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Book Club

6 reasons I love Quilting Happiness

I've “read” a lot of quilting books. Most provide beautiful inspiration, and that's really all I need out of them. I flip through, peruse the instructions, and enjoy the pictures.
Yay!! @craftypod's new book just arrived! I'm going to save it for an after-dinner treat :)

That's all I was looking for when I bought Quilting Happiness. (Honestly, I bought it because I like Diane so much!) But it completely surprised me with several things that I haven't found in any other books, that are perfect for a new (ish) quilter:

1. The patterns don't just tell you how much fabric you need, but also how to cut it. This is one of the things that slows me down more than anything, so I really appreciated it!

Love Quilting Happiness!

 

2. Squaring up your fabric instructions! I've never found theses instructions any where else, and they've already changed my quilting life. (I feel kind of dense that I didn't know this before.)

Love Quilting Happiness!

 

3. “Squaring the block” instructions! Ok, I knew to do this, but the book gives a much better way of doing this than I was. Love it!Love Quilting Happiness!

 

4. A clear explanation of sewing together curved pieces. I've been avoiding it for a long time because I couldn't wrap my head around it…but this book made it make sense!

Love Quilting Happiness!

5. Creativity exercises. Thanks to this book, I started a quilting journal, and now have a place to keep all my ideas and plans. I've already used it to buy fabric for my newest quilt!

6. A sense of humor!

Love Quilting Happiness!

(You just have to read any book that mentions hand quilting while watching Dr. Who – it's one of my favorite past times!)

What do you look for in a quilting book?

 

Not a quilter? For your dose of Diane-smartness, check out the workbook we co-created: Craft an Effective Blog (or get it free inside the Starship.)

cross_stitches

 

(I'm trying something new with this listy review. I've wanted to review more books, for a long time, but I get stuck in writing about what I like. So I'm experimenting with a format that's easy and straightforward. Like it? Wish I said more (or less?) Let me know!)
See the usual Disclaimer here! 

Explorer Club of Book Lovers – September

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I’ll share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can share your list of books in the comments, or we can talk about any of the books that you want to read along with me.

Sharing my September reading list on the site today (link in profile)! What are you reading?

 

What I read in August

I was completely, unexpectedly delighted by Start. This book says all of the things that I tell people who want to craft their dream business: Just Start. Make a map. Experiment! If you're feeling stuck or just not sure what to do next in your business or dream, read this book

Another BIG winner this month was Diane’s Quilting Happiness. I'll have a full review later this week, but for now I'll just tell you – go buy this book! It's great!

Maya Angelou's Mom & Me & Mom was short and sweet and full of her inimitable prose. A lovely read.

I read Dad is Fat in a day. Hilarious (although I recognized quite a few of the “essays” from Gaffigan's stand-up routine…which I love.) If you don't know who this guy is, his two recent specials are on Netflix. (Jay thinks he must be a long-lost older brother. His sense of humor is just SO me…and we're both frighteningly pale.)

 

(And there were more, but not worth talking about. You can find all the books I read onGoodReads)

 

 

September's To Read List

 

  • The local book club picked Boy's Life. I have no idea if I'll like it, but I want to join the group, so I'm going to try it!
  • After watching (and loving) this video (and using it in Explore You), I've been meaning to read Shawn's book!
  • Heather wrote a book! With a knitter in it! (She shared it with the Starship, so I got an early copy.) You can pre-order yours here.

 

What are you reading this month?

What was your favorite book of August?

 


Disclaimer-y Disclaimer! I was given a free copy of Stephanie’s book. But I’m not in any way coerced into saying nice things. Or course I’m biased when my friends write a book, but I don’t mention things I don’t like.  (I bought Heather + Diane’s book.) Read the usual disclaimer here. 

