A Book of Days
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A deeply moving and brilliantly idiosyncratic visual book of days by the National Book Award–winning author of Just Kids and M Train, featuring more than 365 images and reflections that chart Smith’s singular aesthetic—inspired by her wildly popular Instagram.
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Variety, Pitchfork, PopSugar
In 2018, without any plan or agenda for what might happen next, Patti Smith posted her first Instagram photo: her hand with the simple message “Hello Everybody!” Known for shooting with her beloved Land Camera 250, Smith started posting images from her phone including portraits of her kids, her radiator, her boots, and her Abyssinian cat, Cairo. Followers felt an immediate affinity with these miniature windows into Smith’s world, photographs of her daily coffee, the books she’s reading, the graves of beloved heroes—William Blake, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Simone Weil, Albert Camus. Over time, a coherent story of a life devoted to art took shape, and more than a million followers responded to Smith’s unique aesthetic in images that chart her passions, devotions, obsessions, and whims. Original to this book are vintage photographs: anniversary pearls, a mother’s keychain, and a husband’s Mosrite guitar. Here, too, are photos from Smith’s archives of life on and off the road, train stations, obscure cafés, a notebook always nearby. In wide-ranging yet intimate daily notations, Smith shares dispatches from her travels around the world.
With over 365 photographs taking you through a single year, A Book of Days is a new way to experience the expansive mind of the visionary poet, writer, and performer. Hopeful, elegiac, playful—and complete with an introduction by Smith that explores her documentary process—A Book of Days is a timeless offering for deeply uncertain times, an inspirational map of an artist’s life.
Rock star Smith (Year of the Monkey) unfurls a vibrant photo scrapbook created during the Covid-19 pandemic and inspired by the "exploding collage" of social media culture. The photos include selections from Smith's personal archive, as well as cellphone snapshots and Polaroids. There is one photo for each day of the year, and the short accompanying text often references cultural figures, whether William S. Burroughs or Greta Thunberg. Smith also recounts moments from her own life, including riding her first bike as a child and outtakes from her 1970s punk heyday. Recurring figures include her late partner, Robert Mapplethorpe, and her daughter, Jesse, who encouraged Smith to join Instagram. The captions often take the form of straightforward descriptions ("The desk of the great writer Jorge Luis Borges lives in the National Library in Buenos Aires"), but Smith's personal photos provide moments for deeper introspection ("This is my thinking chair. I sit and let it take me where it will, as if it were a small wooden ship"). Below a photo of One World Trade Center, Smith writes, "A city of burning days and consecrated nights, utterly transformed from the New York I once knew." Wrapped in a nostalgic glow, this will be an inspiration for Smith's fans. Agent: Betsy Lerner, Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner.