If you could only have three books.

grizzlywon

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I know a similar post was on BT, but it's gone, so here goes again.
I think this would be a great post for newbies.
And hopefully save us some time and money.

If we could follow this formula, I think it would be best.

A. How long have you been in Bonsai seriously. ____
B. List your Top three books.
1.
2.
3.
 

Ken Duncan

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I have been studying Bonsai 38 years.
Books:
1) The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees and Landscapes by Yuji Yoshimura

2) Man Lung Artistic Pot Plants by Wu Yee-Sun

3) Bonsai Techniques by John Naka

Ken
 

cquinn

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I have been studying bonsai for 5 yrs.

1.John Naka's Bonsai Technques I
2. John Naka's Bonsai Techniques II
3. Saburo Kato's Forest, Rock Planting, and Ezo Spruce or any article or book that is at all related to Saburo Kato. He was the best, period.
 

rockm

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Been doing bonsai for 15 years:

Nick Lenz' Bonsai From the Wild
Craig Coussin's Bonsai School
Any article or collection of articles from the American Bonsai Society magazine on collecting native US species or care of collected trees.
 

irene_b

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Hehehe Will.

A. How long have you been in Bonsai seriously. 30+
B. List your Top three books.
1. John Naka #1
2. John Naka #2
3. Bonsai by Deborah Koreshoff
I really try not to limit my learning to just 3 books, but have magazines,dvd's as well.
Irene
 

grouper52

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Been enjoying bonsai for 12 years.
Three most influential/inspirational/enjoyable books at this time:
1. Bonsai of East Asia - Can't make out the author's name (Book all in Chinese)
2. Selection of Famous Works of Chinese Miniature Tree and Rock - Ditto
3. A Natural History of Western Trees by Donald Culross Peattie
 

ghues

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A. How long have you been in Bonsai seriously. 3 years = NEWBIE

Read a lot of books from our clubs library and have bought about 6....... of all those I've found the following 3 the most suitable for me at this time.

Art of Natural Bonsai - David Joyce,
Bonsai from the wild - Nick Lenz
Bonsai Workshop - Herb Gustafson. Tied closely with Bonsai by D. Koreshoff

Now........... when does one go from newbie/beginner to intermediate? Maybe I'll have to start a new thread to find out?
Cheers G.
 

reddog

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Just starting fourth year of bonsai.
1. Any of the Kokofu books
2. John Naka I
3. Saburo Kato's Forest, Rock Planting, and Ezo Spruce
 

Rick Moquin

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A. Irrelevant...

B. Bonsai It’s Art, Science, History and Philosophy by Deborah Koreshoff

1. The crown jewel of my collection
Some might disagree with me on this one, but I believe it is, without a doubt, the best-written book on the subject. This book was out of print for quite some time and hence, difficult to find, as a matter of fact because the market demand was so great for a while, used dealers took it upon themselves to make a quick buck, selling used copies at exorbitant prices, the majority of which were paperbacks. After months of surfing the net, I was fortunate enough to acquire a used hardcover copy, in excellent condition for a very good price. The publisher as ordered another print of this magnificent book and it is once again widely available to the public. If history was any indication I would not hesitate in acquiring one before the well runs dry once again.

A short biography
Deborah was born in 1957 into a world of bonsai. Her father, born in Harbin, Manchuria, was also surrounded by bonsai and absorbed the knowledge from the old Chinese gardener who tended them. From infancy, Deborah was exposed to club meetings and lectures/presentations by her parents, and had her own collection from a very early age. By the time she was 14 she was showing remarkable talent, and her first demonstration was given to the Bonsai Society of Australia.

In 1976, her parents’ Bonsai Nursery became the only authorized branch of the Nippon Bonsai-Saikei Art Institute with the authority to issue the Japanese Certificates. In 1978, Deborah became the teacher and since has traveled extensively around Australia. She has been the Education and Program Officer for the Bonsai Society of Australia and is the artist and major contributor for the magazine “Bonsai Australia”

The book starts off with an in depth introduction to the Art of Bonsai and it’s history. I believe describing the origins an important aspect of what we do; it is further my belief that we need to know where we have been in order to know how to proceed. Although the book has the usual pre-requisites, Deborah takes them a step further with, a brief history on the subject at hand, which, offers the reader some perspective and first hand knowledge on how things developed over the centuries. This type of approach in my opinion offers the reader the rationale on why we do things the way we do, far too often this approach is not used, or is to shallow, leaving the reader with more questions than answers.

Deborah’s attention to detail is second to none. The book contains hundreds of illustrations and photographs. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and no truer statement can be said about this book. The graphics are clear and further emphasized with extremely good explanations, which even a novice in the art can make out. Although, I would classify this book as intermediate, it is indeed well suited for any audience from beginner to advanced.

