Summer is the perfect time to sink into a good book and thankfully a whole bunch of really interesting books have piled up over here in the past few weeks. Some of these came to me because the authors will soon be guests on the podcast. Others were sent to me to review. And still others I bought or took out of the library simply because they interested me. I’ve now found myself in that odd situation of reading five books at once, but hey, that’s what these long summer days are for, right?
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First up is Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon (Chronicle)
I’m sure there are books out there about finding your voice, but this is the first one I’ve read and it’s an interesting topic to mull over. In the process of explaining how to find your voice, Lisa weaves in her own story of becoming an artist and a big part of her story is embracing being a non-conformist. She also interviews other artists who share their experiences. The book is peppered with her charming illustrations which make it a pleasure to turn each page.
The tips and stories are making me think about my voice not so much as an artist, but as a writer and contributor to the bigger conversation about the crafts industry. Like Lisa, I spent decades of my life trying to fit in (trying to disappear, really) and it wasn’t until I became comfortable with expressing a strong, and unique point of view that my own work began to gain traction. That is my voice and although it was there all along I was afraid to use it. I love how encouraging this message is. (This book will be released in early August, but is available now for preorder. It would make a great gift.)
Magic and Memories: 45 Years of International Quit Festival by Teresa Duryea Wong (Shiffer)
Teresa is a quilter and researcher who lives in Houston and was able to do dozens of interviews with Karey Bresenhan and her cousin, Nancy O’Bryant Puentes, the founders and owners of Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival. She’s written this book, which is a biography of the shows and of these two women whose work was transformative in making quilting the industry what it is today. If you’re curious about the early days of the shows, or you’ve always wondered how Market or Festival got to be the way they are today, this book is for you.
Readers of my blog will know that I’m fascinated by both Quilt Market and Festival and have written about them pretty extensively. I so appreciate being able to see the struggles Karey and Nancy went through as women business owners trying to get quilting (and themselves) taken seriously in the world. (And check out the quilt on the cover! It’s the aisles of Festival and is called “Show Time.” It was made by Cynthia England. (Looking on Amazon, this book is not available yet, but I know it will be coming out in October and will be available for sale at Festival.)
A Field Guide to Color: A Watercolor Workbook by Lisa Solomon (Roost)
A blend between a book and a workbook, A Field Guide to Color is printed on watercolor paper so you can paint right inside. Lisa is an artist and art professor and she mixes approachable color lessons with assignments you complete on the opposite page. Colorful and friendly, this book will loosen you up and get you painting! What could be better? (This book will be released at the end of August and is now available for preorder.)
Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More by Dianne Jacob (De Capo Lifelong Books)
I’m not a food blogger nor do I intend to become one, but I’ve subscribed to Dianne Jacob’s wonderful email newsletter for a long while now and her book is equally great. Although it’s food-focused, in many ways the food world is just a bigger and more developed version of the craft world. There are lots of resonances. There’s certainly more money floating around in the food world, though!
This book is great if you’re interested in refining how you develop ideas, pitch yourself, work with editors, rework previously published material to give it new life…that sort of thing.
I.M.: A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi (Flatiron Books)
I love biography and memoir and picked up this one recently at the library. I don’t know a lot about fashion and honestly couldn’t pick an Isaac Mizrahi dress out if I saw one, but I’m fascinated by how he built his business. It turns out that Isaac Mizrahi is a fabulous writer on top of all of his other talents and this book is incredibly engaging from the first page. Compelled by something inside him to create, Mizrahi set up a puppet theater in his family’s garage as a kid. After struggling terribly at a yeshiva he was saved by a wonderful 8th grade teacher who told his parents to send him to a performing arts high school in New York where he felt free for the first time to be himself (he was raised in an Orthodox Jewish community that was confining and he’s gay which was unacceptable in that community at the time).
He has so many great stories about his time working at Perry Ellis and then at Calvin Klein and then striking out on his own and gaining recognition for his bold use of color. If you love to sew and love fashion, or are just interested in creative entrepreneurship and stories of perseverance by outsider thinkers, this is a great book. (You’ll notice that this book isn’t in my photo above. That’s because it was due back at the library. Nothing stresses me out more than the thought of incurring a library fine!)
Okay, that’s my summer stack of books! What are you reading? I always love a good recommendation.