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19 Inspirational Books for Grownups

April 26, 2017       Arts and Culture
19 Inspirational Books 
to Read for Grownups

Inspiring books are books that make you feel good because they contain something:  a story, a recipe, an idea, life lessons, or personal advice to kick you into gear and LSS your soul into action.  Trust a book more than a talk show.  You may forget what kind of PR contrivances talk shows spout but a book will always strike a chord with you and you can pull it out of your stash to remember the things that need be so you keep your wits and knit your soul back together.

Hangups in life are real and they either cost us too much time and trouble, slowing us down from the real things that matter.  For the price of a book, we can reboot our soul and think more clearly because we're all built that way--learning to adapt to what comes our way as long as someone shows us how, and books are some of the best and cheapest resources for showing us how.
Grownups are usually  the kind of people who hit a wall that they can't get around and need more inspiration than kids do, so here are some books that may help fellow grownups get back on track, either climbing a wall or walking around it. 

Here are our 19 recommended books to inspire you and get you out of the doldrums...

Life Lessons

All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
by Robert Fulghum

Robert Fulghum's inspirational book, All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is a school marm's exhaustive list of simple pre-school rules that double as life lessons that apply to grownups too.  Most other inspirational books, (Chicken Soup for the Wussyfooted, A Purpose Driven Whatever) is just not going to work for every person because  sappy, feel-good stories don't always hold true for everyone.  Fulghum shows readers a list of simple rules to live by: the first set of rules kids learn as they are guided by pre-school marms.  These rules actually scale up as life lessons that can be your toolbox for any encounter or situation when you grow up.  It is a miracle that Fulghum thought of this as a better all-around self-help bible than any other life coach-inspired mumbo jumbo.  Here is a sampling of what you can read in the book:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Put thngs back where you found them.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
 Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and
paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, WATCH OUT FOR TRAFFIC,
hold hands, and stick together.

Kindergarten book's quotes are also lifelong memory angels singing a reminder that we should never take for granted even as grownups.  It may sound amusing and cutesy or even a cliche but getting blindsided by a truck isn't a laughing matter at all--and you can insert all your metaphors and scenarios for getting blindsided by a truck here.  What you learn as a kid is mostly all you really need to get by and stay safe.  Whenever you are in a funk, Robert Fulghum's book should be a sobering reminder and inspiration how kids really have it easy  and you can also have that peace of mind.  Never take common sense for granted.

Empire of the Sun
by J.G. Ballard

For most regular folks, their first encounter with J.G. Ballard may be from watching Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of his classic coming-of-age novel, Empire of the Sun.  Reading the novel may prove more inspiring than the film because you experience all the nuances that the film cannot show, including the character's ruminations about the turn of events in his life and how he thinks through his unfortunate circumstances when the world goes out of whack.  Ballard is known for creating a landscape where you experience an entire era, all of its flavors, sights and peoples--and how those people live out and endure through a life-changing event that transforms everything they used to know into an entirely different era.  Life lessons from fiction can resonate more with a reader's soul and help them cope with similar or less nightmarish situations.

One of the most important themes in Empire of the Sun is holding on to hope.  Whether it comes from getting through a day in the concentration camp doing a routine just to keep your wits or when the protagonist is out in the field and gets to witness the first airdrop of the U.S. Army of provisions for war survivors.  If you think you're going through a swamp of troubles and can't get through the day, take time to sit a few hours a day and read Empire of the Sun.  Or watch the film adaptation.  You'll remember a song to tide you through any day.

Kamikaze L'Amour
by Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey's Kamikaze L'Amour has been compared to J.G. Ballard's The Crystal World as a dystopian catastrophe novel.  Ballardian has been a noun-adjective description for the sort of novel where the world is a bleak future and the landscape transforms the people around it into surreal and hypnotized characters.  Does this make sense?  If you are looking for a rock genre and musician lore inspired read to inspire you, Kamikaze L'Amour is your book.  In the midst of a world gone mad, people get by through music and Kamikaze L'Amour shows bits and pieces of how one find's his soul's song through a life journey.

William Gibson himself (Neuromancer), vouches for it as a gorgeous read.  For readers who live for music, especially the kind of music that evokes mood, attitude and feels and the most holy of all: landscapes--take your pick from electronica, ambient, drum and bass, shoegazer, and even technical death metal--you can transpose all of that as your mind music as you read this awesome, imagery heavy adventure of a washed-out rock star in a U.S. overrun by an encroaching Amazon rainforest overgrowth bio-catastrophe, who finds solace and transcendence making music that "looks" and feels like his landscape, then goes to Los Angeles to live out his days.

