Why I Love Books!

Faculty Guest Blogger: Steven Brower

Steven Brower: It’s difficult to recall exactly when my love of books began. As a toddler, my mother and older sister would read to me in bed. Some of my earliest fond memories are sitting at the wooden table at the Barnes Avenue Public Library Branch in the Northeast Bronx, pouring over a tome I had just discovered. Add to that the Mobile Library that would deliver books to our front door in the housing projects.

Alexander Rodchenko poster
Poster by Russian Constructivist Alexander Rodchenko, in part translated in English

From that early age books were pure magic. I would enter into flights of fantasy alongside Tom Swift and solve mysteries with the Hardy Boys. As I matured, so did my reading lists. Six grade I was on the island fearing for my life with The Lord of the Flies. By 14 I was On the Road with Jack Kerouac. Along the way I was warned about a Brave New World, learned bravery from The Three Musketeers, loyalty and sacrifice in A Tale of Two Cities, and how to become Bound for Glory. I met Hobbits along the way.

Mobile Library
The mobile library delivering books to Parkside Projects in the Northeast Bronx, where I grew up.

As an art student I learned something new. There were beautifully produced art books on the shelves of the Main Branch of New York Public Library. And the best part is I could discover someone new, often completely by accident, by simply pulling these volumes off the shelf. I fear this is lost today, when a Google search substitutes for real discovery, since we are now all drawing from the same limited pool, but I digress.

When I began my career in design I knew I wanted to go into book publishing and headed back to New York City. I secured my first publishing job at New American Library designing mass-market book covers. Soon after I became an art director at a trade publisher. I felt firmly ensconced in the world of books.

Magic is contained within

Not too long after I decided I wanted to create my own books. What could be more satisfying than to see my work on those library shelves? It took some time but beginning in the early 2000s that dream came true. To date I have had one dozen books that I have written, edited and designed published. Currently, I have an additional four due out next year.

I wish to convey to my students this love of books. In my crowded office I have over 100 books on art, design, illustration, comics and more. They are there for you to borrow as long as you promise to return them. Trust me, you will find magic within nowhere to be found on Google.

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