Category Archives: Book Review

3 Books to Boost Your Creative Motivation

Do you like to read?

I have friends who are constantly reading multiple books at any given time – I’m not one of them 😀 I would get so confused if I did that!!

But, I do like to read for fun and also read books that are related to business and creativity (which is also fun for me!)

If you’re looking for motivational, cure-your-self-doubt books for your creative practice, I highly recommend these 3 books!

They’re all pretty easy to read and offer lots of practical and actionable tips.

1. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist, available here.

I’ve heard of this book recommended for artists for a long time but just picked it up a few months ago and loved it!

I loved Austin’s drawings and encouraging messages throughout the book.

Especially this piece in the picture above spoke to me when I was feeling my work was all over the place (I’m interested in making art in different medium and styles etc. Who isn’t??) and feeling insecure about it.

I’d also been intentionally avoiding watching tutorials of artists whom I admired (and I thought our work had similar vibes) because I was afraid I’d unintentionally copy their work.

But after reading the part about human hands not being able to copy something with 100% accuracy, I felt better about it and totally let go.

Now I watch whatever classes I want from whomever and learn something useful without “stealing” their work. After all, I can only make work that looks like mine. It was liberating!!

2. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic, available here.

I may be an anomaly, but I didn’t know about Elizabeth Gilbert until last month 😀

I’d never read Eat Pray Love or watched the movie. Somehow I never came across her work until I watched her interview with Marie Forleo on this episode of Marie TV. 

I was actually listening to the podcast version of the show while I was on my afternoon walk, but it was SO GOOD I had to stop and post the screenshot to my Instagram Stories 🙂

Her advice for nurturing creativity while living with fear was so spot-on. I also really appreciated her sense of humor 😀

As soon as I got home, immediately ordered her book on Amazon and devoured it.

I always find it encouraging to hear that someone as successful as Liz wasn’t always so successful – reading about how she had series of day jobs and received hundreds of rejection letters for many years before she could make a full-time income from writing reminded me that I need to be patient and keep making art and putting it out there even if I don’t see the desired outcomes, like, right NOW!


BTW, I started reading Eat Pray Love after I finished The Big Magic. It’s good 🙂

3. The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

The Crossroads of Should and Must, available here.

My dear friend gave me this book back in 2015 while I was contemplating whether or not to quit my job to pursue art full-time.

I had so many questions – mostly out of fear – about making a transition from my regular job to being a working artist.

What if I fail? What if I don’t make enough money? What if Dave loses his job? Do I have what it takes? What if I lose my passion??

This book addresses many of those scary questions and offers helpful tips for finding your passion and following them in a way that makes sense to you.  Elle helps you to become more confident with your voice, making time for your creativity, getting over your fear, and much, much more in a compassionate and encouraging manner.

Just reading the first couple of chapters about Elle’s own transition from a well-paying job to being an artist helped center me while I was going through the big changes in my life.

My situation was different than hers, but it was encouraging to know that it is possible.

Of course, I loved all the art and lettering! When I got the book, I paged through quickly to see all the art first 🙂 Do you do that, too?

If you read any of these books, let me know what you think! Do share in the comment if you have other recommendations!


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p.s. I’m going to be on my sabbatical week, so no new blog post next Sunday! See you in a couple of weeks 🙂

A Book Review: The Joy of Swimming by Lisa Congdon

The-swimming-book_Lisa Congdon

Lisa Congdon is an artist, illustrator, and an author I admire SO much. She’s one of my art heroes not just because her art is so amazingly beautiful but also her way of being in the world – hardworking, honest, compassionate, and always challenging herself creatively – resonates with me so deeply.

I’m so honored to be contributing this review for her latest book The Joy of Swimming today!  It’s due to be released a week from today on April 19 from Chronicle Books.

In this book, Lisa shares in depth about her passion for swimming and her love of being in the water. Lisa fell in love with swimming as a child and has been a lifelong avid swimmer herself. She has swum competitively for many years with very impressive achievements I might add!

