With summer approaching and plans for much-needed rejuvenating escapes slowly taking shape, we wanted to imagine what our retreats would resemble. This year, we’re feeling something entirely removed from civilisation. A pared-down hut lost in the middle of the Amazonian jungle with only but the bare necessities on hand: a typewriter and reading material.

Photographer Yassin Serghini

From left to right: Natural Habitats (Steidl), Dirty Blonde (Faber & Faber), Landscapes (Hatje Cantz), Straight in The Light (ARP2 Editions), The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Picador) and What Would John Do? (BIS Publishers)

Straight in the Light (2009-2010) by Michel MazzoniARP2 editions

Straight in the Light, Brussels-based Michel Mazzoni’s second book, captures his American road trip, taking as starting point the faded and fazed-out. A photographer who sees landscapes as a meeting of spaces, his sparse, eerie and intentionally over-exposed images document the departed, disappeared and decayed. Looking through the book, one cannot help but feel a mix of contrasting emotions: beauty vs sorrow, escape vs reality, soft vs heavy-hitting. Using Californian, Arizonian and New Mexican natural light to fabulous effect, this is an intimate and insightful account of the maturity Mazzoni’s work has gained over the last few years.

Available from ArpEditions.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) by Tom WoolfePicador

The Merry Pranksters were a colourful group of post-beatniks lead by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey. Embarking on a summer-long road trip through America in a bus whose destination simply read “Further”, they went on to make history championing psychedelic drugs and band-of-the-moment Grateful Dead. Those epic days might have disappeared in a fog of hazy memories and acid flashbacks hadn’t journalist Tom Wolfe been on the bus, notebook in hand, religiously chronicling it all. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test narrates their story, describing its kooky protagonists, their wild adventures, even including tips to guarantee a fruitful, freak-out free LSD experience… The vivid descriptions and stream-of-consciousness styles collide, making this cult classic the closest you could possibly get to actually being there. That’s until its cinematographic adaptation, directed by Gus Van Sant, hits screens later this year.

Available from Amazon.

What Would John Do? Flour Power – Baking your Way to happiness (2010) by William Georgi – BIS Publishers

A hilarious pastiche of self-help manual meets cookbook, What Would John Do? reveals the mysteries of how a humble cookie contains all the ingredients for a happier life. The author recounts the teaches of John Altman – an unemployed Dude-like neo-hippie who gives away free cookies on San Francisco’s Baker Beach draped in nothing but an apron – developing his “spread the love” mantra in seven chapters meant to resemble the seven steps to bake the perfect cookie. John’s seemingly simplistic leitmotivs – referred to as “Johnisms” (“Go natural”, “whatever man”, or our personal favourite: “no one is bigger than the cookie”) – are pure pearls of wisdom and whether or not he actually exists, or if his recipe is that good, matters little. What Would John Do? is about the bigger picture. A wonderful lesson in how to step back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Available from Amazon.

Landscapes (2011) by Gerhard RichterHatje Cantz

Landscapes have a longstanding presence throughout Gerhard Richter’s vast body of work. As a matter of fact, their simple beauty have fascinated the German painter for the past 35 years, taking more of his time than any other theme. Despite the breadth of these explorations, only two exhibitions have been devoted to this subject matter so far and critics rarely made time to explore the values and meanings of these paintings, dismissed as purely “aesthetic”. This is the first book to examine these gorgeous and dream- like romanticised visions. Featuring over 80 plates that combine his photorealistic paintings, signature blur as well as a few rough sketches reminiscent of his abstract works, Landscapes is a must-have for the true Richter fan.

Available from Amazon.

Natural Habitats (2010) by Massimo VitaliSteidl

Page after page, Massimo Vitali’s bright and monumental prints of holiday resorts packed with herds of people are both soothing and mind-boggling. Capturing these popular spots in Turkey, Italy, Croatia or the French Riviera from dizzying heights affording the best views, the humans depicted are reduced to tiny flesh- coloured pinheads swarming in a strange mass that seems to socially gravitate around each other. Some of Vitali’s tribes of beachgoers and bathers can be seen under temporary shelters (umbrellas, tents, canopies), whilst others simply attempt to make peace with their surroundings. In both cases, the depicted packs breathe tranquillity and peace, whilst evolving in these heavenly “natural habitats.”

Available from Steidl.

Dirty Blonde – The Diaries of Courtney Love (2007) – Faber & Faber

Few women in show business history have been as controversial as Courtney Love. Often bashed by tabloids and peers, Kurt Cobain’s widow and de facto queen of grunge never went down without a fight and has come to be known for her loud, spontaneous and unabashedly wild nature. Dirty Blonde features an intimate collection of notes, photographs and documents belonging to the peroxided anti-hero, turning out to be her most intimate release to date. Poignant excerpts of her childhood diaries, song lyrics written in juvenile hall, report cards from school, old flyers, promo pictures, intimate photographs of Kurt and their baby daughter make up this fascinating scrapbook containing everything you’d ever need to know about the MTV Generation’s most iconic and scandalous blonde.

Available from Amazon.