Monday, January 14, 2013

Craft Book Review the First

With my Project QUILTING project all done, I'd say it's time for a non-sewing related post.

I love books.  Near the end of last year, the possibility of my writing some short craft book reviews to post on the library's Facebook page came up.  I was all aflutter and for several days lulled myself to sleep by writing book reviews of my favorite craft books in my head.  But then, lots of other things went down at the library and, while I haven't given up hope, the project has fallen by the wayside.  For them. 

Even though the only other book review type post that I've tried on the blog was a chaotic mess, I remain undaunted.  After all, I wrote that using one of those horrible little texting keyboards on a phone and survived.  I haven't written a book review since high school and, even back then, I only wrote about half of the reviews I was assigned.  I even got in trouble once* because I purposely gave a glowing review of a book that I knew my teacher hated and that I had only read half of.  I was not a model student.

Anyhoo, I'm a grownup now and I figure I can write a book review any old way I choose and about any old book I want to write about.  Since I'm writing them on my blog, I don't even have to behave.  If it's fun, this will be the start of an irregular series here at AnotherJenniferMakingStuff.

Here's my rating system.  A book can rate, at the best:  "Go Buy This Book And Pay Full Retail Value Right Now" to, at the worst: "Avert Your Eyes, It Burns, It Burns!"  I also reserve the right to make up the different ratings in between those two as I go along.  

The book I want to write about today is How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith.


This book simply rocks.  First, it's just beautiful to look at.  It's about as handmade looking as a mass produced book could hope to look.  The cover is cardboard, the title looks hand type set and the binding has lines drawn on it that mimic a hand sewn long stitch binding.  She hoped to have it actually hand bound but I'm sure that was too expensive


The inside of the book is lovely, too.  The title page, table of contents and chapter beginnings are all gorgeously typeset.



I really appreciate the step by step illustrations, too,  They're works of art in their own right and are quirky and funny and fun to look at.  Oh, yeah, they're easy to follow, too.

The book is full of projects.  Duh, that's why I like it.  Speaking of that, even the no nonsense, non fancy title is just right.  But back to the contents:

The projects are described in a straightforward, very personal way.  The writer talks about where she learned about the different techniques and what they mean to her.  She's not super overly, crafty, girly, cutesy with her descriptions.  As a reader of many craft books, let me tell you, I seriously appreciate that.  She also doesn't fill the book with stupid puns or project titles that rhyme with themselves.  I HATE those.  But, back to those contents again.

The layout of the chapters is this: She introduces the technique, how she learned it and why she appreciates it and how to do it, obviously.  After that, she shares a few variations on the theme.  All of the samples she uses in the book are gorgeous and creative. Check out the instant book on the next picture down there.  Fabulous. 

There are little asides on different useful tidbits throughout the book like what bone folders are and why they're helpful and what kinds of thread she prefers and why. They come up at the perfect point of the books, like threads when the binding sections begin and that kind of thing.

There are seven chapters with different types of books and bindings.  Within the seven chapter are so many ideas and concepts and ways to use them that you're really getting more than seven new skills.


My favorite project, those of you who know me will know this already because I'm always shoving it down people's throats, is the instant book.  This would be chapter one of the book so maybe it's her favorite, too.  They are so simple and elegant and versatile.


I have used most of the techniques in the book as inspiration for many projects of my own.   That's really saying something because so often, I'll fall in love with one or two ideas in a book but the other thirty eight (just a random number there) do nothing for me.


I also think, after reading the book, that Esther K. Smith is probably a really nice person who I would virtually (she lives really far away) hang out with.  I'd be a little intimidated at first but then we'd totally laugh at the same stuff and probably get to the level of friendship of commenting on each other's blogs every now and then.  Which is plenty for me because I'm not very social.

I rate this book:  Go Buy This Book And Pay Full Retail Value Right Now!  I sure did.

Of course I'm going to pick a favorite as my first review because that's the first book that popped into my head when the idea came up.  I'll branch out to less positive territory one day...probably.  

You might also like her other books:  , which I may review one day, and The Paper Bride which I probably won't review because I haven't read it and as I'm already married, wedding planning bores me.  

*  OK.  Way more than once, but that's for another kind of blog.

Please share any thoughts on craft books you would like to see reviewed.  I have a few lined up but it's always the right time to recommend a good book.  


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