journalThis is a wonderful book for anyone wanting to dive into the world of mixed-media art journaling.  There are lots of techniques to try out, particularly with watercolors.  If watercolors are a medium you wish to learn more about, this is the book for you.  The instructions are clear without being overbearing.  They still allow for a lot of experimentation on the part of the reader.  The author tells you which tools you will need for each exercise, specifying which are optional.  She also discusses some brand names to try out.  I found this book to be very useful, especially when combined with other books and magazines on mixed-media art.  There are also prompts at the end of the book for continued thought and fun with art journaling.  The author encourages the reader to make a mess and try things out for fun.  While the book gives some of the basics, there is still room for the artistic reader to soar.

how-we-learn-by-benedict-careylearn_3019445a mgtjVsu 0824-bks-Hurley-master495 download After reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They got that Way, I started wondering how much can pedagogy be taught, and how much of it is just having a good personality.  And by “good personality” I was thinking of the charismatic “hail fellow well met type”.   I should have remembered that people with  “hail fellow well met” type of personalities, usually get more credit than they deserve see the book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Should teachers be required to get a good education or does getting a degree in physical education, qualify you to teach math in high school.  How much can Blond girl learning Chinese 4training benefit a teacher?

Well, given that I learned several ways to study better, to learn faster, and retain more, from this book, I think getting a good education is necessary for teachers as well.  Some of the methods I learned seemed intuitively correct, but I didn’t know why, I was unaware of other things.  I did know that studying for two hours all at once was less effective than studying 1 hour on one day, and then another hour, a couple of days later.  Why does this work better? because the deeper we have to dig to retrieve a piece of information, the more likely it is to stick.  That is why Comprehensive Exams are better for you, though less popular, because you have to study more.  It also helps explain why pop quizzes are good for students, its Not that they tell you so much about what the student knows, its that it is a good tool to help students learn.  Trying to find the answer in your brain is helpful.  Students dislike pop quizzes, yet maybe if they didn’t count for lots of points, student’s wouldn’t object to them as much.  I did know that when you reach an impasse, you should stop, take a break, then go back to the problem.  I advise my husband to do this all the time, now I have evidence to back me up.

I also  didn’t realize how important it is to mix things up, Carey call interleavement.  Drills are fine, but you don’t want to spend a long period of time on the same one, or same type, do some scales, then some etudes, then play a piece through, then work on tone, then back to scales, etc.  This is really critical in math, because you need to be able to figure out which type of formula to apply to different problems.  Often in school, a student does fine on an individual section, but then fails the comprehensive test, because, now they have to select a given formula.  Another way to mix things up, is to study in different places, under different conditions, though if you can study in the room where you will take the test, that can benefit you for the test, but Not for the long run.    part of it boils down to, do you want to just pass the class, or do you really want to learn, do you want to challenge yourself.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and wish more of my professors had imparted this type of knowledge.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, How To's, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Beginner's Guide to Dream Interpretation by Clarissa Pinkola Estés , read by Kira, on 08/24/2014

indexindex2Estes guides you in how to interpret your dreams.  First she gives you guidance in remembering your dreams, including writing them down, having a tape recorder near your bed, and vowing to remember your dreams.  She discounts, using standard dream dictionaries to interpret symbols.  She advises paying attention to the nouns in your dreams, and then looking for synonyms to figure out what they might represent. Often, I find there is a major difference in the tone or feeling of my dream, compared to what actually happens in my dreams.  Sometimes, there are really yucky feelings, without anything ominous actually happening.  So I wasn’t sure the noun approach would really work for me.

She also covers specific dream narratives that lots of people experience, like flying dreams, or waking up late for a test, of finding yourself without your clothes.  The one recurring dream that I have that she didn’t cover is the one where I am choosing my bed in a dorm room, or some variant thereof.

I tried her methods and got some advice from my subconscious that I’ve ignored, that I know I should take care of, but don’t really want to.  So much for amplifying my subconscious.

butterfly-dreams goddess3 images4indexpI have really enjoyed this authors work and will continue to keep an eye out for her.

22. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

Twitter for Dummies by Laura Fitton, read by Brian, on 08/19/2014

twitterTwitter for Dummies is all encompassing book on Twitter.   Twitter is used by millions of people around the World to communicate with each other.  From the casual friends to use in the business sector Twitter is a hit and this book tells you the ins and outs of the media.

 

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags:

Dreamscapes: creating magical angel, fairy, and mermaid worlds in watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, read by Marsha, on 08/19/2014

download (1)This is a fantastic book for the beginning fantasy watercolorist with information on faces, hands, feet, and everything in between.  It also has beginning watercolor instruction for those not well-versed in it already.  I absolutely loved this book and plan to add it to my personal collection soon.  It was exactly what I was looking for!

21. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction · Tags:

Fantasy Art for Beginners: create fantasy beings step-by-step by Jon Hodgson, read by Marsha, on 08/12/2014

indexThis is a great book especially for those wanting to begin with oils, acrylics, or digital media.  Watercolorists would have to adapt the shades of the washes from lightest to darkest.  Hodgson lays it all out step-by-step as the title implies, instructing the artist on drawing out and painting fantasy characters and backgrounds.  He walks the artist through six different paintings, all using various methods, creatures, and poses.  A good reference to keep on hand as well.  Just wished it was geared a little more for watercolor too.

20. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction · Tags:

Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly, read by Brian, on 08/19/2014

twitterWant to learn how to use Twitter?  Tim O’Reilly gives a fun and easy to read book on how to use the 140 character social media tool.   This book is useful if you are a casual user or wanting to promote your busy.

 

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, Humor, NonFiction · Tags:

Box Lunch by Diana Cage, read by Brian, on 06/28/2014

boxBox Lunch is an adult oriented book.  It deals with the taboo subject of sex.  Why sex is taboo is beyond me. Oral sex is the subject matter of this piece of work.  This could be one of the funniest books I have read and yet instructional too.  If you do not like explicit sexual books then stay away from this one.  Diana approaches Box Lunch from her own experiences.  If you’re not familiar with the author it’s because she edits and writes for the lesbian magazine, On Our Backs.  I would recommend this book.

 

23. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, How To's, NonFiction · Tags:

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cuningham, read by Brian, on 06/13/2014

wiccaCunningham has written numerous books on the subject of Wicca and anything that relates to it.  This book is more then about magick, Cunningham wants the reader to realize how important it is to have a relationship with earth.  Wicca is an earth oriented religion.  This is not Scott’s best work but is a decent introduction for those with no experience at all.

 

28. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Humor, Inspirational, Marsha, Memoirs, NonFiction · Tags: ,

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, read by Marsha, on 05/27/2014

birdLamott gives us an inside peek at her writing processes and the advice she gives to her workshop students.  Hilariously written, as one reviewer notes, the book is “a warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps.”  Lamott is not shy about telling her students and readers that writing is hard work and what we think of as reward, publication, may not ever happen.  And yet, we should keep on writing about ourselves, our lives, our very ups and downs.  She encourages us all to just keep writing day by day.  A good dose of humor is thrown in to keep us from getting too despondent.  Lamott tackles libel, beginning writing, taking classes, and finding writing partners with a good dose of reality and fun in her text.  I highly recommend it for any creative person who needs a good laugh.

 

bibliocraftThis book is excellent for anyone who wants to learn more about the different types of libraries and how to use them.  Even if the reader is not a crafter, there is much information to be gleaned from this book about how to make the most out of library resources and how to find what you are looking for.  The author gives a lot of tips and websites for various types of collections that might interest crafters, as well as sites for digitized collections.  Tips are also given for what to expect when viewing rare books and what some of the policies may be for libraries who hold them.  The second half of the book has a lot of information about projects and how the creators for each project used their libraries as inspiration.  Inspiration can come from images from books or even from the architecture of the library itself.  While many of the projects are not to my personal taste, I did think the explanations for making something similar were clear enough.  The projects had information about the original images that inspired each piece so that the reader could see just how the designers’ minds worked.  Very interesting book.  Even if the reader doesn’t craft, the first half is a must read for any library patron.

 

showThis book, a follow-up to Steal Like an Artist, continues Kleon’s advice on creativity by encouraging artists everywhere to show their work.  This particular volume discusses the value of sharing work in online communities through blogs and other social media.  Not only does the artist make work public in this way, but he or she also shares with others a bit about process and how the work is made.  I found this book to be just as valuable a resource as the first and have already read it twice.  It is inspirational and will have artists everywhere wanting to get up and share what they do with others.  As Kleon notes, the world owes us nothing.  We have to give selflessly in order to get and this book will show the reader how.  I highly recommend Kleon’s work to artists of all kinds.  Create–share.  What a fun cycle to be in!

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction

The Repurposed Library: 33 Craft Projects That Give Old Books New Life by Lisa Occhipinti, read by Marsha, on 04/30/2014

libraryThe projects in this book are fantastic!  This might be another one I order for my personal collection.  This book is all about altering books and making them into something new.  The projects include lamps, lampshades, ornaments, mobiles and wall hangings.  Like Playing With Books, which I reviewed earlier this month, the instructions are written clearly.  The one thing that has me on the fence about purchasing this particular book is that the accompanying images for the directions for each project are drawn diagrams rather than photos.  Still, the diagrams seem fairly clear.  I am looking forward to delving into the projects in this book.

 

studioThis book has some nice projects in it with different types of bindings.  However, it is not meant to be a book for beginners.  Some of the instructions assume the reader has made at least a couple of books before and therefore glosses over certain steps.  The instructions use photography rather than drawn diagrams, which is nice.  This would be a great book for someone who has already done a little bit of book binding before.  It might be something I add to my library at a later date.

