I've instituted a monthly "spa day" for myself where I spend an entire day not working and doing whatever I need to re-energize and rejuvenate. For February's spa day I went to a public library and wandered the non-fiction shelves for an hour, because this is an incredibly energizing activity for me. I see so many interesting topics, ideas, and images and I am often almost overwhelmed by inspiration. The photo above is one shelf of the nature/science section and I swear I wish I could read every single one of those books, they all look that interesting.
I am obsessed with the library, obsessed with books, especially non-fiction ones. Our library sets a limit of 40 items per person and - no joke - I sometimes have to return items before I can take more out. I can't get enough. I go so crazy with the piles of books I take home that I'm often reading 5 or 6 at once and don't end up finishing any of them before they have to go back. Long ago I decided not to feel guilty about not reading all the books I brought home. I hadn't spent any money on them so, in my mind, there was nothing wrong with bringing a book home to have a glance through and then deciding something was more interesting.
I decided to start a regular "what I'm reading" list because I always love hearing about what other people are reading. It often gives a lot of insight into why they think the way they do and where their ideas come from. So I figured at least someone will find this interesting. Here are the books that I have actually finished in the last few months:
My Favourite Things - Maira Kalman
This is a really personal, meandering exploration of objects through the eyes of illustrator and avid collector, Maira Kalman. I've really enjoyed some of her other books including The Principles of Uncertainty and And the Pursuit of Happiness thanks to her child-like sense of wonder and her off-kilter painting style. In this book she finds magic in seemingly random objects and uses them to take you along on a journey of senses and memory.
The River - Alessandro Sanna
A collection of watercolour paintings loosely arranged in story, The River wordlessly describes the passing of the seasons in a small village in Italy. The paintings, piled one after the other like a comic strip, call up subtle and powerful feelings. It's gorgeous.
Gypsy - Sibella Court
This is one that I found on the shelf in my last exploration and the embossed pattern on the spine is what caught my eye. The inside is full of photographs saturated with mood and flavour, each section describing how the author incorporates her travel experiences into her home decor work. Just the colour palettes alone are worth giving this a flip through.
Non Fiction Books
The Art of Asking - Amanda Palmer
If you're going to read this book - and you most definitely should - I would recommend getting the audio version since it's read by the author and is interspersed with songs by her and other artists. If you haven't seen it already, start with her hugely popular Ted Talk, since the book expands on the concepts she covers there. She explains how she has developed a relationship with her fans that gives them permission to support her in whatever way appeals to them most, and was thus able to fund a million dollar Kickstarter campaign. As a long-time fan of her personality and her relationship to art, if not always of her music, it was fascinating getting such a detailed inside look at her life and her journey. I laughed, I cried. It's a really powerful story and message.
Turning Pro - Steven Pressfield
This books is talked about endlessly in the online small business community, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It's a short, fast read and definitely packs a powerful motivational punch when it comes to getting serious about creative work and living your best life. I found that it was more of a manifesto than a how-to book, but it reinforced something I've been thinking about a lot lately: that you can't do something you care about halfway. If you're going to do it, give it everything you have. As someone used to being a dabbler and an amateur, this helped me understand the importance of diving deep.
The Happiness of Pursuit - Chris Guillebeau
Another popular book on the blogs I read, this book from the writer of The $100 Startup and The Art of Non Conformity explores the joys of pursuing a massive goal. A mix between personal experiences, stories of people he's interviewed, and some tips and tricks on how to get started on your own "quest", this was inspiring enough to get me thinking about whether it's time for me to find another quest of my own.
I am Malala - Malala Yousafzai
I listened to this book while getting ready for my last big craft show and the hours passed by completely unnoticed. It's an incredibly captivating memoir by the girl who made international news when she was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. I realized that I knew next to nothing about Pakistan and was fascinated by it's history as much by the story of this strong, powerful, young woman. I think all young women should read this book to help them realize the potential that they have to influence the world.