It's Lit Part III – A Curated Winter Reading List

Photographed by Holly Whittaker.
Welcome to It’s Lit – a series of discussions about books. Join us every month to find out who’s reading what.

As we wave goodbye to January, the model, creative director and British Vogue contributing editor Laura Bailey invites us into her Notting Hill studio. Just like her workspace, the house she shares with her boyfriend and their two children is full of books of all shapes, sizes and genres. “It’s books that really make a home,” she says, “I grew up in a house with leaning towers of books piled up everywhere.”

Laura has been modelling for more than 20 years – a career that has afforded her plenty of reading opportunities: “It’s a bit of a cliché but when I first started modelling everyone brought a book to read in hair and makeup – it was almost annoying,” she laughs. Her favourite thing about reading is the solitude and escapism it brings her. “I’m often asked to read first drafts for friends,” she says, “it’s a responsibility that can be incredibly stressful so I enjoy choosing books just for myself – I find it very relaxing.”

What are you reading right now?

I’ve just finished Zadie Smith's Swing Time and am just about to start Autumn by Ali Smith.
Photographed by Holly Whittaker.
When and where do you read?

In bed, on the road, on shoots – anywhere really. I especially like to read on journeys – travelling is really when I binge-read. And I always have a book in my bag.

What book is in your bag right now?

Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker. I always carry a book with me because I spend a lot of time waiting around. I’m also obsessed with timekeeping – I’d rather arrive early and have a moment to read, I don’t sit and play on my phone.

Do you prefer fact or fiction?

I’m more drawn to fiction.

Do you have a favourite biography?

I love Keith Richard’s Life. James Fox, who co-wrote it, is an old friend. I was very close to him through the writing of it and I really loved it.
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Photographed by Holly Whittaker.
Where do you buy your books?

I love my local bookstore, Lutyens & Rubinstein, and for art books, the Serpentine Gallery or the ICA. I’m the kind of person that goes into a bookshop for a particular book and leaves with several I never knew I needed. I’m drawn to anything that’s displayed prettily by the checkout – they know what they’re doing!

How do you choose what to read next?

My girlfriends, newspaper reviews and sometimes social media – I’ve got some great recommendations via Florence Welch on Twitter. I’ll also read what’s coming out in the magazines.

Which magazines are you faithful to?

Vogue, Violet, The Gentlewoman, Condé Nast Traveller and Vanity Fair.

Do you belong to a book club?

Not the traditional kind but my friends signed me up to The Willoughby Book Club – they send you a book every month for a year, which is wonderful. I just think it’s such a lovely thing to receive a book in the post.

Do you read with your children?

Yes, all the time. Though they don't really need me to these days – Luc is 12 and Tiger is 8. Lemony Snicket and anything by David Walliams are current favourites. I always make a point of taking them to the bookshop and buying them a book as a treat.
Photographed by Holly Whittaker.
How do you organise your bookshelves?

Random chaos. We have got a house full of books and a lot of shelves but I can never find what I want.

Which books are currently sitting on your bedside table?

Patrick Marber's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, currently in rep at the National Theatre. A.A. Gill is Further Away by A.A. Gill, Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book – theirs not mine! – and A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy.

What do you use as a bookmark?

Postcards.

Who are your favourite authors?

Jeanette Winterson, Joan Didion and Zadie Smith.

Is there a book you’ve read more than once?

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez.
Photographed by Holly Whittaker.
What book would you give as a gift?

A collection of poetry by Seamus Heaney or Tony Harrison, perhaps? I actually give a lot of books to friends – the minute I finish a good book, I’ll pass it onto someone I know will love it.

Which three books would you recommend to a stranger?

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
by Haruki Murakami, On Being an Artist by Michael Craig-Martin and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

Laura’s Reading List:

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Autumn by Ali Smith
Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker
Life by Keith Richards
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
A.A. Gill is Further Away by A.A. Gill
Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss
A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
New Selected Poems 1966-1987 by Seamus Heaney
Collected Film Poetry by Tony Harrison
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
On Being an Artist by Michael Craig-Martin
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Once you've got through Laura's list, why not check out Greta Bellamacina and Camilla Blackett's recommendations?
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