We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about a book they’ve read and the impact it had on them. We’ve highlighted some of those responses below.

Austyn de Lugo-Liston | Artist and Educator

When I was in grad school, a professor recommended that I read The Queer Art of Failure, by Jack Halberstam. That book has really influenced how I think about aesthetics. I’ve always sort of been pulled toward art, television, and media that are on the more “low culture” side of things–the frivolous, the tawdry, and the superficial. In that book, Jack Halberstam really draws from a rich source of materials that range from childrens movies to art theory, and takes the silliness very seriously to talk about larger political and intellectual concerns. It’s a book I have revisited over and over, and that now I always recommend to my own. Read more>>

Xanthe Pajarillo | Horror Writer-Director

“Origin of Inspiration” by Samuel Adoquei. If you’re a creative, add this to your collection. It’s my bible. There’s a chapter I bookmarked where he discusses his childhood. One of the leading causes of death in his town were dangerous currents at the beaches. If you found yourself caught in one, and you kicked and fought it, you could end up drowning. But if you stayed calm, went with the flow of the waves, and waited for the right moment to swim out… you had a fighting chance for survival. This is the metaphor he used for our lives. We must accept what we cannot change and make use of what is happening. Otherwise, we’re like zombies… sleepwalking through life. It has gotten me through difficult times. It’s a beautiful book. If you plan to buy it, please support your local indie bookstore and find it there. Read more>>

Michele Ho | Vice President

“One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow” by Olivia Hawker. Set in 1876 in rural Wyoming, the story is about how 2 families come together after an unspeakable betrayal. One husband is dead, another is in prison and the women are left with their young children facing a harsh winter on the frontier. The drama between the women isn’t what impacted me, but more so the hard life these families faced on the frontier. I think the majority of us are aware of how privileged our lives are in modern-day 2020, but reading this story was a stark reminder of how hard our ancestors worked just to survive. I wonder how any of us would have fared in a time when life was so unforgiving? This story made me think of how often my Japanese mother and my grandmother would sternly say to me, “gaman!”, which loosely translated, means “to suck it up”, and to have perseverance, patience, and tolerance. Read more>>