It may sound cheesy to other book reviewers who have thumbed their nose down at the book as just lotsa feels and no real plot or resolution but that is precisely why you grab this book for your stash of inspirational reading.  Read it for feels.  Literally. 

Inspiring Recipes

Comfort Food
by Jamie  Oliver

Cookbooks should be number one in the list of any moody person's inspirational book list, because they actually show you how to make something that gives you good feels right then and there--while you prepare your comfort food, and you get the luxury of scrunching up on your bed or sofa and eat that lovely dish.  Jamie Oliver is a very popular young chef who has inspired many to take up cooking homemade dishes and create chef-quality gourmet food right in their own kitchens.  It isn't just mind over matter with cookbooks as inspiration.  Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food shows over 100 recipes for comfort food favorites that are beloved from around the world. From ramen to moussaka, to Eggs Benedict, Jamie shows us how you can replicate comfort food dishes right in your home kitchen with fresh ingredients for maximum flavor.  Oliver himself is a renowned young chef who has shown how everyman can whip up an authentic and great tasting dish with fresh ingredients if they were shown how.

You can actually make an antidote to life's poisonous grind with the guide of a really easy to use recipe book:  When bad people are giving you a hard time, you can just forget these bums and whip up a pick me up to nosh on.  As a prelude to an amazing day or to tide you over before you call it a night.  Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver also has personal tidbits by the chef on what stuff to look for when you buy ingredients and cooking tips, like when to flip that omelette just to get it perfect.  Get his book and dive right in to pull out the happy feels.

Faith Matters

The Holy Quran

The Holy Quran is the holy book of the Muslim faith which according to their own religious lineage was handed down to the prophet Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel from the Divine God as Allah.  God goes by many names, even in Hebrew.  We, non-Muslims might get inspired to read the Quran to know exactly what the Christian church is hiding from lay people:  the Golden Age of Israel was far more glorious as described in th Quran than is depicted in the Christian Bible: Solomon (as Sulayman) commanding armies of Djinn, talking to animals, flying around the world with his Army on a flying carpet, building the Temple of the Lord with the help of Djinn and Angels--all of which is obscured by the Christian powers that be and excised in the Bible.  Even at his death, Solomon outwitted Djinn (fire elementals or demons) for a long time before they found out they were no longer in service to his reign as he was the only human assigned by the Lord that they must obey upon pain of Death before the end of time.

Of course there is plenty of other stories in the Quran that are more dogmatic, or are rules to live by if one were a follower of Allah as supreme god.  This also helps a reader understand his fellow men who live by this faith.  Like the Bible, the Quran contains plenty of stories of redemption and stories of failure, life lessons and parables that will always be something useful for all of us trying to make sense of different cultures and peoples.  Understanding helps one get through the veil of ignorance and be more tolerant.  A Jesuit priest, whom we will not name, bandied an aphorism in a social media comment:  A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing...So if we know what Jesuits prefer to keep hidden--the Quran for example and its more glorious depiction of eras and events in God's time, as well as the most revered characters in ancient Israel as more heroic and accomplished that we remember them being described by Jesuit priests, then we understand why Muslims revere the glory of God more than the those who only gloss over the Creator's magnificence with empty ramblings.

The King James Bible, English-Greek Reverse Interlinear

I personally know of a priest who actually advised  someone to pray the rosary for guidance instead of studying the Bible for the same thing.  The King James Greek-to-English Interlinear Bible is a necessary bible study tool for understanding Scripture in depth and without the trappings of religious dogma because one gets to study the Word within the original Greek context as it was written first on parchment and vellum scrolls.  This means the world for anyone who wants inspiration not in a rote ritual of ignorance but with the Spirit of the Lord, which shows in exact detail how things are and always will be.  And what happens when things go awry, even to the extreme.  Martyrs are not those who die for a cause, but those who live for one--just read the books of Job, Isaiah, Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospel of Paul and cross reference your reading with the Greek transliteration of the English words and there you have your clearest inspiration for each of the Good Book's intended purpose. 