 

 

 

 

Explorer Club of Book Lovers – August

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I’ll share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can share your list of books in the comments, or we can talk about any of the books that you want to read along with me.
A peek at this month's To Read list (more on blog). #reading

 

What I read in July

Ocean at the End of The Lane  – Beautiful and mysterious and exactly what I expected from Neil Gaiman. (If you haven't yet, go and read all of his books. Right now.)
I started The Woman Upstairs and decided not to finish it. I just didn't like the narrator at all, and when I found myself avoiding it, I remembered: I believe in quitting! Why spend more time with someone you don't like?

(And there were more, but not worth talking about. You can find all the books I read on GoodReads)

Still reading…


I love love Annie Dillard's The Writing Life and I'm taking it nice and slow (and occasionally posting quotes on Instagram).

I'm also taking the Declaration of You slowly. It's my feeling-stuck un-sticker during my workday!

 

August's To Read List

  • We were talking about money and our relationship with it in the Starship (and I was gushing over how much I like You Need a Budget) and a captain recommended Your Money Or Your Life. Even though I'm feeling pretty great (for the first time in my life!) with how I'm managing things, I'm reading this book as research, so I have something good to recommend when people ask (I usually recommend Ramit Sethi's book (automation!) and this Dave Ramsey book (debt reduction!)).

 

  • Jay and I used to send funny posts by Jon Acuff to each other all the time, so when I saw Start at the library I snatched it up. “Punch Fear in the Face?” Um, ok! Probably another book to recommend to explorers.

 

  • I also picked up Making Good on a whim. After deciding to donate 10% of sales to Al's Obliteride, I've been thinking more about integrating  philanthropy a part of my business. I've been giving $25 in Kiva loans (to help other tiny businesses!) for every Starship captain, and I'd like to be more comfortable talking about it. (I know I don't do a great job, because, well, I've been tithing my income my whole life and was taught not to talk about it…so I'm looking for a way to make doing good integral to what we're doing here, without feeling showy.)

And..there's a pile of books my friends wrote, that are filling up my Kindle:

  • Do Nothing, Get Rich – a parody of the “get rich” books, written by my uncle (his name is not Moneylicious)! He's funny + smart, so I'm looking forward to reading it.
  • Amy's novel! I've been feeling fiction-less and adrift since giving up The Woman Upstairs, so I'm looking forward to something fun!
  • Stephanie's not-quite-released yet novel. (I'm an early reader! Yay!) Watch her space for updates!
  • Diane's book comes out August 27th! If you like quilting and self-discovery (which are, like, my two most-favorite things ever), I think we're gonna love this book. I can't wait for my copy to arrive (pre-order yours here!)

 

What are you reading this month?

What was your favorite book of July?


Disclaimer-y Disclaimer! I was given a free copy of my uncle's book and Stephanie's. But I'm not in any way coerced into saying nice things, or even mentioning them. Or course I'm biased when my friends write a book, but I don't mention things I don't like.  (I bought Amy + Diane's book.) Read the usual disclaimer here. 

 

 

Explorer Club of Book Lovers – July!

follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I’ll share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can share your list of books in the comments, or we can talk about any of the books that you want to read along with me.
Sharing my July book list on the blog! #linkinprofile #reading

What I read in June

I can't believe I hadn't read The Handmaid's Tale before now. I was amazed by how modern this story of a distopian future felt (right in line with the Hunger Games and Divergent, with a young female narrator navigating a not-so-distant future). If you think much about women's rights, this book will delight (and frighten) you.

Just like Divergent, I gulped down Insurgent in one weekend. Fun and face-paced, I can't wait for the final part of the series!

I was super-honored to be an early reader for my friend Kyeli's new book about loss and motherhood, Time and Again. If you've ever struggled with fertility or wanted to save your younger self, you'll enjoy it! (Crying alert! I bawled my eyes out!)

Also read:
The Great Gatsby
Loving What Is
WomanCode 

 

July's To Read List

 

(For more reading inspiration, visit the comments of June'sMay'sApril's, and March's book club.)

