Inspiration

Book Recommendations -Winter 2021

January 15, 2021

This is your free ticket to travel beyond the borders of your own world!

Bookworms rejoice! It’s that time of year where I’m sharing some of my favorite books I’ve recently enjoyed!

When you read books by people who think differently from you, live differently from you, were raised in different backgrounds from you with different experiences from you, your world naturally expands.

Each book on this list is quite different from the others so I’m confident that along with a great story, you will also find at least 1 book on this list that expands your world a little more. 🙂

This is your free ticket to travel beyond the borders of your own world!

Happy Travels!

P.S. I love to keep my “to read” library list long so if you’ve got some favorites, please comment below and share them with me!

I’ve linked each of the books to Amazon where you can read a more in-depth summary as well as others’ reviews.

1. The Midnight Library: A Novel by Matt Haig

A charming and uplifting book about regret and 2nd chances.

I actually gave this book 4/5 stars but when I went to grab the link I noticed it was voted for a lot of “best book of” awards in 2020. Which makes sense considering what we were living through last year.

“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?” 

2. Love Does by Bob Goff

This book was incredibly inspirational. There are spiritual overtones as Bob talks about his Christian faith throughout the book but I don’t think it’s in a way that would be obnoxious to non-Christians. His real-life stories are highly contagious and what the world needs more of that it can inspire anyone to actionable love.

Can a simple concept shift your entire world? Bob certainty thinks so.

When Love Does, life gets interesting.

Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude in this collection of stories just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.

3. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Reading this probably had a specific affect on me since I was born American, to Korean Immigrants, and have never been to Korea. I’ve heard very little about this era in which my grandparent’s lived through, for obvious reasons (it was a dark time of oppression and racism). So reading this story gave me a way to glimpse into the world they grew up in.

It’s amazing to think how we can be living on the same planet at the same time yet the world I know is a drastically different one from the one they grew up in.

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

4. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

I did not expect to relate to this novel as much as I did. Beautifully written, this story is about love and loss, about family and identity, about surviving grief while pursuing ambitions, and so much more.

Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. 

5. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Greek Mythology was the only genre in the “required reading” from school that I actually could read all the way through! Greek mythology was fun and fascinating to me.

With that being said, this modern version of the telling of the Trojan War was even more fun and even somehow relatable. It was a fun and fast-paced, page turning read.

Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful— irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

6. Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

I preach about leaning into your strengths so much. It’s one of the keys to creating a career where you experience both success and happiness.

This book and assessment really helps you see your genius area. It helps you dial into things you never would’ve thought were strengths.

Highly recommended in our online course, the Dream Career Project! Whether you’re on the waitlist for this course or not, I highly recommend taking this test/reading this book.

7. And Every Morning The Way Home Get Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman shot his way up to my “Favorite authors” list with 3, 5 star books in a row. This is the 2nd novella I read of his and I wish he would write more of these. How this little book is capable of fully immersing you into the story and emotions of this tiny story with an unforgettable message is incredible. His novellas (unlike his more well-known novels) are truly a hidden reading gem.

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (book 1)

This is the trilogy I’m currently reading and loving. If you love a good young adult fantasy book with magic then I highly recommend this one! It’s storyline is unlike any other fantasy series I’ve read which makes the stories even more exciting!

Kell is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

9. Eat a Peach by David Chang

The 1st memoir on my to-read list- EVER.

Autobiographies and memoirs happen to be a genre that has never caught my attention. But seeing that 2 memoirs have made it on my to-read list for the 1st time ever, I realize I was probably dismissing them with some idea that they were boring stories about boring people.

I haven’t read this (or the next book) yet, but I wanted to share them since they are on my “to-read” shelf and to give some genre variety to this list.

In 2004, Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in a tiny, stark space in Manhattan’s East Village. Its young chef-owner, David Chang, worked the line, serving ramen and pork buns to a mix of fellow restaurant cooks and confused diners whose idea of ramen was instant noodles in Styrofoam cups. It would have been impossible to know it at the time—and certainly Chang would have bet against himself—but he, who had failed at almost every endeavor in his life, was about to become one of the most influential chefs of his generation, driven by the question, “What if the underground could become the mainstream?”

10. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

This made it on my list without knowing it was a memoir! Proof that I had some pre-conceived notion about what a memoir was.

The story and summary sounds beautiful and is what drew me in. I’m looking forward to sitting with this book this spring.

In The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid price, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband’s death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss.

summary from Amazon

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I'm Grace Kim,

Spontaneous adventurer who loves to surprise & delight strangers & friends, make things with my hands, and create opportunities.

I'm a girl who dropped out of college, was told I wouldn't succeed, then went on to create my 6 figure dream career before the age of 30.

Now my mission is to help other designers and creatives build a flourishing career so they too can live a life they love - one abundant in freedom, joy, purpose, and creativity.

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