8 Great Questions: Johanna Basford

The whimsical author relishes Little Women and embraces lifelong learning.

Johanna Basford

A fantastic floral adventure that makes a perfect holiday gift, Johanna Basford’s World of Flowers proves why the bestselling author has been named a “colorist queen” by New York magazine. World of Flowers invites you to travel the world and beyond into fantastical realms, discovering exotic blooms along the way. From floating gardens of water poppies in South Africa to delicate cosmos in Japan, and from fanciful toadstools to enchanted fairytale gardens, an abundance of fascinating florals awaits, ready for you to bring to life in color.

Recently, Johanna spoke with Read It Forward to unspool everything from her love of Alice in Wonderland’s nonsensical brilliance to how she’ll always stump for old school handcrafted words.

What’s the book on your bedside table?

I’m halfway through Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. However, I usually have around 4 books on my bedside table as I don’t have the attention span to stick with one title. I have one fiction and the rest are nonfiction (I dip in and out of the nonfiction ones). At the moment there is: The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie, and Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Rose.

What’s the one book you tell everyone to read?

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. Brutally honest, incredibly inspiring.

Name three characters from literature or authors (dead or alive) that you’d want in your ideal book club?

Jo from Little Women (my Gran’s favourite character from her favourite book), JK Rowling, and Oliver Jeffers.

What word do you love and why? What word do you hate and why?

Inky – it’s handcrafted, tactile and slightly imperfect. It makes me think of smudgy fingerprints, tactile materials and a good blast of analogue creativity. Hate - Each time I catch myself saying, ‘I hate such and such,’ I stop and think, do I really HATE that? Or do I just dislike it? It’s such a dark word, yet we use it so readily. The world needs less hate.

What’s the one book you love to give as a gift and to whom do you give it?

Here We Are, Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers. I give this book to every newborn baby in my circle of friends and family. It has such a heartwarming, relevant message and is beautifully illustrated.

What’s the one book you read as a kid that has stuck with you?

Alice in Wonderland. I love the weirdness, the nonsense and the brilliance.

What’s the one book that never fails to delight or inspire you?

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, Paul Arden

If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Self Improvement. I very much see myself as a work in progress and I love to learn and develop. I like that we’ll never be ‘complete’, that each new chapter of life brings different challenges and obstacles, so there’s always something to learn. Just now, parenting infants and better ways of managing the work / life balance are what I’m interested in. I suspect Education and Child Psychology are next on the list!

Johanna Basford is an illustrator and ink evangelist who prefers pens and pencils to pixels. Her intricate, hand-drawn illustrations are loved the world over by those who have colored in (sometimes more than once) her bestselling books Johanna’s Christmas, Magical Jungle, Lost Ocean, Secret Garden, and Enchanted Forest
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