The best fashion, art and science books

Who am I?

I am a somewhat eclectic personality, who has studied both arts (fashion, illustration) and sciences (geology, chemistry) alike. I hope that in the book choices I have made - using my love of words, appreciation of fine books, and natural discernment - the reader will find a degree of excellence; as well as surprise and delight, at the discovery of titles they may not even have thought of! 


I wrote...

Drawing and Painting Plants

By Christina Brodie,

Book cover of Drawing and Painting Plants

What is my book about?

Drawing and Painting Plants is a botanically based (as opposed to free-form drawing) manual on how to paint a vast range of plants in watercolour and other media. Various techniques are explained in clear steps, which enables the reader to draw and paint flowers, fruit, leaves, trees, grasses, and more.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Jewelry: Concepts and Technology

Christina Brodie Why did I love this book?

This is a book I have in my library because of its sheer virtuosity, and because it is such a mine of information about its subject. From what I gather, it took the author around a decade to write, and is applicable to the beginning jeweller, as well as to the seasoned diamond-cutter, or goldsmith. 

I like to have this book around, and reasonably close to me at all times, because it reminds me of what I ought to be. I sit my laptop on it, because the thickness of it (hardback, at over 800 pages) offers a comfortable height for my typing experience. Maybe one day - when I have the time, and the space - I will read it, from cover to cover, and digest it in all of its breathtaking detail. If, like me, you are a curious mix of art/chemistry/geology nerd, then this book is for you. You will also enjoy the study of different cultures.

By Oppi Untracht,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jewelry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The definitive reference for jewelry makers of all levels of ability--a complete, profusely illustrated guide to design, materials, and techniques, as well as a fascinating exploration of jewelry-making throughout history.


Book cover of Collecting Fluorescent Minerals

Christina Brodie Why did I love this book?

This book has been criticized for not including enough different locations of fluorescent minerals (which, here, are centred mainly around North America and Greenland), but personally, I think it is enough to make a start - it all depends where we are on, in our journey! 

Myself, I’m most stunned by the amazing photographs, which occupy a large portion of the book - showing various minerals under UV light (which, incidentally, is not the “UV light” that we know from parties) in a completely different context. This world is all around us, and yet most of us make no attempt to even know it. Has anyone done tours of underground caves under these lighting conditions, yet? And, if not, why not?

By Stuart Schneider,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collecting Fluorescent Minerals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seeing fluorescent minerals up close for the first time is an exciting experience. The colors are so pure and the glow is so seemingly unnatural, that it is hard to believe they are natural rocks. Hundreds of glowing minerals are shown, including Aragonite, Celestine, Feldspar, Microcline, Picropharmacolite, Quartz, Spinel, Smithsonite, plus many more. But don't let the hard-to-pronounce names keep you away. Over 870 beautiful color photographs illustrate how fluorescent minerals look under UV light and in daylight, making this an invaluable field guide. Here are minerals from the United States, including mines in New Jersey, New York, Arizona, and…


Book cover of Natural Art Forms

Christina Brodie Why did I love this book?

If Ernst Haeckel was the go-to microscopic illustrator of his time, then Karl Blossfeldt led the way, in early photomicrography. His beautiful, natural, black-and-white photographs are magnified only but a few times, but yet capture, in the sharpest of detail, that which we would not normally see. 

On researching this man a little more, I was interested to note that he (like myself) was also invested in inspiring artists to greater work; and that he believed that there was some benefit to be had, in appreciating the beauty of botanical life-forms. I would say, he had a point; it certainly didn’t do me, any harm, on my trek through the long journey that is art!

By Karl Blossfeldt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Natural Art Forms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using innovative techniques, photographer Blossfeldt produced arresting images of seed pods, buds, stems, and other botanical items. This spectacular collection features scores of his remarkable photographs of plant life, offering artists and craftspeople a treasury of royalty-free pictures and design inspirations. 120 full-page black-and-white plates.


Book cover of Common Families of Flowering Plants

Christina Brodie Why did I love this book?

I had the great pleasure of meeting Michael Hickey at one of the RHS shows in London, at which I was exhibiting some of my botanical art; a thoroughly nice man, who sadly died soon after. I also met the personable and talented Coral Guest, the creator of the most exquisite botanical paintings, at the same show!

This is an excellent introduction to plant families for the beginner in botanical painting, focusing on 25 core plant families. It leaves out some of the technical botanical detail which would probably be included on an undergraduate botany course, but which would be confusing for the botanical painter who simply wanted to illustrate. It is clearly laid out, written, and illustrated; a must for plant artists, would-be botanists, and even medical herbalists - everywhere!

By Michael Hickey, Clive King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Common Families of Flowering Plants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides a basic introduction to twenty five commonly occurring families of flowering plants, chosen for their economic, ornamental and ecological importance. It is designed to enable students of botany and related disciplines to gain some knowledge of the general characteristics of each family and also the relationships between them. An introductory section provides basic botanical information which is often assumed to be known and which is essential for a proper consideration of the families themselves. These are described in the second section of the book. For each family, information on its distribution, classification, general features and economic importance precedes a…


Book cover of Erté Graphics

Christina Brodie Why did I love this book?

Dover (one of my favourite publishers) has the knack of knowing good art when they see it. This is one of my favourite books, slimline though it happens to be - showing the genius imagination, and fashion illustration, of “RT (his real initials)” at its most luscious. 

We’re treated to: the alphabet; numbers; playing cards; gems; and The Seasons - albeit, not in the forms you might think - but in the glorious, arresting, Art-Nouveau style that was Erte’s trademark. A feast for the eyes, and above all - just the sort of fun we need, to motivate us, in this day and age!

By Erté,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Erté Graphics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian-born, Paris-bred artist Erté (Romain de Tirtoff) is recognized as one of the foremost fashion and theatrical designers of the twentieth century. In 1968, when he produced his first lithographs, art lovers discovered that he had found another medium suited to his extraordinary talents.
This volume provides a fascinating sample of Erté's very best graphic work, offering every plate from his most popular collections: The Alphabet (1977); The Numerals (1968); The Aces (1974); The Precious Stones (1969); and The Seasons (1970).
Each plate has been painstakingly reproduced from the autographed, limited-edition lithographs. A brief Preface offers bibliographic data.


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Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

By Sharman Apt Russell,

Book cover of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

Sharman Apt Russell Author Of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Explorer Runner Mother

Sharman's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Citizen Scientist begins with this extraordinary statement by the Keeper of Entomology at the London Museum of Natural History, “Study any obscure insect for a week and you will then know more than anyone else on the planet.”

As the author chases the obscure Western red-bellied tiger beetle across New Mexico, where she lives, she explores a dozen other citizen science programs with lyrical prose, humor, and a profound sense of connection to place. Diary of a Citizen Scientist celebrates a renewed optimism in the mysteries of the world and a renewed faith in how ordinary people can contribute to science and environmental activism.

Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

By Sharman Apt Russell,

What is this book about?

A critically acclaimed nature writer explores the citizen scientist movement through the lens of entomological field research in the American Southwest.

Award-winning nature writer Sharman Apt Russell felt pressed by the current environmental crisis to pick up her pen yet again. Encouraged by the phenomenon of citizen science, she decided to turn her attention to the Western red-bellied tiger beetle, an insect found widely around the world and near her home in the Gila River Valley of New Mexico.

In a lyrical, often humorous voice, Russell shares her journey across a wild, rural landscape tracking this little-known species, an insect…


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