 

What are you reading this month?

What was your favorite book of June?

 

 


Please note! I’m an affiliate for Amazon, which means I get book money if you buy through the links I’ve used here. (So far, I've earned enough for half of a book, or one grande soy latte.) GoodReads is a free tool for tracking what you read. I read all of these books via my library, which I strongly recommend!

Explorer Club of Book Lovers – June

I follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I’ll share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can share your list of books in the comments, or we can talk about any of the books that you want to read along with me.

June's reading list. More books &  info today at TaraSwiger.com

This was a weird reading month, because I had whole, uninterrupted days to read (yay!), followed by a long week with my visiting brother (love him!), where I didn't pick a book for several days (so weird!).

Here's what I read, from May's list:

I swallowed Divergent in one glorious weekend gulp. Completely fun and engaging. I have Insurgent on the list for this

Contagious was a great investigation of what makes things (any thing!) spread and become known. The author studies (and develops a kind of equation) what I was trying to express in my book, in the section on making your work shareable. If you want to increase the sharability of your work, I highly recommend this book.

Lean In was much better than I expected. I wrote a review of it on GoodReads that sparked some Twitter conversation. The short version: A woman's work life is influenced by a number of things, many of which are under the surface and out of view (social and cultural norms). By bringing these influences to the surface, Sandberg wants to make it easier for you to make a real decision, with all of the facts in front of you. She's not on one side or the other of the mommy wars (and neither am), she just wants to talk about your options. When (if?) I have kids, I'll be talking about my own choices honestly with ya'll, and I look forward to exploring the range of experiences we have in our community.
(If you want a book to reaffirm your decision to work after children, The Feminine Mistake comes down pretty hard on that side. I read it 6 years ago, so I'm a little fuzzy on it, but I remember liking it. If you're choosing another way, you'll probably want to avoid it.)

(I also read The Paris Wife and Tattoos on the Heart, both great!)

June's To Read List

The list is a bit shorter this month, because I'm hanging out for a week my littlest brothers (12 + 14) and I'm spending a week at the beach with my extended family. If I learned anything last month, it's that I really can't pick up a think-y book after a day of interaction. (For more on my introvert needs, read Quiet)

  • The Great Gatsby – yes, I read it in High School, but Jay didn't, so we're both reading it this summer. I'm excited to talk about it with him! (on GoodReads, also on Craftlit – which I recommend if you wanna sound supersmart)
  • Insurgent – because Divergent was fun! (on Goodreads)
  • Paradox of Choice – I often suggest that Captains strip their offerings down to few choices…and this book has the science on why.
  • A Walk in the Woods – we've been exploring bits of the Appalachian Trail near us, so I'm looking to reading more about it. (For a lovely tail of long-trail hiking, you can't beat Wild.)

(For more reading inspiration, visit the comments of May's, April's, and March's book club.)

What are you reading this month?

What was your favorite book of May?

 

 

 


Please note! I’m an affiliate for Amazon, which means I get book money if you buy through the links I’ve used here. (So far, I've earned enough for half of a book, or one grande soy latte.) GoodReads is a free tool for tracking what you read. I read all of these books via my library, which I strongly recommend!

 

 

Explorer’s Club of Book Lovers – May

Hello book lovers! It's time for the book club, but let's change it up!

Last month I picked two books, but we didn't have nearly as much participation as the month before, and I think I know why. Two books is just way too limiting, isn't it?  I read a few at once, and I'm a fan of quitting whenever I want. So instead of just  picking 2 books for us to read and discuss together, let's just make this a space to talk about everything we're reading.

I'll share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can share your list of books in the comments, or we can talk about any of the books that you want to read along with me.

April's Reads

Icarus Deception. 

Amazon | IndieBound | GoodReads

This book was a big YES to everything I feel about my own creative business, and the way I encourage creatives in their own. It directly inspired this post about the Only Work You Have to Do, whose discussion led to this one on connection…which led to these two posts about creating a path of connection for your customer.

