a review: The Art of Looking Sidways

by Alan Fletcher
reading guide-it is the guide

over 1000 pages of mentally stimulating visual intrigue

a review
I’m a big fan of the library system. I can read more books in a year than I could ever afford to buy. I’ve even borrowed long out-of-print books that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. I received an email from my library about 6 weeks ago letting me know this book was ready for me. When the librarian brought it to the desk my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I requested it based on a recommendation from another site based on a recommendation of another book based on a search of “creativity”. I was hoping to find a book that would give me some simple steps to find my creativity that I used to have as a child but let the educational system and real world beat out of me. I asked the librarian if she was sure it was my book because it looked like the kind of book you get when the library has a textbook rebound. I admit, I was a bit disappointed but since someone went to the trouble of sending me the book via interlibrary loan, the 5.4 pound book(bigger and heavier than my college calculus textbook), I felt obligated to bring it home with me. I’m glad I did, but sorry to report that even after having it checked out for nearly 5 weeks, I’m only 200 pages into it as it’s not a sit-down-and-read-cover-to-cover book. I find that I absorb more by reading a few pages, responding in my journal to anything that’s given me pause and stopping for a few days to contemplate the new ideas.

What in this book am I so chuffed about? Alan Fletcher has collected drawings, photographs, quotes, summaries, and more to present mind-boggling things to readers. Yes, things, you read it right, things. I can’t describe it any better than that. This book has just gone to the top of my list of books to buy because even if I did manage to finish all 1000+ pages of yumminess, I’d just want to start again. I look at a page with 1+1=3 and a wonderful assortment of quotes on creativity and spent hours contemplating each quote and then the places my brain went all on its own gave me hope that I may not have lost all my creativity after all. I love that a thought will begin on page 92 and tie into a thought 100 pages later with a footnote on the first thought to be sure to see the second. And the pages, they are not each number, each pair of facing pages shares one number, so 533 pages is really 1066 pages give or take. And lest you still be wondering about the title, it’s not just a metaphoric looking at things in a new way. I have had to turn the book round and round and round and this way and that to read everything. Not for each page, mind you, but for many there is something written this direction requirement me to turn my head awkwardly before remembering I can turn the book.


A review: The Interrogative Mood

by Padgett Powell
Here is where I usually link to a reading/discussion guide or two, I’m not really sure one needs a guide. The book, itself, is a guide to discussion.

a summary
A book of questions, sometimes the questions relate to those before and after sometimes not.

a review
I couldn’t read very much of the book at a time, it overwhelmed my brain to the point of pain. The the more I read, the less nonsensical the paragraphs seem so I am able to read more at a time. I have found that skipping forward and back to be the best way for me to enjoy the book. I wish there was an index so I could find exact questions again. If you have someone in your life you’d like to know better, grab a copy and have a go at it. I think I would rate this book for adults, some of the questions I wouldn’t want to explain to my 5 year old even though I don’ have a five year old. I may add this to my library if I happen upon a copy for a reasonable amount of money.

A few of my favorite questions, copyright of course belongs to the author, quoted here only to entice others to read it.

  • Would a catastrophic global war be required to restore us to simple living? p17
  • Have you any skills in the area of weaving or knitting? p35
  • Do you miss Tab and do you fully understand its disappearance? p43
  • Can you knit? p61
  • Would it be reasonable to ask someone if he or she has a favorite musical note? p66
  • Why is a banana yellow and not banana? p67


A book reivew: Flatland

by Edwin A Abbott
reading guide 1
reading guide 2
Flatland text from Project Gutenberg
Annotated Version of Flatland
Wiki background

a review/summary

I first started listening to this on Craftlit and found my attention span waning. I decided to stop listening to this book for a few episodes then checked out a hardcopy from the library. I started with the text on Project Gutenberg, linked above, and wanted to hold it in my hand and flip chapters. I found that I enjoyed understood it better to read first then listen.

While I don’t fancy myself anything special when it comes to reading deeper into what an author means, this author made it quite easy to see his points. The author used satire to convey his thoughts on social classes as well as gender inequality using personified flat two-dimensional shapes. I feel as though I can’t say too much more without revealing what can be discovered while reading. I found myself pulling for the poor square after a while. Please use the links above to read more about the book or the book itself as it is in public domain.


A book review: Spin Control

by Amy King, 2009

a review/summary
I borrowed this book from the library along with many others to evaluate what books to add to my spinning library. This one will be joining my library at the end of the week, making an Amazon order for Christmas. Amy challenges the readers to play with the wheel. It’s nothing I couldn’t have figured out on my own but to see it written down, permission to play with the wheel whether it seems conventional or not, somehow makes it ok to set about doing. She tells us to change a specific setting one way then spin, then make another change and see what happens. Then change another setting and asks how it changed from the previous ones. (scientific method anyone?)

After the introductory chapters she gets to the business of explaining many of the questions I had in a blog draft like how to know how much twist to put in the yarn. She shows us how to evaluate previously spun or purchased yarn in an effort to reproduce it and encourages us to keep a spinning notebook. She shows us how to spin a variety to novelty yarns and even shows several knitted swatches of different prep and spinning techniques on the same base fiber. I feel like cover to cover gets me a spinning class. Can’t wait to get my hands on the book permanently. I’m off to browse the rest of the books, stay tuned for more reviews.


