Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Which I Review Two Books

I'll get to that in a minute...or two.
First, our two randomly selected giveaway winners are Monika and Christina. Yay! I've already sent both of you an email with the PDF of the pattern attached, so enjoy and congratulations!
Next, the obligatory picture. This has nothing to do with this post and, truth be told, I could have shot some related photos because both the books I'm going to review I also own. But, my camera battery is charging and my dog ate my homework, so I'm posting something completely different.
Here it is:

I guess it's not that far afield. Both the books I'm discussing are craft/fiber books and that's a picture of some fabric, also a fiber, so I guess I'm still on topic.

Now, I'm really going to digress, I think...possibly.
I might have mentioned before that when I sew or dye or knit I like to listen to the radio. But, I don't like to listen to music, I prefer talk. I'm very picky about the talk that I hear, so I listen to NPR. I prefer to limit my name calling to when I'm driving my car, so I'm not interested in standard talk radio. This is all well and good when my local NPR station, KUT, is playing All Things Considered or Morning Edition or Fresh Air, but the majority of the programming is music. I thought I had solved that problem by purchasing an HD radio. By the way, apparently HD doesn't stand for High Definition. It doesn't stand for anything. Anyway, on my HD radio I could listen to the HD NPR station which was devoted to all sorts of talk programs around the world. I happily listened to Talk of the Nation and enjoyed the lilt of Neal Conan's voice as he said, "Bye-bye," to callers. I heard what can only be labeled as British Tabloid News on the radio when I listened to BBC's World Have Your Say and marveled at how many folks from the small nation of Ghana seem interested in calling into this show. And I discovered what can only be termed as Slow Radio when I listened to Diane Rheem S.L.O.W.L.Y. interview all types of movers and shakers. With my HD radio in my studio, I was a happy and productive camper.
Sadly, after less than a year, it broke. I was at a loss. I know I can live stream these programs from my computer, but that meant bringing it upstairs and making sure it was plugged in and, frankly, the live stream included a fair number of music programs. I was pretty despondent until I my youngest gifted me with an ipod and I downloaded an audio book. Not, just any audio book, but Steig Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I love, love, love this book. What a wonderful, suspenseful story with an incredible twist at the end. Over the course of one week and while doing an amazing amount of work, I listened to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. Even better, I've listened to all three books again.
Now, in the course of my exhaustive research into the benefits of crafting while listening to audio books, I've also listened to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I can't rave as much about that one, despite the fact that the book runs at least 35 hours, quite the bang for your buck. I particularly wanted to like it because it's part of a series and I figured if I enjoyed Outlander I was set for audio book entertainment for a while. I found the book to be pretty much a soap opera set in 18th century Scotland with, albeit, some AMAZING sex scenes written in. But, my studio is accessible to my kids and I had a little trouble explaining the blushing.
Right now I'm listening to Colim Tiobin's novel Brooklyn. I'll let you know what I think when I've finished.
What I'm prepared to review right now(see, I segwayed back) are two newly released craft books, New England Knits: Timeless Knitwear with a Modern Twist by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa La Barre and Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause by Jade Sims. I'll be succinct because I've gone on for a while here, but both books are worth your time and attention.
New England Knits features the knitwear designs of two of my absolute favorite designers. As I'm typing, I'm wearing one of Cecily Glowik MacDonald's designs for Quince and Co. Yarn and I've made two of Melissa La Barre's Designs, the Tea Leaves cardigan and two versions of the Tea Leaf tee. My admiration goes back a bit and I was not disappointed with this book. The designs are not only wearable but doable, that is I can see myself sitting down and, with ipod headphones firmly planted in my ears, knitting these patterns.
I had a different but nonetheless powerful reaction to Jade Sim's book Craft Hope. I was deeply touched by it. She does such a wonderful job of communicating the value and joy inherent in combining a love of making with a passion for helping others. There's such an array of projects and each one is paired with a charity that want, needs, the work of our hands. I don't know that I can pinpoint exactly how Jade inspires the reader to get involved through crafting, but that message is palpable. More importantly, it's not said in a finger-wagging sort-of-way, but with kindness and sweetness. I think you should get this book, pick a project, make it, and donate it. I can't see how you would ever regret it.
Also, if you do make these projects, whether from New England Knits or Craft Hope and simultaneously listen to a great book, pass that recommendation on to me. I'm definitely in the market for my next, good listen.


