Sunday, August 7, 2016

"Inspired by Reading" Book Club, May, June, and July 2016

"Inspired by Reading" is a book club established by artist Andrew Thornton. Members read the month's selection, chosen by Andrew, then create something inspired by the book. 

It's catch-up time!

 May's selection: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender description:
"On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she's privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father's detachment, her mother's transgression, her brother's increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can't discern."

I found this story to be well-written and inventive, but almost too sad to read. Rose's loneliness cast a pall over my mood. I was relieved toward the end, when she made her peace with her gift by finding a use for it. Resolution at last! 
 As for inspiring imagery, I noticed that both at the very beginning, when Rose's mother bakes the first doomed cake, and at the end, when Rose is explaining to her mother that she no longer likes lemon cake, she mentions the pansies and daffodils in the flower boxes at the windows:
"Sometimes, she said, mostly to herself, I feel I do not know my children... She said it out the window. To the flower boxes, in front of us, full of pansies and daffodils, bowing in at dusk." (p. 280) It was an odd little detail that stuck with me: everyday beauty side-by-side with so much angst. So, I decided to work with that.  I also wanted to bring in wood, as Rose's mother becomes a woodworker. I found a copyright friendly ("OK personal/derivative use) photo of daffodils and pansies at I printed it and decoupaged it on a wooden canning tag, glazed it, and painted the sides and back black.  I then added a couple of gold jump rings, some large seed beads, and a tassel of gold chain, a Czech glass pansy, and Czech glass bell flowers; and hung it from a yellow-green silk ribbon. Voila -- a little brightness in the darkness.

Go to the Inspired by Reading Book Club on Facebook
to see more creations, and check out the links below:

June's Selection: Drinking the Rain, by Alix Kates Shulman description:

"At fifty, Alix Kates Shulman, author of the celebrated feminist novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, left a city life dense with political activism, family and literary community, and went to live alone on an island off the coast of Maine. On a windswept beach, in a cabin with no plumbing, power, or telephone, she found that she was learning to live all over again.
In this luminous, spirited book, she charts her subsequent path as she learned not simply the joys of meditative solitude, but to integrate her new awareness into a busy, committed, even hectic mainland life."
I enjoyed this memoir and appreciate the author's motto, "Amor fati" -- love what is. For all of her preoccupation with her fears, she seems extraordinarily strong and resourceful: living off the land in a remote area with no modern amenities -- whew! 
I found plenty of imagery to work with: the water, the sunsets, wild roses around the cabin, berries, shells, starfish, pearls, and the pink piano!  Here is my "beach cottage" bracelet, with freshwater pearls, sterling silver "wild rose" clasp and starfish bead, rose quartz, citrine, aquamarine (blue rondelles and green briolettes), quartz crystals, tiny ruby, and gold vermeil shell.

Go to the Inspired by Reading Book Club on Facebook
to see more creations, and check out the links below:
Laurel Ross
Sarajo Spurgeon Wentling
Jessica Beebe

July's Selection: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green description:

"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our stars is award-winning-author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love."
This is my third time reading this novel (I'm a high-school librarian) and I've been moved each time (I was also pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the film). One of my favorite chapters is that in which Hazel and Augustus are treated to dinner and champagne at a fine restaurant on a canal in Amsterdam, with the spring snow (elm seeds) dropping all around them. I found pictures of the elm seeds online, and thought they resembled keishi (cornflake) pearls, so I made a pair of earrings with peach keishi pearls for the elm seeds, and little quartz crystals, to represent the bubbles in the champagne that Hazel and Gus enjoy.

Go to the Inspired by Reading Book Club on Facebook


  1. Thanks for linking to my posts. Your creations are lovely. I especially like the necklace you made. Do you sell your jewelry anywhere?

    1. Thank you, Jessica. For now, my jewelry-making is just a hobby.