Three Cups of Tea

one mans’ mission to promote peace . . . one school at a time

by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin

web site

a review & summary
Greg began raising money to build schools to educate the children in Pakistan 1990’s after he was unable to complete a summit to K2. He was the medic on a team who was scheduled to summit but had to do a last minute rescue and evac of a team member, thus eliminating his chance to reach the top. On his way down the mountain, he took the wrong path and found himself in a local village. Seeing the poverty in this village, he vowed to return an build them a school. This book chronicles his travels as he raised monies to build that school and many more with the hope of stopping the violence through education. He offers a unique perspective on America’s War on Terror with insights about the civilians this war impacted firsthand. I highly recommend reading this book if for no other reason than the unique perspective.


A Review: eat, pray, love

by Elizabeth Gilbert
reading guide

a summary
After a divorce and rebound love, Liz took a year off of life to journey across Italy, India, and Indonesia as she struggled to write this book and bring peace and balance to her life. Without much planning, Liz spent almost four months in each country making friends, finding herself, her purpose and a peaceful coexistence with life. She shared her studies in the Hindu faith as well as other spiritual insights as she travels. While in Italy, a new friend shared his view of each person, each city having a word. He shared

Book Club & Tigerheart

by Peter David
You’ll have to write your own reading/discussion guide for this one.

a review
Rarely do I have to read a fiction book with a dictionary and I found it rather refreshing to expand my vocabulary while I read a reimagining of Peter Pan. Many of the potential new vocabulary words are explain either through context or by the narrator. I love the names of two of the pirates, “Caveat” and “Roomer,” they live up to their names. The only place Peter Pan is mentioned is in reviews on the covers of the book. After that we follow the story of “The Boy,” Gwenny, Paul Darling and a host of “Anyplace characters” The author wrote Tigerheart from the narrator’s point of view, but the narrator recorded the story in the first person. The narrator will occasionally become sidetracked explaining why something is the way it is or why he doesn’t know something he doesn’t know. I found myself giggling through the book often. I’m not sure this is a children’s book, but it could be read to a child with creative editing done by an adult. What I enjoyed most wasn’t the story line, who won the battle, what happened to the characters. I enjoyed trying to guess how the characters and plot twists related to the original story. Did this story occur before Wendy, John and Michael flew with Peter? Was “The Boy” Peter? Was Gwenny (Gwendolyn) Wendy? How does Paul relate to the Wendy, John and Michael?

I would like to read the Peter Pan stories and then Tigerheart again to compare the writing style and characters. To read the original Peter Pan and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, please visit Project Gutenberg.

a summary
While villains and heroes come and go, one thing remains, there must be heroes and villains. Tigerheart is a story from “Anyplace” where in there are pirates and non-pirates, heroes and villains. Which are which are for you to decide. Paul Darling’s sister Bonnie disappeared, she didn’t want to be a baby, turned into a bird and flew away. This tale follows Paul’s adventure to and from “Anyplace” on the quest to bring a baby girl back to his mother to make her happy again.


The Book Thief

by markus zusak
reading guide

a review/a summary
It’s not often I struggle to write about a book. What to say without giving too much away? A familiar topic fictionalized in an unique manner, “The Book Thief” will keep you turning the pages. The main character, Liesel, becomes a thief of books among other things. The narrator leads the reader through Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s while following a child, her family, neighborhood and government. While technically a young adult book, I would highly recommend it for a wider audience including plain-old adults.


Book Club & The Help

by Kathryn Stockett
reading guide

a review
As the title indicates, this is a book I read for book club. I wouldn’t have read it otherwise. I find it hard to believe that a white author can write an account of life for African-American housekeepers/maids in the south in the 1960s. Penguin books had a podcast episode with the author about why she felt she could write this book. I listened to part of it and was so bored I turned it off before finishing it. The stories from the housekeepers/maids in the book were interesting enough to hold my interest.

a summary
A fictional account of the life of African-American housekeepers/maids set in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. The book is written by a white woman and is told from the point of view of a white woman just out of college and two housekeepers/maids. The white woman, Skeeter, wants to be a journalist and decides to interview at least 12 woman who spent their lives taking care of other people’s children and house. The story is full of racial tension as all of the women sneak behind the backs of their employers, friends, family, neighbors and high-society. The story was creative enough to hold my interest, but I have no idea as to the accuracy of such an account, fictional though it is.


Book Club & The Glass Castle

by Janette Walls
reading guide

a review
A well written memoir of the author’s childhood with an alcoholic parent and an out-of-touch parent. I was genuinely surprised by the depth of caring toward her parents the author could express as she wrote her account. I had a difficult time finding any empathy for the parents, while Janette clearly found common ground on which to stand with her family. I found myself a hybrid between Janette and her youngest sister, who when the time came, ran from her family and hasn’t looked back yet.

a summary
Janette recounts her childhood and the chaos that one alcoholic parent and one free-spirit parent brought to her life and the lives of her siblings with love and respect for them. While her father was not violent, his drinking left the family with little to no money to provide for basic needs, including food, clothes, and shelters. Her parents pride wouldn’t allow them to accept handouts or help of any kind, rather the children went without meals, clothes, appropriate shelter and more. Her mother would work only when absolutely necessary and kept secrets of her own that may have saved the children a great deal of pain and anguish had she been a bit less selfish. This is a heart wrenching account of a child watching her parents spiral out of control of their lives and their failure to provide for the basic care of their children. The few things the parents did instill were pride in education and pride in self, that one could do just about anything one set about doing.