Book reviews: Little book of life hacks, Drawing is magic, Crafting with feminism, How to start a revolution

In the beginning of January I set myself a New Year’s resolution of reading at least 20 books this year and I’m already at 19 now. It might be silly to count the books I’m reading but it really helps to encourage me to read more, make time for it, and focus on it. I’m a slow, lazy and easily distracted reader, even though I do enjoy reading books (and zines, duh!) a lot. I’m even becoming fond on reading fiction lately, something I didn’t used to do or enjoy.

I won’t review everything I’ve read but I’ll just select some of the books I liked or found interesting to review and that I want to share my thoughts about on this blog or at De Tweede Sekse Blog. For De Tweede Sekse I just wrote some reviews of the comics I have recently read (written in Dutch there – sorry, non-Dutch readers). For this post, I will review some crafty/creative/how-to books that have crossed my eager eyes these past 8 months. Enjoy reading!

The Little Book of Life Hacks: how to make your life happier, healthier, and more beautiful
– Yumi Sakugawa

OK, with a subtitle like that, I would usually not have picked up this book but I was curious about the suggested life hacks and then the drawing style of its inside pages drew me in. And I’m glad it did. Honestly I don’t have patience for or interest in beauty advice or diet tips which books which similar subtitles will be full of. So it was a relief that this one limited such nonsense greatly.

Little Book of Life Hacks is both a comic/illustration book and a manual with advice and information about all things home/body/life. It includes for example how to keep cables uncluttered, different uses for washi tape, alternative uses for kitchen tools, DIY cleaning, recommendations for house plants and their health benefits, some recipes (healthy + non-healthy), some natural remedies (for colds, head ache, back ache, sunburn, mosquito bites…), tips to de-stress, and much more. I enjoyed reading this very creative book a lot. The tips that are included are both useful and inspiring and the beautiful drawing style only adds to that. I’ve already used some of the kitchen/food hacks and the design tips sound like fun too. It’s a book I will certainly pick up again regularly.

Crafting with Feminism: 25 girl-powered projects to smash the patriarchy
– Bonnie Burton

Another great combination of things I like in one book: crafting and feminism. I got this book as a birthday present from a feminist friend. This is a fun book with lots of crafty projects aimed at getting you ready for the next protest and making some feminist change happen. There are some silly ideas like the pizza-shaped reusable lunch bag and cute ones like finger puppets of historical feminist figures and the stuffed uterus pillow.

Personally I found most projects sound a bit too “easy”. Like: not everything needs to be attached with glue, it can be offered as an easy alternative, but sewing is just fine too. Maybe the book is targetted at craft newbies (or at feminists who want to try out crafts instead of crafters who want to make feminist things) but some more challenging projects would have been welcome for the more experienced crafter. More complex designs and detailed outcomes next to the simple ones for each project could be more encouraging as well. Also, I found a lot of the projects to be very “feminine”: not all feminists own or wear high heels or bras, you know? On the other hand, I loved the “leg hair don’t care” and “zine maker” merit badges. 🙂

I can imagine it must be fun to try out these projects together in your local feminist collective or knitting group and the book even offers a soundtrack and crafternoon ideas. So, if you’d like to prepare some crafty objects for this feminist action you’re taking part in, this books will give you some fast and fun ideas.

Drawing is Magic
– John Hendrix

Very beautifully made book about inspiring you to draw and sketch every day to make progress, experiment, and have fun. It’s a bit similar in approach to Living Out Loud by Keri Smith that I reviewed here. The idea is to draw draw draw, always carry a sketch book, try things out, make mistakes… Similar also to creative writing excersises and projects like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which encourage you to write write write, and don’t worry about bad writing, don’t edit, just keep writing, and don’t give up. Similarly, here, you are allowed to make bad drawings! Practice makes perfect, and even if it doesn’t, if you’re enjoying yourself and keep on creating, all is well.

The sketchbook is compared to a playground and a treasure map, and this book looks like that too. I like the approach of Drawing is Magic, even though I often find it hard to practice it myself. Not all the excercises in here motivated me to try them out but the general concept of the book and the amazing artwork and layout inside did appeal to me and encouraged me to sketch away.

How to start a Revolution
– Lucy-Anne Holmes

Author Lucy-Anne Holmes is the founder of No More Page 3, a feminist campaign that managed to take down the photos of topless women printed on page 3 in the British tabloid newspaper the Sun. In this book she explains how that happened and encourages readers to start their own campaigns for causes they are passionate about.

How to start a revolution is part herstory of how the NMP3 campaign started and evolved, the ups and downs, the hard work and successes, and part how-to manual to encourage and inspire you to start your own feminist action group or political campaign. I’ve got quite a bunch of activist handbooks on my shelves but none of them focus specifically on feminist actions so this little book was certainly welcome. Even though it is a small book – 66 pages pages in more or less A6 format – it contains a lot of useful information such as dealing with the press and online trolls, and it is a pleasant read because of the personal way it’s written. It may not be the most radical activist manual on this planet but it can contribute to making activism and campaigning more accessible and feasable for most of us. Holmes herself had no previous activist experience. All she needed to get started was a lot of anger and enthusiasm. So if she can do it, why can’t we?

About rebelsister

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