Last year I decided I would buy one book a month that was related to creativity in some way. I was feeling desperately uncreative in and of myself and wanted to find books that would fuel my imagination and (re)ignite my passion for creating. Pretty heavy ask of a dozen books now isn’t it?!? I wanted books that I could curl up on the sofa with of an afternoon… books I could leave lying about and pick up when I was feeling low… books I could dip in and out of and use for inspiration.
I haven’t done the same this year, but I guess it’s not too late to start again now.
I went to Indiegogo specifically looking for photography related books and found this one. I’d heard of Craig Mod and Dan Rubin before, but never really knew much about them. I’m also ashamed to say I’d never heard of the Kumano Kodo before – an oversight I’m working hard to correct. And walking it has become a #lifegoal since then. I not only bought the book, I’ve visited the accompanying website, which has delicious photographs and a super-cool map that moves down the page depicting their progress. Both the book and the website are superb examples of visual diaries and have me inspired each time I turn the pages or visit the site.
I’ve turned into a bit of a fan since, and subscribed to Craig’s newsletter – The Roden Explorers Club – as well as following them both on instagram. If they write or photograph it, I wanna see it.
Nic and I are huuuuuge fans of quiet places. Our house is a quiet place. Our island is a quiet place (mostly). When we travel, we prefer cabins and yurts to hotels and resorts. I’ve been a long-time visitor to the Cabin Porn website and, whilst it’s still fun to browse through the pages of the website, having a physical book is something I think I’ll always prefer.
march :: SHARE Scandinavia edition
This book I discovered via the DO Lectures “Chicken Shed Chronicles” mailing list (seriously good content if you’re looking for a decent email newsletter btw). I had a bit of back and forth communication with the publisher after ordering this as they’d sold out. Eventually they found a copy and cleverly convinced me to buy SHARE vol. 1 as well as the shipping to NZ was eye-wateringly expensive and they did me a good deal on the 2nd book.
The Scandinavia edition is made up of art from 50 artists, photographers, illustrators, painters & international artists. There’s some wonderful art in them and I’ve discovered some fantastic artists, such as chiara zonca, the beautiful floral photography of frida edlund, the polaroids of tiago luis, conrad roset’s illustrations and the photography and prints of anna albertine baronius. And the books themselves are a fabulous concept. Designed with a perforated edge, each artwork can be removed from the book – perfect for sharing. I haven’t done this though, I’ve kept them all inside the book.
Perhaps it’s time to share them around. If you think you might like a new piece of artwork for your home, leave me a note and I’ll pick one at random to send to you.
april :: Land of Birds
Exactly one year ago today we took a day trip to Tiritiri Matangi island with friends. Most of the day we spent wandering the island but, at the tail end of the day, before heading back to the boat I popped into the little shop and found this book full of beautifully detailed illustrations. Accompanying the illustrations is information about each species, as well as sketches, working drawings and anecdotes about the creation of the art. Niels Meyer-Westfeld has made a beautiful tribute to NZ’s birds in this book and his drawings have inspired both Nic’s first tattoo and my most recent one.
may :: Homegrown Kitchen
Anyone who’s been a guest in my home knows I’m a sucker for a cookery book. In fact, from looking at my bookshelves you can see where my weekend passions lie – cookery, photography, writing. And I love being able to support local women who put their work and art into such beautifully tangible and useful objects. Nicola’s recipes are fabulously easy and, being local, I know it’ll be easy to source all of the ingredients… something I struggle with often when attempting recipes by overseas authors.
june :: Small Buildings of Kyoto
This was another Indiegogo find and my second book related to Japan. This small print run of a tiny book contains over 100 images, which have been adapted from the long-running Instagram series by the team at Kyoto Journal magazine. I love these little glimpses into the Kyoto back streets.
july :: Geometry Magazine Issue no. 1
Okay, not technically a book, but it’s certainly another example of New Zealand’s creative brilliance. I bought this because one of my colleagues has a sister whose work is published in the first issue. It’s full of incredible prose, poetry and artwork from both here and overseas. I really enjoyed being introduced to a fantastic assortment of creatives – all of whom I’ve never heard of before. So good I bought the second issue as soon as it was published as well.
august :: Neurocomic
Produced in association with the Wellcome Trust, this graphic novel by Dr. Hana Roš and Dr. Matteo Farinella is a journey through the human brain: a place of neuron forests, memory caves and castles of deception. Along the way, you’ll encounter Boschean beasts, giant squid, guitar-playing sea slugs and the great pioneers of Neuroscience. Such a brilliant way of depicting such a complex machine. Even as a comic I struggled to get through it with much of a degree of understanding the first time. This is a book I’ll read again and again it’s so clever.
september :: Bird Words
I bought this book using money given to me for my birthday by my in-laws. We were at the Auckland Museum visiting a photography exhibition and I found it in the gift shop. There’s some beautiful fiction, non-fiction and poetry in this book, including a remarkable story about how the Chatham Islands black robins were brought back from the brink of extinction in the 1980’s by NZ Wildlife Service staff who cross-fostered eggs and young with Chatham Island tits. Hilariously, when visiting the in-laws house later in the year, I noticed my mother-in-law had the same book! Birds of a feather (haha).
october :: What??
I can’t remember if I bought anything this month and I don’t have any record of anything new turning up on my doorstep. But I make up for it in December, so I can honestly say that I bought a dozen new books this year as I’d originally planned.
november :: Hideaways
I’m not gonna lie… this is a book I wish I’d written. This is another great example of New Zealand creative work. Written by partners Sam Stuchbury and Hilary Ngan Kee, this book is crammed with remote cabins and cute little bolt holes in the NZ landscape. Every single place is one I’d love to visit and I often have this book open, dreaming of places in our home country we have yet to explore. I challenge you to look at the hideaways directory and not find one place you’d love to go see for yourself.
december :: A Thousand Mornings + Sourdough
Like many of my friends, I’m a long time Mary Oliver fangirl. Her, Susan Wooldridge, David Whyte and Jen Lee have all changed the way I hear, see, read, think about and write poetry. It seemed like a long overdue task having one of her paper books on my shelf, where she now sits alongside my other writing favourites.
I probably read about Sarah Owen’s Sourdough book on one of the many food-related websites I visit. I have two healthy sourdough mothers in my fridge and this book is a great alternative to the books that just have bread recipes in them. It’s beautifully photographed by Ngoc Minh Ngo.
So did they inspire me creatively? Yep, they sure did. I now have plans to write my own NZ adventure book (probably not as a book though) and have signed up to do one of David Whyte’s walking tours in October. I’ve been writing consistently every day – sometimes good, sometimes utter shite – and have made more photographs in the first quarter of this year than I think I did last year in total. I’ve also been making sourdough regularly (as recently as today). As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t bought a book a month again this year, but I do have a new book about NZ islands sitting on the sofa next to me. Time to curl up with a glass of wine and explore it’s enticing pages.