When I was young I was a voracious reader, and I read some books I probably wasn’t quite ready for at certain ages (reading Orwell’s 1984 at age 9 was a bit mind-blowing). I still love to read, but now most of my non-computer time is taken up with stitching. Unless I make the heavy investment in audio books, my reading time is limited these days. The last book I finished was Ender’s Game, shortly before I knew it was going to be a movie. Now I’m slowly reading The Devil in the White City, which has some great history about Chicago (probably my favorite city in the States).
Here are some of my favorite books and some reasons why they’re on this list:
- Dune – It’s incredible what Herbert imagined would be possible for people to do with their minds and bodies. From a Guild Navigator’s ability to fold space, the strategy, control and timing necessary in a knife fight, to the Bene Gesserit’s ability to control their own metabolisms and use “the voice” to control others actions, it’s interesting to think if any of it is really possible.
- Jane Austen – Aside from the obvious attractiveness of the male leads in the movie versions, her books show some of the status of women and the slower pace of change at the time. She also shows how being a selfish and inappropriate douchebag like Lydia Bennett can hurt yourself and others.
- Dorothy L. Sayers – Her four book series from the 1930’s, Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman’s Honeymoon, are an unusual romance set in mystery novels. The author and her two lead characters are smart and tough, making these anything but pulp fiction.
- Gonzo: the Art – Ralph Steadman’s art speaks to me like no other. But he’s not for everyone…
- Creating the Not So Big House – Smaller houses and minimal stuff in them is GOOD.
- Essentials of Geology – It seems to me we get into a lot of trouble when people don’t understand the scientific method. Geology is everywhere and it’s a great way to start understanding how real science works.
Craft and Design
- 101 Needlepoint Stitches and How to Use Them – I made this fabu sampler using this book. The text has clear diagrams and tips about how to use and how to perform each stitch.
- Design and Make Your Own Contemporary Sampler Quilt – I made my first quilt using only the instructions from this book. It’s a great place for new quilters to start.
- Altair Design (now called Images and Images 2) – When I was growing up, as soon as I had markers and color pencils, I had Altair Design books, and I can say that the effect was profound. As you can see from some of my pieces and inspirations, I still have a strong inclination toward geometric patterns. You can see all kinds of different shapes and possibilities in the lines. These books can really let the imagination open up and the creativity flow!
- The World of Ornament – THE resource for historical design inspiration. Covering design from the Ancient Egyptians through the mid 1800’s, this massive tome is colorful, fascinating, and idea-generating. Ancora Crafts Persian Flower pattern and kits are based on a tiny flower on one of it’s pages
- Bloom County – A very funny comic strip that was both sweet and cynical at the same time. It was highly influential on my current vague mistrust of politicians and the media. I still have my Opus and Bill the Cat stuffed animals 30 years later.
- A Fistful of Fig Newtons – Jean Shepherd is probably best known for the short stories that combined to make the movie A Christmas Story. Stories from his books In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters were combined to make the movie script. And while I love these books, I love his book A Fistful of Fig Newtons even more. His takes on summer camp (“The Mole People Battle the Forces of Darkness”), dorm life (“A Fistful of Fig Newtons or the Shoot-Out in Room 303”), mess hall duty on a troop train (“The Marathon Run of Lonesome Ernie, the Arkansas Traveler”), and algebra (“Lost at C”) are hilarious. Shepherd always weaves a vivid and funny tale.
- The Gallery of Regrettable Food – I about wet my pants from laughter when I first read this book (at work, no less – a coworker had brought it in the office). James Lileks is a funny writer, and he found inspiration in some of the most disgustingly photographed food of all time.
Have any of you read these books as well? Do you have any suggestions based on what I’ve recommended above?
Disclosure: Ancora Crafts is an Amazon Associate – your purchases from the links above will help support Ancora Crafts. I own every linked book and product in this post with the exception of the geology book as I already own a heavy duty geology textbook. I will only endorse products that I believe, based on our personal knowledge of the products, are worthy of such endorsement.