Alec Soth Selects: Six Books That Remind Me of Teenage Life

When I start feeling jaded – about photography or the world at large – I try to remember what it felt like when I first immersed myself in art as a teenager. These books help spark that feeling:


Book of Roy by Neil Drabble

This extraordinary book charting the development of an ordinary boy is so vivid I can almost smell the adolescent awkwardness. Sometimes the richest subjects (and books) fly under the radar.

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The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams & The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Illusion of an Everlasting Summer by Alessandra Sanguinetti

As magical as their titles, these two books are like a hidden pond in the forest where I can refresh my creative energy. 

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Deep Springs by Sam Contis

Put down your phone and look at these pictures of young men in nature. Whether they were photographed seven years ago or seventy, there is a comforting continuity to the physical world.

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What She Said by Deanna Templeton

Seamlessly combining tender portraits of adolescent girls with Templeton’s own teenage diary, What She Said is a reminder of the awesome turbulence of youth.

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Portraits and Dreams by Wendy Ewald

What does that murky world before adolescence look and feel like? These thirty-five-year-old pictures and texts by Appalachian children are the best clue I’ve ever found.

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Somersault by Raymond Meeks

As much as I love the photographs in this tribute to Meeks’s daughter Abbey, it’s her words reflecting on her younger self that slay me: “She wants to climb on a train and go where it takes her. I am very much still her, somehow.”

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Discover more inspirations and reflections in Alec Soth's new book Gathered Leaves Annotated

Header image: Alec Soth, A Pound of Pictures (2022)

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