Studying the Bible as a Christian of any particular religious dogma is more lucid and in-depth if you are guided by cross-referencing the original Greek texts because most of the time, the English word translation is not as heavily laden with the 3-dimensional meaning, understanding and context of the Greek language.  Check the online Bible study sites where expert Bible reviewers show how the Greek original context gets watered down when just understood as an English description--patience  is described in the original Greek (hupomone, makrothumia) as a courageous stance to wait and not be offended when the world turns on you, but to endure and know that waiting allows you to be stronger and smarter.  All of that within the original Greek context that gets pigeonholed into one English word--patience or perseverance.  In Sunday Mass, priests don't teach in-depth but gloss over the English translation teachings and bandy them as mother statements, good on their own merit instead of showing the flock why the Spirit of the Lord is holy and divine not just its mere mention.  But because it means salvation and redemption.  A guide for living that you can always fall back on when the world seems to get the better of you (because the world owes you nothing and will revile you if you are not of its ways).  You always have all the time in the Lord.

Counter-intuitive Inspiration

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives
By Tim Harford

If you enjoy watching TED lectures, this book is for you.  If you are the kind constantly harangued by  neatness Nazis to put your stuff in order so you can get more out of your time and effort, Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives reveals how randomness and clutter actually help people figure things out better.  Tim Harford is a fan-favorite TED speaker whose stories about ideas help people understand how the world can work better for everyone.  (He is the author of  The Undercover Economist, a bestselling book about how everyday events can be understood through the workings of economics as a social science of systems).  Messy:  The Power of Disorder is his attempt to show how most creative and successful work is delivered off messy pastiches and unrelated ideas that all come together yet still is resilient to monkey wrench setbacks.  Messy is something better than expected, more times than linear and structured.

He advocates that a mess is part of our lives and integral to becoming successful.  Messy situations and places are even stimulating rather than holding us back from being productive.  The book has many examples how creative geniuses put together works of art and successful projects as they make connections in the midst of chaos and deliver an idea that really works better than rote produced stuff.

Messy is a business format inspirational book that works off nine chapters: Creativity, Collaboration, Workplaces, Improvisation, Winning, Incentives, Automation, Resilience and Life, to convince you that structuring around a mess and messing around with structure both work better than just a single linear process with blinders on.  Harford relies heavily on anecdotes about his favorite people, and though this can be put into context and refuted with examples to the contrary, even that shows that the book shows you all sides of the coin than just one way to rule them all.  Whatever scenario you encounter.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert Pirsig

Robert Pirsig was a dysfunctional genius who was able to cope with his mental funk by focusing on a task as simple as motorcycle detailing and maintenance.  Really, it sounds simpler than it is and the author does show how his mental disorder turns itself around when he is able to relate his personal problems with his most beloved hobby--traveling in a motorcycle and keeping it in shape--to his state of flux and self-conflict.  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a modern philosophical autobiography disguised as a father-son journey around America novel by Pirsig, and is acclaimed to be the most widely read modern philosophical novel in the world today.

In the course of Pirsig's metaphysical ramblings about life, depression and keeping a hobby, he shows how loneliness can be a personal dysfunction that can be worse than most would think of, especially for smart people who disconnect with an unfamiliar world.  Coping with any kind of mental illness is not easy and Pirsig shows that no matter how smart he was, he was most vulnerable taking on his illness by himself and by throwing off his hangups onto his motorcycle hobby, it got him back on track and helped him endure.  Even in the worst of times, mental hangups that slowly creep over the lives of thinking folks can often be resolved by getting into some routine (motorcycle maintenance) that pulls someone back together.  People who have a hard time fitting in with the rest of the world might find this book illuminating and even helpful in teaching them how to deal.

Resilience:  Why Things Bounce Back
by Andrew Zolli and Marie Healy

Resilience:  Why Things Bounce Back is an inspiring book for people who think recovering lost time or opportunities is an uphill battle that is impossible to win. 

In a world where even the most stable systems can falter and implode from both expected and unexpected forces, bouncing back from setbacks and disruptions are what holds and keeps not only people, ecosystems and living things together and functional, it is one of the most remarkable and well designed aspects of most organisms and constructs.

Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy make a rundown of recent breakthrough scientific discoveries--why coral reefs recover and fluorish again, or pioneering social (Palestinians coping with day-to-day dangers of radical violence) innovations that highlight the basic ideas for what helps anything and everything in the world bounce back or endure adversity.

This is a book that provides readers looking for perspective for when they think everything is going to seed.  Going through a rut is just part of a cycle of renewal and knowing what fuels the resilience of all living or functional beings should help befuddled readers find some grace and solace that anything can endure with patience, common sense, waiting, being ready for emergencies and helping one another. 

