Illustration by Paula Zariņa

The best book read in 2012? 0

The Year 2012 in Review

Illustration by Paula Zariņa

You already know, which exhibitions and films have created the most memorable impressions of the year 2012, but which have been the year’s greatest books? Since early December the staff of has been on a mission to learn the opinions of the many creative intellectuals from the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Russia. Now we can finally reveal all of our findings. Happy holidays!

Christian Andersson, artist, Sweden
Nazi Litterature in the Americas by Roberto Bolano. In 2011 I was floored by his 2666 and now this. Just as David Foster Wallace he died to soon, and now we only have a handful of books to feed on. I will do one each year, and then start over again.

Mārtiņš Vanags, writer for Rīgas Laiks magazine, Latvia
It's neither the best nor most interesting book, but it is the first book that I've ever read on an iPad, without even having touched the printed version. Accordingly, it is the biography of Apple's founder, Steve Jobs, and it is narrated very well by Walter Isaacson.

Keta Gūtmane, fashion designer, Latvia
Yohji Yamamoto's autobiographical work, My Dear Bomb, and the Zen Buddhist anthology, Neither the Wind nor the Flag.

Riivo Anton, entrepreneur, advisor and investor, Estonia
The Ultralight Startup by Jason L. Baptiste - very inartistic;
The Compromise by Sergei Dovlatov (in Estonian) - more into arts :)

August Künnapu, artist, Estonia
A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford.

Helēna Demakova, art historian, Latvia
I've had the year's best book for a long time; that is, I hadn't yet read it. Stendhal, Histoire de la Peinture en Italie. First published in 1817.

Maria Arusoo, curator and executive manager of Center for Contemporary Arts, Estonia
I do not like to rate books but Markus Miessen's and Chantal Mouff's Critical Spatial Practice 2 : The Space of Agonism was an interesting one. Revised edition of  More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction by Kodwo Eshun, and also Estonian publication house Lugemik has given out amazing books last year.

Vita Zaman, art director of VIENNAFAIR, Austria
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. 

Olga Temnikova, owner of Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Estonia
Our Daddy Is a Hunter by Marko Mäetamm.

Kaspars Podnieks, artist, Latvia
English in 15 Minutes.

Milena Orlova, editor-in-chief of The Art Newspaper Russia, Russia
Grigory Kozlov’s Art Assassination Attempt. It was published a few years ago, but I only accessed it now. An excellent investigation of art scene’s backstage – robberies, forgeries, Van Gogh, Hitler, Brenner, Vermeer. Impossible to resist.

Zaiga Gaile, architect, Latvia
SOLOMON VOLKOV: DIALOGI C IOSIFOM BRODSKIM, published by EKSMO, Moscow, 2012. A client from Moscow brought it back, and Māris (Gailis) and I both read it at the same time, snatching it from each other's nightstands. The author is a literary researcher who lives in the US. Over a period of several years, he recorded conversations with Brodsky about literature and life. Compared to other books of this kind, the text is authentic – it's not retold by the author.

Marge Monko, artist, Estonia
Although I've never been a fan of Red Hot Chilli Peppers, I enjoyed reading Scar Tissue, a biography of Anthony Kiedis – it’s a story about addiction and rock'n'roll.

Karin Laansoo, director of Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, Estonia
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

Jānis Putniņš, film director, Latvia
Vienna Actionism. Art and Upheaval in 1960s Vienna.

Kaspars Vanags, cultural theoretician, Latvia
Virtuves vārdene (Kitchen Dictionary) by Janīna Kursīte.

Sergei Khachaturov, art critic, Russia.
Russian history of art. Edition devoted to the 19th century, published by the Russian State Institute of Art. In connection to bad rumours of disbanding one of the last centres of science of art, I really want to support colleagues.

Indriķis Ģelzis, artist, Latvia
I didn't have a favorite book this year. But I was very happy with, and still am, with the magazines Rīgas Laiks and Studija.

Darius Miksys, artist, Lithuania
The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Kaido Ole, artist, Estonia 
The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq. There are not so many novels with contemporary artists, I don´t know why?

Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt, art director of VIENNAFAIR, Austria
Swimming home by Deborah Levy. 

Ieva Iltnere, painter, Latvia
I was moved by Atlantīda (Atlantis) by the wonderful Valentīna Freimane. Publishing house Neputns' book on [artist Kārlis] Padegs is both beautiful and interesting, but currently I'm being sucked in by E. L. James' erotic best-seller.

Andra Neiburga, author and director of Neiburgs hotel, Latvia
Ģederts Eliass by Laima Slava.

Jacob Fabricius, director of Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark
An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira.

Sara Arrhenius, director of the Bonniers Konsthall, Sweden
Where the Heart Beats by Kay Larsen is a surprising, learned and well-researched study of the importance of Zen Buddhism to John Cage and to artistic avantgarde of the 1950's and 1960's. Kay Larsen is telling another story of influences and inspiration in this turbulent period of American art. 

Krišs Salmanis, artist, Latvia
After the End of Art by Arthur D. Danto. A good way to describe the mood for the whole year.

Andris Vītoliņš, artist, Latvia
A unique historical work on the Revolution of 1905 and Latvian anarchists came out this year – Pa stāvu liesmu debesīs (Straight Up into Heaven, Upon a Flame), published by Dienas grāmata, 2012. If I were president, then I'd make this book compulsory reading for all government workers and bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education – because, thanks to the dictatorship of President Ulmanis and the Soviets, our national history has been greatly skewed. Finally, there is written material that shakes these skeletons out of the closets; in addition, there's talk of painting in the book!