Peter Sís

Works of enchantment, from the bookshelf of the artist and author.



The children's books of  Peter Sís uniquely balance whimsy and profundity, darkness and radiant light. The internationally acclaimed Czech artist has written and illustrated more than twenty books, including Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei and the haunting work of graphic memoir The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. His first book for adults is a moving adaptation of the twelfth-century Sufi epic poem The Conference of the Birds. When we asked him to recommend three favorites, Sís responded with a trio of choices that range from a classic of modern travel writing to a work of fictional play by a master of the form.


Books by Peter Sís



To a Mountain in Tibet

By Colin Thubron


"This account of a pilgrimage to Mount Kailas, the center of the universe for Buddhists and Hindus, is a spiritual and meditative diary of a difficult trek. It's a masterful book, using beautiful language, full of memories and observations that make you feel you are with the author."




The Baron in the Trees

By Italo Calvino


"A delightful make-believe tale, which you believe as soon as you dive into it. Everything is part of a puzzle, and what a smart puzzle of imagination and magic it is. Initially, you think it's impossible that the young Baron will stay up in the trees forever. But you soon become a believer in Calvino, Baron, dreams, and fantasy, and you find yourself jumping from tree to tree with great delight."



The World Doesn't End

By Charles Simic


"There are so many beautiful collections of poetry and poets, but for some reason, Charlie Simic is very close to my heart. His memories, his experiences, his observations are mine. In his blend of the surreal and the startlingly real, I see through his eyes and feel through his heart. I can see the colors of the different situations. Could this be an intersection of our lives, where we meet for a wonderful moment? Or do we walk the same path in life? This collection is very enjoyable and at times quite sad."

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.