Building a Home Library by Leslie Fandrich

Oh how I love books. Nothing fills me with more calm and contentedness than a book. To settle in and read a good story is bliss and to have in my hand all the answers to whatever it is I am trying to learn about makes me feel confident and in control. My husband has observed that anytime I get serious about something, I buy a book about it. I have a lot of books.

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Creative Block: Book Review by Leslie Fandrich

I'm so excited to share this book with you! You might remember the author, Danielle Krysa, from the profile I did on her in October of last year. Her new book Creative Block is available pretty much everywhere starting TODAY and what an amazing book it is. Filled with stories, confessions, art and inspiration from 50 different fabulous artists, in it's pages you will discover many insights and strategies on how to deal with creative blocks.

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Devouring Young Adult (YA) Fiction by Leslie Fandrich

I am on a mission to read more through the winter (don't you think curled up in a blanket next to the fire is the perfect time to read?) and I want to focus on fiction for young adults and children. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd like to write a book, possibly a YA fiction, so I'm researching the genre as well. More than that though, I am also embracing my love of YA fiction. Adults Are Devouring Kids' Books for Good Reason.


I visited the library yesterday and picked out a few titles from the YA fiction section and I also went downstairs to the children's fiction section to see what they had there. I really don't know very much about writing fiction for young adults or children, so I quizzed the librarians and learned about the School Library Journal and The Horn Book as resources to find out more. There is also a YA Fiction Librarian at our local library, so I will be stopping by to chat with her too. If I am going to write a book I should learn a little more about how it all works. I didn't know that the Newbery Medal is awarded to fiction books for children, which is age fourteen and below and most YA fiction doesn't qualify. Typically, YA fiction is age fourteen and above, but publishers sometimes market YA fiction to students as young as 10, so there is some cross over and there are some books that appeal to both age groups. Understanding all these nuances is important.

When I got home I looked up the list of YA Fiction that Kelly published over the summer and I also found this fantastic list of the top 100 YA Fiction books of all time by NPR. Looking at that list I was so happy to discover that I have read way more YA Fiction than I first thought.  Obviously there are the Harry Potter books, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Twilight and His Dark Materials series'. But there was also The Perks of Being a WallflowerFahrenheit 451The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Dune, My Sister's Keeper and Howl's Moving Castle, all of which I own but never thought of as YA. But of course they are. There was also Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is so familiar to me, but I can't think of the plot AT ALL. The name is familiar in such a way that makes me think I said it repeatedly one summer when I was 12.

Not on the list is my favorite author Neil Gaiman who wrote Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book and Odd and the Frost Giants. I've also recently read The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo and both When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. Loved them all.

The librarian asked me how much YA fiction I had read, and I answered just a bit. I realize now though, that I've actually read A LOT, and that category might even be what I have read THE MOST. Of course, I love a good adult book and I've read and enjoyed so many, but my point is that I read YA even when I don't realize I'm reading YA and I always really enjoy it.

So hey, here is where YOU come in! What are your favorite children or young adult fiction books? This is research my friends, please share!

The Dresden Dolls performing "Pierre" by Maurice Sendak by Leslie

One of my favorite creative cross-pollination efforts is The Dresden Dolls performing Maurice Sendak's Pierre. It's so good:

I've loved Maurice Sendak's stories since I was a six year old girl sitting in the dark public library theater watching the animated Alphabet Soup with Rice on the big screen. It's one of my early memories and I'm so sad that Sendak is not with us anymore. I love everything that he has done, and now my kids do too. The Night Kitchen is one of our favorite books, despite it being one of the most controversial children's books, and not only do the kids love to hear it, but I love to read it. Of course, we also love Where the Wild Things Are, which is a classic and now also a movie.

These stories and drawing have been a part of my imagination for years and while Maurice Sendak will be missed, his work will remain to inspire us forever. What I love the very most about him though, was that he was a misfit. Watch this piece on him where he says they asked him to do Wild Things 2 and he simply said "Go to Hell." He is also an inspiration for those of who like to take great leaps. He says "You have to take the dive." You may crack your head open on the rocks, or end up the most inspired you have ever been, but you have to take the dive. Well said!

Rest in peace, Maurice Sendak. xo

Realizing Empathy: Help Me Fund this Kickstarter! by Leslie

I want this book. It's called Realizing Empathy and it is an inquiry into why we make things by Seung Chan Lim (better known as Slim.) It's beautifully designed, thoughtful and passionate. I just know it's filled with smart, inspired thinking. BUT! There is chance that it won't get made. Unless Slim can raise $10,000 in a week, I will not get my book.

I pledged $60 for a signed copy of the book. I'm in and now I need your help. If 200 of you pledge $50 to buy the unsigned version of the book then he will reach his goal. THAT'S TOTALLY DOABLE IN A WEEK, RIGHT??!! I will get my copy, which I badly want, and you will get yours and we can all read it and get smarter about why we are creative, why we make things like art and design and stories. If we are smarter about WHY we make things, then I think we can can make even BETTER things.

I'm always wondering why I make things. What is the reason? What is the point? Why make art? This book dives into all those questions and tries to find an answer. The theory is that the point of making things is to empathize. Not just to sympathize with someone else's situation or condition but to EMPATHIZE. To understand it, fully. To stand in someone's shoes and know how they feel and what they might think. If you can empathize with someone, you will be kinder, more generous and this world will be a better place.

So please, join me in pledging at least $50 to this kickstarter project. If we can get 200 people to do this, we will all be smarter, nicer and happier people. Let's do this thing for Slim. Let's fund his project THIS WEEK and get this book made. If you pledge, please leave a comment and spread the word on your own networks. We can make this happen! I want my book!

Don't just take my word for it: