Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ongoing list of books read for this year

2009 Book List
Now that I am done with college (yippy!) I need to avoid becoming a sloth. I am letting myself go crazy with reading. Often, books influence my art, so this is a double bonus; get ideas for art and wrinkle my brain (each time you learn something your brain gets more wrinkled).

December 2009

37. The Dip by Seth Godin

(Finished reading in 2 days)

I'm going to share my thoughts in a future post on this insightful short book how it relates to me formulating 2010's New Year's Resolutions.

36. Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

(still listening to on the laptop)

I started this story when I needed some company while knitting. Since I am not knitting at this moment, I haven't picked up the story again. For some reason, sitting and listening feels wasteful and yet sitting and reading is ok. Go figure.


35. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

(Finished devouring)

This is the 5th Pratchett book for this year, if that gives you a hint on how much fun he is to read!

34. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle

(Currently reading out loud with mom)

33. Mat, Mount, and Frame it Yourself by M. David Logan (click for his website)

(Finished reading in 2 days)

After reading the handouts from Michaels on custom framing, my thirst for a text book with color photos and glossary, where I could glean notes from and put them in a three ring binder and make flash cards was driving me nuts! My aunt lent this book to me yesterday, and it is ideal since it focuses on conservation framing and using the best materials out there, which is what we use at Michaels.

Knowing the correct names of tools and procedures for mounting gives me more confidence. Framing is a wonderful with my creative tendencies and need for high attention to detail.


32. On Location by Richard McDaniel (click for his website)

(Stayed up late reading and then got up early the next morning to finish this excellent book!)

In college my classes focused on film and sculpture, so I didn't get to have formalized training in many other mediums. If it wasn't for the cost, I would of gladly kept going to school. There are so many art forms and techniques that I want to explore. With the Internet and the library I can learn other mediums that I have been very eager to learn, like pastels.

With an upcoming lesson that I am teaching on pastels, reading On Location has given me confidence, knowledge and added even more to my excitement of this medium. Through Richard McDaniel's book, he reinforced the techniques that I learned in college drawing and color theory classes and private instruction on oil and charcoal drawing. This book is stunning in the simplicity and clarity of what to ask yourself while you are creating and demystifying various pastel techniques.

For me a book's layout is just as important as the content. I have many art books that I adore the images and glean inspiration from, but the text is flawed in some manner. Sometimes just being too wordy deters me from reading what the artist has to say. On Location has a clean layout, informative captions and equally helpful text. Reading the book gave me lots of ahh! moments that gave me insight on how a pastelist works and lots of other reminders of what I had learned in previous art classes that also apply to drawing with pastels.

McDaniel paints plein air, which is painting on location.

The layering of colors adds lots of texture and interest. The color also evokes the emotion that I experienced when I visited Stonehenge.

31. You can write Children's books by Tracey E. Dils

(Finished reading)

I plan to write and possibly illustrate some books since my art and style of learning relates strongly to children's books with the abstraction to key points, tactile experiences, experimentation, humor, playfulness, vivid colors and whimsical nature.

You can write children's books showed me how the publishing industry works, what is expected of me as a writer and options for me as a writer. I am most excited about writing nonfiction and educational books (not a surprise is that?), which happens to work out great since there is more of a demand for those types of books.

About half way through this book I caught the writing bug and had to write out all of my book topic ideas. I felt like I couldn't process any more information until I emptied my brain of book ideas. I wrote and wrote. Then flipped back to see how many pages of brainstorming I did -- it was 8 pages!! Now, I need to pick which one I am the most excited about and will keep my attention of the next few months as I write and look to get it published.

I also want to pursue getting published in magazines and in online publications, since the wait is less long to get published, the money would be helpful and the experience would be invaluable.

This book was written in 1998, which made me wonder how the industry and policies have changed since then. I checked on amazon and Tracey Dils have written a new version this year, 2009. Unfortunately it's not at the library.

30. Various kids' book illustrated by John Manders

Pete and Fremont by Judy Tripp

What you never knew about fingers, forks, and chopsticks by Patricia Lauber

What you never knew about tubs, toilets, and showers by Patricia Lauber

Minnie's Diner by Dayle Ann Dodds

Fergus and the night-demon by Jim Murphy

Peter spit a seed at Sue by Jackie French Koller (One day I want to own this book for the silly story and stunning illustrations.)

Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi

(Read out loud to mom, complete with different voices for the characters)

Teaching art has reminded me how much I love to draw, so for research and inspiration I checked out from the library books by one of my favorite illustrators, John Manders.

Sometimes on the copyright page or in the back of the book there are details on what the artist used to create the illustrations. I thought Manders used soft pastels with charcoal, and was going to show his illustrations as an example during the upcoming lesson on pastels that I'm teaching. He doesnt use pastels, so his illustrations will have to wait for a future art lesson. Check out the following paragraph to read about what mediums he uses to create such colorful and lively drawings.

Artist's Note

"After spending time in the library doing reserach. I began an illustration with a sketch on layout bond paper using a 2B pencil. I then traced the sketch onto Arches 300-pound hot-press watercolor paper and paint the shadow and color using a combination of Dr. Martin's dyes and Winsor and Newton watercolors. The highlights are added with Winsor and Newton designer's guache. Finally, I use a black Prismacolor pencil to redraw the sketch on top of the colors. This way, the fun of the sketch is perserved in the final illustration."

29. An Introduction to Pastels by Michael Wright

(Finished reading the book for prep work for teaching a pastel lesson this weekend)

I forgot how much fun it is to look at the vivid images of the art supplies and step by step photos of the drawings in progress. Now I want to read (and create) using the techniques documented in all of the DK Art School books. I havent had formal training with oil or soft pastels, just a little with conte crayons. After reading this book I am confident to teach a lesson on pastels. I've been hording my soft pastels since I was a kid because they were too pretty to use, but now I know what to do with them!

28. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

(Didnt read but rather listened to it on CD, while recovering from the flu.)

Another entertaining book by Pratchett, full of dragons rearranging their insides, Carrot, the Watch and lots of funny and odd situations.

27. Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott

(Finished reading)

As a young girl I read this book and was bored with the focus on the March sisters getting married and much preferred reading Little Men full of the antics of Jo's active boys. Rereading it gave me a new insight and much love for the book and was very sad when it ended.

Upon reading Good Wives I realized that it was repeating what I had read in Little Women, except with added side stories and details. This lead to the discovery and surprise to my mom that our cherished copy of Little Women is abridged. Wikipedia informed me that Little Women should end with the chapter title, "Aunt March settles a question," where Meg decides who she wants to marry and then Good Wives picks up with Meg's wedding and ends with all of the sister's married and with kids. This means there are chapters missing from my copy of Little Women, which is wonderful that I get to read new stories about their lives!!


26. Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott

(Finished reading)

In just 2 days I finished the last book of the March family and found out what productive and helpful lives the boy's had thanks to the kindness and guidance by Jo and Franz. I read this book in middle school and had forgotten all about how the boys ended up. It was like catching up with friends and so sad for the good times to come to an end.

On to Louisa May Alcott's other books, most of which I havent read yet. What a delight that is going to be!

25. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

(Finished reading)

By far one of my favorite books, so I used great will power to pace myself and enjoy this story instead of devouring it in a day. I managed to stretch the enjoyment over 2 days. :-)

I had forgotten that Franz loved to drive the omnibus. Picturing a motorized vehicle knowing that couldnt be right, I googled for the answer: it's a horse drawn carriage with lots of seats for the household of Plumfield.

24. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Read in 3 days!!

It's a wonderful story, but really I wanted to reacquaint myself to the March family before rereading Little Men.


23. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

(finished reading)

I dont normally read two fiction stories at once to avoid getting confused with the plots, but I was babysitting and everyone was reading their own books in the living room and the Swiss Family Robinson was calling my name. I've always had a thing for trees and spent much of my childhood climbing on them and wishing to build a permanent dwelling in one. One day I want to spend the night in this "hotel" that rents out tree houses in Oregon.

22. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

(totally read)

I believe this is the third Pratchett book I've read this year. I knew it, once I read my first I'd want to know the rest of the stories. It's a delight to escape to this world when my brain is full from making decisions on the computer all day. I have 3 more of his books on hand, eager to be devoured.


