Five Must Reads to Inspire Creativity

Mommy by Maurice Sendack

The ultimate pop-up book. This book's intricacies will amaze you.


Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

No person has ever created a character as completely as Lucy Maude created her Anne. Whenever I dive into the world of Prince Edward Island, it's so easy to imagine-- it takes no effort to picture Anne taking a stroll in Lover's Lane or walking to the Avonlea school. 

She is a beautiful character and I'm continually amazed at Montgomery's ability to make Anne so real. Creating a character is one of the ultimate creative challenges.


Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin

One of the best creative exercises is to consider someone else's perspective. And why not start with a worm.


Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

No book sets a scene as well as Night Circus does. Erin Morgenstern was a stage producer and has translated those skills to writing. It's a master's class in creating an ambiance.

Just a note about Night Circus: it's best read in the fall. And if you can, listen to it. Jim Dale reads it and it's basically the most magical thing ever. At the beginning one of the characters drops the f bomb out of nowhere, and there's a slightly uncomfortable scene near the end. Just skim that part... Ahem


The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

One of the most practical uses of creativity is problem-solving. Which Sir Percy Blakeney does on a grand scale. This piece of fiction walks the reader through a scheme pulled off by seemingly one of the most ridiculous characters ever written. Delightful read. Profound use of creativity.

Jessica SmithComment
Some Good Deals on Audible

I love buying audiobooks. It's true. My 300+ audiobooks library can attest. But what I love more is getting audiobooks for cheap! I always watch for deals and take advantage of them when they come. Here are the ones I found today. Anything under about $10 is a GREAT price for audiobooks. Remember to listen to the audio sample. It's the worst to get stuck with a bad narrator. :) BUT you can return the audiobook. No problem.

Great price and the reader seems good too. See it here.

Great price and the reader seems good too. See it here.

While I hear it's a classic, I've been told it's not worth reading. haha. Link to Audible.

While I hear it's a classic, I've been told it's not worth reading. haha. Link to Audible.

Fun summertime read. Link to Audible.

Fun summertime read. Link to Audible.

One of my very favorite narrators! Link to Audible.

One of my very favorite narrators! Link to Audible.

Another version for a little cheaper. Link to Audible.

Another version for a little cheaper. Link to Audible.

Not sure if this is a good one, but for $.69, it's worth the risk. haha. Link to Audible.

Not sure if this is a good one, but for $.69, it's worth the risk. haha. Link to Audible.

Anne Hathaway reads a version that is actually really great. But you sure can't beat the price on this one. Link to Audible.

Anne Hathaway reads a version that is actually really great. But you sure can't beat the price on this one. Link to Audible.

Jessica SmithComment
Favorite Audiobook Readers

Here is another post about Audible.com being my favorite thing. This time I want to focus on which readers are the best.

Jim Dale is by far and away the best audiobook reader. He's the one that reads the Harry Potter series and The Night Circus. His voice is just magical. And you may also recognize him from singing to the folks of Passamaquaddy.

Juliet Stevenson. She brings Jane Austen's books to life. She's a fantastic reader, so easy to follow. You may recognize her from a few movies as well.

Dan Stevens. Yes. The Beast is an incredible audiobook reader. I've listened to Frankenstein and And There Were None. Holy Moley. He pulled me into the story so quickly. So much so I couldn't listen to the book at night. I was too scared!!!

There are a few suggestion for you! I'd love to know if you found an audiobook reader that you love.

Jessica SmithComment
The One Thing That Made Reading Possible for Me

Ok. So I have something to confess. I think I've only told this to one person in my entire life. And it is a true story.

My reading comprehension is REALLY low. When I read something in my head, I don't get it. It doesn't make sense to me. I did okay on the ACT, but the part that I failed was the reading comprehension section. Which is why most of my life I have only read the young adult genre (lots of story, not much work).

About ten years ago, I had set a goal for myself. To be literate in the classics. I think there is true power in literature. But I knew I would never be able to achieve this goal without help because I couldn't understand what was on the page no matter how often I re-read it. 

Enter my life saver. Audible.com. No kidding. Last year I was able to read 75 books. Most people don't call listening to an audiobook, reading. And I would have to politely disagree. Being able to listen to audiobooks has opened countless doors for me (more on that to come). 

If you're new to Audible, check it out. Yes, they now have all the Harry Potter books! Jim Dale is probably the best narrator out there.

See my next post for a list of fantastic audiobook readers.

Jessica Smith
Ideas to Improve Your Reading Experience

I'll get straight to it. Reading should be completely enjoyable. Here are some ideas for you:

  1. If you find a book isn't for you, stop reading. And count it as read. Don't feel guilty. It's not your cup of tea and that is totally fine. 
  2. Watch the movie first. If there is a movie based on your next read, watch it! It helps you know the story. I find when I watch the movie first, I tend to enjoy the movie and the book more. 
  3. Read a summary of the book before you begin. This will help you understand which portions of the storyline are important.
  4. In contrast, relish the feeling of not understanding what's going on in the story. Trust that the author will make it all make sense, just let the story play out.
  5. Try reading out loud. Read aloud to your spouse, child, grandchild, parent or grandparent. Some of my favorite memories with my grandmother include reading to her.
  6. Only pick books that call to you. Have you ever just known a certain book would be one you would love? Trust that! Dive into those books.
  7. This applies particularly to the classics, not only should we enjoy the storylines presented but we should appreciate the language used. It can be confusing, but slow down and savor the descriptions the author gives.

I hope you find these helpful!

Jessica SmithComment
Nourishing the Soul

We truly believe that reading can nourish the soul. Enjoyably we are surrounded by binge-worthy shows and books. This is exciting and fun, but it's important to spend time in the classics. Spend time in books that expand our vision, broaden our vocabulary, magnify the images already conjured in our minds, and satisfy that divine piece in us.

Here at Good Friends Good Books, we will work to recommend books that will spark the divine in you. In addition we will balance this with other enjoyable reads.

If you would like to further understand our philosophy, we'd recommend reviewing this talk given at Brigham Young University in 2012.

Jessica SmithComment