Recently in Books Category


My social media streams make me constantly hungry these days. Just yesterday, there was a wonderful pea soup, a cool pea-based appetizer, and a "buffalo"-style dip. As I go into these next few months, being insatiably hungry is SOOOOOO not what I need to be! While I definitely give in to some things, some of these things just look and sound good - a bit of book eye candy - in theory.

I am entertained, however, by the fact that both Whoopie Pies and Macaroons have yielded new books of their own from Chronicle Books. I think it says something about where we are in these days, what comfort we crave and look back on... maybe.


After I talked earlier this year about CMP-favorites by Peter Reynolds, I spotted a new Reynolds' titles that I meant to point out. I saw a Facebook mention of Reynolds today and was reminded again of this one. The other one is by the author of I Am I, another favorite.

Charles Harper

As I talked about in Episode 105 of the Creative Mom Podcast, I recently discovered the work of Charles Harper through a gift copy of the recently reissued
Birds and Words. His screenprinted birds are simply amazing. I was surprised tonight to see that there's a calendar out for next year as well as a large etrospective book on his life's work.

A month in...


Well... I didn't announce last week that Episode 84 went live, but it did. And now, Episode 85 is live... It's February, and I'm on track. This week, I'm finally talking about the shipping tags... feeling that there's something to say about them after 31 days... and seeing in them a process of both learning and evolution. So... there's a LOT of shipping tag talk this week. (Superstitiously... I didn't want to talk about them "during" the process of the month!) But, also, in Ep 85, you'll find links to a number of artists and projects that caught my attention this week, a few tidbits from our week here at our house, and more.

And... as for the tags... I'm continuing them... which means... I've gotta cut some more!

Books reviewed and mentioned this week... as well as a few related titles (or titles in a series...):

We're headed to Tahoe for a few days. So, I'm hoping to see some birds, see some snow (like 20 feet!), and drink lots of coffee.... oh, and sketch... a lot. They can ski. I'm going to sketch. So, we'll see what happens! I'm taking along my little recorder... the quality isn't great, but I think I might do next week's show "log"-style.

Have a good week!

Birds at the Bookstore


Well, as everyone knows, the birds have basically taken over my awareness and so, finally, I found myself at the bookstore intent on getting a copy of the The Sibley Guide to Birds. Everyone agrees I need a Sibley, right? Of course, I do. I've been slow in bringing one home, but it's time. And so, there I was. Both boys had already picked out something (both graphic novel style) and both were in the floor happily reading while I stood in front of the bird books shelf. As my luck would have it, there were no copies of Sibley to be found. I had considered a Kaufman guide, indeed. But I'd decided, in the end, that my first bird book, of my own, should be a Silbeys. So... today was not the day. (I'm really a tried-and-true shopper anyway, but I had a gift card in hand... so, well... there I was.) But, I spent some time looking at what was on the shelves. I finally got to see Letters From Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods in person, which I've wanted to do for some time, and I think it'll be a great book to read this year. I also found myself enamoured with Robert Burton's The World of the Hummingbird which is brimming with the most beautiful hummingbird photography I've ever seen.

And then, there were the personal narratives... life with birds... Two in particular jumped out at me: Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Both seem worth looking into.

And, there you have it.... a bird-oriented trip to the bookstore. And... on the way in... as we got out of our car, the sound of birds was intense. The tree in front of us was bare of leaves... and at first, it appeared empty. But, looking closely, we finally found them... several birds... and amazing song.


A few books related to the "ology" theme that have caught my attention... not how-to/creative books (believe it or not)... but books that are offshoots of other favorites of mine/ours. So... pointing them out.

Bird (book) sighting...

 Letters from Eden

Ooooooh, oooooh, ooooooh. I just stumbled over this: Letters From Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods. Take a look at the description!



I've had this photo to post forever... I'll be mentioning the book this is from in EP 60 of the CMP. (Maybe today? My thoughts are a bit scattered, so we'll see. Maybe tomorrow....)

At any rate, this is from volume 1 of Owly, which contains "The Way Home" and "The Bittersweet Summer."

