Top 9 Books of 2009

In light of Photo Eye’s “Best Books of 2009” I have decided to compile my own list of some of my favorite books from last year. There were too many good photo books in 2009, these are just the 9 that came to my mind instantly and have been the ones I find myself looking at continually. Organized alphabetically by artist…

-Grant Willing


the change we wanted, and the change we got
Alex John Beck / Inadequate Animal

I picked this book up from Dashwood during the NY Art Book Fair. I wasn’t familiar with the work before, but it really stuck out to me as a great book. The design is really minimal and straight forward, it is printed and sized like a novel. I still don’t know much about this book, nor have a finished reading the text inside, but I like how it is sort of a mysterious book that I can keep coming back to. It is self-published in an edition of 100.


Sketch of Home
JH Engström

This book was technically published in (December) 2008, but I did not receive my copy until January, 2009… JH Engström has always struck me as the perfect photo book photographer. I enjoy all of his books–his work seems perfectly fit for book form and this one is no exception. This is book was published for his exhibition at Gun Gallery.


Farewell Horse
Roe Ethridge

This book was published by Rat Hole Gallery in Tokyo. It is one of those books I knew I wanted even though I didn’t get to see the work inside before purchasing it. The book is structured in typical Ethridge fashion, and really enjoyable to look at over and over. The design and presentation is amazing- I still keep my copy in the plastic sleeve and inside another plastic cover so I don’t dirty the bright white cloth cover.


Shocked Into Abstraction
Mattias Faldbakken

This is technically not a “photo book,” but Faldbakken does have some photographs, so I’m including it in my list. This was another unexpected, pleasant surprise for me in 2009. I picked up this book in Norway while seeing his exhibition of the same name at the National Museum in Oslo. This is possibly my most often returned to book during the past six months, it is definitely a huge inspiration for me. The printing quality fits Faldbakken’s work perfectly and the essays are very enjoyable.


Landmasses and Railways
Bertrand Fleuret

One of my first book purchases of 2009, I was really looking forward to this book coming out and it did not disappoint. It is of the usual high quality that J&L is known for. The editing and sequencing really stick out, the book reads as a visual novel and is even broken into chapters. It is a very enjoyable book that I think will continue to get better the longer I look at it.


From Blue To Blue
Martien Mulder

I got this book during Mulder’s exhibition at Capricious Gallery this past year and remember being really struck by her work at the gallery. She has one of the nicest aesthetics going right now, and I really enjoy the seamless blend between her commercial and art work. The book provides a great range and amount of work and is sequenced perfectly.


From Back Home
Anders Petersen & JH Engström

This book is no surprise, two of the best photographers around get together and publish a huge book… it wins the Recontre D’Arles book award. As much as I hate to agree with everyone, this book truly is great.


A Day In The Life Of
Torbjørn Rødland

A nice, small book published by Libraryman from Sweden. This book is exactly what the title says, a day in the life of Torbjørn Rødland. A really simple idea that is executed very well and comes across as being incredibly genuine.


Elisabeth – I want to eat
Mariken Wessels

This book was another surprise for me, also acquired from Dashwood. The entire publication is made up of found material from a thrift store in Amsterdam. Wessels creates a very nice narrative with the found imagery and the postcards. One of the most striking aspects of this publication is the inclusion of English translations to the Dutch texts printed on loose blue vellum sheets interspersed throughout the book.

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