Below is a list of books that have I have found to be particularly useful and inspiring in my own journey. As an interior designer, I take particular interest in books relating to our relationships with the spaces that we occupy and the powerful ways that our surroundings can contribute to our happiness, peace and enjoyment of life. Some of these wonderful reads have helped to shape and define my own lifestyle philosophy and design mantra (which are one and the same, after all).
1. THE KINFOLK HOME: INTERIORS FOR SLOW LIVING, Nathan Williams
An exploration of the slow living movement, The Kinfolk Home takes the reader on a global tour through mindfully and creatively conceived homes from Tokyo to Stockholm to Toronto. With beautiful photography and thought-provoking essays, this book is a much needed reminder to put a halt to our crazy pace of life and to live consciously and purposefully.
Favourite Quote: "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." - Charles Mingus
See my blogpost on Kinfolk Home
2. THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE: POWERFUL LESSONS IN PERSONAL CHANGE, Stephen Covey
Consistently ranked in top ten lists of books of its genre, this is an inspiring and practical reading for those who wish to design a life that is effective, proactive and joyful. Side-stepping common quick-fix solutions, Covey focuses on the slow and steady principle-based approach to building one's character in order to create one's dream life.
Favorite Quote: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the maxim goes.” - Stephen Covey
3. MINIMALISM: LIVE A MEANINGFUL LIFE, Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
Story of two men who left behind their soul-sucking high-earning careers and shed majority of their possessions to focus on that which matters the most - passionate work, freedom, relationships and contribution to others. Although the application of the concept of minimalism will differ depending on each individual, we can all benefit from living lightly, being more discerning of what we acquire and learning to benefit from our possessions rather than feeling burdened and imprisoned by what we own.
Favorite Quote: "A life without contribution is a life without meaning. The truth is that giving is living. We only feel truly alive when we are growing as individuals and contributing beyond ourselves. That’s what a real life is all about." - Millburn & Nicodemus
4. THE POWER OF HABIT: WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO IN LIFE AND BUSINESS, Charles Duhigg
According to Aristotle, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." At a very basic level, a habit is a simple neurological loop: there is a cue (hunger), a routine (take a bite of a sandwich), and a reward (ahhh, feeling of fulfillment). Understanding of this loop is the key to exercising regularly or becoming more productive at work or tapping into reserves of creativity. As this book shows, tweaking even one habit, as long as it's the right one, can have staggering effects. Duhigg argues that our most basic actions are not the product of well-considered decision making, but of habits we often do not realize exist. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our lives.
Favorite Quote: “This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.” - Charles Duhigg
5. THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK: A COUNTERINTUITIVE APPROACH TO LIVING A GOOD LIFE, Mark Manson
I first got to know Mark Manson through his blog posts. Mark Manson is hilarious, vulgar and gives zero f*cks, while delivering incredibly thought-provoking and blunt wisdom. Huffington Post describes Mark Manson as a man who, "behind all the profanity, is incredibly inspiring, deeply philosophical, and extremely clever".With a catchy title and a powerful message deeply relevant to the dilemmas of modern day living, this book is about identifying that which is most important and getting rid of everything else.
Favorite Quote: "Who you are is defined by what you are willing to struggle for." - Mark Manson
6. THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP: THE JAPANESE ART OF DECLUTTERING AND ORGANIZING, Marie Kondo
As an interior designer and as someone with OCD tendencies when it comes to my own home, I thoroughly enjoyed this book in its reminder of how the magic of a tidy and organized home can help to contribute and inspire a calm and motivated mindset and lifestyle. Marie Kondo takes a spiritual approach towards the art of tidying up, believing that by removing clutter, we eliminate energy traps and create an environment that is conducive to productivity, efficiency and a feeling of lightness and positive energy.
Favorite Quote: "The act of discarding things on its own will never bring joy to your life. Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy." - Marie Kondo