For some it might be a dystopian novel and for others it might be an uplifting memoir, but almost everyone has a book, poem or essay that left a meaningful impact on them. We asked some of the brightest folks around town to tell us about books that have had a lasting impact for them.

Kyle Emerson-Brown | Founder of Mars Records and Co-founder of the Industry Talks Network

I’ll talk about the first book that had noticeable impact on me and that was Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I didn’t start reading self help or real world books until I was approaching my late 20s. I had grown up with the novels by James Patterson and Clive Cussler and those were great for my imagination however I was stepping into unknown territory when I turned 26 and decided to start my career as an artist manager. Never Eat Alone was the first book that I read that hit my strengths and skills as a super connector right on the head. It was a feeling similar to my one semester at Orange Coast College when I took Interpersonal Communication; That feeling of “damn my education should’ve been revolving around these type of subjects and I ‘d be a stellar pupil.” This book speaks to the importance of human relationships and speaks on strategies to approach other humans and extract the maximum from each human interaction. Keith does it in such a genuine way that it’s not as manipulative as I’m describing it. Definitely a must read for any professionals in a relationship business. Read more>>

Kevin Andrew Rivera | Voice Actor

A book that I’ve read very recently that has really impacted me is “The Art of War of Small Business” by Becky Sheetz-Runkle. I like it because it helped me find my center. It kept me disciplined when it came to my career and pushed me to work harder. Read more>>

Zhao Lewis Liu | Independent Filmmaker

When I first came to the United States, I read a book called Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki. It was a book that changed my view and identity, and almost gave me a depression. It’s a book about history of Asian Americans that’s told through personal stories, poetry, dairies, letters and research. Prior to that, I was never interested in history. When I was in high school in China, history books were full of standardized answers that everyone had to memorize in order to pass the tests or get good grades. They were boring, often written in an authoritative way, and full of humiliating stories. It wasn’t until I read Strangers from a Different Shore that I changed my view on history book. It was supposed to be academic writing, yet it was written with such a personal and emotional way that I could feel the pain and trauma the author was suffering from all his life. And it was powerful. It not only got me interested in Asian American issues, it also changed my view on history and writing. After a short honeymoon phase of arriving in the US. Read more>>

Cosmas And Damian Brown | Artist

I am currently reading a book that my brother recommended to me entitled: Shamanism, Colonialism, and The Wild Man by Michael Taussig. It is a deep historical and anthropological look into the rubber boom in the Putumayo region of the Amazon at the turn of the century, a little known yet terrifying moment in the history of the colonization of South America. This book is fascinating as it sheds light on this period of violence and enslavement against the tribal peoples of this region, at the hands of rubber traders selling to the European Market, while also delving into a much deeper investigation of the healing practices developed by these peoples to cope with and understand these traumatic events. The mixture of analytic and scholarly investigation with an almost magical realist style of describing experiences of healing and ritual with the people of the Putumayo region, make this book a really fascinating read. While reading it I have been thinking much about the the healing properties of art, and it has forced me to reevaluate the rituals around my own practice. More importantly, perhaps, it has me wondering about the deep and generational impact of ancestral trauma, why humans have acted and continue to act in the ways they do, and what we can do to heal ourselves and each other in our everyday lives, whether it is deep ritual healing, or simply a kind gesture of help or generosity. Read more>>