20 and 21. Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick and Fun and Funk Knitting by Emma King

Still in the process of reading and deciphering, but it is getting easier to follow patterns. Lots of fun projects for beginners like spiral socks, funky hats, and several elegant beanies.

19. Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by John Manders.

Fun story with incredible illustrations. Check out my other thoughts on this kid's book here.

18. Making Money by Terry Pratchett

(finished reading)

Paired with unusual sentence structure making the mundane funny, along with interesting topics to ponder, (like what gives money value,) made this book a delight to listen to. This is book number two by Pratchett that I've read this year. I have a lot of catching up to do, so there will be more on the list very soon.

17. The Psychology of Trading: Tools and Techniques for Minding the Markets by Brett N. Steenbarger

(Currently reading)

This book skillfully pairs stories of actual therapy sessions of non-traders and applies their life lessons to bring awareness of possible pit falls to market traders. The book has me completely engrossed since I am a nut about psychology conditions and of course the trading.


16. It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling Book
by Paul Arden

(finished reading)

This book was a quick read full of interesting typography and witty knowledge that I've heard before. There were some good quotes like this one, "What the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve," by Clement Stone.

15. Creating 3-D Animation: The Aardman Book of Filmmaking by Peter Lord and Brian Sibley
(Finished reading)

Thanks to this book, I found where I belong. Check out the review here.


14. The Essential Buffett: Timeless Principles for the New Economy by Robert Hagstrom

(Read 1/2 of it and returned it to the library.)

I picked up a lot of nuggets, but I found myself getting bogged down by reading so many books at once.

13. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

(finished reading)

This book lasted about 4 days!

I savored it by only reading it at night, just to make it even more creepy.

I like what the author said about Coraline, that kids find it as an adventure story and it gives adult nightmares. So fitting.

12. Inspiration Sandwich by SARK

Read out loud with mom.

We rolled dice to see which chapter to read next!

Second biggest complaint (next to lack of content) was that the chapters weren't numbered though out the book. Only in the table of contents there were chapter numbers. It was also very difficult figuring out when a chapter ended.

I picked up a couple of ideas on how to get inspired, but as a whole, I don't recommend it.

10. Social Media Marketing by Dave Evans

(Valentine's Day gift from mom. Currently reading.)


9. Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl and Dolores Cotter Lamping C.S.W.

(finished reading)

This is a super helpful book for creative people and for those that live with creatives, so that they can better understand how we think. Over on capitalistchicks.com, I have my first article for the monthly column called "The Missing Link" between art and business. The article is about key tips from this organizing book.

8. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Photography by Roger Woodson (copyright 1996!)

(Skimmed and experimented techniques with my digital camera. I didnt devote a lot of time to it since the book is to out of date.)

7. Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith

(currently wrecking)

See post with images of destruction.


6. Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

(finished reading)

"When last seen, the singularly inept wizard Rincewind had fallen off the edge of the world. Now magically, he's turned up again, and this time he's brought the Luggage.

But that's not all....

Once upon a time, there was an eighth son of an eighth son who was, of course, a wizard. As if that wasn't complicated enough, said wizard then had seven sons. And then he had an eighth son -- a wizard squared (that's all the math, really). Who of course, was a source of magic -- a sorcerer."

Finally a book without chapters! Chapters feel contrived. Real life doesn't have them. Also chapter titles can give away too much (same with reading the back of a book or watching movie trailers. I try to avoid them at all cost.)

Terry Pratchett's writing style lived up to what Ian raved about for so long. I knew Pratchett's books were great reads and that's why I had stayed away. He has written so many, I knew I'd be consumed by the need to read them all!! It's like reading The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. You can't read just the first book. It is not possible.

I couldn't help but quote a paragraph from Sourcery. It made me have laughing fits (like so many times through out the book), that I had to share.:

"The current Patrician, head of the extremely rich and powerful Vetinari family, was thin, tall and apparently as cold-blooded as a dead penguin. Just by looking at him you could tell he was the sort of man you'd expect to keep a white cat, and caress it idly while sentencing people to death in a piranha tank; and you'd hazard for good measure that he probably collected rare thin porcelain, turning it over and over in his blue-white fingers while distant screams echoed from the depths of the dungeons. You wouldn't put it past him to use the word 'exquisite' and have thin lips. He looked the kind of person who, when they blink, you mark it off on the calendar."

