Lifestyle The Survey

The Survey Vol. 1: Summer Reading

By Lena Dystant

Jul 13, 2022

The Survey Vol. 1: Summer Reading

Ever curious, Drake’s calls on friends, family and acquaintances for a new episodic enquiry focused on a single theme.

In the spirit of the season, our debut looks to summer, asking our six participants to select their ultimate holiday read.  With contributions from the likes of G. Bruce Boyer, David Coggins and Rose Blake, this collection of personal recommendations transports, uplifts and entertains, the perfect assortment to see you through sunny days at home and abroad. From the wailds of Montana to the Pink City of Jaipur, fantastical feasts to the very best in early street photography, we explore time, place and circumstance in our very first Survey.

G. Bruce Boyer

New York-based journalist and writer for Vogue, The New Yorker, Town & Country, among others

- Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

Reading has been one of the great joys of my life for as long as I can remember. In fact, among my memories of advice given me by my mother was the injunction to read. “If you learn to love reading,” she told me when I was just three or four, “you’ll never be alone.” Of course, she was right. I loved novels when I was young and devoured them like cookies, but now I read mostly autobiography and biography, memoirs and diaries, and occasionally collected letters.

But there is one novel I’ve returned to every year since its publication in 2007: Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader.

Strictly speaking, it’s not a novel at all, but a novella of a mere 120 pp. in the edition I’ve got. I’ve read most of Bennett’s work, the plays, the autobiographical writings, and his other short fiction, but I keep coming back annually to this slim volume. It’s an absolute model of sly humour couched in prose as graceful as a silk scarf. Bennett must surely be a national treasure in the UK and one of world’s great comic writers, and this particular novella is a small, charming gem which reveals psychological truths in the most hilarious way. In short, it’s a classic.

Chris Tang

Fashion Editor of Jocks & Nerds Magazine

- Colin Westerbeck, Joel Meyerowitz

For some summer reading I chose a photography book: Joel Meyerowitz by Colin Westerbeck. I first came across Meyerowitz's books when I studied photography. His way of catching the subtle irony of the everyday and the funny notions he was able to produce in a single frame is incredibly whimsical. Meyerowitz can seem confrontational within his approach to street photography but you can see his affection too and it's that duality that I gravitate towards.

Helping inform this, Meyerowitz has annotated each image in the book. Being incredibly articulate, he devotes an emotion, a time, a place, going into the detail of the "bigger picture" so to speak.  

Reading it time and time again, I have new ideas of how narratives unfold in some of the images. It's truly a timeless body of work.

Rose Blake

London-based artist and illustrator

- Ali Smith, How to Be Both

I'm a huge fan of Ali Smith and particularly love How to Be Both. The book follows two characters; a 15th century fresco painter, Francesco del Cossa, and a modern-day grieving schoolgirl, George. Typically Smith, it is full of layers and coincidence whilst being equally clear and visual.

There are two versions of the book; one with George's section printed first, and the other half with Francesco's - it's totally random which version you pick up as the covers are the same. I read the George section first and can't imagine reading it the other way around.

David Coggins

Writer for Esquire, Financial Times, Condé Nast Traveller, author of Men and Style

- Jim Harrison, A Really Big Lunch, and,The Raw and the Cooked

For a summer book I’m looking for something that makes me want to be outside. To grill, to fish, to swim, to be in the woods. Jim Harrison’s books on food are all of those things. A Really Big Lunch and The Raw and the Cooked collect the late great writer’s work on immense meals in France (a country he loved), but also his farmhouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and his home in Montana. He loved to walk—and claimed a vigorous four-hour hike entitled him to a bottle of wine. He knew chefs, writers, actors, ate high and low, and drank more than anybody as productive. This is robust writing by a man of appetites who dedicated himself to his senses every day of his life.

Sinbad Phgura


- Miles Davis, Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography

-Gayatri Devi, A Princess Remembers: Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur

A book and a destination go hand-in-hand and on my travels there’s always a book or two. I read non-fiction, mostly autobiographies. When asked to name a book I couldn’t think of one, so I have chosen two, both similar in that you’re transported back in time to a bygone era, worlds that don’t really exist anymore. So rich and delicious are the descriptions you can almost smell and touch the characters.

A Princess Remembers: Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur I read in Rajasthan, India, in March 2003. Miles: The Autobiography I read in Bologna, Italy in December 1989. These books I go back to from time to time, now seen with fresh eyes as I age and grow old but always a wonderful reminder of when and where I was on first read.

Michael Hill

Drake’s Creative Director

- Simon Hopkinson, Roast Chicken and Other Stories

I just thoroughly enjoyed rereading Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson. It has a lovely atmosphere, somehow managing to be charming, witty, inspirational and in no way intimidating, all at the same time. It's a rewarding meditation on some very simple ingredients that one could easily take for granted, but which Hopkinson manages to elevate and cast in a new light with his love for them. As its title suggests, it's part cookbook, part essay, which makes for a refreshing and engaging combination. You get to spend a little time with each food before learning to prepare it, which helps to build an appreciation and an understanding of each dish. And, best of all, it certainly makes me feel like I can roast a chicken and grill a steak!

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