Three Things | Inspiring Books

Hello again Three Things.

In the past, Three Things has focused specifically on three scrapbooking products that have caught my attention. I'm bringing back this series with an expanded focus on products/topics that have something to do with memory keeping, scrapbooking, and/or living an inspired, creative life.

This week I want to introduce you to three books I'm currently reading - each inspiring me in it's own way.

Keri Smith | Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes

The word mess has been on my mind this past week. Could be the boxes I'm still navigating around. Could be the stuff strewn all over my office. Could be my new little bit of messy love word art. Or it could be this new book from creative mastermind Keri Smith.

Mess is the latest in Keri's series of books that invite you to play an active part in the creation of the finished project. These are not books you just sit down and read, these are books where you're invited and prompted to actively experiment, play, combine ideas, make a mess and challenge your mind creatively.

Here's the thing for me: I love the idea of making a mess, of being super free with my creativity, and just letting go. But...and that's a pretty big one...I have a hard time just doing it. I also know, through my own experiences, that accidents and mistakes often result in surprisingly wonderful solutions to creative problems (also known as serendipity). This is precisely why I was interested in Keri's new book.

Here's two things I love about Keri and her approach:

(1) Keri is permission : to break away from my usual linear self and send it on vacation (and vacation means that it comes back refreshed and renewed with new life experiences that enrich it's overall existence).

(2) Keri is encouragement : to create what she calls a "habit of experimentation" which can be so beneficial in living a full, creative life (and in learning new ways to tell our stories with words + photos).

So I opened the book, flipped to the page you see above, and embarked on making a mess. My experience went something like this:

The first page I turned to said, "Short Attention Span Page. Do Something in each square for only 10 seconds." I thought to myself, oh, I can totally do this - look at that lovely collection of orderly squares. I love squares. I love when things have a home. And then I remembered that I was supposed to make a mess or break the rules or experiment. Stop talking to yourself and just put pen to paper were my next thoughts. To follow the 10-second directions I used an online timer since I was sitting at my desk (turn your volume down because it's pretty loud).

Here's what I discovered:


  1. I seriously over-think this stuff and have a hard time letting go of control (she addresses this idea in the intro).

  2. My default is straight lines, circles, and the alphabet. Surprise, surprise.

  3. Working in this book will make me think about things differently...at least for a time. Even just doing this one exercise made me look at my usual process and think about the ways I currently approach creative projects. I think that only good things can come from this sort of experimentation and letting go.


My plan with this book is to use it as a rut-buster. When I'm feeling uninspired or disconnected from what I'm working on I can pull it out, open to a random page and do whatever it tells me to do and make a mess. I'll share more of the messes I make in my book from time to time.

If it's been awhile since you've visited Keri's blog she's got a really cool new look - very Keri. I also highly recommend two of her other books Wreck This Journal and How to Be an Explorer of the World.

Connect with Keri: Blog | Facebook | Shop


Chris Guillebeau | The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

According to Chris, the central theme of the book is “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time. Here’s how to do it.

I was first introduced to Chris through Andrea Scher. I went to his site and started reading and really, really liked what he had to say. His attitude about life is infectious. The choices he has made have enabled him to live a life focused on what he's passionate about and give back. We've had the chance to chat online and I was interviewed for his Unconventional Guide To Art & Money Guide.

Chris is all about being unconventional.

That's a word I like. Actually it's a word I've come to love after a series of personal life experiences - most notably the entrance of my amazing son Simon into my life eight years ago. I have come to embrace unconventionality. I like that my thesaurus tells me that another word for unconventional is extraordinary. There are moments with Simon when I long for "normal" (whatever that means) but more often than not I find myself celebrating differences rather than wishing for convention.

I'm about half-way through The Art of Non-Conformity and the concepts and ideas Chris presents are sticking with me and coming back to me at random moments throughout my day (one of the things I love about reading). Thoughts on fear, action, change, abundance, adventure, not doing things in your life because you "think you are supposed to," doing work you love, purpose, being a part of something bigger than yourself, active decision making, radically saying "no," the creation of a legacy, etc. are all floating around in my mind and heart.

It all gets down to this: you CAN live the life you want.

Seriously, go to his site and get inspired to be an active participant in your life (vs. what he calls "sleepwalking"). While you're there check out these inspiring reads:


  1. His personal manifesto (free PDF download): A Brief Guide To World Domination

  2. How To Be Awesome

  3. The Decision To Be Remarkable

  4. Chris also writes a ton about travel which is one of his central passions in life.


After you check out all the good stuff he has to say online, order the book. It's honest and practical and here's what's even cooler: Chris is giving 100% of the proceeds from this book to his charity project in Ethiopia.

Connect with Chris: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Unconventional Guide Store & Events


Jade Sims | Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause

Inspired by one woman's desire to make a difference, Craft Hope is a collection of tutorials for specific projects that can be made and then donated to charities around the world.

One of the things I like most about this book is that it includes a variety of crafts. The page shown above encourages the creation of thank you cards for parents with sick kids through the Starlight Children's Foundation. The tutorial teaches you how to make a stamp with a stamp carving block (pattern for the bird is included).

For those of us with extra supplies (that's you and me), making thank you cards is something you could easily do while watching TV or at your next crop or as a special get-together with local friends. While the tutorial in the book suggests creating thank you cards for parents of ill children, within the scrapbooking + cardmaking communities Jennifer McGuire has been inspirational in spearheading Cards For Kids (cards go directly to the kids with encouraging messages). Either way you're doing something good - something that brings about hope.

Other crafts include projects such as a take-along quilt, art kit, care caps, dog tug toy, sock monkey, backpack, etc.

This book is a testament to the goodness and generosity of people all over the place - especially in our inter-connected online world.

