Introducing Kayten Schmidt: artist and all-around creative. Kayten's treasure hunting skills are renowned — including her terrific knack for finding the most interesting and covetable book covers. Stacking them up in baskets and on the floor of her house in the Silver Lake Hills makes us yearn to sort through the piles for constant and well-curated inspiration (or, perhaps to ask for help styling our own book piles). With a sharp eye and knowledge for all that is cool, it's wonderfully inspiring to keep up with what Kayten loves—which we at GAL certainly do.
GAL: What was the name of the first book you fell in love with, that turned you into a lifelong reader?
KS: The exact title I cannot recall. It was a children’s storybook my grandmother owned and included that version of The Little Mermaid where at the end she turns into sea foam, which is and was both beautiful and terrifying. I think it also included the story of a woman who wears a velvet ribbon around her neck – you know how that one ends.
GAL: What is the power of story? Describe some ways in which fictional narratives have impacted you and your life.
KS: I think my entire life IS a fictional narrative. Being an only child and an introvert who read a lot, I had this habit of narrating my internal dialogue in the third person for the longest time. I like how fuzzy my memories can get between a fictional story and reality, like I can’t remember if I read something five years ago or if it actually happened to me.
GAL: Do you have a current – or “forever” – favorite book?
KS: I have two books of Marlene Dumas paintings that I think will stick with me forever.
GAL: Who is your favorite author? Name two if just one seems unfair.
KS: Joan Didion and Richard Feynman.
GAL: Do you have a current favorite reading spot? Where is it? Or – can you read anywhere – place is not important?
KS: Bed, definitely. I have a hard time concentrating so somewhere free of distractions.
GAL: Do you prefer non-fiction to fiction? If so, why?
KS: Non. I like to feel like I’m learning.
GAL: If you read non-fiction, what genre do you prefer?
KS: Science, Self-help and biographies. Also anything about cults and psycho/sociopaths are favorite topics. And Gwenyth’s cookbooks.
GAL: Is it important for you to physically hold a book you read? Or can you read on a device with no problem and no impact on the experience?
KS: I enjoy reading on a device, at night you don’t need a light on. I know it’s probably unhealthy for your eyes but something about the screen keeps me awake longer.
I also love the idea of a classic book being contained in an iPhone or iPad – it’s like a fun secret on an otherwise utilitarian device. I read Anna Karenina in between my iPhone and iPad and it was a strange (and slow moving) process. I won't say for sure that it doesn’t impact the reading experience though it certainly might for some, but for me, it feels natural.
GAL: Please name three books you recommend reading and the reasons for your choices.
KS: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I haven’t read this yet, but only because I’m preparing myself for the epic life change that comes along with reading it.
The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss. I’m fascinated by the whole pickup artist thing. I’m not kidding. I think it also ties it with The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, which I also recommend.
Lee Miller, A Life. An amazing read.
GAL: How do you choose the books you read?
KS: Recommendations from friends and good covers.
GAL: If you were to write your memoir, what would you title it?
KS: Making Lazy Look Sophisticated.
I stole that from a friend of mine, sorry Josh.
GAL: We have a friend who has a “Sanity Shelf” dedicated to books she returns to again and again, to reread for pleasure, knowledge, and solace. What books would be on your Sanity Shelf?
KS: The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp
Secret Knowledge, by David Hockney
What did I do? The Unauthorized Autobigraphy of Larry Rivers, by Larry Rivers
Without Feathers, by Woody Allen
Delta of Venus, by Anais Nin
Sex at Dawn, by Cacilda Jethá and Christopher Ryan
The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain de Botton
On Photography, by Susan Sontag
The Beautiful and the Damned, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Anything Joan Didion
The Gentlewoman magazines
Beauty books from the 70s