Chris Anderson, the author of The Long Tail, has recommended the book as a most engaging and smart way at learning how to be flexible and stronger when put to the test of both known and unknown stumbling blocks.  A book for restoring your belief in the balance of the cosmos to restore everything in its own time.  Because most everything is designed to hold its own and bounce back.

The 20 Percent Doctrine: How Tinkering,
Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules
at Work Drive Success in Business

by Ryan Tate

Google has this 20-percent rule where their employees are allowed to play, while they work, to think of new things to help their company grow and continue to be successful.  It is indoctrinated into their company work methods as a counter-intuitive yet productive and highly creative environment for delivering all the things the company needs. 

Ryan Tate
uses this fact as one of his examples to explain the 20 percent Doctrine as a possible alternative way for other companies to run their workplaces.  Especially if their work is geared towards innovation, delivering effective and valuable results or getting a competitive edge against other companies that use a more structured work environment.  Pushing for this way of thinking allows for creative time to be spent making stuff work better while not being pressured or bored to death in rote activities or structured, non-thinking work routines.  Creatives like digital artists, craftsmen and the like will benefit greatly from having this book in their work library, just because they can understand that goofing off does not really mean abusing slacktime for turning in crappy work or putting in less effort on the job.

Inspiration for Making a Living

The Long Tail 
by Chris Anderson

(How retail makes more money by selling less of more)

Chris Anderson reveals the secret behind the success of online retail giant, Amazon.  The Long Tail concept of economics and market forces in retail shows that margins of profit can be achieved by keeping inventory of even the most obscure and unwanted stuff--goods that people will actually buy, as long as they know where they can buy it.  Amazon's profits from what is usually dropped from inventory by brick  and mortar retailers are shown to be larger over time than sales of what's popular or the short tail of retail.  Over time the curve of sales for obscure retail items that are bought never bottoms out unlike the short tail or seasonal spikes of usual ticket goods that drop off.  This groundbreaking book serves primarily as inspiration to everyone who is usually advised to get rid of their stuff-slash-junk by throwing still good objects away or selling them for a song via garage sales.

The Long Tail is a marketing and retail concept, state-of-mind where your store's focus is maintaining inventory to sell rather than getting rid of inventory by selling.  Since the advent of online sales, inventory may have become more precious commodity than thought of before.  Lost sales only happen if you run out of stock and the costs of carrying inventory are different for online than products only available via brick-and-mortar physical shops.

Who would have thought 50s or 60s western pulp novels, old vinyl records and 90s CDs could still fetch top dollar online?  According to Chris Anderson, with sales curve-charts to prove his theory, there will always be a buyer of that strange artefact you have as long as they can find it on your online store.  It is a new way of thinking about retail which can help you out, if you plan to sell anything, and have the mindset to plan how you sell your goods, and what kind of goods to sell.  The Long Tail helps new online sellers, or even veteran online-based shopkeepers get a better perspective on how to manage product inventory. is that special and probably timeless example for proving that the Long Tail works and is a successful retail model for particular kinds of products.  If you are in a funk wondering how in the name of anyone will you get rid of a ton of inventory you got stuck with, this book will inspire you to rethink how a curse can actually be a blessing.  An inspiration for those in the retail trade.

The Purpose Economy 
by Aaron Hurst

(Why people drop out of the rat race)

While most dopes are stuck in the illusion of the information economy, posturing as a start-up, hoping that it gets them a ticket to the big leagues, many millennials are actually downsizing to more purposeful lives--learning a trade or craft, purchasing local and handmade, growing their own food, leaving the rat race to start their own enterprises that help their communities.  Aaron Hurst is a lifelong social entrepreneur advocate and writer and editor for business news websites.

The Purpose Economy is a book that explains the shift in people's mindsets as a memoir of the writer and as clear example that all those stories going around the web aren't just human interest props but a real movement away from the bottomline of milking something for everything it is worth.  Why are more young adults going into farming in America as a career?  Why are Filipinos starting to choose freelance or work-at-home jobs over 9-to-5 punch a timecard office jobs?  Why are towns in the U.K. going local and even printing their own currency?  Why is social enterprise becoming a hot business for entrepreneurs over most other endeavors?  If you are of the kind that wants out of the rat race and looking for a quality of life, meaningful way of making a living opportunity, this book may inspire you by showing you that other people are also doing it and it's not a hipster thing.

