Category Archives: books

Creativity and Books

Over the years I’ve blogged about books, but maybe not as much as I should have. I love to read. LOVE. There are shelves of books in my workroom, piles on my nightstand, always an audiobook downloaded onto my phone, and dozens on my Kindle. I work part-time at a library, for goodness sake (3+ years now!) – so it’s probably about time I include more books in my blog. For me, creativity and books go hand-in-hand.

Books have always played an important part in my creative life: I taught myself to knit on 4-needles by studying a library book when I was a teenager (wish I remembered the name of it!); and I learned low-level programming from manuals back when I was in high school, which led to my college major and all future computer-related work. Recently I’ve read a few motivational art/craft books that I wanted to share.

Creativity and Books, 2015:

The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind by Cat Bennett. Don’t be put off by the “drawing” in the title – it was motivational, and such an easy read, that I believe anyone can grow by jumping into the exercises she describes. Any type of creative work can benefit by looking at things with a different perspective, and being confident. This book was really clear, to the point, with short, easy-to-digest chapters; it was really encouraging, with practical how-to’s. If you need a push, feel negative, or stuck – this is a good book to take a look at.

Art Saves: Stories, Inspiration and Prompts Sharing the Power of Art by Jenny Doh. When I first glanced at the book, I didn’t find the projects inspiring. But then I started reading…. and changed my mind. I got so much out of what each artist had to say about their journey, what they learned, their advice, and how they found the courage to do what they loved. This book made me think and realize that the only restrictions that I have, are self-imposed ones. This book will reassure you that you’re not alone in your ruts, or doubts, and can help you to focus on your goals.

55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, Window Dressings by Arne Nerjordet. This book was like a cookbook that has more than just recipes – I always like the ones that have stories to go along with each dish – they draw you in and make you feel that it’s much more than just an instruction manual. The descriptions and facts that accompanied the patterns were very interesting. There weren’t just knitting patterns in here – but poems, holiday stories, and traditions. Creativity of all kinds and really charming. And a shout-out to Pam of gingerbreadsnowflakes.com for introducing me to this.

On my to-read list: Make It Mighty Ugly : exercises & advice for getting creative even when it ain’t pretty by Kim Werker. Her blog is also really great.

create journal page for creativity and books

Journal page from notes & thoughts while reading Art Saves.

“We each have our own art journey and life journey. The important thing is to be ourselves and to be happy to be ourselves” – Cat Bennett.

Books + Creativity: Have any recommendations?

Dark Eden, a Book Review

My life has become so hectic lately, the only consistency in it has been the constant stream of books – audio books, digital books, adding books to my to-read lists…. Dark Eden, by Chris Beckett was a book I received from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. I read this one in a few evenings on my Kindle.

In this story we’re introduced to “the Family” on an alien planet, forced to adapt in order to survive while waiting to be rescued by Earth. In the 5 generations since the first settlers, food sources have been depleted, old traditions have lost their meaning, and inbreeding has resulted in disabilities. What can one dissatisfied youth do about the future of his people? Because the main character, John, was about 15 years old, I kept thinking this was a Young Adult novel, but the content was definitely more mature than what I initially expected it to be.

I gave Dark Eden 3.5 stars out of 5 – I liked this unique story and would read more if there are sequels.

I knew little about this book when I started it, but as soon as I began, my curiosity kept me reading through the story very quickly.

I thought the degeneration of language was clever, had me saying things aloud as I read (“Secret Ree” …secretary, “Any Virsry …anniversary, and so on). The world building was well intertwined into the plot, introducing flora and fauna along with the story-lines, showing us how survival was possible for humans on a sunless world.

I was left with more questions than answers by the time I was done:

  • How was it possible that John was the first to question things and want to quest out of the settlement?
  • Why did the women who were warned about men and their reach for power do nothing to stop the escalation?
  • Will sequels of the book show that the humans, in this alien environment, somehow mutate so that their inbreeding doesn’t render each generation more helpless?
  • Would love to read a prequel with explanations from the original settlers.

Questions aren’t bad in this case – the book wasn’t a cliffhanger, but thought-provoking.

Dark Eden, Book Review with Blogging for Books

I jumped at the chance when I heard about Blogging for Books and will likely choose a new one to read this week. Books are like portable magic – I can’t get enough of them.

 

*Additional Disclaimer: The Amazon links provided are affiliate links, I may be compensated if you make any purchase on Amazon.com after clicking through. Thanks for your support!

Do Overs with a Difference

Sometimes you have a chance to do something over and make it better. For example, I’ve chosen to re-purpose some beautiful yarn, and have finally found the perfect project for it.

Do Overs – Fiction & Non-Fiction

As I’ve been working on this Hitchhiker scarf project, I was also reading the book Life After Life by Kate Atkinson about a girl who has no choice but to live her life over and over again. Looking at all the odd balls of yarn that I was re-using for the 3rd time, I thought the coincidence of “do overs” was enough to combine a book review + knitting for this blog post.

Yarn Do Overs with Tamdoll's Hitchhiker
I keep this project in my handbag and work on it at odd times when I’m stuck waiting somewhere. The pattern is pretty simple, the yarn is working up beautifully, and I’m pretty sure it’s a keeper! The first time I blogged about this yarn was when I crocheted an entire cardigan with it then ripped it all out. The yarn, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, is super soft & squishy – the garter stitch is a great fit for it. This time around I do have a lot of ends to work in because of the mess I made unraveling the first go-round (sigh), but it’s not that hard, just tedious.

Onto the fiction part of “do overs”…. I’m going to work on my book reviews. To date, all I’ve been able to come up with is “I really liked it, I think you should read it, too.” From here on, I’ll be trying to write enticing reviews, without spoilers, that will convey my opinions just a little bit better. Here goes…

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Audio version narrated by Fenella Woolgar)

“What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?”

Beginning in 1910, leading up to WW II through 1967, this book travels through the birth and life and death of Ursula Todd, again and again and again. In each iteration, she follows a slightly different path, with slight variations – some subtle, some dramatic, and she lives an entire new life each time.

This re-living experience was not like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book; there weren’t always clear-cut decisions each time that would change the path that Ursula took. Over the course of lifetimes, author Kate Atkinson shows us how Ursula’s path led her to be a victim of circumstances, at other times a triumphant survivor, and everything in between.

What if you could live your life again and again? The responsibility, the foreshadowing would drive me crazy. What a burden to bear and repeat, endlessly. To what purpose? Could you save the world? To whose purpose? Would you change history for your loved ones or the greater good?

I found the book fascinating, and listening to the audio book was riveting. I never found the story repetitive, the details given in each chapter kept Ursula’s story fresh every time she lived it. I cried, more than once, and still, I kept listening.

Well done and makes me want to read more of Kate Atkinson’s books.

I’ve always loved reading, and now with audio books I get to knit & enjoy a good story at the same time.

*Disclaimer: The Amazon links provided are affiliate links, I may be compensated if you make any purchase on Amazon.com after clicking through. Thanks for your support!