Although, the Nakas are known in the Bonsai World as the “bibles” I have chosen to crown Deborah’s book the same. John Yoshio Naka was one off, if not the founder of Bonsai in North America. His books are his lifelong notes on the subject and are translated from Japanese. The information contained in his books is invaluable. However, because these books were translated from his personal notes, it leaves the reader with many unanswered questions, as I found the detail insufficient at times. Bonsai Techniques Vol II seems to have remedied the situation somewhat but in no way compares to the depth of detail in Deborah’s book. I am not promoting one over the other here, as these books stand on their own merits. I am willing to say, however, that should I have purchased the “Nakas” after Deborah’s book I would have been disappointed somewhat. Notwithstanding, one has to remember the source of the “Nakas”; these were his personal notes. The perceived missing information or detail was in his head and, those whom had the pleasure of meeting John would back up my statement that he was a walking “Bonsai Library”.


2. The Naka's Vol I & II (bought as a set = 1) by John Yoshio Naka
The “Nakas” are referred amongst Bonsaiist as the “Bonsai Bibles”
A lifelong work is described in these volumes. Because “these” are John’s notes, translated from Japanese, the description at times is a little thin. However, the learned hobbyist can easily extrapolate the necessary information as required. The “Nakas” are not “Bonsai Primers” and as such, are intended for intermediate to advanced Bosaiists. Before one delves into these magnificent books, one needs to understand the basics of bonsai and bonsai care.

Vol I will take a novice along quite readily, but it is this author’s opinion that, one needs to posses a firm grasp of bonsai basics, if one is to fully comprehend what John is trying to impart to his audience. It contains a great in-depth section on various soil uses, along with recommended soil recipes for various trees. An in-depth monthly care guide can also be found in this book. If one is looking for traditional Japanese values, one will find them here.

Bonsai techniques Vol II is more or less on advanced “bonsai techniques” and as such is not for beginners, I purchased mine at the same time as Vol I. Although, my apprenticeship is far from being at the level to apply advance techniques listed in this book, I found it extremely inspiring and educational. One thing it has taught me since I have read the book, was to seek inspiration from nature, find an appropriate tree (raw material) and duplicate the inspiration. John had a saying; don’t make your tree look like a bonsai, make your bonsai look like a tree. Walter Pall is famous to some extent for this exact approach. Considered a “rebel” in the beginning, Walter’s battle gained credence for his work. His innovative approach to the art has forged a way for the future. This is also the direction I intend taking in the future. I will no doubt meet allot of controversy during my journey, but at least learned veterans of the likes of Walter and many others have paved my chosen path. To the true “traditionalist” well! Walter’s work is totally unacceptable.

This book goes into great details with regards to grafting whether grafting roots or branches. Detailed descriptions on each are available; it goes on further to explain which method gives a greater chance of success depending on the tree species. The book then naturally flows to the trunk, branches and apex. This is where John goes into great detail with regards to the fundamentals of branch placement, height ratios etc. No serious Bonsai Artist would be without them.


3. Vision of My Soul by Robert Steven
I believe only one word truly describes this work "powerful".

"On its root I firmly commit
In its trunk I keep my soul
Through its leaves, I reflect my vision..."


This masterpiece is a limited edition print signed by the artist. The attention to detail from beginning to end is phenomenal. The layout and thoughtfulness of its creation is second to none: from the handcrafted cover with silver leaf inlay; plethora of sketches and colour plates; to the easily understood artistic impressions conveyed by the author; this book was described in another review as a work of art and I can only echo the sentiments of that particular review. The combination of these two great artists makes this book extremely valuable in my opinion.

Works without soul, are mere objects on, or of any given medium. Understanding the basics towards an end is a great foundation in assisting the individual reach his/her goal. If the individual fails to portray the passion from deep within, and merely designing from the mind instead of the soul, then he/she is just creating "something".

True passion is not a mechanical process but one that evokes response. I guess other folks call this talent, but one can have talent without evoking passion, the true artist has both IMO.

I was fortunate enough to have acquired Robert's book and I am looking forward to the publishing of his second. No amount of reviews can accurately describe the contents of his work, nor convey the message held within. Although a book is classified as "literature" this volume is anything but, it is in a sense a work of art. Why? Because the book has the ability to move you. The author has managed to evoke deep seeded passions in the written word that, in my opinion, others fail miserably to achieve, art is felt not seen.

In closing for those who naturally possess artistic impressionistic talents, this work may well be of little value. However, for the multitudes that are struggling with the aforementioned required elements in Bonsai, it is a much-needed reference to one's literary collection.
 

rockm

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I find the Deborah Koreshoff book a little overrated. There are much better (and applicable) books out there with more current information and less stodgy design sense.

