Alec Soth’s Top 10 Photobooks of 2009

Posted in Photobooks (general) by Alec Soth on December 21, 2009

You and Me and the Art of Give and Take
by Allen Ruppersberg (Santa Monica Museum of Art)
Holy information overload. One of the coolest exhibition catalogues I’ve ever seen.

Greater Atlanta
by Mark Steinmetz (Nazraeli)
Steinmetz goes 3 for 3. Now I just wish Nazraeli would make a nice box to protect those sensitive white covers.

l by Raimond Wouda (Nazraeli)
A Technicolor teenage riot.

The * As Error
by Shannon Ebner and Dexter Sinister (LA County Museum)
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry
by Leanne Shapton (FSG)
Categorized as ‘Fiction/Graphic Novel’ by the publisher, this little book seems to have missed the photo universe entirely. But with hundreds of images by Jason Fulford and Michael Schmelling (who has his own entry on this list), this book should be categorized under ‘Narrative Photography.’

…all the days and nights by Doug Dubois (Aperture)
‘Narrative Photography’ at its finest.

The Plan
by Michael Schmelling (J&L)
If your home is getting cluttered, this book could change your life. But what if your home is getting cluttered with photo books?

Summer Nights, Walking
by Robert Adams (Aperture)
I used to be embarrassed that the 1985 edition was one of my favorite photobooks. The book was almost too sweet and the cover was an 80’s design nightmare. But there is nothing embarrassing about this reprint. Along with the incredible printing and understated cover, Adams has added some tougher pictures to the mix. Breathtaking.

Open See
by Jim Goldberg (Steidl)
Complex Goldbergian discourse on the subject of dislocation.

Protest Photographs
by Chauncey Hare (Steidl)
I haven’t had time to wrap my head around this tome, but it only takes a quick glance to know that this book is a killer.

→Looking for copies of these books? Visit the Photobook Link Page.


14 Responses

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  1. LBM said, on December 21, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Gerry Badger’s Top 10 of the decade:

  2. geoffrey james said, on December 21, 2009 at 11:37 am

    A fine list — it is good to see Chauncey Hare back. Do you know Thomas Roma’s House Calls with William Carlos Williams, a small, perfect book where Roma follows Williams’ house call routes through modern Paterson, NJ ?

  3. LBM said, on December 21, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for the tip Geoffrey. I’d love to hear other candidates for best book. By the way, here’s Martin Parrs Top 10 of the decade.

  4. Kyle Ford said, on December 21, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Glad to hear you are back in the blogging game.
    – KFord

  5. Marc Freidus said, on December 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm


    I got to get that Ruppersberg catalog. I got a big kick turning Gerry Badger on to Ruppersberg’s 23 Pieces and 24 Pieces a few years ago. Great post-Ruscha books that were totally ignored by the photo world at the time (me included – I picked these up later, probably in the 80’s, in one of Chicago’s great used book emporia).

  6. john gossage said, on December 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm


    Now you need a copy of “Allen Rupperberg: The Secret of Life and Death” 1985.
    The hardback edition plays the song “Love me Tender” automatically when you open a folder in the book.

    PS: From my vast collection of singing books

    Good list

  7. JJR said, on December 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    1985 cover of Summer Nights a nightmare!? I think you mean a cultural high point! But seriously, one of my favorite books on the shelf and the reprint is a great pick.

  8. Best Of « said, on December 29, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    […] Alec Soth’s Top Ten Photobooks of 2009 […]

  9. chris steller said, on January 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks for tip re: Mark Steinmetz. He was my TA once long ago (in Roma’s class), a really perceptive guy and great photographer. I have a book he did on trees but didn’t know about these.

  10. cb said, on January 5, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I have a copy of chauncy Hare’s ‘Interior America’. Great work.

  11. Nora Chovanec said, on January 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Chauncey Hare’s book is crazy good and his photographs really stand the test of time. I wish he would come out of hiding and give us his insight on our world today.

  12. Walter Dufresne said, on January 14, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    There’s good news, Nora, if by insight you’ll allow for prose and spoken words instead of photographs. Chauncey wrote an introductory essay to his book, and he practices therapy in San Francisco. He’s not so much hiding as doing something else.

  13. […] listing Allen Ruppersberg’s fantastic exhibition catalog in my list of Top 10 Photobooks of 2009, I’ve been doing more investigation on Rubbersberg. In the late 60’s and early […]

  14. jeff ladd said, on March 5, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Happy to see you mention Leanne Shapton’s ‘Important Artifacts…” book. I thought that was one of the more inventive ideas put to paper in a long while. If you look in some of the photos of friends you might see young photographers like Jason F. and Gus Powell.

    I heard something about this might be made into a film too…

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