Thursday, December 1, 2016

"Inspired by Reading" Book Club, September, October, and November 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. 

Once again, I find myself in catch-up mode.

September's Selection: This Census Taker, by China Miéville

From the inside flap (paperback edition): "A boy ran down a hill path screaming. This running, screaming boy has witnessed something terrible, something so awful that he cannot even properly articulate it. All he can do is run. His story is investigated, but no evidence is found to support it, and so in the end, he is sent back. Back up that hill path to the site of his terror, to live with the parent who caused it. The boy tries to escape. He flees to a gang of local children but they can't help him. The town refuses to see his danger. He is alone. Then a stranger arrives. A stranger who claims his job is to ask questions, seek truth. Who can, perhaps, offer safety. Or whose offer may be something altogether different, something safety is no part of. In This Census-Taker, multiple award-winning writer China Miville offers a story made of secrets and subtle reveals, of tragedy and bravery, of mysteries that shift when they appear to be known. It is a stunning work, full of strangeness and power."

My favorite review of this novella was written by Jason Sheehan and published on NPR:  
"[Miéville] can both blow your mind with ideas as big as the universe and break your heart with language so precise and polished, it's like he's writing with diamonds."

The story is told through the now-grown boy's memories (we never learn his name), and seems distorted due to the mists of time and of the child's incomplete understanding of the events around him. I found a few odd passages conspicuous by their inexplicability: one, when the boy finds "two large unfamiliar flowers in the dust, bright petals right for a stronger sun" which he picked up, and later "I planted the petals and their thorns where she'd (his mother) been digging" and two, when a young man arrives to demand that the boy's father make one of his magical (?) talisman keys for him, and asks the father "You want a silver flower? Want me to give you a flower, councilman?" Later the mother tells the boy that a silver flower is "something you give someone for running away".  I fashioned a necklace, incorporating the large bright thorned flowers (roses?), the "silver flower", a key, a book, and the red of the blood that the boy is certain must have stained the walls of the attic and the gray rocks of the cave and the hillside:

I used an antique key that I wrapped with bronze wire and deep red crystals, labradorite nuggets, a spectacular red/gold Basha bead, a silvery Czech glass flower, a polymer clay book by Gabriel on Etsy, a deep red clay bead by "Clay for a Cure", and red stone roses from Michael's, wired to Vintaj filigree and treated with an iridescent finish.

See other creations based on this book:

October's selection: Vampires in the Lemon Grove 
by Karen Russell description:

"From the author of the novel Swamplandia!—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—comes a magical and uniquely daring collection of stories that showcases the author’s gifts at their inimitable best. 

Within these pages, a community of girls held captive in a Japanese silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms and plot revolution; a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow that bears an uncanny resemblance to a missing classmate that they used to torment; a family’s disastrous quest for land in the American West has grave consequences; and in the marvelous title story, two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try to slake their thirst for blood and come to terms with their immortal relationship."

I loved reading this collection for the incandescent writing, the creativity, and the moments of sly humor. My jewelry inspiration is the story, "Dougbert Shackleton's Rules for Antarctic Tailgating", which struck me as a grim but hilarious parody of sport fans' behavior, where the ultimate underdog-- krill-- go up against their opponents, the whales, in a struggle that is truly life-or-death, for the fan as well as the competitor.
Single Krill

I made bracelets for Team Krill and Team Whale, using a selection of Czech glass and seed beads:

They could be worn together -- if you want to start a riot!

Team Krill Bracelet
Team Whale Bracelet

See other creations based on this book:

November's Selection: Sabriel by Garth Nix description:
"Game of Thrones fans will love the New York Times bestselling Abhorsen series. Sabriel, the first installment in the trilogy, launched critically acclaimed author Garth Nix onto the fantasy scene as a rising star.
Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . . ."

I found this to be a well-written, original YA fantasy/zombie novel. I was interested in the author's description of the Book of the Dead: "Its binding was of pale green leather and 
Charter marks burned in the silver clasps that held it closed." How interesting that the author would choose a color that is associated with Spring-- and life -- for this tome.  Later, "beads of dark, thick blood were welling up out of the cover" when it "react(s) to the presence of many deaths".  I made a bracelet to depict this, using pale green metallic licorice leather, a silver-toned clasp and slider to which I wire-wrapped small garnet, ruby, and a/b treated carnelian beads:

See other creations based on this book:

Go to the Inspired by Reading Book Club on Facebook to see more creations for all three books.


  1. Good job catching up! I really like the first necklace a lot!

  2. So many awesome creations! Thank you so much for participating! The first necklace has so many rich textures and I think it translates the feel of the book as well. The second pieces are so fun, just like the short story! And I agree, they could definitely be worn together. The third piece is so striking! I got caught up on the blue and silver, but now I sort of want to go back and get re-inspired as there are tons of other very visual elements! Nicely done!

    1. Thank you, Andrew! I loved the blue and silver creations you and the others made! Maybe someday the club could have a "revisit" post, for an especially image-rich book?

  3. Great pieces! I love the necklace and the Team Krill bracelet especially.