I've collected bonsai books for almost as long as I've done bonsai. I have over 200 of them. Koreshoff is about in the middle of the pack as far experience and design sense. While this was a premier book 15 years ago, books and bonsai have come quite a ways since. With talents like Coussins, Lenz, Colin Lewis, Peter Adams, Peter Chan producing books in the last fews years the bar has been raised.

I constantly pick up books by Coussins, Chan, Lenz and others. I haven't picked up Koreshoff's book in a year or two...

The Naka books are bulletproof--IF you're not after care information or soil mixes...
 

Rick Moquin

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I am indeed surprised with your opinion. There is no doubt that Deborah's book is dated but to place Bonsai School ahead is a stretch don't you think? I have Craig's book and my review can be found here. As stated an interesting read, but shallow in the most important parts. There is no doubt that if you are looking for a book on designs, Deborah is not the way I would go, but if you combine all three books (as per the question) you are off to a pretty good start.

With the exception of anything from Lent'z I have the remaining authors, therefore we may have differing opinions but qualified ones nonetheless.
 

rockm

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I don't think it's all that shallow. It offers some eye opening possibilities with what can be done with not only classic Japanese trees, but with trees you can actually get your hands on.

For the diversity of practitioners, species and techniques represented, I would place Coussins' book well above Koreshoff's in terms of interest and use. While Coussins book might be "shallow" on some techniques (although, I'd take issue with that-- some of those techniques are extremely detailed--look at the chapter on Bald Cypress--I've not seen that level of technical detail in Koreshoff's book, nor much of anything on bonsai containers, nor much on alternative styling methods), it is heavy on startling bonsai.

I don't think Koreshoff's book is bad. Much to the contrary. It just not all that interesting to read or look through. If you don't already have it, finding it --and paying for it--now really isn't worth the hassle.

This book can be astronomically expensive. Depending upon where you buy it, prices can top $100, although $40 is more like it. Money would be better spent on something else--unless you collect books :D
 

Rick Moquin

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This book can be astronomically expensive. Depending upon where you buy it, prices can top $100, although $40 is more like it. Money would be better spent on something else--unless you collect books :D
... and that in a nutshell is a definite deterrent. I was fortunate to acquire a hardcover some years back from Australia for $45 CD shipped, no complaints there.

I find myself seeking along the lines of reference vice inspiration so to speak. A good deal of manuals these days are shear repetition of what is already out there, albeit at a later date in time. With the advent of the Internet and forums, I find myself more and more building a reference library from great articles posted from learned enthusiasts, rather than purchasing books these days. I don't know who is to blame the author or the publisher. It often seems that many given references have excellent content only to be diminished by what I deem "filler material". Hence another reason for building a reference library out of specific articles published by reputable practitioners vice buying books.
 

rockm

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"I find myself seeking along the lines of reference vice inspiration so to speak. A good deal of manuals these days are shear repetition of what is already out there, albeit at a later date in time. With the advent of the Internet and forums, I find myself more and more building a reference library from great articles posted from learned enthusiasts, rather than purchasing books these days. I don't know who is to blame the author or the publisher. It often seems that many given references have excellent content only to be diminished by what I deem "filler material". Hence another reason for building a reference library out of specific articles published by reputable practitioners vice buying books."

I haven't bought a bonsai book in a couple of years, aside from the republished Lenz book--which is worth every penny. Unfortunately, the bonsai book market favors entry level, since that's basically where the mass audience and money are. Good, in-depth, advanced bonsai books are very rare.

I keep hoping someone will take up the huge challenge of equaling Nick Lenz regional book for other parts of the country--like a SouthEast book that covers bald cypress, tupelo, live oak, etc. A Western version that covers species from there, and so on. Those publications would probably have an extremely small readership and would be losers financially though...
 

Rick Moquin

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Interesting observations Mark. To curtail, any further highjacking of Grizzlywon's thread, I started a new thread on the subject.
 

mcpesq817

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I keep hoping someone will take up the huge challenge of equaling Nick Lenz regional book for other parts of the country--like a SouthEast book that covers bald cypress, tupelo, live oak, etc. A Western version that covers species from there, and so on. Those publications would probably have an extremely small readership and would be losers financially though...
Larry Jackel published an excellent book on Ponderosas a year or so ago. I'm not sure if it has been a financially successful effort or not, but if so, hopefully it encourages others with species-specific insights to share their knowledge with the rest of us.
 

jjbacoomba

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3 Books

Very much a newbie, goin on 6 months.
A.Bonsai,Its Art,Science,History,and Philosophy - Deborah Koreshoff
B.John Naka 1 and 2( bought as a set)
C. Tie - Bonsai with Japanese Maples/Peter Adams,Bonsai Today Master Series Junipers
 
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