Hello everyone, today I want to share the books that inspire me and that I think about whilst I am making things. I enjoy reading a lot despite the fact that it gets cast off to the side when school gets busy but I try to make up for my lack of reading during the summer. Also being a craftsman I obviously do get inspiration from photo books. Like fashion books, art books and crafts books. But I also get a lot of inspiration from novels (which is what we are looking at today) as they give me a story and background to base the things I make off of, and having a narrative is important to me as it actualizes a story I try to emulate.
Let me explain. I spend a lot of time day dreaming and wishing that I lived in a more whimsical world with more people like me. I think a lot of people do this but the world they imagine is different from mine and yours. And I have found novels that capture sort of the essence of that world I imagine. I am sure it is no surprise that a lot of the novels I read have an Edwardian setting. But hey I’m not trying to hide that at this point.
Also because these books help me to imagine the world I covet I find that I have reread a lot of these books multiple times (i.e the Betsy-Tacy series) and have had them written on my Books I’ve Read This Year List year after year. I also seem to read a lot of children’s novels still. I’m not sure if this is a bad thing or not… But I find a lot of adult novels are either too sad or go on and on forever (i.e Marjorie Morningstar… Which should be half the length it is).
As I said before the books I read are based in the early 1900’s, and they all have mainly female protagonists, again I don’t think anyone is surprised (although most of my favourite films have male protagonists… i.e The Darjeeling Limited). But I do have one book that is not in that category and is more of an autobiography and one that is a biography. But let’s get into the books.
I think it would be wrong to start this post off with any other series other than the Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace. There are two parts to this series the younger years and the older years. Throughout the series we see that main characters grow up from being five years old to getting married. When I was younger my Mom would read the younger books to me and then when I got a bit older she read the high school books and adult books to me. And now I reread the older books to myself.
The main gist of the books is Betsy Ray, who wishes to by an authoress, finding adventures and friends with her best friend Tacy Kelly in the town of Deep Valley (which is based on a real town in Minnesota). Along the way Betsy has fun with her high school crowd and is very social.
These books are not hard to read and the writing style seems very contemporary. I suppose that is because of the conversational style it is written in. There are also a lot of descriptions of picnics, getting ready for parties, and clothes which I all love and seems very Edwardian to me.And despite my love for them I have yet to meet someone who I am not related to who has read these books. It just seems odd to me as Little House on the Prairie is such a popular series and these books are sort of on par with them but I digress at least there is the Betsy-Tacy Society to keep them alive.
Next on my list is Lucy Maud Montgomery books. I have read the Anne of Green Gables series (minus the seventh book as it focuses on Anne’s children more than here… Which seems wrong to me as I was originally invested in Anne and not her children. I am a bit bitter on how the series ended), A Tangled Web, Bleu Castle, and a handful of other books and all enjoyed them. I did read the Emily of New Moon series but after the first book to me it seemed to lose its direction.
I find with L M Montgomery that her early books have too many adjectives. There are pages and pages of describing beautiful landscapes and beautiful girls using very romantic words (i.e Kilmeny of the Orchard). I find it all a bit too much for my taste so I prefer her later books that are more comical like A Tangled Web. These characters seem much more human.
I also really enjoy her books as she does have some wonderful description of Prince Edward Island. I think the trick for these is to keep them whimsical but short. But she has made me decide that I like Prince Edward Island even though I have never been there.
Next on my list is Diana Wayne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle. This is the first fantasy book on my list as I don’t read a lot of them. But I have read this one several times. I think I read it four times in one year a while back haha. But this book is important to me as I think I often stick to what I am doing and forget to leave and disrupt my bubble and embarrass myself or take a risk and this book shows me that it isn’t always a bad thing to do. As this is what the main character Sophie does.
I also really enjoy the dramatic flamboyant Wizard Howl with his slightly extravagant ways. He sort of reminds me of Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous and I love it!
I did watch the Miyazaki film before I read the book. But I don’t think this ruins the book for two reasons. One being that I don’t care about spoilers ever. And two because the book is so very different from the movie. The book has practically no war in it, more characters, is more light-hearted, and more adventures in it. So I don’t think it is fair to compare the two. And since they are so different the characters do look different in my head than they do in the movie.
And while we are on the subject I’ll talk about Hayao Miyazaki’s Starting Point next. This book is not really a novel as it is not a story. It is a book filled with essays, speeches and stories from Mr. Miyazaki himself. I found this book to be as close to a self-help book as I can get and to be a book that I think any creative person should read.
And I specifically recommend the first book he wrote (Starting Point) opposed to the follow-up book Turning Point. As the first one is much more optimistic and spans a larger amount of Miyazaki’s career, and the later one is more pessimistic and redundant. At one point Miyazaki complains about the fact that he never wanted to write a second book even! And I think it shows all throughout the book unfortunately.
Then lastly I will briefly mention Robert K. Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra. I think there is a reason why this is one of the most popular book about the Russian monarchy and the Russian Revolution. Which is a subject I really enjoy and want to learn more about and of course takes place during my favourite era. Because it is written more like a story than a biography. So it’s a long read but a good read and the details are written about in a story-like fashion.
I think that is enough books for now, I have a lot more I could discuss but then I think I might go on forever.
What are some of your favourite books?
Who are your favourite authors and genres?
How does reading help your creative process? And how do you make time for it?
So until next time happy reading,