By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd 

A hobby is defined as an activity done regularly during leisure time for pleasure. People are quick to share what their hobbies are, but rarely do they devote as much time to them as they would like. In our “hurry-up” world, hobbies are often seen as luxuries when, in fact, they can add a lot to life’s enjoyment. And, how often do you put off learning a new skill like a language, cooking, gardening or some aspect of home repair?

A bright spot during these days of staying closer to home seems to be that we have more spare time. Why not embrace this added gift of time by focusing more attention on the hobbies you enjoy or a new skill you would like to learn? Here are book suggestions in five popular areas that will help hone your hobbies or learn a new skill. Chances are, time focused on something you enjoy or that which makes your life better may be more of a gift to yourself that you could imagine.<


  • Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden by Deborah L. Martin
  • Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space by Derek Fell
  • The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, 2nd Edition: Discover Ed’s High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions: Wide Rows, Organic Methods, Raised Beds, Deep Soil by Edward C. Smith
  • The Ultimate Guide to Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Flowers and Vegetables in Raised Beds for a Successful Garden by Lindsey Pylarinos


  • Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings: Pick up the skills * Put on the paint * Hang up your art Paperback by Mark Daniel Nelson
  • Drawing for the Absolute Beginner: A Clear & Easy Guide to Successful Drawing (Art for the Absolute Beginner) by Mark Willenbrink and Mary Willenbrink
  • The Needlecraft Book by DK Publishing
  • Everyday Watercolor: Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days by Jenna Rainey

Home repair and improvement 

  • Ultimate Guide to Home Repair and Improvement, Updated Edition: Proven Money-Saving Projects; 3,400 Photos & Illustrations (Creative Homeowner) 600 Page Resource with 325 Step-by-Step DIY Projects by Editors of Creative Homeowner
  • Home Maintenance for Dummies by James & Morris Carrey
  • Home Improvement for Dummies by  Gene Hamilton & Katie Hamilton
  • Ortho’s Home Improvement Encyclopedia by Ortho Brooks

Cooking and baking

  • How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
  • Baking Illustrated by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
  • Baking Basics and Beyond: Learn These Simple Techniques and Bake Like a Pro by Pat Sinclair
  • How to Cook for Beginners: An Easy Cookbook for Learning the Basics by Gwyn Novak

Foreign language (please note, the books on learning Spanish are part of a series that offers instruction in other languages as well)

  • Easy Spanish Step-By-Step 1st Edition by Barbara Bregstein
  • The Everything Learning Spanish Book with CD: Speak, Write, and Understand Basic Spanish in No Time by Julie Gutin
  • Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It by Gabriel Wyner
  • Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World by Benny Lewis

Ellen Bryant Lloyd is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue. Please visit and to learn more about Freckles. Ellen writes a blog about her perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She lives in Greensboro with her husband and two children.

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