Seven Books that Changed My Life
Where someone asks me where my inspiration comes from, I said from reading. Literature, poetry, fiction, essays, biographies, and novels have nourished my imagination in more ways than I ever expected. It’s very hard to select my favorite books because I have so many. I made this list based on …
Where someone asks me where my inspiration comes from, I said from reading. Literature, poetry, fiction, essays, biographies, and novels have nourished my imagination in more ways than I ever expected. It’s very hard to select my favorite books because I have so many. I made this list based on the impact each book had at a particular moment of my life. For instance, I read “Two Lives and A Dream” when I moved to New York City. 22 years ago, all I had was one suitcase, $500 dollars in my pocket, a crazy debt of $65K from students loans, my design portfolio, and big dreams. This book inspired me to dream of a new life. “Eiko by Eiko” re-ignited my passion for design at a time when I was uninspired by the work I saw around me. And, in my late teens, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” thought me about the many ways that one can love, it opened my heart to all possibilities.
These books have become part of my life library. Everyone has their own life library. Books are like that, like a friend who shows up in your life at the right time and the right place.
I humbly recommend any of these titles, I hope they make your life richer like they’ve made mine.
The Lover by Marguerite Duras
No one writes with such sensuality and rawness stream of consciousness better than Marguerite Duras. This is exemplified in “The Lover.” Even though I read this novel many years ago, to this day the story has left a lingering mystery in my mind. Was it about class, race, family, sex, discontent, or all of the above? This cover designed by the inimitable Louise Fili beautifully captures the many layers of the story.
Eiko by Eiko by Eiko Ishioka
When I was a student at Art Center, I stumbled upon this stunning book, which became my bible. Eiko by Eiko opened my eyes to how visionary graphic design could be. Little I knew that a decade later, I’d be working one-on-one with Eiko Ishioka for 4 years. She became my mentor, teacher, and friend.
Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimistic edited by Michael Bierut and Peter Hall
One of the most inspiring design books I’ve read. Content and form beautifully blend to present the work of a design legend. Tibor Kalman has been a great influence on my career.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
I read “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” in my late teens. I saw parts of myself in each of the four characters. Thomas, Tereza, Sabina, and Franz encapsulate the myriad of feelings that sit between lightness and heaviness; emptiness and meaning. To me, this book is about love in all its intricate, mysterious forms set against scary political times—The Czech regime and the Russian invasion of Prague in 1968. No much has changed since the novel was written, love co-exists along extreme regimes and horrifying political times. Kundera’s novel is as relevant now as it did when it was written in 1984.
The Enigma of Arrival by VS Naipaul
Its title is taken from a painting by Giorgio de Chirico which shows a traveler arriving at a mysterious land. Naipaul, the immigrant, takes a journey that invites us to observe and examine the earth beneath our feet. More than a novel, this book is a spiritual meditation rich in beautiful details and exquisite subtle observations revealing the mistakes and inadequacies of life.
Any Poetry Book by Wyslava Szymborska
The first poem I read is called “Nothing Twice.” whose first line reads: “Nothing can ever happen twice…” From that moment on I fall in love with Szymborska’s poetry. In her work, I found some of the things I yearn to find not only in people, or places but also in great design: elegance, irony, simplicity, humor, humanity, and beauty.
Two Lives and A Dream by Marguerite Yourcenar
When someone asks me about my favorite book, “Two Lives and A Dream” by Marguerite Yourcenar is the first one that comes to mind. Exquisite read, this book explores the dialectic between freedom and fate, willing and enduring. “Life is a flux and all true stability a mirage.”