Category: Books

December 15 2016

Book to Read: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

In today’s world, there’s no denying the fact that one of the most sensitive discussions we’re having is about race relations. Groups like Black Lives Matter have spurred us to look deeper into outright racism especially when dealing with the police.

In the book Small Great Things, author Jodi Picoult tries to get its readers to see how life might be in the shoes of a black person. Without giving away too much away, the story is about a black labor and delivery nurse, with more than 20 years of experience, who, during a routine shift, was told by white supremacist parents that they don’t want her to touch their baby.

The hospital complies with this request. Ruth is told to stay away from the baby, however when the team is short staffed she’s the only one to care for him and he goes into cardiac distress. Ruth must decide whether to obey orders or intervene.

The baby dies and, subsequently, Ruth is charged with a serious crime. The book is told from three different perspectives: Ruth, the white supremacist father and Ruth’s lawyer.

In the Acknowledgments, Picoult thanks those who helped her write the book. They include doctors and nurses who helped her with “their lingo”, her “crackerjack legal team” for “vetting the court scenes for accuracy’s sake” and even a social justice educator who “vet” her words. You could tell there was a lot of homework involved, from the hospital scenes to the legal ones.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. It is a true page-turner!

As Amazon states,”With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.” I couldn’t agree more.

October 19 2016

Book to Read: Love Warrior

Have you heard of the book Love Warrior? It starts off a little slow but picks up towards the end. It’s Oprah’s latest book club selection. (The book came out on September 6.) Based on real life events by author Glennon Doyle Melton, it’s the raw story of how a woman who is faced with an unfaithful husband comes to deal with it. Melton is a gifted writer who lays it all out for the reader, you really feel her pain.

Here’s what Oprah had to say about it, “Let me tell you how Love Warrior made me feel. I read it as a testament to the power of vulnerability. Through it, Glennon shows us the clearest meaning of ‘To thine own self be true.’ It’s as if she reached into her heart, captured the raw emotions there, and translated them into words that anyone who’s ever known pain or shame—in other words, every human on the planet—can relate to. She’s bravely put everything on the table for the whole world to see. That’s why I had to share her book with you.”

So what is the book about? As it states on Melton’s blog, Momastery: “Love Warrior is the offering I’ve been working on in the dark every day for the past three and a half years. Love Warrior is about infidelity — to ourselves and to each other. It’s about betrayal and redemption. It’s about how everything the world teaches us about femininity and masculinity can make it impossible for a woman and a man to actually know and love each other. It’s about how to survive rock bottom—how to use crisis as a springboard to a truer identity and a better life. It’s about parenting our kids through pain. It’s about friendship that hurts and friendship that heals. It’s about faith that shackles women and faith that liberates women. It’s about shameless sex and God and food and drugs and porn and tenderness—and how the dirt and the divine are so often inseparable. Love Warrior is about how to finally find peace in your own damn skin and your own damn life.”

Melton believes that “sharing the truth of our lives is a key to unlocking a true spiritual connection with those around us.” I could never be so bold, sharing details of my personal life with others, but I applaud those who can. The fact that it’s a memoir, makes it all the more interesting and profound.

You can buy Love Warrior on Amazon.

June 15 2016

Top 10 Inspiring Quotes in Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

In my pursuit to become a professional photographer, I’ve read several books, not just to learn the techniques of photography, but to broaden my knowledge of hard to grasp concepts like creativity and perseverance. This interest led me to a book called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. In it, the psychologist claims that the key to success in life – whether you’re an educator, a parent, an athlete and or a business person, isn’t talent but a special blend of passion and perseverance, or what she calls “grit.” Today, I’d like to share 10 of my favorite quotes from this book. I’d highly recommend reading Grit, especially to those seeking a career in a creative field.

“Exactly how do life experiences change personality? One reason we change is that we learn something we simply didn’t know before. For instance, we might learn through trial and error that repeatedly swapping out one career ambition for another is unfulfilling…I learned that being a ‘promising beginner’ is fun, but being an actual expert is infinitely more gratifying. I also learned that years of hard work are often mistaken for innate talent, and that passion is as necessary as perseverance to world-class excellence.

“Likewise, we learn, as novelist John Irving did, that ‘to do anything really well, you have to overextend yourself,’ to appreciate that, ‘in doing something over and over again, something that was never natural becomes almost second nature,’ and finally, that the capacity do do work that diligently ‘doesn’t come overnight.'”

“First comes interest. Passion begins with intrinsically enjoying what you do…Next comes the capacity to practice. One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday…Third is purpose. What ripens passion is the conviction that your work matters…And, finally, hope. Hope is a rising-to-the-occasion kind of perseverance.”

“Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.”