Rebekah said...

definitely give the Diane Rehm show another try! She's led an amazing life and a neurological disorder changed her speech ability a few years ago. She's overcome many obstacles and always researches each topic presents thoroughly and asks such great questions of each guest! (I was a slow convert too when I first heard her on the radio, but now I'm glad I gave her a chance :)

I just got the New England knits book, too and I love it. There are quite a few patterns in there that I want to knit. Now, if only I had the funds to make every project in Fibre Company yarn!

If you like fun historical fiction, you may want to check out the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

I can't say I have read the craft books, but I have read all of the books that you mentioned you listened to.

I think I would have found the scene that Lisbeth videos VERY hard to listen to! The series was very good, and I have read that there were 10 plotted out, but only three written when Stig Larsson died.

As for Outlander - I understand your feelings (it is probably better read than listened to). I have read them all, and if you can perservere, I think the books get much better once they are set in America. Gabaldon's writing improves, but also they are more accessible - living conditions in the new world are pretty interesting too.

The time travel element (Claire knows the outcome of the impending civil war) gets more interesting, and there are lots more characters caught up in it, that we care about. Oh, and it was not patriotism that makes me say that - I'm Australian.

I will have to try listening to audio books while I sew - can you suggest any others?

Jessica said...

funny, i never thought to listen to NPR while quilting.. but I LOVE stitching to audio books, especially the Jennifer Chiaverini. Quilting while the people in the story are quilting, superb!
thanks for the book recommendations, when i finally get an ipod, i'll have to check them out.

AmandaRose said...

Hey, I'm doing a book giveaway on my blog and thought you might be interested!

Great Blog!

Cheryl Arkison said...

Why don't you try, Radio 1. This is the Canadian public broadcaster and you can listen to it on-line, as well as download podcasts. This is what I listen to almost all day. Q is the best show by far, as is The Age of Persuasion.

Rossie said...

I'm going to read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" soon. I have heard good things. Though I like the original title better, "Men Who Hate Women." : )

You could download podcasts to your iPod. The NPR ones are free.

Kathy said...

I have listened to quite a few good books while quilting and crafting. My local library has an online audio book program. It is call Overdrive. You can download audio books and listen from many mp3 devices. Many libraries have this service.

Melody Johnson said...

I'm with you on listening to NPR, especially Fresh Air. Of course they have podcasts too and I can catch up on programs online that I have missed or don't receive locally.
There are times when geopolitics can get a little tiring, but mostly I like what I hear and it makes the day go by better.

Holly said...

Now that you have an iPod you need to enter the world of podcasts! I love to listen to NPR shows "on demand" while I quilt. You can subscribe to them on iTunes (at no charge for NPR shows). You can even set your iPod to automatically add the newest "episodes" every time you plug your iPod into your computer. AMAZING!

Angela said...

I thought I was the only one that preferred talk radio and NPR talk radio at that! I will have to give audio books a try. Thanks!

Samantha Page said...

Malka! I love your blog, your, colours and your amamzing industry. Yeay a stitch in dye. I am currently reading Outlander for the second time. The first time i read it i loved loved loved it. and I loved all the following books too eventhough normally the soap opera stuff isn;t my thing, but the sex usually is. But you should really check out the book or audiobook version only! NOT THE MOVIE, "the Time Traveler's Wife" if you haven't already read it. It is the best story ever. And also Dune. Dune is also the best. And thanks for blogging and sharing all this goodness. =)

Peggy said...

Great books. I have read all the Stieg Larsson books. and went to the movie for the Dragon Tatoo - in Swedish. Great! I have been a fan of Diana Galbadon for a long time. I have listened to all but the last book in the outlander series, 7 total. I read the first one many years ago. I bought the Breath of Snow and Ashes on CD and listen while weaving. I took the entire summer to listen cause I new it was the last book and I didn't want it to end. Then last Holiday season I was in Barnes and Nobel and saw her latest book, An Echo in the Bone. I almost bought the book, then thought No, I have to listen to it, so I bought the cd's all 40 of them, 46.5 hours of listending. I haven't started them yet. I want to relisten to all the series again to enjoy my old friends again.

Anonymous said...

Love NPR... really love recorded books on my i-pod...I get them from my local library and listen while quilting & driving long distances.
Have you listened to "The Help?" FAB!
Also, anything by Mary Higgins Clark, Jan Karon, Janet Evanovich...etc.