 

Market Yourself.

Amazon | Goodreads

Yes, I spent a good chunk of last week re-reading my own book, to prepare for teaching a workshop on Artist's Portfolios + Social Media. The timing was perfect since Saturday was my Book-iversary! The book launched one year ago! (You can get a signed one here.)

Sunday Morning Quilts

Amazon | IndieBound | GoodReads

I read a lot of quilt books last month, but this was by far the best – both in the I-would-make-that quality of the patterns and in the friendly, chatty beginning.

 

May's To Read List 

This month's reading list. Details are on the site.

I had intended to read Contagious last month…but I had to return it to the library (someone else had a hold on it) before I got to it. But it's all mine now, and I'm one chapter in. What makes this book different from all the other ones about business and social media is that it is well-researched by the author.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up is all about creative nonfiction. What it is, how to write it, and exercises to get you started. Since creative nonfiction is the best definition I can find for what I write, and I'm working on a new project, I'm super excited to read this.

After hearing Father Boyle on On Being with Krista Tippet, I wanted to read his book.  I strongly recommend the recording of their conversation. It's funny, heart-breaking, and is the very best I can hope for my faith.

Lean In. Eh, I'm requested this book from the library because I'm curious about what it says to women in the workforce. I've seen a lot of entrepreneurial types saying “You don't need to “lean in” because you should start your own business!“…but while I'd love for everyone to do exactly what they love, I know that's not a choice everyone has, in every situation. Until I read this, I'm not recommending it, because it has the potential to be completely annoying.

Last week my 14 year old brother called me up to say, “I just finished Divergent. It is BETTER than the Hunger Games. You have  to read it.”  We're going on a family vacation at the end of June, and since 14 year old boys are notoriously hard to have conversations with (without stabbing out my own eyes), I hope to be caught up with where he is in the series so we can talk about it. (Yes, I take recommendations from everyone. And I know we have similar taste (in movies and books, if not in video games.))

 

I’m an affiliate for Amazon + IndieBound, which means I get soy latte money if you buy through the links I’ve used here. GoodReads is a free tool for tracking what you read.  I  read all these books via my library, which I strongly recommend!

 

What are you reading? 

 

 

 

 

 

Explorer’s Book Club – April

Welcome to the Book Club!

Each month, I’ll suggest 2 or 3 books that you might like to read – one will be a biz-explorer pick (something to help you in you navigate your business) and one will be a general fun (or creativity) pick. I’ll provide links to Goodreads (so you can easily add it to your queue), IndieBound (buy from your local bookseller!) and Amazon Kindle (if available).*

Last month, we started reading The Art of Possibility and Six Thinking Hats. What did you think?

Did it change the way you think about making decisions? Leave a comment to tell me. (That's where I'll be sharing how I'm using Six Thinking Hats in my business).

 

April's Books

Contagious, by Jonah Berger. I haven't read it yet, but it was suggested by Jessica of Storied Yarns and it just came in at my library. I look forward to reading it along with you!

GoodReads | IndieBound | Amazon

 

The for-fun pick is Dinner: A Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach. More than a cookbook (since I don't eat meat, there's not a lot of recipes from it I'll be trying!), it's a lovely story of  getting dinner on the table every day. I especially loved this bit, where she talks about how she and her husband end up “owning” recipes (Jay and I do EXACTLY this):

Dinner: a Love Story quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GoodReads | IndieBound | Amazon

 

 

*A reminder: I got both of these books at my library – so try yours! If you buy from IndieBound or Amazon using the links below, I get a tiny percentage for soy lattes.

 

 

If you’re joining me in reading these books this month, say hello in the comments! If not, what are you reading?

 

 

 

The best of the 100 in 2012 books…and a new Book Club!

