What to Read While You're Writing

If you missed the passing instagram announcement, here is the official one.

I AM WRITING A BOOK.  A real, cover-to-cover, paper pages BOOK.  Due to release in Spring 2016 via Page Street Publishers and distributed by Macmillan.  I am  excited and focused and currently up to my ears in leaves, twigs, glitter and glue.  OH, and books.  Yes, I am up to my ears in BOOKS because sometimes reading is exactly what I need while writing.

Inside The Secret Gardens of the Cotswalds
Some theories contend you should hole yourself up away from other influences while creating your own work,  but I daresay that is a lonely place to create from.  While writing, I eschew books and blogs that are very similar to my subject (garden crafts), but I read everything I can get my hands on that relates from a different angle to my subject.  You see, if I can see the way hundreds of other authors see pieces of my subject, then the way I see my subject snaps sharply into place.  If you are curious, here is what I am currently reading and WHY.

Inside The Secret Gardens of the Cotswalds
Note: All the links are my affiliate links to the books on Amazon.  I get a small percentage back from Amazon when you click and buy, no pressure. 

Gardening "TEXTS"

First Ladies of Gardening - I just recently received this one for review and have been absolutely devouring it.  The women are so incredibly inspiring -- you know the kind.  The gardeners that seem like little fairies amidst their gardeners, trowel and secateurs in hand puttering around the daisies and the willows -- I want to be them...
This is the inside of the cover...that is just the beginning...
Secret Gardens of the Cotswalds - If you are a fan of THE Secret Garden, then this is a fun companion.  These are REAL gardens, private and hidden away in the English countryside.  I want them ALL and I want to make my readers feel that way when they read my book -- except my goal is to make them want natural crafting materials and plants that can be manipulated as opposed to secret gardens.  The writing strategies though -- those are similar and I can learn a lot from Victoria Summerly.
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The Southern Living Gardening Book - A classic.  A new version just came out and this book is CHOCK FULL of information.  It is a valuable tool, especially when researching plants that are more common south of my zone 6 garden.

Sissinghurst - I mentioned this text during the Christmas season and am still counting it on my one hand of favorite garden books right now.  A great history of an incredible garden.

Vegetable Literacy - From last year, this beautiful gardening book is a fantastic reference for me as I write about specific plants.  ...and when I say beautiful I mean HANDS DOWN the most beautiful gardening book I have seen...ever.  It is stunning cover to cover.

Also in that gardening book post last year, I mentioned The Beautiful, Edible Garden and that book still makes me want a persimmon tree more than any other plant right now. I daresay it makes me want to do something like Orchard Crafting for book #2.  (PLEASE let there BE a book #2!!!)

365 Days of Gardening -- an oldie, but a goodie.  This book was one I found long ago at a library book sale and it is not deep reading, but it is fast and easy garden reading.  Tips and tricks in 2-3 sentences are spaced throughout the seasons and are often good "sparks" for me to remember to include such and such tip in my book.

What is the connecting thread between these books?  Knowledge.  They are not crafty/DIY at all and are not geared towards beginners.  They serve as references for plant facts and get me thinking about the garden when mine is under a foot of snow.  They are inspiration, but in a different thread of thought than my own book.


Other books from Page Street Publishing like The Gourmet Mexican Kitchen, OATrageous Oatmeals and Mixed Media Masterpieces are also on my must-read list.  Why?  Even though many of Page Street's books are currently cookbooks, they still give me a very good framework for the shape my book will take.  They show me the grid where my words, my crafts, my ideas will be placed.  Understanding the framework helps me to visualize my content in published form.

OLD Magazines and Brand NEW Publications

I read super old magazines for old ideas that can be made fresh again and I read brand new quarterlies and monthly publications for layout inspiration.  I am currently obsessing over the layouts in Rochelle Greayer's Pith + Vigor quarterly.

WiseCraft - I love the cover on this one and found tons of inspiration for organizational layout.

Old Ideas Reworked + New Presentation = Fresh, Solid Content 


Yes, I said junk.  Easy reading.  Quick and fantastical and escapist reading.  Sometimes I get in the trenches of gardening and crafting thought and it is hard to claw myself out and get some new perspective.  Historical novels and good old basic literary junk helps me climb out of the trench and when I turn back towards my own work, it is with fresh eyes again.  A small note to historical fiction writers: I daresay you would consider garden and craft books YOUR junk while writing, so please don't take "junk" as an insult.


There are a few more books that I am excited to get cracked open.  I recently ordered Artist's Houses and Writer's Houses off Amazon, but have yet to start reading.  I cannot WAIT.  There is also Artist's HANDMADE Houses which I would love to read. (different author entirely from Artist's Houses)  I am also incredibly excited about this cute Secret Garden Pen + Ink Treasure Hunt/Coloring book. (Yes, I am a grown-up, but it looks so very fun!)

I also recently ordered Bunny Williams' On Garden Style after hearing her speak at the Garden Bloggers Conference, but I ordered the OLD version since the NEW version is set to release soon.  HERE is the new version -- HERE is the one I ordered.  Why all the style, home and environment books?  Simple, really.  I am fascinated by the environments in which other writers and other creatives work in.  I love to see their process and their surroundings (another reason I really love reading about Vita Sackville and Sissinghurst) and other artists' surroundings are inspiring even via proxy.

Also on my list -- the next Outlander book.  I never said my reading list was classy.

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I would love to hear what YOU are reading lately!! I would love to hear your suggestions in the FORUM or on the Nest facebook page! Feel free to link to YOUR books or YOUR book roundups on the Nest facebook page and forum as well!