Smart Thinking Books

Interview with Owen Davey, author of Obsessive About Octopuses

Interview with Owen Davey, author of Obsessive About Octopuses.

Owen Davey, author of Obsessive About Octopuses this week recommends some fascinating books! Before jumping into the interview, please check out Owen's book Obsessive About Octopuses:


Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?

I'm not really sure if this counts, and it's definitely not cerebral in any way, but I've been really enjoying the Star Wars visual dictionaries. Don't worry, I'm fully aware that Star Wars is a fictional world with fictional narratives, but what I like about them is that they really break down everything visual you see in the movies with backstories of small insignificant-seeming objects or garments, and a real exploration of the work that has gone into these epics. I love attention to detail and looking at the design elements. It can prove useful in inspiring my own work too, as I am primarily an illustrator.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary

Pablo Hidalgo

Review from Book Depository: Go beyond Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with this definitive guide. Produced in close collaboration with Lucasfilm and written by Star Wars insider Pablo Hidalgo, this 200-page book is packed with incredible detail. Pore over more than 600 images, five stunning original cross-section artworks and behind-the-scenes photography in this must-have companion.

Uncover the inner workings of the treadable and the secrets of Rey's Jedi library. Discover the Sith fortress world of Exegol and the treasures of droidsmith Babu Frik. Examine the brutal weaponry of the Knights of Ren and the ingenious garb of the Orbak riders. Meet the most notorious criminals of Kijimi and the sociable Aki-Aki on Pasaana. Study the intricate reforging of Kylo Ren's helmet and the menacing armor of the Sith troopers.

Buy On:

Book Depository €16.25 Waterstones £25.00

(All links earn commission from purchases. Prices accurate at time of writing)

Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?

I've recently been sent I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast by Michael Holland FLS and Philip Giordano and I love it. I'm a sucker for stylisation within non-fiction books because most of us are surrounded by the internet anyway, so if we want to look up what an animal looks like in real life, we can go see a video or beautiful photos. What books like this do, is simplify stuff down to make it easier to understand, and add some character and fun to things. Big fan of this book.

I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast

I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast

Michael Holland FLS, Philip Giordano

Review From Book Depository: From expert ecologist and educator Michael Holland, this illustrated compendium celebrates the plants in your life, from minty toothpaste to the floral names in your classroom. This comprehensive guide covers everything from the parts of a plant through to conservation, and also features DIY projects for young gardeners.

Buy On:

Book Depository €13.75 Waterstones £14.99

(All links earn commission from purchases. Prices accurate at time of writing)

Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?

Not really, I just loved a bunch of stuff. One that keeps coming back to me is Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are because of his clever use of framing of his images. As you go through the book, the images become larger on the page until you're fully immersed in Max's world and the anger he feels. As he calms down and gets homesick, returning back to the regular world, the framing closes in again and you get a sense of reflection on what has happened. Some distance. It's really clever, and although I probably didn't pick up on any of that as a kid, it definitely engaged me, and I appreciate it all the more now.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak

Review From Book Depository: When Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief, his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without any supper. Alone in his room, Max enters a magical world and sets sail across the sea to the place where the wild things are. The wild things roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth and roll their terrible eyes and show their terrible claws . . .

But Max tames the wild things and is made their king. Will he ever want to go home?

Buy On:

Book Depository €12.21 Waterstones £6.99 Wordery $8.62

(All links earn commission from purchases that help fund this site. Prices accurate at time of writing)

Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?

Paper. Definitely. But audiobooks are what I use more, because they're easier to find time for. You can do other things with audiobooks. I don't mind using a Kindle on holiday or something though, but there's nothing quite like the page turn of a real book.

Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?

I have two favourites I think and they are both bookshops for kids. In the UK, there's a bookshop in Bristol called Storysmith that is small but absolutely delightful. I hosted a workshop there once and the owners are really friendly and enthusiastic, plus I spent a pretty long time looking at all the books they had on offer. There's also a great bookshop in Berlin called Krumulus which I had an exhibition in and again, hosted a workshop. They have such a great setup. An interactive gallery space, loads of amazing books, and a workshop room in the cellar. They have so many amazing events there and great taste in what they stock.


Huge thanks to Owen for answering my questions and for such interesting recommendations!
Please don't forget to check out his book Obsessive About Octopuses.

Image Copyrights: Dorling Kindersley Ltd (Star Wars Visual Dictionary), Flying Eye Books (Obsessive About Octopuses, I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast), Random House Children's Publishers UK (Where The Wild Things Are)

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