“‘It’s a persistent desire to do better,’ Hester explained. ‘It’s the opposite of being complacent. But it’s a positive state of mind, not a negative one. It’s not looking backward with dissatisfaction. It’s looking forward and wanting to grow.'”

“This is how experts practice: First, they set a stretch goal, zeroing in on just one narrow aspect of their overall performance. Rather than focus on what they already do well, experts strive to improve specific weaknesses.”

“And after feedback, then what? Then experts do it all over again, and again, and again. Until they have finally mastered what they set out to do. Until what was a struggle before is now fluent and flawless. Until conscious incompetence becomes unconscious competence.”

“Gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more flow.”

“Each of the basic requirements of deliberate practice is unremarkable: A clearly defined stretch goal, Full concentration and effort, Immediate and informative feedback, Repetition with reflection and refinement.”

“Personally, I have learned that if you create a vision for yourself and stick with it, you can make amazing things happen in your life. My experience is that once you have done the work to create the clear vision, it is the discipline and effort to maintain that vision that can make it all come true. The two go hand in hand. The moment you’ve created that vision, you’re on your way, but it’s the diligence with which you stick to that vision that allows you to get there.”

“To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.”

June 6 2016

For Love Book: Where Are They Now?

A few weeks ago, we got an email from our publisher, Chronicle Books, to see if we wanted to be featured on their blog. We, of course, jumped at the chance! The idea was to follow up with each photo story and find out where the photographers’ newfound fame led them. It brings me great joy to now share that information with you. Here’s an excerpt:

“Need a pick-me-up for your faith in humanity? Enter For Love: the book by the founders of My Modern Met, Alice Yoo and Eugene Kim, that compiles a collection of highly creative and incredibly moving visual stories. From Batkid’s mission to save San Francisco to a collection of portraits of people “happy at 100,” you might find yourself reaching for a tissue.

“Here, the authors followed up with some of the subjects of their book to answer the following question: where are they now?

“In our recently released book For Love, we share 25 heartwarming photo stories that celebrate humanity—incredible stories of ordinary people who performed extraordinary acts in the name of love. We thought it would be fun to follow up with three of these stories. Where are the photographers now? As their series spread throughout the world, how did their newfound fame affect their next body of work, let alone their life?”

You can read the rest over on Chronicle Book’s website or pick up the book at a discount right now on Amazon.

Photo by Grace Chon.

April 27 2016

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

What makes you tick? What thought makes you spring out of bed in the morning or what idea keeps you up at night? Are you in a job that you love? After I left My Modern Met, these are the questions I asked myself over and over until I decided that I wanted to pursue photography. The moment I had this epiphany, however, I also gained a lot of doubt. Would I be any good? Could I make this a real profession?

I turned to family, friends and books to help me out. One of the books I just finished, called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, gave me insight into what motivates people. Author Daniel H. Pink breaks motivation down to three essential elements: Autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), Mastery (the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters) and Purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves).

What I enjoyed the most was this idea of “flow.” It’s a mental state where goals are clear and feedback is immediate. In flow, the challenge isn’t too easy nor too hard. Rather, it’s a notch or two just beyond your current abilities. It stretches the mind and body to a “delicious reward.”

“In flow, people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place, and even self melted away. They were autonomous, of course. But more than that, they were engaged.”

Have you ever been in “flow”? When I’m snapping away at pictures or post processing in Lightroom and even when I’m typing away at a blog post, I feel like I’m in this place called flow. In fact, sometimes I look back at the thousands of blog posts I wrote for My Modern Met and I can’t believe that they came from me. Not that they are particularly spectacular, but because I had the time and patience to come to my desk everyday and write for almost eight years. (And I don’t even consider myself a writer!)

Here are some other sentences that really resonated with me.

“As wonderful as flow is, the path to mastery-becoming ever better at something you care about-is not lined with daisies and spanned by a rainbow.”

“Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice for a minimum of 10 years. Mastery-of sports, music, business-requires effort (difficult, painful, excrutiating, all-consuming effort) over a long time (not a week or a month, but a decade).”

“Effort is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it.”

Towards the end of the book, Pink gives you choice (he calls it “toolkit”) of what chapters to read next. Overall, this book is a worthwhile read especially for those interested in leaning about drive.

Image via GQLaw

April 26 2016

An ABC Book for Grownups: V is for Vulnerable

I’ve read in multiple places that to be creative is to think like a child. Acclaimed author and marketing genius Seth Godin has teamed up with artist Hugh MacLeod to take this idea one step further. They’ve created V is for Vulnerable, a delightful ABC book for grownups. If you haven’t signed up for Godin’s daily emails, make sure to do that. And, if you haven’t read Hugh’s How to Be Creative Manifesto, download that, too.

