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Unconventional Muses: Book Recommendations

Graphic of one brown eye and a book replacing the other eye with a nose underneath

I've been creatively starved lately and I was replenished (and disturbed) by reading The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock by Edward White and Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art by Susan Napier. I say disturbed because both books discuss how each director was influenced in life and art by World War II, classicism, sexuality, relationships, and more.

The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock dissects the infamous director's life and films into a dozen subcategories/chapters, and the most compelling was The Voyeur, where Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) and the ethics of watching others is discussed at length. Rear Window is my second favorite Hitchcock film after The Birds (1963), and what made The Voyeur chapter so compelling is probably because I'm reading The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday by Rob Walker, and it's all about appropriate(?) voyeurism for the sake of stoking creativity.

If you're a cinemaphile or are curious about what happens behind-the-scenes with creative masters, read this book *and* watch Rear Window.


The first Miyazaki film I ever watched was Princess Mononoke (1997), and I've been a Studio Ghibli fan ever since.

In Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art, the chapters are organized chronologically by the films of Hayao Miyazaki. And each film is discussed in great detail, so I recommend watching few of his films before reading this book.

But what's fascinating is learning that Miyazaki, who's often compared to Walt Disney, had a chaotic upbringing. The book suggests that's why his films are focused on child protagonists: to relive childhood in some way.

Princess Mononoke is definitely Miyazaki's darkest, if not most complex, film to date, and I highly recommend this masterpiece.


Wellness-ish-ness, a blog for creative hot messes, was created by D.A. Navoti. Read his bio and find him on Instagram and Twitter.

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