Art, Books, Learning, Reviews

Book Review: Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle

Title: Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle: Illustrated Advice from Masters of Creativityzenpencils
Creator: Gavin Aung Than
Paperback: 148 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (January 16, 2018)
Category: Non-fiction

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Book Description:

Gavin Aung Than, creator of the innovative Zen Pencils, shares his passion for creativity and reveals how you, too, can live a creative life.

Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle is a call to wake up the creative spirit inside you. Through Zen Pencils cartoon quotes on creativity from inspirational artists, musicians, writers, and scientists, you’ll discover what inspired each of the subjects to reach the full potential of their creativity. In each comic, the speaker of the quote is the character in the story. Imagine cartoon versions of Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie,  and Vincent van Gogh revealing the spark that ignited them to achieve their dreams!

My Thoughts on Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle:

I discovered Gavin Aung Than through one of the other books in the Zen Pencils series: Zen Pencils – Inspirational Quotes for Kids. When you read that review, you will know how glad I was to discover this talented creative. This book simply increased that gladness!

Gavin includes personalities from all walks of life and from all over the world. There are people from the past and the present in this collection. He brilliantly illustrates both their struggles and their ultimate successes, showing that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. He provides little known facts about them through details in his drawings and the words. Gavin uses both biographical and autobiographical sketches of these creative greats to illustrate this point (from what I gleaned after reading this brilliant book) –

You Can Do It if You Can Dream It, You Just Need to Act and Keep At It, No Matter the Odds.

While the message and many of these stories might be familiar, it is Gavin’s presentation and the little details that he includes that make this book truly wonderful.

Sometimes, it is the inspirational, like the story ‘The Eternal Struggle’ that superbly illustrates Brene Brown’s brilliant words: “There is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity, and people who don’t.”

Zen Pencils Creative Struggle Brene Brown
Image Courtesy: Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle

At others, it is artfully portrayed quirks:

Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle Frida
Image Courtesy: Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle

And at yet other times, something that truly needs to be said OUT LOUD. And this is a lesson I am relearning and trying to inculcate in my kids, oh so much. The story behind this image below is Akira Kurosawa’s quote on note-taking and how it helps.

Kurosawa Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle
Image Courtesy: Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle

One additional point to note:

And I would be remiss if I did not mention that one of the best pieces of inspirational advice for me came from Gavin himself – also included in the book! Dealing with current-day issues and distractions, and overcoming them makes this particular inclusion so very relevant.

Empower yourself out of your slump with this brilliant Zen Pencils book. Click to tweet.

In Summary:

Zen Pencils: Creative Struggle is a book that will inspire anyone. So gift it to that anyone in your life who needs a shot of inspiration at anytime – you, me, and everyone else – because everyone will benefit from inspiration! This is a great addition to school and home libraries, and a unique way to introduce kids (and adults) to these wonderful personalities.

Side Note: I definitely learned a lot more than I knew before about all the people included in this book. And I feel truly inspired and encouraged to do as Gavin says at the end of the book – put the book down and get to work!!

Rating: A+
Reading Level: 9 years and above (some of the illustrations might be a bit graphic but no more than included in cartoons or comics; still a word of caution for those who might want to read it with the younger audiences to check for themselves)
Reread Level: 5/5

Disclaimer: Thank You #NetGalley for introducing me to Zen Pencils and for the original DRC of this book. The opinions are my own and made by re-reading another copy of the book. 

Buy it from Amazon 

Order it from the Book Depository (for international readers)

Buy it from Target 

Or from Barnes and Noble

Question to You, Dear Reader:

What books have inspired you? Let me know so I can add them to my reading list (it is going to groan, but well!)

Writing this post as a series for the Ultimate Blog Challenge and Write 31 Days.  31 Days, 31 Books! This is for Day Twenty Six, almost a week later (and a whole lot of catching up to do!)

Day 0 Day 1  Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5  Day 6  Day 7 Day 8 Day 9  Day 10 Day 11  Day 12 Day 13   Day 14  Day 15  Day 16  Day 17  Day 18  Day 19 Day 20 Day 21 Day 22  Day 23  Day 24  Day 25



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