 

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

How to Find out Anything by Don MacLeod, read by Tammy, on 04/30/2014

how to find In How to Find Out Anything, researcher Don MacLeod explains how to find what you’re looking for quickly, efficiently, and accurately—and how to avoid the most common mistakes of the Google Age.

He starts by explaining what a regular Google search (as the most popular and search engine) is good at and what it is not. He also shows you some tips to improve Google’s ability to find what you are really looking for. He also emphasizes that while Google may be the best place to start a search it is not the best place to end it.

He shares websites that let you tap into the knowledge on the “deep web” or many websites and databases that have reliable information available but that will not be found by a Google search.

In spite of having attended several training sessions on the deep web, MacLeod’s book has some that I had never heard of before. He also had some tips for searching Google that I was unaware of such as how to limit your search by country of origin of the website.

blueprintA Blueprint for Your Castle in the Clouds is full of delightful ideas for escaping into one’s own imagination.  However, it also provides lots of useful tips for dealing with negative emotions you might come across.  Take the negative emotions into various rooms of the castle to deal with them.  That is the essential meat of the book.  There are rooms to express love, creativity, happiness and other positive emotions.  The reader is encouraged to have fun building these mental rooms and is given some great starter questions for building each room.  The author also encourages physical manifestations such as drawings of the rooms and conversations with different aspects of the reader’s personality.  Very enjoyable and lots of great ideas.

 

24. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction

Playing With Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book by Jason Thompson, read by Marsha, on 04/24/2014

playingPlaying With Books is a book about altering other books.  This a terrific source of ideas for the reader who wants to take old books and make them into something new.  There are project ideas packed onto every page. The projects range from simple to more complex with an artists’ gallery for further inspiration if the projects aren’t enough.  Most of the projects use tools that the reader might already have at home or can easily find in craft and hardware stores.  The steps are explained fairly well, but the reader might need other books to explain some of the sewing or other skills used in making the projects.  The photography is wonderful and shows the projects at their best while demonstrating the techniques being taught in the written instructions.  There are even ideas for sources of free books the reader can use for the projects.  This was an exciting book to read and I have already put it on my wish list to add to my library at home.  I can’t wait to get started!

 

24. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction

Making Books by Hand: A Step-By-Step Guide by Mary McCarthy and Phillip Manna, read by Marsha, on 04/23/2014

Making Books by hand takes the time to show the reader steps not often shown in other books, such as how to fold the corners of bookcloth on a cover.  This is a nice little reference book to keep nearby for that reason. The text contains instructions for several different types of books including accordion books, journals and scrapbooks, photo albums, and box books.  Some instructions are more detailed than others and some of the photos really need to have been taken closer up so that the reader can see the details of what the author is referring to.  But many of the instructions are well-written and the photography does not interfere with the reader getting a grasp on the content.  There is even a chapter titled, “New Directions: Trends and Traditions” that has a more uncommon accordion book and a scroll.  Included is also an artists’ gallery, which is sure to generate lots of new ideas.  While this is not necessarily a book I plan to add to my library, it is one that I will probably check out and peruse again once I start making my own books.

 

23. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction

Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon, read by Marsha, on 04/23/2014

stealKleon has written a fantastic little book that may be a quick read, but should be read again and again as it is jam-packed with content.  The book lists 10 things the writer wishes he had known when he started creating and they are fairly universal no matter what the reader makes (and everyone should be making something).  Kleon is a writer and artist but this advice applies to anyone who has the least bit of a creative streak, which is EVERYONE.  Don’t miss out on this little gem because of it’s size.  There are many things the reader can learn from reading and re-reading Steal Like An Artist.  This book is now on my Kindle!

09. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, How To's, Marsha, NonFiction

Real Life Journals by Gwen Diehm, read by Marsha, on 04/09/2014

JournalsThis is a great book for learning more about the craft of bookbinding.  There is a lot of terrific material in here for beginners with thorough instructions for each step, as well as lists of materials and where to find those materials.  Diehm even includes a couple of websites to check out in case the readers’ local craft stores do not carry bookbinding materials.  The book is a wonderful resource and has a pamphlet for creating your own “bookbinding adventure,” which allows the reader to answer a series of questions and, depending on the answer, flip through to the appropriate binding for the project the reader has in mind.  Diehm even walks the reader through this process using nine examples of real journal-keepers as they made decisions about what kind of book they wanted for their journal.  Diehm followed up with each reader to find out what they liked about their journal and what they would improve for next time. The final chapter of this book contains background information about journals, including famous journal-keepers such as da Vinci.  I highly recommend this text to anyone looking into creating their own journals.  I am even planning to add this volume to my own personal craft library.