5. The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette: a Novel by Carolly Erickson
(Read the 1st half out loud with mom, then we individually read the last half alone.)

My first impression of the book before reading it: "Historical fiction about a woman in power, researched by a woman- can't beat that!"

My feelings while reading it with mom: "The foreign names made it confusing when mom and I switched turns reading. We'd have to show each other the character's name, so we'd know who we were talking about. Plus the chapters took over an hour to read, making it difficult for us to match up our schedules. This is why we decided this isn't a good read aloud book. For reading out loud tips for adults, check out the blog of fruitful words.

Thoughts when reading the last half to myself: "Wow! This goes so much faster when not reading it out loud! I can read so much faster in my head. Still not a fan of the attitude of the French aristocracy, but I do understand that they were breed to feel entitled because of their heritage. The entire last chapter I was crying so hard, it was difficult to read. It only took most of the book for me to realize that I was connected to the Marie. The biggest let down was that since this is historical fiction, parts of the book are not true. But I don't know which since I'm not well studied on Marie Antoinette. I thought I was fan of historical fiction, but not any more. For those that have read this book, will understand what I say that 'Someday I want my own Axel.'"

4. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

(finished reading)

"I get up at 10am on Saturdays, because I can't stand my breath any longer."

While babysitting, the youngest insisted that I read this to myself while he played video games. Apparently he asks that to all the sitters. Visually it was very interesting with notebook page lines, middle schooler's handwriting and doodles. I think the reason I didn't connect with the story, was because I couldn't relate having not gone to public school for middle school. Kinney has written other books about the wimpy kid for ages 9-12. There is even a movie coming out in 2012.

3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (read the 1st half)
This book is about the tenants and employees at a French apartment. Depending if the young suicidal girl is narrating or the older female concierge is talking, the font changes every chapter.

It was difficult to connect with the story when the narration jumped back and forth. There were plenty of big words that would be ideal for my brain to tackle, but I just wasn't caring about the upper class issues. I was torn; if I didn't finish the book it would make me look like an impatient quitter and I'd have to post that it wasn't completed or drag myself through the book. Looking at all the enticing books at a local bookstore, helped me make up my mind. There are so many other books I am dying to read-so I set this one aside. I want to read autobiographies by artists, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Thinking Through Craft by Glenn Adamson. Overall this is not even an issue. I don't need to finish any book. It's up to me.

2. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
(Mom and I read this out loud to each other)
It's about a poor Chinese farmer and his family. It goes into the psychology and traditions of that time. It was a bit of a trick to read since the book was written in 1930, so the sentence structure was not what we are use to reading. The Good Earth is beautifully written to make you care about the the farmer and well create sadness in you when he repeatedly made bad decisions.

1. The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D.

(finished reading)

I bought this for mom for Christmas then borrowed it right away because it looked so interesting (and it was). It's about the break through in neuroplasticity. Each chapter is about a doctor who helped with the recovery of a brain damaged individual. The book focuses on the plasticity of the brain, meaning it is changeable, even in the elderly. I highly recommend the book. It's straight forward and easy to read, but it also has a list of the case studies for more depth research.

The most surprising thing I learned was that higher educated people are less likely to get Alzheimer's or dementia. This goes back to the brain getting more wrinkled. A neuropathway is created each time we learn. As we age, some of the path ways die. If you have an abundance of neuropathways, then you'll have some to spare when you are older.

Last Tuesday my aunt invited me for a spur of the moment trip to San Francisco for the MacWorld convention. I'd always wanted to see the inside of the Moscone center. It was like a city under my city! One of the booths was posit, which is a neuroplasticity research company that makes computer games to improve your memory (amongst other things). They were highlighted in The Brain that Changes Itself. They are based in SF and they look like a really interesting and challenging place to work. I took the test for how fast is your brain? On their website you can take the test too. I scored 50 milliseconds (which they told me that is pretty good). That means it takes 50 milliseconds to intake the experience, make a decision and react.

You can download the 30 minute documentary of The Brain that Changes Itself.