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.

Jacqueline Kumer | Artist & Illustrator

One of my favorite books is ‘Arm in Arm: A Collection of Connections, Endless Tales, Reiterations, and Other Echolalia’ by Remi Charlip (1929 – 2012). I discovered the book while I was in a bookstore at the children’s book section. However, as I read I realized it wasn’t a book for children but also for grown ups. I was fascinated by the way Charlip used single-paged story format to cleverly combine words and visual elements. His use of words as illustrative pictures are absolutely brilliant and showed a theatrical and poetic ways of visual storytelling on paper. Each page is a story of its own; sometimes the words are used as imagery, sometimes the words are there to compliment the imagery. There is no beginning or end to any pages, and each page can be completely irrelevant to the next. I especially love his way of looping words in a sentence to create shaped imagery. The storybook feels more like Charlip’s documentation of his own psychoanalysis and personal process rather than giving senses to his readers, and I absolutely adore it. Read more>>

Cindy Tsai, MD | Physician & Life Coach

One of my favorite books is “The Big Leap” by Gaye Hendricks because it explains how we are all playing small. He describes the “upper limit problem”, which is the idea that we hold ourselves back when we reach the upper limit/edge of our comfort zone because it feels scary to take the next step to become a better version of ourselves. Because of this fear, it prevents us from living in our Zone of Genius and enjoying the abundance of life that’s available to us. The concept really spoke to me because I was always playing it safe and following a scripted path to becoming a physician. After so many years of school and training, I was disappointed when I realized I wasn’t feeling fully fulfilled as a doctor. But I was afraid to explore what else was out there. Read more>>

Gabi Mala Hora | Painter and Illustrator

Books take precedent for me in my artistic research. I really enjoy reading of all sorts, fiction and non, and especially short stories. Recently, I revisited an old favorite – Eduardo Galeano’s “Memory of Fire” trilogy; It is a mash of genres, which definitely reflects itself back into my art – my style is often hard to pin down for both viewers and myself, but I feel more relaxed with that as I progress through my practice. “Memory of Fire” by Galeano is a retelling of both history and myth through often underrepresented narrators: black and indigenous poets, revolutionaries, and Mesoamerican gods tell a story of another America, one that isn’t as whitewashed as the textbooks we were fed growing up. Read more>>