy
In these poems the private and confessional worlds of Cavafy’s longing and yearning sit side by side with metaphorical explorations of our relationship to expectation and impending social invasion.
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Mark’s Little Book About Kinder Eggs

Mark Pawson
Pawson’s personally printed, handmade, small book collecting information and anecdotes as well as images of and from his collection.
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This Is Going to Hurt

Adam Kay
Disturbing but also very funny memoir of a former NHS junior doctor, his steep learning curve, and his memories of the job in graphic detail.
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The Stranger

Albert Camus
I read it as a school student. It remains strange and unsettling, very original and powerful still.
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Jorge Luis Borges
He was clearly one of the greatest and most original thinkers. You’ll feel like you are reading brand new thoughts; it’s very funny in places, it seems effortless in its cleverness, but it isn’t showy at all. Very readable and intimate.
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Perfecting Sound Forever

Greg Milner
Chapter after chapter reveals the history of recorded music, the developments and trends within that world, and in a language that any reader with a passing interest in music can both understand and be blown away by.
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Are We Still Rolling?

Phill Brown
The most detailed and fascinating book about a recording engineer who worked on some of my favorite records. I wish there were more music books as good as this. Even though it seems impossible to know the final two Talk Talk albums and Mark Hollis’ solo album better than by listening to their murky, beautiful, sparse sound worlds, this series of first-hand accounts of the sessions —and those for Nilsson, Bob Marley and others—is incredibly illuminating.
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