The to-read stack. (Today I posted about how I read 100 books in 2012, on TaraSwiger.com)

I am so delighted by your response to the book club idea! Before we jump into it, a few of you have asked over the last year what my favorite books have been, and while I find this oh-so-hard, here are my picks. Each book is linked to it's Goodreads page.

Books I didn't expect to like, but did:

Born to Run

Decoded, by Jay Z. Seriously! I could quote this all day.

Books I can't believe I hadn't already read: 

Life Together, by Deitrich Bonhoeffer

The Bourne Identity  – completely different than the movies, but that same kind of action and fun!

Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury. – “Like what YOU like!” Indeed!

Most engrossing: 

The Magicians
Gone Girl – there's a reason it's a bestseller and it will leave you gobsmacked

Wolf Hall (and the sequel) – my lifelong love affair with historical fiction was deeply satisfied

Everyone should read…

All of the Nora Ephron books. It might be because I watched When Harry Met Sally for the first time when I was 16 on February 14th (after being grounded and missing my first Valentine's Day with a boyfriend), but Nora Ephron is the voice in my head. To get her work is to understand me.

Quiet. Whether you think you're introvert or not, you're in some relationship with one. Especially important if your kid might be introverted! Fascinating and encouraging and reading passages out loud to Jay has totally changed the way he understands me, and our relationship.

Daring Greatly. I talked more about why I loved it (and needed it) here. I gave it to my mom for Christmas and want to give a copy to everyone who lives in the world!

Steal Like An Artist. 

Please Understand Me: Temperament, Character, and Intelligence. Ignore the lame-o title and read this to understand yourself and your loved ones better. Even if you're not a personality psychology obsessive (like moi), you're going to like it. Another book that I read Jay, leading to epiphanies about everyone we're connected to.

(Want more? Here are my fave books of 2010 and you can see all the books I read in 2012 here. )

Explorer Book Club

We're going to keep this little club super-simple. Each month, near the beginning, I'll suggest 2 or 3 books that you might like to read – one will be a biz-explorer pick (something to help you in you navigate your business) and one will be a general fun (or creativity) pick. If I fall in love with a piece of fiction, I'll share that. I'll provide links to Goodreads (so you can easily add it to your queue), IndieBound (buy from your local bookseller) and Amazon Kindle (if available).*

I'm an affiliate for Amazon + IndieBound, which means I get soy latte moneye if you buy it through the links I've used here.

At the end of the month, I'll open a discussion on the books, both here and on Facebook. You can chime on what you read and if you liked it, or suggest other books we might like to read.

Sound good?

This month's books:

The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone + Benjamin Zander. I have clients whose entire businesses have been shifted by this book. (And another who insists all of her clients read it before they work together.)

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

 

6 Thinking Hats, by Edward DeBono. It's an old-school business book (from the 80's!) but has a great system for making decisions or thinking through possibilities (an absolute must-have skill for an entrepreneur.) I just finished it this morning!

Goodreads |  IndieBound |Amazon

 

 

If you're joining me in reading these two books this month, say hello in the comments! If not, what are you reading?

*This low key approach is inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book club. If you like reading about happiness, you can join hers here.

 

How to read 100 books in one year.

How to read 100 books in a year

In 2012, I read 100 books.

That's (almost) 2 books a week.

When I set the goal (in February or March, after I realized I already WAS reading 2 books/week), I thought it was crazy. Way out of reach. But why not? I had a lot of long airplane rides ahead of me (Boston, San Diego, Seattle) and little did I know that I'd be in airports for looooong delays (almost 20 hours in LAX and 12 hours in Charlotte) and would have plenty of time to read.

Grateful for books, my oldest friends. 18 books away from meeting my 100 in 2012 goal (but only 7 weeks left.) This is what's next. #thirtydaysofthanksgiving #instagratitude

The real reason I set the goal is that I love to read. Love it!
But I often tell myself not to. Instead, I should be working. Or I should be reading something better (catching up on blogs, news, the latest marketing advice). But after an intense 3 months of non-stop writing to finish the book,  I decided to give myself permission to just read. As much as I wanted!

