Not a single word of fiction in all of May. And I’m okay with that. Oh, and hey! Instead of another lame composite image of all the book covers from this month, I thought I’d draw them in a stack instead! Yeah, that was fun.
The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, Twyla Tharp (audio)
Most of the titles I’ve read on creativity have been by writers and visual artists, so I was keen to hear the perspective of a performance artist. Good news: good creative habits are common across all the arts! There are some interesting perspectives here, as well as a bunch of useful exercises. The three-star rating comes down to the narrator, who way over-dramatised unfortunately.
The Creative Life: True Tales of Inspiration, Julia Cameron (audio)
This book was not at all what I expected. Cameron is the author of The Artist’s Way, that seminal text about creativity and the creative process, and I guess I expected something similar here. Instead, The Creative Life is a series of vignettes about Cameron’s life as an artist and a teacher. Once I got past my expectations and settled into the narrative, I enjoyed it.
Hello, New York: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Five Boroughs, Julia Rothman
Part memoir, part travel guide, this is a stunning look at the five boroughs of New York, told in gorgeous illustrations and lovely personal narratives by one of my illustrator-heroes. If you’ve ever wanted to explore NY’s little-known treasures and off-the-beaten-path highlights, this book is for you.
Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in its Own Words, Wendy MacNaughton
MacNaughton is probably one of my favourite illustrators and San Francisco is easily one of my favourite cities, so this book was a total treat.
Daybook: The Journal of an Artist, Anne Truitt (audio)
Such a lovely book! One of Truitt’s main struggles is the struggle between the competing roles in her life: her role as mother and her role as artist. She is positively lyrical when talking about that tension and how she navigates it on a daily basis. I listened to the audio version of this, which was delightfully narrated by Truitt herself, but I’ve decided I need to get myself a print copy because this is a book I’ll read again for sure.
Do the Work, Steven Pressfield
A quick little read that was the perfect followup to Pressfield’s The War of Art. Do the Work is a manifesto about the challenges of resistance and all the forms it takes. That self-doubt you have about your yourself and your abilities? That’s resistance! That thing that prevents you from starting whatever it is you really want to start (a piece of art, a company, weight loss, whatever)? Also resistance! That thing that seizes you right at the end of a project and prevents you from completing it? You guessed it, resistance! Resistance sucks and this book is all about how you can get through/over/past it to just do the work you want and need to do. I enjoyed it.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey
I dipped into this book over the course of the month and thoroughly enjoyed it every time. All sorts of habits, rituals, routines, and practices that I couldn’t help but think must have been super fun to research.
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, Edwidge Danticat (audio)
I wasn’t familiar with Danticat’s work prior to reading this series of essays but now I’m super stoked to dig into her fiction. This is a really wonderful collection of stories, most about Haiti or Danticat’s Haitian relatives, told with a lot of compassion.