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LoveReading’s Creativity section is perfect for those who want to make things with their own hands. Whether you’d like to learn the latest craft technique, see what others are doing as design inspiration and trying to keep up and have a go at the latest technological developments, have a look at the selection of titles we have below.
Our March 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This is such a welcoming and warming read with community spirit, traditional craft, and the environment at its heart. Author Robert J Somerville was commissioned to build an elm barn by hand in Hertfordshire. Over the course of a year volunteers gathered together to help build the barn, and this is the story. There are so many positive elements to this read. A community of volunteers come together to: “teach, practice and celebrate skilled rural craftsmanship”. And while Dutch elm disease has decimated our Elm population, there is hope for the trees survival. As Robert Somerville says: “Elm is a species that suffered a major pandemic, but its incredible determination to survive prevails. Elm is proving itself to be a tree with an enduring life force, and, to my mind, is an appropriate icon for getting closer to nature, the resurgence in making things by hand and for bringing old skills back to life”. The book contains a myriad of interesting illustrations and photos as well as the story from concept to raising of the barn. At a time when community really matters, when our environment needs love and nurturing, Barn Club echoes with all that is good. It is a wonderful read that lightened my spirits and made me smile.
This enchanting reinvention of a Natural History of Fairies written by botanist Professor Elsie Arbour in the 1920s glows with timeless charm and the magic of nature. What’s more, author Emily Hawkins’s message about protecting fairies’ natural habitats has important real-world resonance, such as this: “human actions are putting fairies’ habitats at risk. When forests and woodland are cut down to make space for farmland…then fairies’ homes are destroyed.” Fairy enthusiasts will delight in the detail of the softly-radiant illustrations that present fairy anatomy and life cycles in the manner of natural history books, replete with labels and descriptions. Throughout, the book is suffused with a thrilling feeling that fairies might be found - if you know what you’re looking for, and where to look. The section on language and secret scripts will undoubtedly inspire young readers to write their own fairy codes, while coverage of a huge range of habitats - from meadows, gardens and woodlands, to mountains, marine environments and jungles - gives a satisfying global feel. Alongside providing fairy-lovers with much fodder for exploration, this coverage of habitats, and information on the likes of leaves, plants and animals, might also spark a wider love of nature. Sumptuously presented, with a silk bookmark, and gold edging and cover foil supplementing Jessica Roux’s illustrations, this book’s style is every bit as charming as its content, which makes it a gift to treasure.
Simply gorgeous! Seriously everyone, this really is THE most lovely book. I don’t know about you, but I adore looking at beautiful houses, and boy is Cath Kidston’s home stunning, it is also deliciously homely too. Yes of course, this is Cath Kidston of the Cath Kidston vintage-inspired homeware and designer brand. She has sent a gorgeous invitation to wander around her home, telling us how they found it, and how each room came into being. Pavilion have created a perfectly sized and visually beautiful book. Stuffed full of vivid, colourful photographs (shout out to Christopher Simon Sykes), I sank into the pages. I love her quirky touches, such as the cracker adorned painting, and the colour, oh my, the colour just pops! Yes I am rather gushing over this book, that’s because it sang to me, and I have fallen in love with it. A Place Called Home would make the perfect gift, but make sure you buy one for yourself too! Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, just because it is so beautiful.
A picture book of the very best kind, the captions explain the gorgeous photographs, and leave you thirsting for more. Abandoned civilisations surround us, give warning, elicit admiration, provoke questions. Kieron Connolly, choosing the most stunning photos, explores civilisations, explains the reasons for abandonment, and has left me wanting to know more. This is a large book, one that would be at home on a coffee table, or waiting on a shelf. It is a book that you can dip into, or immerse yourself in, turning the pages with wonder. Some of the locations are well known, though the image viewpoint may not be. I also found myself exploring the unknown, and have added to the places on my must visit list. ‘Abandoned Civilisations’ is rather lovely, you can either marvel and applaud the beauty, or take a step further and start to explore.
I must confess that I exclaimed with delight when I saw All Good Things for the first time. It is fabulously described as “a treasury of images to uplift the spirits and reawaken wonder”. The size is perfect, the cover divinely enticing, and it just beckoned me in. I simply sank into the pages of the most beautiful images of art from around the world and through time. You may already have heard of, or indeed follow Stephen Ellcock on social media. Over the last ten years he has shared his images with the world. And we have taken them to our heart. Here he “explores our world and the human response to it one realm at a time”, and so we visit various realms from ‘The Face of the Water’, through to ‘The Human Realm’ and ‘Gods and Monsters’. The images and their explanations sit patiently, just waiting for you to turn the page. I have quite fallen in love with this book, it is gorgeous. September Publishing has created a little masterpiece, and it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and one of my picks of the month. All Good Things is a treasure of a treasury and would make the most perfect gift (but make sure you keep a copy for yourself!). Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
Born in London in 1890, Angela Thirkell was Sir Edward Burne-Jones's granddaughter, J.M. Barrie's goddaughter and a cousin of Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin. John Collier painted her portrait and she was drawn by John Singer Sargent and Thea Proctor. Between 1931 and her death in 1961, Angela published more than thirty books in a variety of genres. She began with the acclaimed family memoir Three Houses and later settled on her amusing Barsetshire series, inspired by Anthony Trollope but set in the present day. Angela Thirkell: A Writer's Life tells the author's story from her Kensington childhood to her two marriages and the birth of three sons, Graham McInnes, Colin MacInnes and Lance Thirkell, all of whom also entered the literary world. The book traces her decade in Australia where she wrote for magazines and newspapers and made radio broadcasts, followed by her return to London and her fortuitous meeting with a young publisher called Jamie Hamilton, which lead to her bestselling Barsetshire novels.
