View From The Top (of the Book Pile) #1

Blog Book Mountain 1


In which I review/speculate on/suffer mild anxiety about the books piling up at home.


For those of you who’ve been here before and read this previous post, you will no doubt see the irony at play here. Can’t help it. You know, books.

In this edition:


Steal Like An Artist & Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Despite their appearance, these books are not hipster fluff pieces. They are remarkable treasures of wisdom. I have read through both a few of times now and they’re weirdly more refreshing and relevant each time. Kleon has outlined a straightforward life approach for artists and creatives of all descriptions in these titles. The first is about how acts of homage are a powerful tool in discovering our own voice and process as artists. The second asks us to become comfortable in our own skin by sharing our work and make connections with the world. It’s weird how powerful Kleon’s very simple, pared back advice actually is. Added bonus: there’s a list of recommend books at the back of both of these. More for the pile!


The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Terrible confession – I have never read this book. It’s time. As Townsend has now passed away, there will be no more Adrian Mole books, but that doesn’t mean I should allow my life to slip by without some acquaintance with this cult kids comedy classic. Hurry up me.


Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

Not quite sure how I’ve only just discovered Lisa Congdon, an artist and author of several books including this, her latest. Billed as a guide for artists trying to turn their work into, well, their work, it’s a no-nonsense how-to for those of us not quite sure about making our art a self-sustaining enterprise. I’m a few pages in and am impressed and amazed at how straightforward the language is. No wishy-washy, arty-farty* creative talk here — just practical, simple advice for people who happen to be artists. Also, scattered through the book is a range of interviews with other artists about what they do and how they managed to make their work pay the bills and give them the freedom to focus on their creative process. As a woman who only really discovered her ‘inner artist’ in her early thirties and in the space of about five years managed to turn her new-found passion into a thriving creative empire, I feel Congdon is especially qualified to put a book like this together. And so far it seems a nice complement to Austin Kleon’s books. If his are the cheer squad, hers is the coach. Or something like that. I don’t do sport.

*My auto correct has now three times changed ‘arty-farty’ to ‘arty-fatty’. Thank you technology.


How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

My dear friend Amanda — a TV producer, feminist and Nutella addict — is my Moran dealer. She gifted me last year with my first Moran, How To Be A Woman, and this year for my birthday, gifted me with Moran’s first fiction novel, How To Build A Girl. I am looking forward to it purely for the fact that there are torn stockings and a pair of docs on the cover. A former music journalist and outspoken columnist, Moran is equal parts personal essayist and scathing cultural critic. How To Be A Woman left me wanting more; there was a great deal about ‘how to be a woman’ that I felt Moran didn’t quite get to. A more accurate title for that book would have been ‘How To Be A Woman Like Me’. Which is not a criticism. I just wanted more. I don’t know that How To Build A Girl will alleviate my craving, but I do expect a good chuckle and a lot of empathic head-nodding as I relive the wonders of working class, 80s teenage-hood. Stay tuned.


What’s on top of your book pile?

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