This morning I read Embroideries... usually I don't sit and read anything in the mornings. But I did today. And this is what I grabbed out of the stack, which is still mostly graphic novel format (even though I'm "not"...). I wasn't sure what to expect from this one (given the name) - and the name does NOT mean what you think here. I found it very interesting - the whole book is from the span of time after dinner one night when all the women in this family in Iran sit and talk... fairly explicitly.... okay... very explicitly. Not for the delicate-minded. (I'll update later with a link... am having trouble with Amazon's server...)

Whoah! How Did I Miss...


How in the world did I miss the release of Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process... and what rock must I have been sleeping under to not have heard of Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words.

I was doing a post on something else, and it was running the risk of being "needy" ... and in the process, I ran into mention of (and high praise for) Foolsgold.... high enough that I immediately headed out to take a look. And then I called up Poemcrazy and saw in the overview reference to both Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (an important book way back when for many writers of my age). You may recall how very much I love Goldberg's book on painting, too: Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World. (I talked about that one forever ago on the CMP.)

I'm curious... how many of you have read The Artist's Way or Walking in this World? Just curious.



What a strange Saturday... one of those weekends that begins (after I've already been up and had some quiet and creative time and lots of email and ATC-exchange-administration time... before the whole house is awake)... begins with all of us in the living room, two of them eating a second piece of cinnamon toast (such a classic treat), and me saying something like "We really need to make a list today..." (because we've gotten out of the habit of the master weekend list that used to keep at least us adults on track and validated all those silly but things the kids expect to do). The immediate response... "Well, first we have to play Scrabble, Jr."

So, we did. And the list never happened.

But then so much else happened... including a full-family trip to FLAX (I am very clear I won't take the little dynamo in there, but he did okay with the other half of us and even came out with a super-cool bike bell with fish on it... and a pig keychain flashlight that oinks when you press the button...). I took the other by the hand... and we wandered and browsed... and then, evidently, someone saw and recognized me/M... but didn't say anything until later.

I picked up a Speed-ball carving set and a few bigger blocks. (Ryan told me the other day he'd ordered the set, too... and soft blocks.) I couldn't resist the carving set... partly, it's not expensive, so I didn't have to rationalize about whether I should or shouldn't (which I do about everything I buy for "me" anymore)... and partly because I was in the middle of an eraser... and I kept wondering if it would be "better" if I had the tools. So... I have them now... and I used them...

(The set is available at Dick Blick if you don't have a local art supply store that carries block/mono printing supplies.)

I got an amazing (and long) email from someone who started listening to the CMP recently but has (amazingly enough) already listened to the whole backlog... which I find staggering to contemplate. But, it was the most wonderful email... and full of great stories... and just what I needed to read yesterday.

I did a bit of contemplation of special (by request) oamyoamy pen pouches... but no actual sewing... while I waited for pizza to arrive... yum!

And then... much later... I painted on my series of ATCs for the July theme... which I sketched out in Oregon but which, after the first layer of paint on the first of 4 I ended up having a very strong reaction against... and in figuring out how to adapt what I'd envisioned, I stumbled over the right solution.... and then it all fell into place... and the second-go color range is so much better as well. I love them. This time, it's true. I love these. I ended up (again) not doing some of what I had envisioned doing on top of the paint... which involved words... I debated and debated yesterday as I painted... and I just can't go the final step. I am too attached to the simplicity of the painted space this time... so card #4 has changed and will bear the brunt of the text/wordage... Reactions at Flickr will, of course, as always vary or not appear at all.... But, these are staying close to home, so it's okay with me. I'm actually glad about that... and I didn't know that when I did the first sketches.

And then... I read the first two books shown below to the kids yesterday morning... both of them WITHOUT WORDS... and you know that I am a WORD person. I would NEVER, EVER have thought I'd recommend books that have no words... and yet these two fascinate me on many levels... but the first one is stunning in terms of the art as well... and the level of story.... I was going to talk about them more right now... but I think I'll wait... these I want to talk about on the show. I'll give you the covers though... (and if you've read them already with your kids, feel free to chime in):

Oh, and, of course, the new Harry Potter arrived.... in the very spiffy HP-printed/Amazon-branded mailer-box. Just having it in the house is exciting... almost unbearably so. (The oldest is a bit up in arms because we're saying he shouldn't read 7 yet because he doesn't know what happened in 5 or 6... This is the first release that has happened since he's been an independent reader....) So, it's here. But did I hole up in the bedroom with my nose in a book all day (as I'd threatened throughout the week, teasingly, to do - leaving them all to fend for themselves for the day...)? No.