While she was working on the book, I was catching the glimpse of her work on her Instagram feed and grew very curious about her path as a swimmer. Since I started following her work a couple of years ago, I’ve gotten to know more about her life as an artist. Naturally as an artist myself, there is so much I can relate to and learn from.

But it’s always so fascinating to learn more about the person I admire and learn what else drives them and gives them the strength and inspiration.

So, I was very excited when I received my copy in the mail! I took it out of the mailer and immediately noticed the beauty and the details of the book itself. I don’t know about you, but I do judge the book by its cover! All the time. A beautifully designed cover can add so much to the reading experience, don’t you think?

Lisa’s illustration and hand lettering on the cover drew me in right away. I had to just admire it for a couple of minutes before I dove in (pun so intended!) to the contents.

Love the beautiful details on the cover of The Joy of Swimming!
Love the beautiful details on the cover of The Joy of Swimming!

The highly saturated colors and the simple, bold design is so eye-cathing. It’s also textured with a slightly raised pattern, so you get the added sensory experience while you hold the book in your hands. Swoon!

Once you open the book, you’ll be overwhelmed by the charming watercolor portraits of the swimmers, along with the beautifully photographed collections of vintage swimming paraphernalia, Lisa’s hand-drawn infographics about swimming history around the world, illustrations of vintage swim gears, and encouraging handlettered quotes about swimming.

Love all of the quotes in this book <3
Loved all of the quotes in this book ❤
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” – William Faulkner
Some Dogs Who Are Great Swimmers ❤
Loved this spread on
Loved this spread on Women’s Bathing Suits Over the 20th Century

Of course, the majority of this book is filled with fascinating stories of swimmers, from world-famous to everyday.  And each swimmer’s story is accompanied by a beautiful watercolor portrait Lisa created, which adds so much warmth and personality.

This page featuring
This page featuring an 88-year-old Charlotte Jilleba, who has been a lifelong swimmer and still swims laps 3 days a week!

When you’re reading the profile of each one of the swimmers, you’re not just learning about swimming – you’re learning how ordinary people from all walks of life find who they are and become empowered to achieve their full potential both physically and mentally.

Many of the swimmers in this book share how the water acts as an equalizer, and I can totally relate to that.

Growing up, I was not very athletic and couldn’t run fast or jump high to save my life and dreaded every P.E. class. Except, I felt somewhat average in the swimming pool. I wasn’t a fast swimmer by any means, but I felt more comfortable moving around in the water and didn’t feel as clumsy or inadequate while swimming. I even looked forward to the P.E. class during the summer because I actually enjoyed swimming!

As an adult, I joined an aquarobics class at a local community pool and worked out in the water for a couple of years after repeated injuries from jogging.

Aquarobics was so much fun! I was able to participate in a vigorous workout without the fear of re-injuring myself. I felt empowered and invigorated every time I worked out in the water.

But more than anything, I appreciated the friendship I made with the ladies in the class. As you might have guessed, aquarobics attract people who have some mobility issues or otherwise unable to do high-impact workout. Naturally, there were mostly older women in the class, and I felt like I gained a bunch of moms and grandmas all of a sudden!

I’ve since transitioned to working out on the dry land, but I still cherish the fond memories of my aquarobics days ❤

I’m so grateful that The Joy of Swimming has reminded me of what I’m capable of and the fun memories I had created in the water.

You can place your pre-order now or purchase the book on Tuesday April 19 on The Joy of Swimming Book website (note: the “Buy the Book” button on the upper right will give you options of where to get your copy.)

Lisa’s also going to be touring with the book! You can check out the schedule here and be sure to go say hi when she visits a bookstore near you 🙂 You can also sign up for her book newsletter here so you won’t miss any updates about the book!

Whether you’re a swimmer or not, The Joy of Swimming will bing you joy, delight, and inspiration for your eyes and the heart ❤


xo Yuko

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