The other week I picked up a copy of Illustration Now 3, the latest in Taschen's series of lusciously illustrated guides to current graphic design, illustration and so on. Even though you can find similar selections on-line, clicking through a web gallery cannot compete with leafing through a book in terms of speed.

I like browsing through these kind of books as a way of discovering what my mood of the moment is and in which direction I am thinking. Colours? Geometric? Baroque? Romantic? Abstract? Dirty Realism?

I try to resist the temptation of buying on impulse. I usually go back to a shop to have another look, but occasionally I happen upon a few images that I just got to have, knowing that my life would be miserable if I didn't buy the book right there, that I would be lying awake at night, trying to remember a particular image, unable to just grab the book and look at it.

There were a couple of images in Illustration Now 3 that tipped the scale for me. Jaime Zollars' dark fairy tale drawings are just wonderful. She creates striking visual metaphors of childhood fear. In one picture a girl is walking on a path, which doubles as a river, through a forest of leafless trees. She has to jump from skull to skull. From behind two trees masked figures spy at her. As with the picture above, I have the feeling that I totally understand it, even though when you try and put it into words it always sounds rather banal, so I won't even try.

I also loved Ulla Puggaard's stark visual images and Brian Hubble's photo collages, which reminded me a lot of some work by Robert Rauschenberg that I really like. He also does pretty awesome Jean-Michel Basquiat like collage drawings, bringing together different sketches in the same frame, striking through some half finished drawings.

In terms of subject matter Damyeong Yoo's work is in the same category as Jaime Collar, featuring compelling metaphors of fear, but that's just my interpretation of the moment. She uses a very interesting technique of cut-out figures that create shadows on paper. I also liked the work of Marco Wagner (I guess I'm in a dark mood) and Stephane Goddard.

The real joy of a book such as Illustration Now 3 is the rich variety of styles and subject matter. Who knows in a few weeks or months my preferences may have shifted to different kind of work, such as that of Ryan Heshka or Cecilia Carlstedt.