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Kyle Chayka's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Kyle Chayka recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Kyle Chayka's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Agnes Martin

Her Life and Art

Over the course of a career that spanned fifty years, Agnes Martin’s austere, serene work anticipated and helped to define Minimalism, even as she battled psychological crises and carved out a solitary existence in the American Southwest. Martin identified with the Abstract Expressionists but her commitment to linear geometry caused her to be associated in turn with Minimalist, feminist, and even outsider artists. She moved through some of the liveliest art communities of her time while maintaining a legendary reserve. “I paint with my back to the world,” she says both at the beginning and at... more
Recommended by Kyle Chayka, and 1 others.

Kyle ChaykaShe has this really great connection between minimalism and spirituality, because she was always searching for the ineffable. She connected her paintings to the Zen idea of a universal spirit, and she titled quite a few of the early works after plants or natural phenomena like the ocean. So you see her seeking out the sense of peace that she knows exists, but that she can never quite reach. (Source)

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Fumio Sasaki is not an enlightened minimalism expert; he’s just a regular guy who was stressed at work, insecure, and constantly comparing himself to others—until one day he decided to change his life by reducing his possessions to the bare minimum. The benefits were instantaneous and absolutely remarkable: without all his “stuff,” Sasaki finally felt true freedom, peace of mind, and appreciation for the present moment.

Goodbye, Things explores why we measure our worth by the things we own and how the new minimalist movement will not only transform your space but truly enrich your...
Recommended by Kyle Chayka, and 1 others.

Kyle ChaykaSasaki not only describes how he cleaned out his apartment, but has a list of everything he earns, and suggests that you try to buy the same things. He tells you why you should live with only one low table instead of, you know, a dining room. So I think this book in particular presents a particular aesthetic and style that goes with ‘the minimalist lifestyle.’ (Source)

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Donald Judd Writings

With hundreds of pages of new and previously unpublished essays, notes, and letters, Donald Judd Writings is the most comprehensive collection of the artist’s writings assembled to date. This timely publication includes Judd’s best-known essays, as well as little-known texts previously published in limited editions. Moreover, this new collection also includes unpublished college essays and hundreds of never-before-seen notes, a critical but unknown part of Judd’s writing practice. Judd’s earliest published writing, consisting largely of art reviews for hire, defined the terms of art criticism... more
Recommended by Kyle Chayka, and 1 others.

Kyle ChaykaJudd felt this deep need to critically justify and theorize around his work. So he wrote this essay called ‘Specific Objects,’ in which he drew a circle around this group of ‘Minimalist’ artists, but instead of calling their art ‘minimal,’ he says, no, these artists are making specific objects … the great line in the essay is an artwork needs only to be interesting. Like, creating visual interest... (Source)

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Silence, A Year from Monday, M, Empty Words and X (in this order) form the five parts of a series of books in which Cage tries, as he says, to find a way of writing which comes from ideas, is not about them, but which produces them. Often these writings include mesostics and essays created by subjecting the work of other writers to chance procedures using the I Ching (what Cage called writing through). less
Recommended by Alex Ross, Alex Ross, Kyle Chayka, and 3 others.

Alex RossSilence is one of the great music books. Purely on a literary level, there’s something about Cage’s style which is tremendously unique. (Source)

Alex RossSilence is one of the great music books. Purely on a literary level, there’s something about Cage’s style which is tremendously unique. (Source)

Kyle ChaykaJohn Cage is one of the composers most associated with minimalism. He’s a kind of pioneer, not just in music, but also for the arts, and for philosophy as well. In the 1940s and 1950s, he had already cultivated an interest in Zen philosophy. He experimented with these forms of emptiness in art that were very radical at the time. (Source)

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In Praise of Shadows

An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight, and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure. less
Recommended by Jason Fried, Kyle Chayka, and 2 others.

Kyle ChaykaTanizaki is mourning what has been paved over, which is the old Japanese aesthetic of darkness, of softness, of appreciating the imperfect—rather than the cold, glossy surfaces of industrialized modernity that the West had brought to Japan at that moment. For me, that’s really valuable, because it does preserve a different way of looking at the world. (Source)

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