Letters To a Young Poet by Ranier Maria Rilke: Several years ago, when I was still performing with The Group 3D, we had a chance meeting Whoopi Goldberg. We sat and talked for what must have been two hours. She listened to our music and our aspirations and then proceeded to encourage us and share her thoughts on what it means to be an artist. She also left us with a final gem. She insisted that if we were going to continue on the artist's journey we must read this book. So, I picked it up and devoured it. After reading it, I knew what I was going to do with my life. I had the opportunity to share with Whoopi what that meeting and this book means to me during the run of Holler if Ya Hear Me. It was an incredible moment for me to have her witness my Broadway debut given the impact she had on my life. Thank you Whoopi! (Whoever has the picture of she and I on the night she came to the show PLEASE send to me!!!)
A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson: I saw Oprah talk about this book and author years ago, wrote down the info and said "I'll pick this up". Years went by and I never read it. Then it came up again (I can't remember how). Still, I didn't read it. It wasn't until I was having a conversation with someone and they brought up this book in a random conversation and I said "that's the book I'm supposed to be reading". I don't believe in coincidences, so I took this as a message from the universe and bought the book immediately after the conversation. Thank God I did! This book... THIS BOOK! It literally changed my life in every way. Read it. Study it. Read it again. Share it.
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin: I had heard many people praise Baldwin's work and I felt that I should get acquainted with him for a number of reasons. So one summer, I picked up a couple of his books and started studying. I say studying because this man has lesson upon lesson on every page. The way he captures with words the essence of the black experience through his eyes is truly remarkable. Through reading this book, I developed a new understanding of things I felt and experienced and a language that helped me express them. Required reading, not only for black men, but for everyone. One of my favorite quotes from the book, "I am what time, circumstance, history have made of me, certainly, but I am also much more than that. So are we all."
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon: I came across this title at FedEx/Kinkos on 7th ave in midtown Manhattan while I was waiting for some greeting cards I'd made to be printed. I was instantly intrigued by the title. Even the Bible has said "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun." We see it all the time. Fashion is recycled. Music is sampled and covered. Themes recur in writing and in design. The same film gets made over and over again, yet we pay 15 bucks to go to the theatre and see it under a different title with a different cast. The idea in this book though, is about how to find inspiration in the world and allow the art and artists you love to influence your creative efforts. This is a great guide to discovering creative freedom in our remix culture.
READ them and share your thoughts with me!