A Tour of Our Home

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The Artful Parent Tour of Our Home

Dining Room

The Artful Parent Tour of Our Home

View Toward Kitchen and Hallway

The Artful Parent Tour of Our Home

Living Room

The Artful Parent Tour of Our Home

More Living Room

The Artful Parent Tour of Our Home

Art Studio

Why did I do this? Maybe it was just an excuse to play around with adding text to photos. Or maybe it was because our house was somewhat clean and I felt I ought to document it quickly before there were random toys and puzzle pieces scattered about again.

I'm feeling cranky and in need of chocolate and a good book. Unfortunately there is no chocolate in the house and I've read all my books about five times each. I know I've asked for recommendations in the past, but I think I asked on facebook and twitter and I just can't find the lists. I'm in the mood for fiction. Any ideas for me?

By the way, is there some tool somewhere that uses your favorite book titles to recommend other similar books? I mean, other than Amazon lists and genius librarians?

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  1. says

    Are you familiar with Goodreads.com? I’ve been tracking what I read there for about a year and I love it. Just now I thought, “what was that delicious book I read at the end of last year that I should recommend?” and then I clicked over to goodreads and now remember that it was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
    Based on what you have on your “book shelf” it makes recommendations for you. . .which I haven’t explored, but it’s like how Netflix recommends movies for you based on what you’ve liked in the past. You can link up with friends to see what they like too. TOTALLY RAD.
    Other recommendations: A Visit from the Goon Squad, Sara’s Key.

  2. says

    maybe goodreads?
    i have been absolutely loving the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. they are a little bit cozy…and i think maybe even people who normally don’t like mysteries would like them because they are an interesting window in the post WWI era and also a little deeper than some mysteries.
    read stephen king’s latest book 11-22-63, which was an absolute page turner. and mind bender. and not gory like his books can be. at least for the most part. i did have to skip over about two pages. :) anyway, was surprised to like that one.
    have you already read the hunger games series? if not, you should.
    so, what kind of books do you normally like?

  3. Renee B. says

    Hunger Games series, The Lovely Bones, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Kite Runner, The Time Traveler’s Wife…I’m kind of a bookie if you can’t tell, lol.

  4. Genevieve says

    This librarian says thanks for the shout-out! Goodreads has really done a good job with their new recommendations (and I can’t wait to use it for my daughter so she can track every chapter book from the beginning of her reading… library geek.) Your library may also subscribe to some online tools like Novelist, also possibly giving you remote access through their website. You can try gnooks.com – put in an author you like and get suggestions for similar ones. I have no idea what types of books you usually like, so while I don’t normally just suggest what I dug lately, I’m gonna: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. Cheers!

  5. says

    I love your house Jean, homey and warm. (And my favorite pic is Daphne climbing up the back of the ladder — Adelaide would totally do that!) I haven’t read much fiction in a long time but I just finished Hunger Games and am starting the second book. I know I’m probably 10 years behind but I liked it! I have signed up for goodreads but it is another thing for me to keep track of. Based on your readers comments I should go back and take a second look though!

  6. T. Beard says

    Try Bookmarks magazine – I always find something of interest in each issue. As for books, I recommend:
    The Life of Gemma Hardy (a modern take on Jane Eyre)
    The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (teen fiction)
    The Gift of An Ordinary Day (not fiction but very meaningful for Moms)
    The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
    Cinder by Marissa Meyer
    All are relatively new books but were available in our local library

  7. Lisa says

    I’ll second (third?) Goodreads for excellent suggestions, and offer a few of my favorites. One of my favorite books of all time is called Pieces of My Sister’s Life by Elizabeth Arnold, about estranged twins and the secrets of their past. Her latest is also one of my favorites (can’t remember the title, something with the word Friend…) Also adored The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (also about twins) and A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helpern which is pretty much impossible to summarize since it’s so dense, but it truly takes you away. Good luck finding books and chocolate!

  8. Amy says

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. Nice, light read, and it’s not hard to put down or pick back up.

  9. says

    Love, love, love the pictures. I find them incredibly inspiring. As for books – I cannot recommend Hunger Games highly enough. Also really liked Visit From the Goon Squad. It’s fun reading everyone’s recommendations :-)

  10. says

    I’ll fifth/sixth/seventh goodreads as a great website and recommend Emma Donoghue’s amazing book ROOM, about a 5 year old boy who has spent his entire life incarcerated in a room with his mother. It’s written from his perspective and I know it sounds grim, but it’s not at all sentimental or creepy, and is actually quite luminous and lovely and is really about mothering writ large, not just a freaky scenario. Can’t recommend this book enough, I LOVED IT.

  11. says

    I was going to suggest Novelist as well (I’m a librarian, too). Am sure I know other sites, and will try to think of ideas tomorrow when I’m not fighting with toddlers who are fighting Daylight Savings Time with all their might.
    I don’t have time to read much lately but just finished In the Woods by Tana French and the second book after that one (The Likeness, maybe?). Liked the first one but not the main character so much; LOVED the second one because it focuses on the other main character from the first book that I did like. That would make more sense if I wasn’t so tired…we’re listing our house and I’ve been packing and cleaning for days…
    Love the pics of your house. Thanks for sharing.

