We caught up with some of the community’s rising stars and asked them to reflect on the books that had an impact on their lives.  We’ve shared their responses below.

Heather Raco | Cosmetologist: Owner of Shade and Strand

The last book I read was My Hope For Tomorrow by Ruby Dhal. It is a book of poems about path to self-discovery and mending broken pieces. “It is tender to the heart, kind to the soul and food for the mind, but it aims to alleviate all the pain and unease that people all over the world are experiencing,” as Ruby Dhal writes it. 2 1/2 years ago my personal life and professional life was going thru a massive growth period. The more I started to love myself and realize my self confidence in me and my career, the more my marriage was suffering. Read more>>

Sali Swalla | Artist & Mom

Puliztzer prize winning “The Overstory” By Richard Powers, absolutely blew me away. It opened my eyes to the many little Universes Mother Nature has tucked away among the everyday moments we take for granted in the nature that surrounds us. I learned how trees talk to each other and look out for one another. I learned how nothing is wasted and every ending is the foundation for a beginning. I learned how infinitesimal we humans are on the timeline of Earth and yet how much damage we have done in such a short time. Read more>>

Carol Walsh | Founder & CEO of Tennis Serves Others

It’s tough to choose just one book that has positively impacted and guided me, but two books come to mind: The Four Agreements by Luis Ruiz and The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley. They both have had a powerful impact on me and continue to guide me today. The Four Agreements conveys a simple, but powerful, message to better your life by abiding by the following agreements (below). I try to apply these agreements in my everyday life as a wife, mother and through charity work with Tennis Serves Others, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Read more>>

Ben Silberstein | Artist & Designer

My favorite book is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. There are quite a few reasons why I like it so much: the writing is powerful and thoughtful, the development of the characters and their collective interactions is engaging, and there are takeaways that helped shape the way I think. The takeaways from the book impacted me the most, but there was one takeaway in particular that I still think about on a daily basis. In East of Eden, a couple of characters discuss a passage of Genesis from a philosophical perspective. Read more>>

Hilary Baker | Painter & tap dancer

Sequestered at home during the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of time to read. I just finished Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg. It just may be a perfect novel. By that I mean its structure, characters and dialog are absolutely seamless. Thornburg is a writer whose words carry you headlong towards a powerful conclusion you sense is coming – and when it does, you are overwhelmed. Read more>>

Ari Frenkel | Actor, Writer & Filmmaker

Undoubtedly, the book that has had the greatest impact on me is “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olsen. The basic principle of the book is that everything we do in life, good or bad, is the result of things being done in small increments over and over and over again. It stresses the significance and impact of steady consistency over long periods of time (with endless examples). This book instilled the practice of many daily habits (as well as the weekly, monthly, and yearly inventory of that progress). Read more>>

Malado Francine Baldwin | Artist, Writer, Curator / Painting Conservator & Artist Manage

I’ve been slowly reading The Overstory by Richard Powers this Spring. I’ll pick up other books, and news, but keep coming back to passages in this book; re-reading and dog-earing pages, reveling in its luscious use of language. I’m taking it as slow as I need. In this quiet, reflective time, I’m finding solace in all the little things and how they connect. From The Overstory : “I’ve looked at your book, the judge says. ”I never imagined! Trees summon animals and make them do things? They remember? They feed and take care of each other?” -p. 283 It’s been a rainy winter in LA, and things are growing and blooming as we sit in isolation. Read more>>