If you love the idea of creating with fabric, here are five books that contain amazing ideas and what you need to know to carry them out. Originally, I was looking for directions for a variety of fabric flowers, but now I’ve been distracted by all the exciting projects in these books. I bet you’ll find inspiration in these, too.
Three brothers take a trip to India a year after their father’s funeral and finally find the closure they need to move forward with each of their lives. It might sound like a downer, but this movie is also funny, playful, and filled with great visual metaphors.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on the book by Roald Dahl. The movie stars George Clooney as the voice of Mr. Fox and Meryl Streep as the voice of Mrs. Fox. Mr. Fox finds a nice above ground home next to three of the biggest farms in the area. The temptation is too much and he goes on one last heist stealing from each of the farmers. The farmers find out and go after Mr. Fox and his family and friends. What happens next? Watch Fantastic Mr. Fox and find out.
Royal Tenenbaum is the patriarch of a family that fell apart. He brings his family back together in a last ditch effort to make amends before he dies of a terminal illness. Again it sounds really sad but that is the beauty of Wes Anderson, by focusing on eccentric people in sad situations he is able to highlight the real magic of life.
Steve Zissou, a renowned oceanographer, is on a hunt to kill the shark that killed his partner. The Life Aquatic is a madcap movie starring Bill Murray, Anjelica Houston, Kate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum. This Wes Anderson movie is a bit more dry and wacky than most of his films, but I find it is funnier the more times you watch it.
John Scalzi didn't take the traditional route to becoming a best-selling author. In fact, he was publishing a large portion of his fiction online for free when a literary agent discovered him and offered representation. His first major hit, Old Man's War became an unusual classic in the sub-genre of military science fiction. Set in a future where Earth has many far-flung colonies in need of protection, the novel turns the traditional "new recruits" army narrative on its head by having the troops be composed almost entirely of senior citizens and the very elderly. There's a catch, of course! The novel is by turns quite funny and sober, but maintains its inventiveness throughout. If you enjoy the book, Scalzi has also expanded the story with additional novels.
Up for a challenge? You might consider The Master and Margarita, a novel by the Russian master Mikhail Bulgakov. Written in the 1930s but not published until 1967, this book has become an instant classic. Satan visits Stalinist Moscow and has his merry way with the inhabitants. Entwined in this story is the tale of Pontius Pilate and the Crucifixion. A third thread tells of the Master, a repressed author not unlike Bulgakov, and his married lover Margarita. Elements of satire, farce, the fantastic, politics, religion, romance, history and philosophy weave their way throughout the book. A large cast of characters includes the talking cat Behemoth, witches on brooms, and Professor Woland--the Devil himself. It is not an easy read, but it is a rewarding one! Oh, and if you ever wondered where The Rolling Stone’s inspiration came for their song “Sympathy for the Devil”—well this is it!
Unwholly by Neal Shusterman is Book 2 in the Unwind series. If you like survival stories and light science fiction, and especially if you have already read Unwind, you will be engrossed again by Unwholly. "Unwinding" is the compromise the Pro-choice and the Pro-Life supporters came to after the Heartland War divided the United States in a second Civil War. It allows 13 – 17 years to be unwound if their parents decide they can no longer handle them. "Unwound" parts are used in all sorts of transplants.The main characters from Book 1 reappear in Unwholly, along with some very interesting new characters. Did I mention that Shusterman wrote these books for teens? Even if you aren’t a teen, check the series out. If you can’t find any good books to read, Shusterman's writing will make you want to read again.
The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker teaches one crucial lesson: Pay attention to your instincts!
De Becker has helped countless people by teaching them to listen to their uneasy feelings. When a stranger in a parking lot offers help that wasn’t solicited, or a stranger walking near you seems “off” and you think something’s just not right, don’t disregard those feelings of doubt. People give subtle clues as to future behavior, and we often pick up on those cues subconsciously. What those clues tell us can save our lives. DeBecker is a personal security expert who has served on the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. His company trains people in how to be safe, and he has helped solve thousands of crimes.
