When I was in second grade, I was that girl who was too wrapped up in the book she had just started reading during the trip to the library, that she walked down the hall with her nose buried in the book and then stumbled (ie. crashed) into the rest of the line when she didn't realize that everyone else had come to a stop.
Twenty-five years later getting lost in a story is still one of my favorite things.
Sometimes my story of choice sounds like a beach-read murder mystery series, sometimes it sounds like a non-fiction telling of some awesome women doing some awesome thing(s). Lately, it's sounded like annotated classic fiction.
In all cases, it "sounds" like a good story because of my audiobook adoration.
While I'm painting, I find it way too easy to get wrapped up in my (often-negative) self-talk. Especially when I was just starting out, I would find myself staring at my paints and brushes for... well... way longer than I care to admit, because I was "stuck" in the story that was playing in my head, "You don't know what you're doing. Why are you even trying this? No one gave you permission to be an artist."
I quickly learned that starting my audiobook before I even sit down to work short-circuits this process. Instead of getting bogged down in negativity I get wrapped up in a story.
(As I re-read what I've written I'm realizing I need to better document my process. I've made it seem as if I can mindlessly make art and that's not wholly the case. That being said- stayed tuned for what I'm learning about cognitive anchoring and how it helps me with my process.)
Here are a few of my favorite reads from 2016.
Non-Fiction - Non art
Lab Girl - Hope Jahren
I adored this book. It was the perfect mixture of science and storytelling which is where my NatGeo loving heart is happiest. Some of the lines are pure poetry and some of the biology facts will blow your mind.
Rise of the Rocket Girls - Nathalia Holt & The Astronaut Wives Club - Lily Koppel
I feel like these are best spoken about in tandem. While are both written about women of the same era who inhabit the same space race industry, their view points were vastly different. In the more widely known AWC, the women play an important but definite supporting role. In the ROTRG, the women are still subject to their time (why hello no maternity leave!) but they use their brain, creativity, and community to make the world better.
If I had a teenage daughter I would encourage her to read ROTRG.
non-fiction - art
The Judgment of Paris- Ross King
I took art history. I know that the Impressionists did things that were wonderfully daring for their time. But knowing that fact is different when you know the stories of the world surrounding this fact. When this book opens up, the reader is introduced to both Manet, living on his Mother's good will, and the world's most prominent painter of the day.
Spoiler alert: I read (and enjoyed) the book and I still can't tell you the name of the famous guy.
The What are you looking at? Series - Will Gompertz
After reading The Rise of Paris this was a "suggested read" and though I've not listened to them all, these quick bites of art history, really give some insight on the context that artists since the Impressionists have been working within.
The Creative Habit- Twyla Tharp
This is a book I checked out of the library when I was 23 and smack-dab in the middle of my quarter life crisis. And... I just couldn't read it.
I realized mid-way through this book this my 23 year old self wasn't ready. Being a working creative is work and nine years ago I wasn't there. This year I was and I lapped this book up.
Mystery / Beach Reads
While waiting for Jk Rowling, ie. Robert Galbraith, to continue her Comoran Strike series I immersed myself in the world of Kinsey Milhonne with the Alphabet Series (by Sue Grafton) and the Her Royal Spyness series (by Rhys Bowen). Are either of these terribly complicated or challenging reads? No. And sometimes that's exactly what a woman needs.
The CraftLit Podcast is my new favorite.
Initially this was because I was beginning to get frustrated at the amount of money I was spending on audiobooks so a free podcast was a nice option. However, now that I've completed both Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility and am a third of the way through Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Christo, I am an annotation convert.
Here's the thing:
I've never been into classic literature. And it's not that I was apathetic toward it. It looked interesting and it seemed nice that others had this common knowledge that I wasn't party to. However, classics are hard because they're old and I'm a bit of a lazy reader. When I get stuck on antiquated vocabulary I bow out because it impedes my desire for a good story.
Heather, the host of this podcast, is perfection. Her ability to use her former English teacher skills allow me to skip the vocabulary hang-ups, brush up on my European history/ cultural knowledge, and then dive into the story. She allows you to listen to a story with the same understanding as if you were a person reading it when it was first being published.
If you're the tiniest bit of a nerd (like me) and this is a new concept, I will give you a moment because I'm sure your mind just shattered with delight.
As I finish up this post, I'm already started on another audiobook... because I love them so. ✨
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