Summer Reads Part Two: Arts

There’s something about beautiful books that make my heart sing. I understand that with all the ways we read it isn’t practical to make every book an artistic treasure but I would also be perfectly content with the experience if even the most ratty used book was rendered in aesthetic beauty.

Lately I have been reading a lot of how-tos, art books and books with stunning visuals. This list is not at all exhaustive but here are four recent books I’ve been reading that I’m putting under the loose category of Arts. Three are instructional as well as being aesthetically delightful and one is just a thing of absolute beauty.

In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to VectorIn Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector by Jessica Hische
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lettering is an art I have barely dabbled in but have found fascinating. Jessica Hische’s book is a delightful insight into the art as well as the process of her work. I loved the way she peeled aside the curtain and invited us into her process. It wasn’t as much of a how-to as a guided tour and her work made me smile.

Plant-Powered Beauty: The Essential Guide to Using Natural Ingredients for Health, Wellness, and Personal Skincare (with 50-plus Recipes)Plant-Powered Beauty: The Essential Guide to Using Natural Ingredients for Health, Wellness, and Personal Skincare by Amy Galper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you love a higher end beauty regime, cooking and are nerdy enough to enjoy an indepth exploration of the why as well as the how, Plant-Powered Beauty is amazing! I was excited that this wasn’t just an introductory book with simple avocado facial masks but a book with advanced methods and recipes that require reading, planning and are definitely not cheap to make but are more affordable than some of the commercial versions of what the book offers.

I received the book through Netgalley and don’t love this style of book in a digital edition because I did find myself having to click back and forth to read the reference tables on ingredients. Based on this and because of the reference nature of the book I would recommend the physical edition because the book is amazing but suited more to a physical copy.

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Gouache: An artist's guide to painting with gouache on the go!Anywhere, Anytime Art: Gouache: An artist’s guide to painting with gouache on the go! by Agathe Singer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lately I have been experimenting with gouche so I was excited for the chance to read and review “Anywhere, Anytime Art: Gouche”. Although I grew up surrounded by art books I appreciate when “how to” books cover the basics of color theory, make some introductions about tools and give some basics before providing tutorials and projects. For a beginner this is a great place to start and Agathe Singer’s work demonstrates the textural qualities of gouche in ways that demonstrate some of the ways it differs from watercolor without going into great depth. A perfect book for a beginner interested in learning a new skill at their own pace.

The Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching BotanicalsThe Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals by Maia Toll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Illustrated Herbiary is an absolutely beautiful book on so many levels. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy for review through Netgalley but plan to purchase a physical copy at some point (or perhaps can convince a loved one to gift it to me over the holidays 🙂 ) I have to gush about this book because the illustrations are gorgeous even as a digital edition (I love ebooks for print but have issues with the format that aren’t relevant for this review except to say that this book translated well but I will still be looking for a hardcover version of the book because it is wonderful).

Alright, so beyond the visual feast I loved The Illustrated Herbiary for what it was which was not precisely a reference guide but something like a nonfiction version of a magical door opening onto an unseen world. The book isn’t a dry reference guide but a poetic exploration of the uses and lore of a variety of herbs. If you’re interested in science and alternative medicine this is a charming guide. If you’re interested in art and literature it is a decadent meal that nourishes you long after you’ve finished.

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