And I'm so glad I did, because I learned more about my self (and my business) than I could have from any single book. Here's how I made it happen:

1. Give yourself permission to do what you want to do.

#libraryaweek

For some reason, this seems like the most dangerous course of action. What if all I want to do is lay in bed all day in read? What if I never work again? That's the fear, isn't it? That if you let yourself set a desirable, fun goal, that you might give up on all the hard and challenging ones.

But what if that fun thing you want to do is exactly what your business needs? Or what if it's what your self needs so you can have the energy to work? What if it'll just feel great?

Turning simple permission (you're allowed to read!) into a big crazy goal, lifted my passion into something important. It suddenly mattered that I get to read everyday, it was a priority! If I hadn't committed to the big number, I would have continued to question each reading session: shouldn't I be doing something else?

2. Always have books at the ready.

Andre finds books snugglable
The photos throughout this post demonstrate the ginormous stacks of books I brought home, each week.

The key to reading a lot is to have plenty to read. 

It's silly, but I tend to worry I'm going to run out. Of everything. I “save up” the good stuff in life. I like to know I have a reserve. (Gretchen calls this as spending out – I'm glad to know I'm not alone). So I put off reading a book if I think I won't have anything to read when I finish it. And it's not enough to just books at the library, I need them next to me in the house, so I can grab it the moment I'm ready. (This is kinda like packing waaay too much knitting when you travel. You know you'll never get to it, but there is a slime chance, and you can't risk it!)

3. Always be adding.

This library obsession is getting dangerous... #canyouspotthecat
Having books at the ready is actually a multi-level affair. There's the having the books in my home, but there's also knowing I have even more books that I want to read. I have to know what books to bring home next.

It is absolutely vital for me to have a long list of to-read books and to be adding to it constantly.  For this, I use Goodreads. I find new books to read from everywhere – if it looks interesting in a book store, if a blogger mentions it, if the author has an interesting interview on Fresh Air, or On Being, if it's recommended on a podcast,  if the book I'm reading mentions another book.

The quickest way to recommit myself to reading, is to add a new book to my list.

4. Give up.

Picking books for my week away. Is this enough? Too heavy? Tricky!

Yep, I'm a fan of quitting. If I don't absolutely love the book, or I find myself studiously not-reading for 2 or 3 days, I pick up another book from the stack. I might go back to that left behind book, or I might just mark it off my list all together. There's no guilt, no pressure. Reading is something I love to do. So if I don't love reading this book, I remember that it's not me, it's the book. So I break up with it.

5. No judgement.

The library was very very good to me this week. Where to start?

I'm allowed to read whatever I want to read. I know it sounds obvious, but I can't believe the hangups I have about I should be reading, or what I'm embarrassed to be reading. I'd absolutely never pick up 50 Shades of Grey (I'm much too squeamish), but I'm often embarrassed about my hippy-dippy choices of books.

But you know what? I'm the one reading it. No one else. So no one else has to approve, or think it's worthy or even understand why I'm reading it. And I remind myself, as I stand at the check-out counter at the library that the librarians see much worse than me and my stack of yoga, religion, and infertility books.

That's how I read 100 books in a year.

But it's not about reading : these rules apply to everything. Whatever it is you want to do this year (that you really, really want to do, not just because you think you should want to do it), you gotta give yourself permission, keep inspiration at the ready, quit when something isn't working for you, and stop thinking about what other people think about it!

Books, coffee, lounge. In other words, my personal heaven. #birthdayadventure

Tomorrow: My favorite books of the year!

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If reading a zillion (or even 5) books is your thing, I'd love to talk about books with you! I'm thinking about starting a super-casual book club right here. What do you think? Would you like a monthly creativity/business book suggestion?
Let me know in the comments.

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