Below are some of my favorite pages from V is for Vulnerable. (I particularly loved “V”. You’ll have to buy the book to find out what that one says.) Overall, the book is an easy read that will leave anyone pursuing a creative career inspired.

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April 20 2016

Steal Like An Artist, The Book and Video

When you’re feeling unmotivated and you need a swift kick in the pants, it’s helpful to turn to books. Austin Kleon has written a good one for all the creatives out there called Steal Like An Artist. Inside you’ll find fun and informative tips on how to unlock creativity in your life. Here’s one paragraph that I enjoyed:

It’s a two-step process. Step one, “do good work,” is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts. Make stuff every day. Know you’re going to suck for a while. Fail. Get better. Step two, “share it with people,” was really hard up until about ten years ago or so. Now it’s very simple: “Put your stuff on the Internet.”

Through Design Sponge I found this video of Kleon speaking about his own work, Newspaper Blackout. The TEDX talk is an interesting and inspiring speech that’s worth 11 minutes of your time.

March 23 2016

Meaningful Quotes From A Philosopher’s Notes

Sometimes I turn to turn books when I need a good recharge. You know, you feel low on energy or you need a much needed break from studying. I just finished reading the book A Philosopher’s Notes and what I loved most about it was the overall sense of optimism it gave me. Though there are a few chapters I didn’t wholeheartedly agree with (mostly on depression and taking medication), I still enjoyed the book from cover to cover. The author, Brian Johnson, intersperses meaningful quotes which I feel compelled to share with you.

Mostly, I loved the ones that pertained to persistence or not giving up. After that episode I had with Sam over being discouraged about my current skill level in photography, these quotes gave me a new perspective.

“A person can make himself happy, or miserable, regardless of what is actually happening ‘outside,’ just by changing the contents of consciousness. We all know individuals who can transform hopeless situations into challenges to be overcome, just through the force of their personalities. This ability to persevere despite obstacles and setbacks is the quality people most admire in others, and justly so; it is probably the most important trait not only for succeeding in life, but for enjoying it as well. To develop this trait, one must find ways to order consciousness so as to be in control of feelings and thoughts. It is best not to expect shortcuts will do the trick.
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– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try, and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives.”
– George Leonard Quotes

“Do not be impatient with your seemingly slow progress. Do not try to run faster than you presently can. If you are studying, reflecting and trying, you are making progress whether you are aware of it or not. A traveler walking the road in the darkness of night is still going forward. Someday, some way, everything will break open, like the natural unfolding of a rosebud.”
– Vernon Howard

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman

“Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anais Nin

At the end of the book, Jonson gives us his list of top 50 books. Get ready to dive in.

Photo via Beautiful Flowers

March 17 2016

For Love: My First Book Was Just Released!

Wow, March 15th was just two days ago and I forgot to post this news on that monumental day. My first book, which I co-authored with my brother (and co-founder of My Modern Met) was just released. Called For Love, 25 Heartwarming Celebrations of Humanity, it’s a feel good book that, through photos and words, tells incredible stories of people who performed magnificent feats in the name of love. From weddings in far off locations to shelter dogs, we’ll make you feel a wide range of emotions (hint: mostly happiness).

It’s weird to see words you’ve written on a computer now in actual print form. The book was seven years in the making, we culled stories we’d written about for that long to create it. The actual book making process was two to three years, which is still long. Finally it’s here, though, and in the hands of family, friends and fans of My Modern Met. Hope everyone enjoys it!

You can buy it now on Amazon.

March 15 2016

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

Every so often my sisters and I choose a book for our book club. We don’t have any rules, anyone can suggest a book at any time, as long as you think the others will enjoy it. When my sister Grace told me and Carol about “When Breath Becomes Air” I had already known about it because I follow the blog A Cup of Jo. The book was written by her brother-in-law, a brilliant young neurosurgeon who comes face to face with death when he’s diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

What makes the story so heartbreaking is that it’s completely true, Paul Kalanithi died of lung cancer just last year, leaving his wife Lucy (Joanna Goddard’s sister) and his daughter Cady behind. Paul loved the English language immensely, you can tell by the eloquent way he writes. As he describes life as both a physician and a patient, he makes the reader think about what life means on both sides of the equation.

I was most moved by his wife’s epilogue at the end. Paul died before he could finish the book so his wife took over, completing his journey. She describes the moments surrounding his death, the family gathering, the way she lied next to him in his hospital bed, and the many visits to his gravesite.

The book will make you think about your own mortality, what values you have, what you would do if you were in Paul Kalanithi’s shoes.

I loved this review the most:

“A tremendous book, crackling with life, animated by wonder and by the question of how we should live. Paul Kalanithi lived and died in the pursuit of excellence, and by this testimonial, he achieved it.”—Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being

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