  12. says

    Yes, The 13th Tale was awesome! Time Traveller’s Wife, A Fine Balance (OH YES!!), Life of Pi, Fall on your Knees (Oh my GOODNESS!), Tom Bedlam, Friends of Meager Fortune, In the Fall, After River… Oh boy, I could go on and on. I use weRead (a facebook app) to keep track of all my reads and to rate them. They make recommendations as well 25 at a time. Your friends can see your reads (handy for when someone asks you if you’ve read a good book lately).
    Love your home and all the artistic stations you have set up!

  13. Ann says

    I just made the pyramid beanbags today with my 4 year old. He even learned how to use the sewing machine! It was a fun project.
    On the book subject, I just finished Anne of Green Gables and loved it! I can’t believe I’ve never read it.

  14. Jacqueline says

    Thanks so much for sharing these pictures – I love to see how other people have organised their homes for their children.
    I recommend all books by Robin Hobb (she writes fantasy, but she’s the best author I’ve ever read).

  15. says

    Thanks, everyone!! I just wrote down all these books you’re recommending and will see what the library has tomorrow. I’ve read some of them already, but not most. Can’t wait! Thank you!!
    Keep adding your recommendations! I’ll write ‘em down this time and keep the list. :)

  16. says

    Oooh I just love to have a sneak peek into people’s homes… and especially to see how they arrange their play spaces!
    We are in the middle of renovating so I am dreaming up all the ways we will use our new space and this post has been inspiring!
    As for books… I have rediscovered lots of young reader fiction that my girls are now reading, that I read as a child… Little House in the Prairie, and some new books by our favorite Australian author Isobelle Carmody.

  17. says

    Oh! I just tried gnooks.com. So fun! It asked for three favorite authors (Haruki Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, and Barbara Kingsolver) and based on those it recommended I read Isabel Allende. I haven’t read anything by her yet, but have been meaning to. Then, when I switched out Kingsolver for Muriel Barbery, another fave author, just to see how it would affect the results, it gave me Herta Muller, an author I’ve never heard of. And then I just kept playing around with different authors (Ann Patchett, Peter Hoeg, Philip Pullman, Stieg Larsson, etc). Fun, fun!!

  18. says

    I almost started that book recently, but couldn’t get beyond the premise of the book which just creeped me out too much. Maybe I’ll have to give it another try…

  19. says

    barbara kingsolver is my favorite, too. just read “cutting for stone” and loved it. as for a classic, have you read “les miserables”? i’m reading “a visit from the goon squad” now, and really enjoying it!

  20. Padma says

    The Help & Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet were also very good Jean. Have you read any of E.L. Konigsburg books? They are in the YA genre, but fabulous reads. My favorite are: The View from Saturday, From the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankWeiler & The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place. Happy reading! Love your home pics.

  21. says

    I’m making notes on this thread – have just finished a good book (Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch), so am in need of something totally different but just as gripping!
    Have you read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier? I wonder if I thought of this because of your daughter’s name or because I just watched the film version a couple of days ago, and thought it might be time to re-read this classic again…
    By the way – how DO you get your text onto your photos? I’ve seen a few people doing this on their blogs now – and I like it. But I’ve no idea how to try it.

  22. says

    Our book club is reading Hunting and Gathering by Anna Galvada. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It’s about not having family, and a group of people hunting and gathering their own. Some of my favourite books of all time: The bachelor brothers bed and breakfast by Bill Richardson, A trip around Lake Huron by David McFadden, anything by Carol Shields, who I consider my literary mother, A very Canadian selection of books, but I guess that is expected from a Canadian!

  23. says

    A Visit from the Goon Squad, fun and fascinating novel. Have you ever read The Corrections, an oldie but a great one. I just read my first Cormac McCarthy novel, and he is a genius. Also, T.C. Boyle has so many great novels. My fave is The Women, a historical novel about Frank Lloyd Wright. Or, for a classic, have you ever read Beloved by Toni Morrison? One of the best ever.
    I’ve read one by Isabel Allende, Paula, which was amazing–but its memoir, not fiction. Speaking of memoir/non-fiction that fiction junkies can love, have you read Tracy Kidder: Mountains Beyond Mountains (a MUST read), My Detachment (one of the best memoirs I have read) or Strength in What Remains? Oh, and What is the What by Dave Eggers, so good. Also, if you want something light, Tina Fey’s Bossypants was great. I’m not at all into celebrity memoirs, and I loved it.

  24. Rose says

    just did a page search to see if anyone had suggested The Book Thief yet, as it is one of the best books I have read – for me it was one of those “get beyond the premise” ones”, but I’m so glad I did because it is the first thing I’ve read in a long time that made me fall in love with the English language again (though it’s written by an Austrailian:)

  25. Rose says

    I’ve discovered that a good genre for me is “the travel memoir.” It reads like fiction with lots of personal stories and characters, but it’s very real-world educational with geography, history, art and culture all roped in. Marry that with a good writer and it’s awesome! Here are two I would recommend – both are informative and absolutely hilarious. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost. Both are good late winter reads to carry you away to warmth and sunshine (and lots of laughing)!

