Book Report November 2015

Due to my 31 Days of Free Embroidery Patterns series last month, I didn’t post a book review in October. This month is extra-full as a result.  And goodness, I’ve read some great books lately.  
What have you been reading?

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

As a big believer in the power of habit and of spending time on your art (whatever that might be) daily, I found this book fascinating. It’s a peek into the lives of successful artists, writers, musicians, thinkers, etc. throughout history and a description of the methods they used to produce their best work.  The thing that stood out to me most was that while there were plenty of the “tortured artist” types–those who abused substances, battled demons and kept odd hours– many more of the people featured in the book just set aside time for their work and sat down and worked.  Every single day.  It may have been for 8 hours, it may have been for only 2.  But they put in the time and made it a habit and creative amazing work because of that habit.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

From the author who wrote Steal Like an Artist, this is a short and sweet, but very motivating book about increasing creativity. Full of inspirational quotes from inspirational people and very insightful into the fear that we all feel when we’re trying to reach our creative dreams.

In general I am pretty burned out on the whole YA fiction genre.  I feel like everything I’ve read in that area lately is basically the same storyline, with only slight variations. However, I really enjoyed both Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  They are imaginative re-tellings of fairy tales we know and love, set in a dangerous future. Strong characters and a fast-paced plot made both of these books enjoyable.  I can’t wait to read Cress and the brand new Winter. I also just discovered that Queen Lavana’s story is told in Fairest, a book I didn’t even know existed until about 5 minutes ago, but now I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

I am such a Bill Bryson fan; I find his dry humor and self-deprecating style utterly delightful.  His descriptions of everyday life resonate with so many of us because we can see ourselves in his place.  I loved this book, just like I’ve loved everything I’ve read of his.  My favorite, at this point, is A Walk in the Woods his memoir about his experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail. Jason and I read this together years ago and both of us loved it. It inspired a Bill Bryson binge-reading period for us.

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

I am not usually a fan of scary or creepy books or movies.  My imagination is much too active and I really struggle to leave the story behind.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve convince myself that when I open my eyes after washing my face I’ll see a ghost (or a Bad Guy or a Zombie…) standing behind me in the mirror.  Having said that, I really liked The Haunting of Maddy Clare.  It was creepy enough to be a fantastic Halloween read, but not so creepy that I couldn’t sleep afterward.  I listened to the book while I painted our master bedroom and a couple of times I had to turn it off because I was getting a little jumpy.  I was not interested in being up on a ladder while I listened to some parts. 🙂  Overall I feel like there was a very good balance of spookiness, plot line and character development.  

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

This book was a page-turner once I got into it.  It’s full of the mystery and family drama that Kate Morton does so well.  I can’t think of anything to say about it that won’t be slightly spoilery, so I’ll end now.  Just know that I loved it.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (Graphic Novel)

I read The Hobbit aloud to my big kids last month.  We’ve read it before as a family and so I decided to try something a little different this time.  We read this graphic novel version and absolutely adored it. The illustrations are incredible and add so much to the already amazing story. I was worried that some of the images would be too scary for my sensitive 7 year old (wonder where he gets that from…), but they were not. This would be a great introduction for those new to Tolkien, but even those who are very familiar with The Hobbit will appreciate it.  Beautiful.
Head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more book recommendations.