Between design projects and blogging this summer I've been trying to make more time to read for enjoyment, not my typical mode as I often default to books that can teach me something. This habit of needing to learn something when I read started in college and I've had a hard time shaking it! But it is summer and I love the idea of sitting quietly with a cup of tea and reading for fun. Over the last couple of months there have been a few books that have really stood out for me and I wanted to mention them in this post.
When I first heard about the WWII novel All the Light We Cannot See I was concerned I would have a difficult time getting into a book set in Europe during WWII. There seems to have been quite a few books centered around wartime lately and I was looking for lighter reading. But several people mentioned how good it was so I decided to give it a chance. It turned out to be one of the best books I've read in a long while. The way the author—Anthony Doerr—reveals the story line is non-linear and unexpected. All the Light is charming and magical while simultaneously bringing the reader into the lives of those experiencing the atrocities surrounding war. He writes in such a way that the reader grows to care about the lives of the characters—making it impossible to put the book down once you begin. This is without a doubt a new favorite.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron first came out in the early 90s and has been reprinted repeatedly. I attempted to go through the exercises many years ago but at that time I was working three jobs and didn't give it the attention it deserved. So when my good friend Gincy facilitated a 12 week workshop last spring that took the class through the process I was happy to sign up. I wasn't sure at first what to expect as I needed to make time to meet once a week, complete one to two small exercises and write "morning pages" each and every morning before my day began. During the 12 week process I did feel there were highs and lows. Or at least weeks that seemed less significant in what I had accomplished than others.
To my own surprise I got a great deal out of this book and process! Although I would have to admit that this book fits into my habit of reading to learn something I did find that the process works. Some of my fellow class mates who had not explored art or did not they consider themselves artists also commented that they benefitted from the process.
A few things that really stand out about this book:
1. One of the exercises involved writing a letter to your future self— at age 80—from the vantage point of the age you are right now. This was a great exercise for me. I have a very good imagination and easily imagined myself living in a tropical climate with a light filled studio, I was happy and healthy and I imagined everyone in my life was also thriving. I told myself —the current me— to relax and worry less. That it was all going to work out. Apparently the future me is quite optimistic. ;-) There are quick exercises like this one each week that help you to think differently or explore ideas you may have never explored.
2. Artist dates: every week you are asked to take yourself out on a date by yourself. I found myself in Sam Weller's Used and Rare Bookstore, in junk stores, in consignment shops, art supply stores and taking "down-time" that I don't normally give myself permission to take. Part of this process is to go out and do something with no agenda and allow yourself to play.
3. Morning Pages: I love getting up early in the morning when everyone is still asleep. Waking up about an hour before everyone else I got in the habit of making myself an almond milk latte, sitting down with pen and paper— enjoying the light and stillness of early morning. Starting a practice of writing for 30 minutes to an hour each day has been an interesting exercise. At first I found myself not knowing what to write. But the book guides you to keep going and eventually I saw that my writing moved toward my creative interests. I recommend this book to everyone—no matter what you do for a living. You need not be a painter or sculptor to find your artistic self.
** In the spirit of art making please jump onto Patina & Hue/Growing Bolder to read about inspirational artist, poet and speaker Kristen Jongen of Soul Soup. We will be giving away two books and one of her prints so don't forget to enter the drawing. Read more about the giveaway at the bottom of my interview with Kristen.
I just finished The Girl on the Train and I am really curious what other people think of this book? It was a quick read and everyone I know seems to be reading it right now. I don't want to say too much about it and give anything away. It is a fast-paced murder mystery that takes you inside the heads of the characters....until you realize you want out! If you are reading this book I would love to hear what your thoughts are on it.
I just started Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, by Jennifer Chiaverini and will let you know what I think of it next month.
If you are reading a great book or have a favorite book you would like to tell us about please do so in the comments section below! We would love to hear from you.
Jump on to Patina & Hue Facebook and tell us what you think of the books you are reading and any books you recommend! Hope you are finding time to relax and enjoy a good book this summer!