Author Norman Doidge, MD, is a psychiatrist and researcher who is on the faculty of the University of Toronto and also on the Research faculty of Columbia University. Dr. Doidge has written numerous articles for publications as diverse as research journals and the Wall Street Journal, and he has also appeared on PBS.
Instead, the brain has considerable plasticity, and is able to retrain itself given the right opportunities. The book details case histories of people who have suffered brain damage or who have a congenital brain limitation and their progress in overcoming their disabilities.
Discoveries featured in The Brain That Changes Itself offer hope for conditions previously thought hopeless. Mental retardation, learning disorders, the aging brain, stroke, blindness and cerebral palsy are all discussed, along with new treatments and therapies.
The book offers new insight into how the resilient, healthy brain learns. Examples are cited of people with average intelligence who use brain exercises to improve their cognition and perception, develop muscle strength, or learn to play a musical instrument.
The book also covers a wide range of character traits and behaviors -- worrying, depression, sex, love and enculturation to name a few – and the ways people cope and change.
Readers will find this book a fascinating peek into the workings of the human brain.
My book club has been meeting for over 20 years and we recently had a discussion of each person’s favorite book from our selections over the years. These were some of them and why we liked them.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan “was a book I’d never have read if not for the club. I’ve talked about it often and it’s made me much more aware of the food I buy.” It had lasting significance for many of us.
Mark Salzman’s Lying Awakepresented a fundamental challenge. Do you choose your life but give up the person you think you are, or do you stay the same and die? The author also offered “a remarkable look at the life of a cloistered nun and the relationships within the convent. I’d swear it was written by a woman.”
brilliant woman sees the diminishment of Alzheimers in the brain she cherishes.
John Irving’s Prayer for Owen Meany was one of the first books we read and one that we happily remember after all these years. “A person who prepared for his destiny” & “unforgettable minor characters.”
Spoon River Anthology is a book we did as a reader’s theater and we still talk about it. Edgar Lee Master’s collection of poetry is the only collection we’ve read.
Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a heartbreaking memoir which shows the resilience of children and how love and joy exist in the worst of circumstances.
A Book We Love: The Ten, Make that Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make that Ten
Are you part of the tweeting world? With this wonderfully funny book by Steve Martin, it doesn’t matter if you know how to tweet or not. Just pick it up to read Martin’s (and other’s) tweets and you’ll be laughing out loud at the succinct humor. You can browse the book randomly or read the tweets by chapter, which are grouped into different categories. One of my favorites was “Sing Alongs,” in which Martin proposes the first line of a song and he has listed his follower’s funniest responses. Grab this book for a few minutes of fun and see just how inventive and hilarious a well-written tweet can be!
In Ghost Lights by Lydia Millet,an IRS paper-pusher named Hal has his comfortable life shaken when his wife’s boss disappears during a vacation to Belize. Confronted by evidence that his wife is having an affair, Hal decides to embark on a trip to Belize in search of the missing boss. When he arrives in Central America, Hal discovers that an accident of several years ago, which resulted in his daughter’s paralysis, is the cause for the distance between him and his wife. Written in a casual and vernacular style, Ghost Lights is a summer book for those who like both humor and gravitas in their beach reads.
Cleo Coyle, a pen name for a husband and wife team, writes a mystery series featuring a New York coffee house. At the beginning of the series, Clare Cosi has just taken over management of her ex mother-in-law’s coffee house, “The Village Blend.” In all the novels in the series, Clare has a mystery to solve in addition to being manager of the busy coffee shop. Her ex-husband Matt is the coffee bean buyer for the business. Most of the time their business partnership works well. Clare's and Matt’s daughter Joy is featured in some of the novels in the series, but most recently, she has been living in Paris as an intern to a chef.
In the most recent coffeehouse mystery, A Brew to a Kill, Clare witnesses a hit and run that injures a friend right in front of her coffeehouse! The Village Blend has just started a food service truck called the Muffin Muse. Could the fierce competition between the Muffin Muse and the Kupcake Kart be behind the awful hit and run? Or does it have something to do with the drug lord Matt tangled with in South America? Enjoy Clare’s adventures and narrow escapes as she solves the mystery. If you like to bake or try new coffee drinks, you will enjoy finding recipes at the end of each novel in this fun mystery series.