Here is a list of books I’ve read and recommend. Click each title to learn more.
365 Days of Art: A Creative Exercise for Every Day of the Year by Lorna Scobie. “An inspiring journal designed to help readers and budding artists nurture their creativity and explore their feelings through the medium of art.”
The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna. “There are two paths in life: Should & Must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again, and every day. And we get to choose. Starting out or starting over, making a career change or making a life change, the most life-affirming thing you can do is to honor the voice inside that says your have something special to give, and then heed the call and act. Many have traveled this road before. Here’s how you can, too. #choosemust”
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. An Agatha Christie type tale. “A group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves…Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. . . and another of them did it.”
Family Business: A Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Mystery by S. J. Rozan. “The death of Chinatown’s most powerful mogul, a powerful Chinatown crime boss, thrusts private eye Lydia Chin and her partner Bill Smith into a world of double-dealing, murder, and real estate scandal in this new mystery. Choi has left the Tong headquarters building to his niece, who hires Lydia and her partner, Bill Smith, to accompany her to inspect it. The building is at the center of a tug-of-war between Chinatown preservation interests—including Lydia’s brother Tim—and a real estate developer who’s desperate to get his hands on it.”
Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest. “A psychic travel agent and a Seattle PD detective solve a murder in this quirky mystery in the vein of Lisa Lutz’s The Spellman Files and Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden series. Meet Leda Foley: devoted friend, struggling travel agent, and inconsistent psychic. When Leda, sole proprietor of Foley’s Flights of Fancy, impulsively re-books Seattle PD detective Grady Merritt’s flight, her life changes in ways she couldn’t have predicted. After watching his original plane blow up from the safety of the airport, Grady realizes that Leda’s special abilities could help him with a cold case he just can’t crack.”
The Orphan Collector A Heroic Novel of Survival During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic by Ellen Marie Wiseman. “In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead in the streets and desperate survivors wear white masks to ward off illness. When food runs out in the cramped tenement she calls home, Pia must venture alone into the quarantined city in search of supplies, leaving her baby brothers behind.”
The Life She was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman. Reminds me of the Flowers in the Attic books I read when I was young. “On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time—and sold to the circus sideshow.”
How Lucky by Will Leitch. I loved the main character in this book and you will too! “Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia. He’s got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy—despite the fact that he’s suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair.”
The Wonder Test by Michelle Richmond. “Lina is on leave from her job in New York at the FBI in order to clean out her father’s home in Silicon Valley. As though letting go of her father isn’t hard enough, Lina has also recently lost her husband in a freak traffic accident. Still reeling, she and her teenage son Rory must make their way through this strange new town and the high school around which it all seems to revolve. Rory soon starts coming home with reports of the upcoming “Wonder Test,” a general aptitude assessment that appears increasingly inane, and Lina is shaken out of her grief by a sense that something is amiss in Greenfield.”
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson. “Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lilly from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence.”
The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan. The Summer List is a tender yet tantalizing novel about two friends, the summer night they fell apart, and the scavenger hunt that reunites them decades later—until the clues expose a breathtaking secret…
Ghosts of the Missing by Kathleen Donohoe. Culleton, New York has a long history—of writers, of artists, and of unsolved mysteries. It’s where Adair grew up before she moved to Brooklyn to try to make it as an artist. But after years away from her hometown and little to show for it, Adair decides to return. She moves back in to Moye House, the old mansion, and current writer’s retreat, imbued with her family’s legacy.
The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman. “A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents’ deaths in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.”
Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan. Super funny book about a new mom. “Ashley Keller – new mom…hot mess.”
Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. “When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford professor and the beloved writer of The Chronicles of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters.”
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. “Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth’s father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming all her grief.”
Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly. “Meet the women of Delaney Gardens, a bustling suburban village in the outer reaches of Dublin. There’s Cassie, who’s spent her married life doing everything right for her children, husband, and mother-in-law, yet feels so exhausted that “wine o’clock” comes a little earlier each afternoon. There’s her sister Coco, who runs a vintage dress shop, but has avoided the complications of romantic commitment.”
Motive by Jonathan Kellerman. I love Jonathan Kellerman’s books. I started with Motive and have read several additional books in the Alex Delaware series. “Jonathan Kellerman writes razor-sharp novels that cut to the quick. Now comes Motive, which pits psychologist Alex Delaware and homicide cop Milo Sturgis against a vicious criminal mind—the kind only Kellerman can bring to chilling life.”
Girl Underwater by Claire Kells. “Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really. That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors and is now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere.”
The Woman who Stole my Life by Marian Keyes. “In her own words, Stella Sweeney is just “an ordinary woman living an ordinary life with her husband and two teenage kids,” working for her sister in their neighborhood beauty salon. Until one day she is struck by a serious illness, landing her in the hospital for months.” I’ve always found Marian Keyes hysterical. Find out how Stella goes from the hospital to a published author.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. “Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.”
Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon. “An artist’s unique voice is their calling card. It’s what makes each of their works vital and particular. But developing such singular artistry requires effort and persistence. Featuring advice from Congdon herself and interviews with a roster of established artists, illustrators, and creatives, this one-of-a-kind book will show readers how to identify and nurture their own visual identity, navigate the influence of artists they admire, push through fear and insecurity, and appreciate the value of their personal journey.”
”Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age”
There are so many great lessons, and mind shifts, in Jeff Goins’s book, with examples from people as diverse as Michaelangelo, J.R. Tolkien, and Led Zeppelin. I’m truly inspired by this book. Read this uplifting description: “Today we live in a New Renaissance, an era of unprecedented opportunity in which you can share your creative work without fear of suffering or starving. Drawing lessons from the likes of Jim Henson, C. S. Lewis, Dr. Dre, and many others, bestselling author and entrepreneur Jeff Goins invites us to drop the myths, worries, and flat-out lies that have been drilled into us our entire lives and instead reveals an empowering truth: Real artists don’t starve. They THRIVE.” Order a copy here.
“A Big Important Art Book: Now with Women!”
I love how Danielle Krysa’s new book, “A Big Important Art Book: Now with Women!,” is divided into art themes and features living artists (so Danielle could ask them lots of questions), as well as deceased artists, as well as projects for the reader. Favorite quote from the introduction, “I was quite sure there were more than three women who had ever made art.” Danielle is the author of the wildly popular blog The Jealous Curator, creator of one of my favorite podcasts, Art for your Ear, and author of several other books including a favorite of mine Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative.
“Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad.”
Austin Kleon’s Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad. I found myself nodding along with Austin’s creative advice, like carve out a creative space and/or time. Yup I have that. But there are other tips that made me think, “Wow I never thought about that.” I just finished it and am planning on reading it again. We all need the push to “Keep Going.” I also loved Austin’s other books: Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share your Creativity and get Discovered and Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.
“Working with Color: Techniques for Using Media on the Go.”
Shari Blaukopf’s “Working with Color: Techniques for Using Media on the Go.” I usually shy away from watercolor instructional books because they seem to say the same thing and are focused on the beginner. Shari’s book is more like a collection of her watercolor secrets. And I’ve wondered what her secrets were, since beginning to follow her blog “The Sketchbook” and admiring her work, back when I started blogging. Her ability to paint the colors and shades of snow has always amazed me. Her book has already motivated me to paint on the road – read about my travels and map making here.
A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives
I am LOVING Lisa Congdon’s latest book. I’ve been inspired by Lisa forever. Lisa an artist, illustrator, and writer, is as a self described late bloomer who didn’t start painting until her 30s. In this book Lisa “explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives.” I was so inspired after only a few pages! Another favorite of mine written by Lisa is Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist.
Read more recommendations here: “Books for Creatives.”
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel – Such a unique story about modern day social media and going “viral” but in the face of a world altering event. “A sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she’s part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.”
Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living – I really enjoyed this “The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.”
The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own – “Recognize the life-giving benefits of owning less. Realize how all the stuff you own is keeping you from pursuing your dreams. Craft a personal, practical approach to decluttering” your home and life
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – My book club picked this book, and at first I was groaning – I didn’t like Eleanor at all! By the end I was rooting for her with tears in my eyes. “Eleanor Oliphant struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.”
Believe It to Achieve It: Overcome Your Doubts, Let Go of the Past, and Unlock Your Full Potential – “a motivational guide to using the Psychology of Achievement to banish negative thoughts and behaviors and unlock your full potential for success”
The Art of Being Bill: Bill Murray and the Many Faces of Awesome – “a colorful collection of over 150 Bill Murray–inspired artworks. Featuring artists from all over the world, details about the inspiration for each piece, fun facts from his groundbreaking movies, and a critical appreciation of some of Murray’s landmark roles—spanning his incredible career from Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day to Lost in Translation and The Royal Tenenbaums—this is the ultimate gift book for the film buff, art lover, and Murray addict in your life.”
Whiskey in a Tea Cup – It’s like a one sided chat with Reese! “Reese Witherspoon invites you into her world, where she infuses the Southern style, parties, and traditions she loves with contemporary flair and charm.
The Ritual Bath – “Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD is stunned when he gets the report. Someone has shattered the sanctuary of a remote yeshiva community in the California hills with an unimaginable crime.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel “of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.”
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir “unfolds the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of a village choir during World War II. An enchanting ensemble story that shuttles from village intrigue to romance to the heartbreaking matters of life and death, Jennifer Ryan’s debut novel thrillingly illuminates the true strength of the women on the home front in a village of indomitable spirit.”
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – “Brian Tracy cuts to the core of what is vital to effective time management: decision, discipline, and determination. This life-changing book will ensure that you get more of your important tasks done—today!”
Read more recommendations here: “Books for Creatives.”
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