To say I’m a reader is an understatement. I am a READER! I chair a book club for women artists and am a member of two more book clubs in the neighborhood. I also take part of an online book club. I start each day with a bath and a book! So, you’d think I have scores and scores of books, but I don’t really. But, there are a few I will keep because they have inspired me and I feel they are part of my life. Why have I kept them? DSCN05131. THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron – I consider this the granddaddy of all books on creativity. Built on the 12 Step premise, it is a 12-week program to take back and embrace your creativity. There are two seminal exercises that are stressed over and over in the book – do the Morning Pages each day and take yourself on an artist day weekly. When I do these two things, my mind is exploding with ideas! It is a great book to work through with a group. Notice the chewed corner of the binder. Apparently, my dog Ziggy liked this book too. (Ziggy is on the left.)DSCN0515


2. THE CREATIVE HABIT: LEARN IT AND USE IT FOR LIFE by Twyla Tharp – This is a personal book for Tharp without being a memoir. Vignettes are included about artists such as Beethoven, Einstein and Mozart, which illustrate the value of working hard and digging deep. I learned to practice harder with purpose. This is a great companion piece to The Artist’s Way.41QXnQKvSeL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_


3. I’D RATHER BE IN THE STUDIO by Alyson B. Stanfield – Let me start by saying I have been a student of Alyson’s for years and continue to be. I know the care and love that went into the writing of this book. The book is an great tool box, with  information on organization, creating a portfolio (and that long hated artist’s statement), getting involved, getting an on-line presence and more. But, it is stressed you mut have the studio time before YOU ARE AN ARTIST. Each chapter stands alone, and I continue to pick it up and read specific chapters that pertain to what I need at that time!


4. BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert – I have to admit I didn’t jump on the Elizabeth Gilbert bandwagon until I read this book. But, it was worth the wait to march in the parade.  The BIG MAGIC we are waiting for will reveal itself to you if you do the work and watch for the signals. Treat your creative work with respect! I no longer go into my studio with threadbare clothes and unbrushed hair, I dress so “my studio” and “my work”  will know I’m serious. While I was reading this book (back to reading in the bathtub), I kept thinking “I need to read this again” or “I need to highlight this”. So, I have kept it to refer back to and reread again.

5, THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT; FINDING THE QUEST THAT WILL BRING PURPOSE TO YOUR LIFE by Chris Guillebeau – Everybody should have a quest at some point in their life. The author’s quest was to visit every country recognized by the United Nations (it took him over 13 years to do it!).  But he makes these crazy goals people have seem doable. It inspired me to start my own quest of reading a book by an author from each state in the United States. When I’m finished with that, I’ll reread the book and come up with another BIGGER quest!

6. HIKING ATLANTA’S HIDDEN FORESTS: INSIDE AND OUT by James McDonald – Beyond the hustle bustle of a city that is home to Coca-Cola and The Home Depot, there is still a tremendous amount of green space here. The book lays out 60 forested walks open to the public within 30 miles of the state capitol. I’ve lived here most of my life and never knew some of these parks existed. I keep it because my goal (see quest above) is to visit all 60 of these places! It makes my dogs happy to get out and explore and it does wonders for my head! Oh, Inside and out refers to those places that are inside I-285 and outside it (this is the perimeter that goes around Atlanta). After all, The Appalachian Trail begins a mere 2 hour drive from here! (Planning a fall drive to do the beginning loop!).

7. THE CLUE IN THE OLD ALBUM by Carolyn Keene – Yes, I’m referring to the Nancy Drew book. Why I included it? My family is in the process of cleaning out my mother’s house, which can be an emotional journey. I found a stash of my old Nancy Drew books and promptly reread them. I include it because I believe reading these books when I was around 10 years old was the seed that began my love of reading and helped mold me into who I am today. It’s always good to review your roots!

8. DAILY RITUALS  – HOW ARTIST’S WORK – by Mason Currey –  The book includes the rituals of 161 of the worlds most creative minds going back 400 years. In it he includes the daily habits of Matisse, Tesla, Fellini, Mahler among others. Part mini biographies, but mostly inspirational. It inspired me to continually work on daily rituals and make them consistent. I review the short stories constantly.

HONORABLE MENTION goes to BIRD BY BIRD: INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE by Annie Lamott – I can’t find my copy of this book, I must have lent it out and lost it. But, I remember being very inspired – I’ll have to get another copy!

What books have inspired you? There are so many to choose from. I think I’ll think about this while I have my morning bath with a book!DSCN0514



10 thoughts on “THE BOOKS I KEEP

  1. Sheila Kadeer

    I have just got The Artists Way and about to read that. I loved Big Magic but I do think it needs to be read more than once.

  2. Naomi Wittlin

    This is a great idea, Vickie! I love many of the same books and I am definitely going to read the Chris Guillebeau book. I just read another that he wrote. I am wondering… have you ever been disappointed by a book club? Like you didn’t click with the other women or you didn’t enjoy the meetings?

  3. vickiemartin Post author

    you’ll love The Artist’s Way – it is something to be kept and looked at repeatedly. Naomi – I have quit several book clubs basically because no one was reading the books!! They just wanted to get together and drink wine and chat (which is okay, but I had read the book!) So – I’m happy with these, two are with the library, one is Pub Fiction, and we meet at a locally owned restaurant every other month, which is fun.

  4. vickiemartin Post author

    oh Naomi, i read the $100 Start Up too – i assume that is what you are referring to. And I’ve known people that go to his summit in Portland too (he gave them all $100 a few years back) – well, I know them virtually!

  5. Kelly L McKenzie

    I’m not on the Elizabeth G bandwagon, myself. However, my niece, whom I much admire adores her and she recommended Big Magic to me just a few days ago. Whoa. Twice in a week. I’m going to have to check it out. And Nancy Drew? LOVED her. I’m with you – she was a key factor in my youth. Her and Ned and his roadster!

  6. Amy Putkonen

    What a fantastic list! I may have to add a few of these. One that I would add is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. That’s another good one that would fit very well in your library! Man! Wish I lived closer!

  7. vickiemartin Post author

    Oh – I wish you lived closer to – we could share books. The War of Art is a good one! There are so many – I’m a reading whore I guess.

  8. vickiemartin Post author

    I read Big Magic in the bathtub – not a good thing to do with a book to keep notes in. I learned to respect my creative work – that was a big thing to me. As far as Nancy Drew – I read them and they take me back to discovering that moment that I loved reading about it all!

  9. Elda

    Okay, now I am intrigued with Big Magic. I too have not jumped on that bandwagon yet. However, I did read her Eat, Pray, Love book and LOVED that book and yet for some reason have not picked up any of her books since then. Thanks for the ‘nudge’.

  10. Alyson Stanfield

    Just saw this and am honored that “I’d Rather Be in the Studio” is on this list – especially because I know how many books you read, Vickie.

    I’m a huge fan of most of these (don’t know The Old Album or Hiking Atlanta).

    Every artist must read Big Magic. It’s powerful stuff!

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