At the tail end of last year, I decided I would share a Book of the Week each week of 2020. I love learning from books and going back to them again and again for inspiration, ideas, wise words, lessons… I view it as continuing education and I make frequent trips to the book store to browse for new reading materials. I mention these books on my Instagram stories or here on the blog, but I thought it would be nice to share them in a more organized fashion for those who are interested.
I’m going to feature a mix of new books and ones that have been favorites for years. I’ll also share books on a variety of subjects from art and home decorating to design and business. They will all be books that I consider to be “resource books” – books that can be referenced repeatedly in order to mine goodies that may have been missed the first time.
So, here are my books of the week for January…
Week 1 | Making a Life by Melanie Falick
I bought this book at the tail end of 2019 and I absolutely loved it. I made so many notes as I was reading through this book and poring over the pictures. It’s a celebration of those who make beautiful things and it asks the question why. Why is that desire in us? There are so many beautiful, stirring quotes, thought-provoking interviews, and images that make you want to do something with your hands. It’s encouraging, inspiring, and a feast for the eyes.
Week 2 | Martha Stewart’s Organizing
This book was just released in January and I had the chance to get an advanced copy from the publisher. I would’ve bought it, anyway! I love Martha Stewart’s books. There are some that have been on my shelves for 20 years and I still look to them for ideas. There is a timelessness to the style and advice Martha and her team curates.
What singles this book out from other organizing books is that it’s not just a book about sorting out your closets, but about organizing your life and home seasonally. This book includes the kind of calendar you find at the front of each Martha Stewart Living magazine. It gives tips on what vegetables are in season, when you should order seeds for your garden, and the best way to pack away winter wools. And, true to Martha, everything is pretty to look at.
Week 3 | Essentialism by Greg McKeown
I shared about this book last year, but I had to put it on my book of the week list. It is so, so good and left a deep impression on me. I approached this book expecting it to be a dry read, but there were so many things that applied to my work as a creative – the importance of play in innovation, the value of sleep for idea development, and the necessity of editing in order to make room for what is most valuable.
This book celebrates the German philosophy Weniger aber besser, which translates to Less but better. I took pages and pages of notes on the book and have referred to it many times professionally and personally.
I made my first slipcover when I was in college with some blue and green plaid cotton fabric from Walmart. I was given a gold couch that had probably been circulated among college students for a few years and it was in desperate need of a makeover. So, I just made it up as I went along, tucking some pieces of fabric into seams with a butter knife! I’m pretty sure I wrapped the cushions like a present and pinned them in place with safety pins.
After I got married, I repeated this effort, only improving my technique slightly. I finally bought Slipcover Style and learned how to make slipcovers properly. If you look through the book, you can see its influence on my style…ruffled skirts, ties, and pleats. These days, you can learn to slipcover from video tutorials like the one I shared on my blog a few years ago, but this book is still a great one-stop resource with tips, how-tos, and inspiration.
This is a book that’s out of print, unfortunately! When I shared it on Instagram, there were many used copies that were just a few dollars, but those copies sold out and now the price is jacked up. If you wait a while, I’m sure some reasonably-priced used copies will surface again or you can check your library for this one.
Week 5 | Daily Painting by Carol Marine
This book was referred to me by a reader a couple of years ago when I first started oil painting and it was the best book for beginners that I came across (and I’ve read a lot!) It’s practical, approachable, and generous. Carol doesn’t assume you know what she’s talking about. She explains it all, welcoming you into her world with an ease and friendliness that makes you feel like you can do what she’s doing.
I still use the custom medium and many techniques and exercises she shares in the book and I always go back to it when I feel a little stuck. If you’re interested in oil painting, this is a must-have in your library.
Do you have any favorite resource books that should make it on my list this year?
In other January news, I shared some of my dreams and goals a few weeks ago and I thought I would share an update. As most of you suspected, I was a little overambitious, but I’ve done pretty well.
In the creative category, I have been working on some small paintings and sketches to get comfortable at the easel again. I haven’t been able to do it daily, but I’m working back towards that! I haven’t started on the Nordic-style crochet socks, but I have been making dishcloths and I’m trying to make copies of some vintage glass cozies I bought a few years ago. I’m also still making an afghan, square by square.
Professionally, I have been posting on my blog five days a week, I’ve stepped up in sharing and building community on social media platforms, and I started working on my first Decorating Dilemma of the year. I’ve done a bit more work on my oil painting course for beginners, but progress has been slow. I need to set a self-imposed due date, so I feel a greater sense of urgency to get it done!
And personally, I’ve been doing great. I started working with a trainer at the gym to build my strength back up after shoulder surgery and I’ve already seen great improvements in just a few weeks. I’ve even done a few exercise classes and just modified what I needed to. They were hard, but I was proud of how well my shoulder handled it. I’ve also been eating healthy, whole foods that I’ve been prepping on the weekends to make it easier and more convenient to make good choices. I’m sharing my meals on Instagram Stories if you need some inspiration. I’ll also share some recipes here on the blog that people have been asking about.
And I’ve been working through Rosetta Stone’s German program, doing just a little bit each day. My dad, brother, and I have been texting a little bit in German to each other to practice, too. The conversations are always silly… “What color is your pen? My pen is blue. I ate two eggs. What did you eat? Etc.” I’d like to be a bit more consistent with this, though, so that’ll be a goal for February!
How have you been doing with your 2020 goals and/or resolutions?