  26. says

    Yes! Goodreads! I don’t read but I find it so helpful for finding chapter book recommendations for my son.
    Given that I am not a reader, I cannot offer any book recommendations. However, I am devoting today to reorganizing our art/craft areas in preparation for the spring/summer art season and wanted to let you know how helpful your site is. I look elsewhere but always return here. I am finding good ideas today for my third child (age 2) who I realize I have been shoeing away from the older kids’ art-making too much. I am also finding new art projects to try with my older kids (e.g. contact paper collage).

  27. april says

    there is a site called what should I read next? You just type in the last book that you read and it will give book suggestions.

  28. says

    Recently read On the Dark Sea of Darkness and its sequel and loved them. Another is on the way later this year, I think.

  29. Diane says

    How about Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’m currently reading her newest book, State of Wonder, and it’s great so far.

  30. says

    Wow I love this…thanks you for sharing. I enjoy seeing how people organize their houses for children too. It is always great to peek in and get some ideas for your own home. I love how you added the text to your pictures, what program or tool did you use?

  31. Ann says

    I just went back to Willa Cather. This time read One of Ours and would recommend it. Sometimes I like browsing for some classics.

  32. Elizabeth says

    I have just started following your blog and I am very glad I have! Fantastic!
    I am so going to read Haruki Murakami A Wild Sheep Chase. Call me shallow, but not least, because
    he has cats walking about on his page at Random House!
    I have just read The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage, which I was unable to put down so became nocturnal, and Laura’s Handmade Life by Amanda Addison which is charming.

  33. says

    Thanks for sharing this. It shows how our apartment could potentially look if I took the time to organize some of the clutter. Great blog by the way, i am a followe

  34. Tracy Rose says

    Lovely pics, Jean! If you can abide by fantasy, I’d recommend Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale (for flat-out beautiful writing) and Little, Big by John Crowley (for its cockeyed dreaminess). I’m going to check out goodreads, too!

  35. noelle says

    absolutely must read HABIBI by naomi nye and HOMELESS BIRD by gloria whelan. they are adolescent literature (target 6th grade) but they are so wonderful. great way to introduce new cultures to that age group but reads that can captivate an adult. every person i’ve ever recommended this to has fallen in love with the books. also, BLOOD BROTHERS by elias chacour. a fascinating and captivating book that will introduce a side of conflict in the holy land that most people don’t even realize is there…not cause they’re stupid but just cause the whole thing over there is so complicated. a wonderful book that will show a different side. while it sounds like a deep book it is an easier read. and everyone who reads this book falls in love with it. this is a true story but i had to recommend even though it wasn’t fiction cause i just think everyone’s gotta read it.
    thanks for the tour of your house. love your blog and wonderful ideas!
    look them up….hope you like them.

  36. says

    Yes – From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Franweiler is one of my all time favorites! I think it may be what inspired me to work at a museum. :)

  37. Alea says

    Not that it would suggest books – but have you heard of paperbackswap.com? You can trade books for new ones and only pay shipping when someone requests one of your books. So if you actually want to give up those books you’ve read 5 times . . .
    I’ve also been meaning to ask you – does you chalkboard wall cause dust issues? I’m considering it for our house, but I’m afraid it’ll be a mess.

  38. T. Beard says

    Thanks for asking for book/source recommendations. I know this was for your benefit, but I’ve gained some interesting sources and book ideas from reading through these comments. And I really appreciate what you share through your website. I have saved those posts/ideas I think would interest my son and we are going to play with them this summer when he is out of preschool. I am so looking forward to it!

  39. says

    There are a few (or maybe many?) programs that allow you to put text on photos. I used Photoshop Elements this time, but have used different ones in the past including such as Picnik, which is free.

  40. says

    There is some chalk dust from the chalkboard wall, but it’s not a big deal for us. It accumulates a little right underneath it, but we can sweep/vacuum/wipe it up easily.
    I’ll have to look into paperbackswap. Thanks.

  41. Kate says

    Anything by Carl Hiaasen. I especially liked Star Island, but all of his books are hilarious.

  42. stacey says

    i was going to add more, but you’ve gotten a HUGE response! i will just add that my library’s site also uses What should I read next? service. And I “think” it allows you to search by author, genre, setting, time period, etc. Good luck and good reading!

  43. Lj says

    Anything published by new york review of books – but i love love “the fountain overflows”, “we always treat the women too well”, the dud avocado- amazing all. Of them. And i just finished “for the relief of unbearable urges” – unbelievable. And lydia davis’s collected stories is alao wondeful. Enjoy!

  44. Heather says

    You should read The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It is a young adult novel with amazing pictures. There is a movie of the book (Hugo) out now. I haven’t seen that, but the book was amazing! I think you would like it. I am currently reading The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. I somehow missed reading it years ago. I am not to the end, but I have really enjoyed it.

  45. Nichole says

    Thanks everyone for mentioning Goodreads – I think I have found another way to lose time after Pinterest! Finally picked up The Hunger Games and was pleasantly surprised. Less than a week later I’m about to finish Mockingjay…