The BBC Proms is the world's biggest and longest -running classical music festival and one of the jewels in the crown for the BBC. It is one of the strongest brand names in the music world and attracts a glittering array of artists and orchestras from the UK and around the world in over 150 concerts, talks, workshops and family events around London every summer. Whether you're a first- time visitor or an experienced Prommer, watching at home or listening on radio or online, the BBC Proms Guide will help you to plan your summer of music and discover in depth what lies behind the Proms - from the composers to the performers to how the events are broadcast. The Proms Guide contains brand- new articles on featured composers and insights on performers, new music and accompanying events.
Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne are back with a new title in the Best in Show series. This time they have turned back time and delved into the fascinating prehistoric world with a collection of new patterns for dinosaurs and other creatures. There are 12 prehistoric creatures to knit, the T-Rex and Stegosaurus are particularly fabulous. Beginners can attempt some of the easier designs, more experienced knitters may be more comfortable overall though. It's worth noting that these are not toys, as wire or pipe cleaners are used as framework, however they would certainly brighten or frighten the other occupants of a bedroom shelf. Written with humour and including some fun dinosaur facts, this would make a lovely stocking filler for Christmas. ~ Liz Robinson
A book to fall in love with, to pick up and browse through again and again. I couldn’t put it down, I kept telling myself that I would read just one more page. So, let me introduce you to this treasure, take a look at the cover, at the stack of beautifully illustrated books, isn’t it stunning? Inside an Aladdin’s Cave awaits, glimpses of bookshops, literary facts, and recommendations galore. I’ve picked out a huge number of books to add to my TBR (to be read) pile and waved hello to a good many old friends. The illustrations by Jane Mount are truly delightful, they pop with colour and encouraged me to sink further into the pages. American bookstores and bookish people recommendations do feature heavily, however this really is beautifully world wide inclusive book, at the end of the day books are books are books! ‘Bibliophile’ is the most wonderful pick up and lose yourself in gem, it is absolutely crammed full of book love and would make the perfect present for bookish friends (or even of course yourself!).
Featuring over fifty stylishly rendered boards, this is an interactive doodle book with a difference, and certainly takes the lingering trend for adult colouring-in books to the next level. Most of the book comprises unfinished boards for users to transform into their own tabletop games – twenty designs in all, followed by twenty-five sets of rules for players to choose to follow, each of which encourages creativity with suggestions for fashioning your own versions of classic board games. There’s also plenty of options for users to invent their own entirely new games, with a superb “Stuck for Ideas?” section that suggests fun themes and mash-ups, among them “Throne of Crowns” and “Uninvited Ghost”. There are suggestions specially devised for younger players too (for example “The Magical Maze” and “Lost Pets”) making this a compendium of creativity for all ages. Taking an average of half an hour to create each game and a further half an hour to play, this provides a plethora of opportunities to exercise one’s cerebral muscles while having a whole lot of fun.
Catie Marron’s City Parks captures the spirit and beauty of eighteen of the world’s most-loved city parks. Zadie Smith, Ian Frazier, Candice Bergen, Colm Tóibín, Nicole Krauss, Jan Morris, and a dozen other remarkable contributors reflect on a particular park that holds special meaning for them. Andrew Sean Greer eloquently paints a portrait of first love in the Presidio; André Aciman muses on time’s fleeting nature and the changing face of New York viewed from the High Line; Pico Iyer explores hidden places and privacy in Kyoto; Jonathan Alter takes readers from the 1968 race riots to Obama’s 2008 victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park; Simon Winchester invites us along on his adventures in the Maidan; and Bill Clinton writes of his affection for Dumbarton Oaks. Oberto Gili’s color and black-and-white photographs unify the writers’ unique and personal voices. Taken around the world over the course of a year, in every season, his pictures capture the inherent mood of each place. Fusing images and text, City Parks is an extraordinary and unique project: through personal reflection and intimate detail it taps into collective memory and our sense of time’s passage.
It’s not always easy to be creative—to give our minds space to roam while ignoring our inner critic, to stare down a blank page and make the leap from nothing to anything. It takes courage. Finding the courage to create is something the editors of Flowknow a lot about. Creativity is a central value of the Flow mission, evident in every issue that bursts with the wild imaginations of its artists, writers, and editors. In Creativity Takes Courage, Flowbrings together inspiration, hands-on projects, boundary-pushing activities, and special paper goodies to show readers how to unleash their inner artists. Organized around a series of twelve “dares”—including Dare to Fail, Dare to Be a Kid, Dare to Be Bored, Dare to Go Offline, Dare to Collaborate—Creativity Takes Courage encourages the reader to be fully present . . . and spend idle time staring out the window. To leave your comfort zone and start a project, without hesitation . . . and nourish yourself with museum visits and reading time. Each dare includes fill-in pages and prompts to go deeper into what motivates us or hinders us, like mindful questions to identify fears of failure, or a Dare to Commit notebook for recording both daily and weekly projects. It’s the illustrated and fully interactive gift of how to live more creatively and enjoy every minute of the process, no matter what the result.
Our mass produced globalised world does give us all access to things from around the world but they do lack any personality and individuality so it's not surprising there is currently a real upsurge in making and creating beautiful and interesting things yourself.
As William Morris once said 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.'
Here is a lovingly chosen selection of books to get you creating some beauty for your home. Whether you would like to knit, sew, sketch or print, you can hopefully find a book here that will spark your imagination.