Wednesday 2 May 2018

Book Review: Craft a Life You Love

My Book Week continues today with a look at Craft a Life You Love: infusing creativity, fun & intention into your everyday by Amy Tan, aka Amy Tangerine.

Amy self-published Craft a Life You Love last year, and this revised and expanded edition has now been published by Abrams Books. This isn't a "how to" craft book or a "grow your creative business!" book, but is instead essentially a self-help book for people with creative hobbies.

It's about how to find the time and motivation to fit more creative projects into your schedule, and how crafting and creativity can enrich our lives and make us happier. Beyond this, Amy (who seems like an incredibly upbeat, positive person) explores ways in which we can take control of our lives to create "a life you love": being more positive, learning to love ourselves (with all our quirks), and focusing on our priorities and goals.


The book is divided into six themed chapters with titles like "Crafting the Soul" and "Crafting Happiness through Habits", then sub-divided into 28 smaller sections. Each section begins with a memoir-like story from Amy's life showing something she's learned, or how she makes use of a certain habit or attitude in her everyday life, and ends with an exercise for you to follow to put the ideas from that section into action.

Most of the exercises involve written prompts for you to think about and respond to, with space for you to write down your responses. For example, there are pages to fill out tracking your daily tasks and how happy they make you, an exercise in rewriting negative thoughts into positive ones, and a list of prompts like "who is someone who gives me tremendous energy and why?" and "what does a perfect day look like?" to get you started on a daily journalling habit.


Early on in the book there's also a "permission slip" to sign (to give yourself permission to take time for your hobby to feed your soul) - Amy really believes in the power of writing stuff down!

Because of the workbook-like nature of this book, I'm not sure if this book would be great value if you're not the sort of person who is actually going to sit down and do the exercises suggested. Reading the book from cover-to-cover (which I did, for this review) without following any of the prompts doesn't take that long and you, naturally, skip a lot of blank pages along the way.


There's some good, practical advice in here, but some of the stuff about "synchronicity" between Amy and the "naturally benevolent" Universe made me raise my eyebrows and make little frowny faces while reading, and there are a few all-caps comments in my notes like "THIS IS NOT A SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE, IT'S JUST A COINCIDENCE!!!". I am honestly not sure that I have ever read a self-help book in my entire life that didn't cause me to have a few raised-eyebrow moments, though! I am quite cynical at heart (or maybe just British???) and I think I just reach a tipping point where the self-help speak gets a bit much and my internal commentary goes a bit shouty.

At the end of the day, this stuff doesn't make the good advice less good, or the practical tips less useful. Craft a Life You Love might have given me a few shouty all-caps moments, but I also wrote a whole bunch of positive notes while reading and have been thinking a lot about some of the advice in the book.

Overall, I think this would be a great book to work through if you have trouble with confidence (not just creative confidence) and struggle to carve out time for your creative hobbies or other things in your life that bring you joy. I'd also recommend it to people who are feeling a bit "stuck" in their lives and daily routines: you don't have to keep feeling that way, and Craft a Life You Love has a lot of simple but useful tips for making small changes in your thinking and your habits to help you live your best life.

Craft a Life You Love: infusing creativity, fun & intention into your everyday is published by Abrams books. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other websites and bookshops.

I received a free review copy of this book from the publishers. Please note that the Amazon and Book Depository links in this blog post are affiliate links, which means if you click through and make a purchase I get a tiny percentage for the referral. It doesn't cost you anything and it helps support my blog.

P.S. Make sure you check out this week's giveaway - click here to read my review of Mandalas to Embroider, and for your chance to win a copy!

Visit my book reviews archive for a look at lots more crafty books! 


Katrin said...

While reading this review, I really had to laugh out loud when I imagined you with your raised eyebrows...because that is exactly what happens to me when I read such books and the good advice goes to, I don't know another way how to say..., wild. So I guess it's not only british, to germans does it happen too ;-)

Unknown said...

Thank you for this review. It made me laugh, was informative, and though I see your point about some of the more hippy comments and sure I will agree with you, it sounds right up my street, and just what I need right now. Have ordered myself a copy. Also love your posts and pics, always feel inspired and happy after them.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Katrin - Glad you enjoyed the review! It's been great hearing from people that it's not just me who reads self-help books with the occasional raised eyebrow :)

Anna - Thank you so much for your comment (and your kind words about my blog!). It's wonderful to hear you've been tempted to try this book, I hope you'll find lots of useful stuff in it xx