Start Something that Matters
by Blake Mycoskie

(TOMS brand's free shoes, success story)

Perspective is what this book provides for people looking for an entrepreneurship path that works, and is also as rewardingly profitable as a means for making a living.  Start Something that Matters is an inspirational story, autobiographical and showing other examples of other people finding success through social enterprise entrepreneurship.  Blake Mycoskie is a shoe-maker entrepreneur who writes about his own social enterprise insights and provides inspiring examples about how several entrepreneurs have created projects that have changed how success need not be about gouging for the best ROI:  Charity Water is a non-profit project by Scott Harrison that seeks to provide the best clean drinking water solutions for indigenous communities around the world.  TOMS is the author's fashionable, canvas shoe brand, riffed off Argentinian canvas slip-on workshoes that started out as a small business, giving away free shoes--
creating life stories that were more meaningful and valuable--which hooked fans on more than any other cool factor.

If you want to be inspired by arts and crafts social enterprise, or any quality-of-life, charity project aiming to be successful helping people have more meaningful and safer lives, this book should be part of your collection.  As a guide about how success often comes when you're just looking to make good things happen and share good stuff with everyone without gouging them.  Be inspired by people who set out to do good and got rewarded more than they set out to just because they chose to do good not only for themselves but for the local community and the disenfranchised and underserved markets.

Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages,
Ramshackle Huts, Funky Forts
by Deek Diedricksen

(Build your own home office in a backyard workshed)

DIY fever is inspiring everyone to pick up powertools and make something for themselves.  Deek Diedricksen's book Humble Homes, Simple Shacks... is an amazing resource for free and paid plans for transforming that small space in your backyard as a home office for your own offsite work, or for serious hobbyists as their downtime playspace.  Diedricksen is a DIY craftsman blogger for relaxshax on wordpress.  With more and more people working off-site and wanting a stylish DIY workshed office (like a personal playhouse-treehouse for grownups but with a workdesk and mini-library or workshop area).  If you are working at home and will be more productive and inspired with your own private workspace right in your backyard, this book will be handy just for that.  You can figure out how to make one on your own using cheap materials or even making the best workshed you want to build with affordable and durable stuff that still looks posh.  Some workshed builders even pimp out their workspace more than their bedrooms.

As an underground classic, Humble Homes, Simple was popular even before small workspaces ever became a hipster, shabby-chic, must-have among yuppies scaling down from the rat-race.  A prestigious office address is so meh for new adult workers, it's about having your own work-crib, no matter how ratty it looks.  The latest version of the book has an expanded section of additional design plans and blue prints from Deek's successful yearly small projects.  Knock yourself out with that home office, workshed idea.

Reimagining IS Good Stuff

Smoke and Mirrors
by Neil Gaiman

In the 80s and 90s, British pop writers broke the mold of the literary hegemony and struck a chord with readers by making fairy tales cool again.  As a theme for telling story.  Fantasy and fairy tales are no longer assigned as low brow entertainment or good only for children and not for grown-ups.  We have Neil Gaiman to thank for helping revive reading interest in a prose stylist genre more relevant now than even before as a good read for all genders and ages.  His work on Sandman the comic book got female readers back to enjoy reading comics. 

Neil's first collection of short stories, Smoke and Mirrors, is a rockstar novelist's journey of short fiction that turns fairy tales and stories of horror and fantasy into more poignant reads for grown-ups than even slice of life can ever hope to match.  In this collection, you remember why you like to read stuff like this and why you should never allow any ivory tower to look down on your reading list if you enjoy fantasy and genre fiction.  If you want a guilty pleasure read that reminds you why good books are all about magic and strange things in stories for grown-ups, Smoke and Mirrors should be on your book shelf.

by China Mieville

For lovers of the written word and science fiction, no other book may work its conceits as amazingly as China Mieville's new weird space opera, Embassytown.  It is the novel that should have won him the Hugo in 2012 and for good reason--many breakthrough ideas on how space opera can be turned on its head and mirror a new way of looking at human and alien interaction--language as the technology for space travel.  This is also the book that one reviewer has intimated has one fatal flaw in the set-piece that turns everything upside down for the story, but even this is a minor quibble, for the delivery of the story and the depiction of the characters involved in the conflict are so sublimely beautiful that the payoff gives you pause to think--all storytellers should be like this and not trapped in the academic literary or pop bestseller mode of crafting story. 

