Obviously it’s impossible to list all my inspirations and influences, but this is a shot at acknowledging some of the biggest.
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. This book gave me the encouragement (emphasis on the courage) I needed to start pursuing my creative interests more seriously. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to tap into greater creativity in their lives, regardless of career path.
Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life. Choreographer Tharp’s book isn’t as specific as, say, The Artist’s Way, but it was what I needed at a time when I was still very unsure about myself as a creative person. It’s a nice, gentle start to thinking about creativity habits in everyday life.
Gail Blanke, In My Wildest Dreams: Living the Life You Long For. This book has given me some very useful life goal-setting strategies, and has persuaded me to dream big in all things. Blanke also writes the fantastic “Motivator” column every month in Real Simple.
Scott McCloud, Making Comics and Understanding Comics. McCloud is a comics guru. If you’re at all interested in comics and why they’re so appealing, read Understanding Comics. Making is more geared toward, well, makers of comics; I’m slowly working my way through all the back-of-chapter exercises in this book.
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones. Thoughtful and energizing. Read my blog post about the book.
Stephen King, On Writing. So good. Read my blog post about the book.
Stephen Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living. I don’t think you have to be a yoga practitioner to benefit from reading this book, but if you are — you must read it.
Nicky Marone, What’s Stopping You? (first published as Women & Risk). Many women labor under what psychologists called “learned helplessness,” which makes us feel we need to be rescued from situations that challenge us. Marone offers useful suggestions for overcoming LH, ranging from risk-taking to sitting meditation.
Work/Life Balance, Life Management
David Allen, Getting Things Done. This book has made an enormous difference in the way I organize my workspace and my daily workdays. Read it in conjunction with Peter Walsh’s Enough Already! (see below), and your work life will never be the same again.
Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan, Singing at the Top of Our Lungs: Women, Love, and Creativity. This densely packed book explores issues of womanhood and creativity, drawing on their surveys and interviews with more than two hundred women. I found it less galvanizing than thoughtful; it didn’t compel me to action as much as it did make me think. I recommend it for all creative women and the men who are partners to them.
Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life. I’ve always felt that a 9-to-5 life can’t be the only way to exist; this book shows that a different path is not only possible, but accessible to anyone.
Soren Gordhamer, Wisdom 2.0. Gordhamer translates ancient (largely Buddhist) wisdom into our technologically driven modern lives. His book is funny, insightful, accessible, and very important for anyone who feels they can’t live without their internet/email/computer/smartphone!
Parker J Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. This is a lovely little book about embracing your true nature and finding a path that suits it. It’s not a how-to guide, but more of a meditation; ultimately I think that’s more powerful because it makes the inquiry self-directed. I wrote about the book in this post.
Peter Walsh, It’s All Too Much: An Easy Guide for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff and Enough Already! Walsh’s books have totally changed the way I view my possessions (and, by extension, my clutter). I particularly recommend Enough Already! in combination with David Allen’s book (above) for a powerful worklife overhaul.
Linda Bacon, Health at Every Size. I can’t recommend this book enough, no matter what size you are. It challenges us to think of weight and health as separate things, and bring our focus onto the health side of it — instead of being so fixated on what weight we are or aren’t.
Erik Lee (I’m married to him!). Of the tracks on his site, the “Aquatic Fughetta” is my favorite.
My IWL classmates, and also instructors Brenda Wong Aoki and Jaime Cortez
In June 2011, I wrote a blog post with capsule reviews and links to many of my favorite books.
Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary
Jane Austen, particularly Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Reading Austen makes me a better writer.
JK Rowling, not just for Harry Potter, but for the kind of author/celebrity/individual she is.
Lars Lerin, Swedish watercolor painter
Nunzio DeFilippis, my comics teacher. Great teacher, great writer. He, his wife and writing partner Christina, and all my comics classmates have given me (and continue to provide) so much help and support in my comics endeavors!
Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons
vintage children’s picture books illustrated by Errol Le Cain
vintage children’s travel books by M. Sasek
The Getty Center, Los Angeles