Two book covers and one album cover. The books are: The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino and Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. The album is Heartless Crew’s Crisp Biscuit.

Artist John Costi’s exhibition at the South London Gallery, Found Football Difficult, (31 Mar – 18 Jun 2023) premieres new work that Costi made as part of his six-month residency at the South London Gallery. The show explores life and loss through sculpture, sound, scent, and personal archive. The new work reflects on themes of masculinity, gambling and luck. To coincide with the show, Costi has shared his top picks from the South London Gallery Bookshop that touch on themes relating to the exhibition and his interests.

The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

The Cosmicomics tell the story of the history of the universe, from the big bang, through time and across galaxies. It is witnessed through the eyes of the ‘cosmic know-it-all’ Qfwfq, who takes the shape of a dinosaur, a mollusc, a steamer captain and a moon milk gatherer, among others. Italo Calvino’s stories combine science, parody and wordplay to explore the strangeness and the wonders of the world.

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien

The Third Policeman is Flann O’Brien’s dark comic novel about time, death and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a failed robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a police station where he is introduced to “Atomic Theory” and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity, and scientist/philosopher de Selby’s view that the earth is “sausage-shaped.” With the help of his newly found soul named “Joe, ” he grapples with the riddles and contradictions presented to him.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Benjamin Hoff explores Taoism through the beloved character of Winnie-the-Pooh. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with Pooh-bear and his friends, the author explains that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning bowl of cereal. Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living.

Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim

Pimp-turned-author, Iceberg Slim, shares his harrowing life story in this tale of brutality, cunning and greed. A legendary figure of the Chicago underworld, Iceberg Slim has led an astonishing life; from defending his mother against the men in their lives to becoming a giant of the streets. Pimp is a portrait of the wrong side of the tracks and a warning from a true survivor.

Nov York by Dumar Brown

Graffiti artist Dumar Brown aka ‘Nov York’ thought he was king of the world, or at least king of the most powerful city in the world, New York. One day, he had an epiphany and came to the conclusion that everyone is dreaming and nothing matters. For Nov, life & death are one & all of existence is broken down into one word… Boom.

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

This is a collection of well-loved fairy tales, hilariously retold by Roald Dahl. Revolting Rhymes takes the classic fairy tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Three Little Pigs, Jack & the Beanstalk and Cinderella, then mixes them together and serves them with a mischievous twist. All of the stories are written in Dahl’s iconic verse and are decorated by Quentin Blake’s illustrations.

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Listen up

John Costi tunes in to ‘In Our Time’ with Melvyn Bragg mixed with Alan Watts to, in his own words, quieten his racing mind at bed time.

Costi listens to anything from Sizzla to Mobb Deep. OT the Real is on his playlist at the moment alongside sets from Logan Sama/Mac 10 and Heartless Crew’s Crisp Biscuit.

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John Costi will be in conversation with Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey at the South London Gallery on 13 May 2023. Book tickets online now.

Visit the South London Gallery Bookshop Tues-Sun to browse our book range inspired by the exhibition. Our store is committed to highlighting underrepresented authors, independent publishers and championing reading across all ages.

Want to know what other artists are reading? Take a look at what artist Michelle Williams Gamaker recommended.

John Costi: Found Football Difficult is at the South London Gallery from 31 March – 18 June 2023.

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