If you are a genre writer who loves sci-fi, fantasy and weird fiction and want to be challenged by any novel that will certainly be entertaining not just for its wild ideas, but also for the challenge of finding out where China, a very meticulous story outliner, erred in keeping his gorgeous story flawless, you will be inspired by Embassytown.  He is human and still a genre god and he will still rock your socks off with this book if you are a writer wondering how to break all those rules and still get away with an amazing story.  This is a book you want to read slowly to savor all the ideas and imagery--an inspiring literary experimental masterpiece for genre sci-fi.

Exercise Bike  (and all his Eraserhead Press novellas)
by Carlton Mellick III

If 90s yuppies went for New Age reading, grownups of our age can enjoy a genre much better than feel-good, creepy Zen stuff.  Bizarro is an absurdist storytelling genre that is gaining ground as a literary and legit way of writing a good tale.  The old world had Nikolai Gogol from Russia as one of the first absurdist novelist and since that time ridiculous themes that develop into good reading have become a secret, guilty pleasure for most smart readers and grownups who can look past the obscene language and explicit writing.  Horror is the usual theme where most Bizarro stories work their preposterous (a compliment) ideas that still come off as entertaining reads and good literary work.

Carlton Mellick III is the most prolific among Bizarro writers and his book, Exercise Bike, is one fine example of a crazy idea that works as an entertaining story.  His novellas have been described as Goosebumps for grown ups--scary stories that inspire.  If you want to be caught reading anything offensive  that will have you smiling back at other people who think you're a nasty perv, grab Carlton Mellick III.  Enjoy some of the best writing of today.  Absurd it ain't.

Illustration Inspires with Story

The Art of Rebecca Guay
by Rebecca Guay

Artbooks by fantasy painters and illustrators are always a guilty pleasure, and great inspiration for newbie artists who want to accomplish as much as their heroes have put out over their storied careers.  Having eye candy stashed in their library of good stuff also helps them get out of creative blocks, and to renew their perspective on what really matters when they get in a funk.

The Art of Rebecca Guay is a limited series, special coffee-table book portfolio of fan-favorite, renaissance woman, illustrator and painter, Rebecca Guay.  She has pushed for Illustration as a powerful teaching methodology for art instruction as a
visual storytelling medium.  The Art of Rebecca Guay should serve as one of the best fantasy art books for grownups to have for their fix of inspiring fantasy art.  Cult fans of Rebecca's work love her evocative story-driven paintings and drawings.  Guay has her own yearly online instructional workshop series on illustration and fantasy art.  As one of the pioneer artists for Magic the Gathering: the collectible card game, Rebecca Guay's fans are a rabid lot (they love her enough to throw tantrums at the publisher of the cards if they don't print enough of her in their card lists).  Now, they have the ultimate study piece for their fantasy art hoard in Guay's artbook.

Grownups who love art in general won't go wrong with a Rebecca Guay artbook because of its classic illustration style.  Browsing through one to find inspiration for stories is also a great way to get out of any creative or emotional funk.  Her book contains personal paintings as well as her fan favorite pieces from Magic the Gathering.  If you want to know why the almost lost art of illustration needs to be a part of the core of any art school's program, buy Rebecca's art book, and feel, see and even smell all the grandeur of story-driven illustration.  Inspiring.

Building Stories
by Chris Ware

If graphic novels delight you in the same manner as a thick page-turning mystery turns you on, look no farther than Chris Ware's constructor set opus, Building Stories. It comes in a box containing a hardbound volume or two with several loose infographic styled pamphlets and leaflets, and even a Sunday newspaper styled tabloid-sized comic in newsprint. The entire package has a folded board game.  The graphic novel is organized like  architectural diagrams where each loose part combines to build a whole yarn and you can start anywhere, from the tabloid to the graphic novel or from the pamplhet stuff.  It is the story of a washed-out artist and her neighbors in a Chicago apartment building along with all the side stories that go along with the lives of the tenants.

If you are a creative person or are inspired by painstaking design work and story-driven visual design, Building Stories is one keepsake you must have as part of your hoard of stuff--the kind you pull out when your well runs dry and you need to reassess what how you can reboot your creative soul again--hold, read and enjoy the work of genius that is Building Stories.  Like a kid discovering how to read for the first time putting everything together, and as a grown-up remembering why comic books and visual design rock your world.

And there you have your messy mix of inspiring reads to pull you out of a mess, if your mind is in a fog, or if your soul is whirling somewhere.  Grown-ups, just like kids, have their own blow-eyelash-wish reads that make everything better.


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