Here we go again with five of the books I’ve been digging into over the last week. The subjects this time around are an interesting mix of projects, publishing, drawing, writing and poetry. Some weeks I find a ton of books all on the same subject I’m currently interested in. Other times it’s a random mix. Either way, I typically learn something useful and get entertained at the same time.
- First up is Souped Up, an Instructables.com book edited by Michael Huynh. It’s a mix of projects ranging from food to electronics and woodworking to Décor and furniture. My wife was especially thrilled with Gummy Bear Surgery which details how to create your own frankengummi monsters. This is one of those really simple time wasters that make you wonder how it could take four pages of instructions. But the ideas you get out of those four pages are pretty funny. I get more excited about reuse projects like making clocks out of old computer hard drives. I was only really interested in about a third of the projects in this book. But this kind of book is great for cherry picking.
- I love cartooning although I don’t get around to it nearly enough. Like most cartoonists, I dream about putting together a complete comic book someday. The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics by Comfort Love and Adam Withers brings that dream one step closer. It’s not a book about drawing but more a book about the technical and business side of getting your art work into book form (printed or digital) and into the hands of your readers. The book has a lot of great tips on ideation, character development and dialogue. It also steps you through using Adobe Illustrator for layout, coloring and lots of other stuff. Finally, it talks about how to market your work after publishing to get it recognized among all the other self-published comics out there. I enjoyed the “Pro Tip” sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. This type of info is fun to read and gives you a sneak peek at real life implementations of what you’re learning.
- I posted a few weeks ago about doing zendoodles. I was inspired by a book my son brought back from the library and I’ve kept it since then to refer back to. Tangles: Amazing Zendoodles to Color and Draw by Abby Huff has some great patterns to get you started drawing your own doodles. You really don’t need a book like this to draw zendoodles or zentangles. The whole point is to create original designs that flow like a stream of consciousness writing. But it’s still nice to see what kinds of patterns you like and the different pen strokes that can get you there.
- I’m always looking for inventive ways to be more productive with my time and produce more of whatever I’m trying to do. That’s why I was intrigued by the title of How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silva. The book’s premise boils down to disciplining yourself to sit down and write regularly. Now, I could have been frustrated that there wasn’t some magic bullet between the covers of this book but it’s refreshing to have somebody just reiterate the plain truth that you already knew. The fact is, if you want to write a lot, you have to write a lot. The book does give you more insight on the subject of course. You learn what barriers to writing a lot you might encounter. And you are introduced to motivational tools, styles and how to write certain types of works. Although this book was written primarily for academic writers, it still holds a lot of great insight no matter what your genre.
- I saved my favorite book for last. Alone and Not Alone is a compilation of poems by Ron Padgett. Padgett is a wonderfully accessible poet who uses humor and insight to bring everyday life onto the page. I like writing poetry in all different forms and on all different topics. But I’m very selective in the poets I actually enjoy reading. Padgett is one of those poets I actually enjoy reading. As with most poets there are a few of his selections that are just a bit too obtuse for me. But overall, his imagery, style and cadence just lead me from page to page and poem to poem. Sometimes I’ll read them out loud because I enjoy listening to the words. Highly recommended.