I opened up Patti Smith’s Just Kids last week and read it nonstop until it ended and left me flipping back through to my favorite parts. It was wonderful. I recommend it to anyone who is harboring an artistic spirit, or wondering what happened to theirs, or torturously pondering what to do next. It’s about her life with Robert Mapplethorp (both pictured above) as late teens-early 20s in NYC—so poor, so unknown, and yet eager to greet their future. Their belief in their artistic ability and the worthwhileness of  becoming artists, the joy they took in their city lives, the way they styled their working habits; it all inspired me to take firmer hold of my own artistic ambitions. It’s also an amazing primer on bohemian Greenwich Village, the Factory, the Chelsea Hotel….basically New York City in the ’60s.

I really didn’t know anything about Patti Smith, aside from her name, when I picked up the book, so don’t let that stop you. This isn’t a fangirl review.

Just Kids won the 2010 National Book Award for nonfiction. In her weepy acceptance speech she said,

Publishers: never abandon the book….There is nothing more beautiful, in our material world, than the book.

Next up: Netflixing the documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life.

Photo by Katie Simon, 1979.