I'm one of the crazy types... I'd like to do that... I could read it fast... but at the same time, I don't really want to. I'm always so sad when I'm finished. So... I looked at it for a while throughout the afternoon and then last night... sitting there... while I carved an eraser (during Pokemon) and later, after I finished painting my secret (in the house) ATCs for this month while I listened to the movie on in the other room (My Super-Ex Girlfriend, or something like that)... and then I went in and finished watching the movie (since I'd listened for about an hour...)... and when it was over... I grabbed the book, finally, and went in to start... and didn't get far before I crashed. (Such is the story of my "reading" this year.) But, I'm okay with that. I got a taste of the final book, which I plan to savor.

(Starting it does mean that once again, The Lobster Chronicles is started and unfinished... which happened last year, too. I am determined to finish it this time around!)

Oh, and at bedtime, the little one requested I AM I again - enthusiastically... quoting the notable lines... saying, before we started... "there are two I am I's, Mama!" ... which is, in fact, exactly part of the point and problem in the book. And, this time through, I liked it even more... I noticed things I had not noticed before... things I wonder if I'd been too tired the night before to pick up on... this is rapidly becoming one I love... and in a book with very few words, the emphasis on the power of words... is stunningly portrayed... especially the power of words to hurt and destroy and then... to heal and seed and grow. (When he saw it on my screen just now as I plucked the cover, he exclaimed excitedly... "I want to show Matthew" and climbed down from his stool to run and get the book from the floor in our bedroom. I assured him we'll read it with Matthew today - it's one he should see.)

No to Austen

You'll probably see this linked around the blogosphere. But if you missed it... interesting article. Of course, you could say lots of things in response to this... but, it's still interesting.

Books from the stacks


Yesterday was one of those days... becoming more common and freaking me out... even as it makes clear why I really don't have time to get a lot of (ahem, paying) work done. I left at 8:15 for the co-op because I'd agreed a while back to sub... I got home a bit after five (the co-op part ended just before 1). An odd day. But, strangely, it did involve not one but two visits to the library - two different branches, in fact... one with just S., then one with both (where we finally, albeit quite lately, signed up for the summer reading program, not that we need the incentive, but I feel it's something the kids should do as an 'official' summer thing).

I picked up the greatest haul of books I'd reserved at the library on trip #1. One of them I started reading while I waited to pick up my camper... the little one having crashed out in the back on the way there (no nap only works if we have NOWHERE to go the rest of the day). Immediately, I was so darned excited I couldn't stand it. I was holding a gem in my hands. I was holding a key to a treasure trove in my hands. It's a book I know I will buy and have to have. I'll report on that one... and those... later... maybe.

This next one jumped off the shelf at me the second stop... one was sitting, nose in a book he'd selected from the carousels, one was pulling five zillions movies off the shelf while we passed a few minutes before our next stop. I read this one to the little one last night (along with a few others from the day's stack), and it's quite funny (delightfully so) in some really strange way (though depending on your family, you might take it differently)... and quite well done both in terms of the writing and the art. Not for your youngest, necessarily, although I read it to mine... I'd say read it yourself first. But... look at it. I stumbled across it while poking in the kids' graphic novel section. It does use elements of comic style... but it's not what I'd put in that section... it's full-page, full color, collaged and textured and amazing art: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.

And, for some reason... the way I just described that one makes me think of Math Curse, which I talked about forever ago and loved SOOOOO, SOOOO much. If you never checked that one out, do so! Great for summer, too.

Then, also look at I AM I. It's one the book jacket describes as deceptively simple, and I agree. Check it out from the library... not a lot of text here. But... fascinating... and poignant... and geez you know I love that kid's hair on the cover... and, ummm, there are birds... and poppies... and a lot of kid angst....

Here's what I'm feeling as I start today... I want all of us to be creative... obviously. I want all of us to be individuals, too. I think everyone has to find his/her own voice and creative identity. And there is a modicum of imitation, of course, that is part and parcel to the process. It's how we learn and grow. Finding one's own path is the goal. I wish you all creative and productive weekends.

And, I hope my kids never want to trade me for a pair of goldfish.

