Four years, four bookprints

Like footprints in the sand, a Bookprint is the mark that a book leaves on your life. The “You Are What You Read” campaign encourages readers to share our Bookprints, the five books that most influenced our lives. I felt overwhelmed when I tried to choose the books that have had a big impact on my entire life, so I decided to start with the books that have only recently changed my life.

I’d like to share four books that have inspired me over the past four years:

* “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” (2008) by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.
Before I even started this blog, I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone by 19-year old twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris in their book, “Do Hard Things.” They encourage teenagers and everyone to do hard things instead of just getting by; and the first suggestion they make is to do hard things that take you out of your comfort zone. I wasn’t ready for a blog just yet, but they threw down the challenge. I submitted ideas to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s 2009 “DOE Trim the Fat” contest – and won second place for ideas to improve our public libraries. Last year, I headed a school fundraiser and joined the board of my homeowners association.

* “Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone” (2009) by Mitch Joel.
It really started with GoodReads.com, because they sent me this book. I was a little overwhelmed, but one line jumped out at me: “Start your own blog – now” (page 262). Just five words, practical and blunt, words I’ve heard before and an idea I’ve thought of before, coming at the right time – a time when I wanted to be heard, and WordPress gave me a voice. The first “Better Hawaii” post was published on January 2, 2010.

* “Start Something That Matters” (2011) by Blake Mycoskie.
Mycoskie challenges us to redefine capitalism and find solutions through entrepreneurship, not charity.  As Mycoskie’s story unfolds, you can see his shift from making money to helping people to inspiring people to help others. DonorsChoose.org was only briefly mentioned in the book, but its mission stuck with me: to help people donate to classrooms in need. My first donation was to a classroom in Kea‘au, Hawaii, where my mother was born, to help students learn about marine science. Though the book is not about education, I also started reading a lot more about public education and what makes great teachers, because parents and teachers have the opportunity to inspire children every single day. We don’t all have to start something new – we can start doing things that matter.

* “Living Artfully: A Heart-full Guide of Ideas and Inspirations That Celebrate Life, Love, and Moments That Matter” (2006) by Sandra Magsamen.
“To live artfully is to live life fully, with meaning and a purpose – to bring beauty into being” (page 4), Magsamen says passionately. Just reading the first chapter inspired me: instead of buying holiday decorations, I made my own cardboard cut-outs of Santa, a reindeer, a gingerbread man, and a surfing menehune (elf) using pens, paints, and a utility knife. I signed up for a ceramics class at a community center, throwing my first pots and hand-making leaf and fish plates.

What books have inspired you? What books have left their bookprints on your life?

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