Connect with Jade: Craft Hope |Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr

33 thoughts shared

  1. Jackie Bremer

    2010-09-07 23:33:01 +0200

    Interesting thoughts and books - dare I take the leap?

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  2. dawn

    2010-09-08 00:52:26 +0200

    Thanks for sharing these with us. I especially like the idea of the first one and can't imagine you being in a rut you always have such inspiring daily posts. I've been meaning to tell you that I love your new site and all the cool things to check out.

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  3. Denise

    2010-09-08 02:27:29 +0200

    Thanks for the heads up on the books. I've heard about the Wreck this Book and would really like to get my hands on something like that, but until then, I'll just have to do some paper tearing. :)

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  4. Rachel Kizirian

    2010-09-08 02:28:13 +0200

    There, you learned to look at the error as a highly enriching and motivating the new vision of art. Previously it was wrong to throw away, then I saw that to err is set differently with that thought. Everything changes, or not so often is more beautiful still, things have not thought of. Thanks for this information!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  5. Marsaille

    2010-09-08 03:13:42 +0200

    Thank you for the ideas. I might never have run across them otherwise. The only thing I can do in bookstores is follow my 2 year old around!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  6. Barbara

    2010-09-08 03:21:45 +0200

    I love "Three Things" and was excited to see it back - thanks! I've been wanting to start a club at school (I teach Jr. High) where students make cards for soldiers overseas to send home. I'm heading to Amazon right now to look for "Craft Hope".

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  7. Cindy E.

    2010-09-08 06:08:57 +0200

    Thanks for sharing about those books, Ali. I just placed an order at Amazon!! Cannot wait to get them.

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  8. Chris Guillebeau

    2010-09-08 06:27:41 +0200

    Hey Ali! It's midnight in NYC (after midnight, actually) and I just came back to my hotel after our launch event and saw your kind review. Thank you so much for including me and AONC. You already know I'm a big fan of yours as well.

    All best,

    cg

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  9. caro

    2010-09-08 14:06:17 +0200

    Great info Ali! wish it was feasible to contribute to craft hope from Africa. Postage costs can be prohibitive. or, perhaps that's the point - get it going on this side ????

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  10. Carrie

    2010-09-08 14:47:15 +0200

    Thanks, A! I've been on a big kick of reading inspiring books. Two easy reads I read this weekend are:

    (1) "Permission to Speak Freely" by Anne Jackson, and
    (2) "Bittersweet" by Shauna Niequist

    Both are of an uplifting spiritual nature, full of honesty and grace.

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  11. ale

    2010-09-08 14:57:35 +0200

    love your reviews, ali. thanks for sharing!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  12. Lara

    2010-09-08 16:02:34 +0200

    The Keri Smith books look amazing!!!! That's just what I need right now! Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  13. cinback

    2010-09-08 16:59:18 +0200

    I love books...especially those that inspire!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  14. Cynthia

    2010-09-08 16:59:19 +0200

    Thank you as always Ali for your inspiration and reminders to live the most authentic life as possible:) I will so will be checking out all three selections!!!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  15. Karen

    2010-09-08 20:56:03 +0200

    Your ideas are always inspiring ! You mention what does "normal" mean? A speech therapist friend once told her patient in response to that question.--"Normal is a setting on the washing machine." It helps to remind that normal is all in one's perspective. Keep up your inspiring work.

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  16. marnie

    2010-09-09 12:54:53 +0200

    Great picks! I gave Keri's "Wreck This Journal", along with a pack of gel pens, to my neice at Christmas. It was a big hit.

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  17. rani

    2010-09-09 14:38:45 +0200

    wonderful reviews! I just ordered the Craft Hope Book and subscribed to Chris's blog. And I own all of Keri's books too!!!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  18. Theresa Merkling

    2010-09-09 20:46:47 +0200

    Thanks for sharing these Ali - I've put them on my must buy list. Always appreciate new inspiration.

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  19. Kathryn

    2010-09-12 17:30:11 +0200

    Thank you for sharing what you're reading -- I'm off to amazon.com! Some for now, some for my Christmas wish list =)

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  20. Rhoda

    2010-09-12 18:13:51 +0200

    I love the Keri Smith books! Very inspiring. My windowsill is full of fruit stickers waiting to be put in my journal ;)
    And have you seen the Flickr site. Fun to browse through other journals.

    Great post. Off to check out some other books!

    Rhoda

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  21. Petra

    2010-09-16 02:41:07 +0200

    Went and got Chris Guillebeau's book right away, finished it in 2 Days, has to be one of THE best books i've read!! Thank u so much for the recommendation!!

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  22. sunday sunshine (rosh hashanah/yom kippur edition?) « Crafts by Brianna

    2010-09-20 01:43:00 +0200

    [...] Inspiring books (via Elise Blaha via Ali Edwards) – All of these books look awesome and of course, I’ve added them all to my Amazon wishlist to own someday. [...]

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  23. Fingerpainting & A Little More Mess | Ali Edwards

    2010-12-15 17:01:33 +0100

    [...] few months ago I wrote up a little review of Keri Smith’s newest book release Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes. I’ve [...]

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  24. andie

    2011-01-31 17:30:00 +0100

    Hi Ali - just bumping this because I'm wondering - did your inspiration from 'mess' last?

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
  25. sunday sunshine: rosh hashanah/yom kippur edition? « Girl Seeks Place

    2011-08-25 17:04:45 +0200

    [...] Inspiring books (via Elise Blaha via Ali Edwards) – All of these books look awesome and of course, I’ve added them all to my Amazon wishlist to own someday. [...]

    * edited 08/11/14 03:09PM
Login or Register to comment.