Graphics Novels... in a Stack

A recent stack... a lot here... but for today... Mom's Cancer... This is one SunnyNole suggested I look at after hearing me talk about graphic novels on the podcast. She also referred me to The Squirrel Mother (also in this stack). Both are very powerful. Both have given me a lot to think about. I read Mom's Cancer last week. It's powerful and riveting... and so honest... the raw and unflinching and painful honesty of it all is staggering.

You'll notice in this same stack two that I talked about last week... The Hello, Goodbye Window and Stick Kid.

(I'm not going to talk about the graphic novel stuff I posted last week until next week, I think, by the way. I will say that I deliberately didn't use a ruler... I was going for something more raw and less precise... and I regret that now. I see those images on this page... and I see their crookedness... and I am not charmed... it is not endearing... I want to pull them all down!)

A Colorful View of Dinosaurs


I just got Uneversaurus (by Aidan Potts) in the mail the other day and (after admiring the super-sized circular holographic eyeball on the front) popped it open to find myself staring at an inside cover full of something that could look like a pattern of "scales" in striated ribbons of color with matching names... like a giant painter's palette (or layered strips of paint chips). Or, else, it looks like a prismatic "eye" done in the colors. I was struck that it was a palette - an amazing one. And then, we started reading. This is a beautifully done and fascinating book with a clear science edge. The focus: the "colors" of dinosaurs and that we don't know what colors they were. The book goes through all kinds of ways that scientists might try and deduce what colors a dinosaur was. But the fact remains, we don't know. The art is great. The science is thought-provoking and accessible and all-together wonderfully done. And, the back cover... why it's a very detailed full-spread dinosaur for YOU to color the way you imagine the dinosaur might look.

Books of Yore

mrs. mike christy poppins a to z rebecca of sunnybrook farm rebecca of sunnybrook farm set anne of green gables anne of green gables 1 anne of green gables / annotated secret garden

So, I asked SunnyNole a while back "why SunnyNole" - and she explained. And she, of course, had an explanation that makes total sense. I guess I should ask Poppins "why Poppins"? But that one seems a little clearer. It's funny how used to screen names and monikers we get - and how they help to create an image and sense of a person we know only virtually.

I originally asked SunnyNole about her name because I invariably think of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm when I see it. Something about the concept of a "sunny knoll" (which isn't how she spells it, I know) comes to mind and for some reason that book then comes to mind. I don't totally remember that book other than as one that I loved as a girl.

I mentioned it to SunnyNole the other day, and she said she didn't "know" that book (although I think she decided later maybe she does know the story - but maybe from the movie, I'm guessing) - and gee, didn't I feel old. (I felt similarly old about an "All in the Family" reference the other day when I realized that other people I mention that show to probably have no idea what it is!) As I joked to her, she's young enough to not know it - and I'm old enough to have basically forgotten it other than as a fond burnished memory of something that was pure and sweet and innocent when I was younger.

Last summer, I got all excited and determined to re-read the Anne of Green Gables books "just because." I don't know why I got it in my head, but I really wanted to. And then, life got in the way. I've fallen asleep more times playing Pokemon this year than I have reading, to be honest. And then, in her Random 7, Poppins mentions reading the whole series as an important thing to do. And so, now, I must. And, I must re-read Rebecca, too. (Did I real the whole set? I am not sure.)

And, wow. I remember Mrs. Mike and Christy. Books. Not movies. I love a good movie, or series, and I'd love Tyne Dailey in just about anything. But, it's the burnished sense of those books that I hold so fondly in my head. And, I remember very little concrete about being young/little (which is an eternal source of sadness for me).

Thinking of these titles makes me think I'd then want to re-read the whole Little Women set. And then, when I look there, I see a reference to the The Secret Garden and next to Heidi. I really may have to follow this tour through books of my past. It sounds ... whimsical.

And then, in the connect the dots way of things right now... on the "New" books shelf where I manage to now grab lots of things (because I can see/hear Spencer stationed in front of the shelf of movies and becuase the oldest is behind me looking at chapter books), I picked up Mary Poppins from A to Z. Now, I don't have a strong memory of Mary Poppins. But, I couldn't resist picking this one up to take a look.

And, if you missed my notes on An Egg Is Quiet on my other site, please do check it out, too. The image of the birds' eggs brings up something tender and protective and innate and instinctive and "whole" in me - and I'm not really those kinds of things!

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