New year, new beginnings, new perspectives. This is the first of our Shentonista Recommends series, where the team personally picks the books, films, and music that are currently on our minds and on constant repeat. We hope you find something that catches your eye, or that you discover something new. If you have something you’d like to recommend to us, leave a comment below — we’d love to know! 1. Steal Like An Artist (and 9 Things Nobody Told Me) by Austin Kleon Non-fiction, Self-help Summary: Austin Kleon found unexpected fame through a side hobby — he took newspaper clippings, selected the words he liked, and blacked out everything else with a marker, until a poem of sorts was revealed through the text. His Newspaper Blackout poetry spread, and in Steal Like An Artist, he Kleon reminds us that nothing is truly original anymore, and the best artists are the ones that take someone else’s ideas and re-appropriate them. Quotable quotes: “You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see…Your job is to collect ideas. The best way to collect ideas is to read. Read, read, read, read, read. Read the newspaper. Read the weather. Read the signs on the road. Read the faces of strangers. The more you read, the more you can choose to be influenced by.” Why we like it: A light-hearted, easy read, engaging and thought-provoking. The book takes a maximum of one hour to finish reading, and is a good pick-me up when you’re feeling slightly worn out at work. At its heart the book reminds you that while work can be life (if you’re lucky), work does not have to be all of your life, and that you should actively seek to achieve balance. Kleon has also followed up on this book with a journal of the similar name, filled with suggested daily activities — from creating your own blackout poetry, to getting you out of the house and observing the world around you — to get the user started on reigniting that creative spark. 2. Ways of Seeing by John Berger Non-fiction, Expository Summary: Ways of Seeing was published in 1972, and was based on a TV series of the same name. It was revolutionary, at the time, for suggesting the way that men and women are culturally represented — in essence, that men act, and women appear. Beyond that, the book takes you through the ages to show how our idea of sight, vision, and the way we see and and perceive ourselves being seen, has changed over the eras and continues to be relevant to this very day. Quotable quotes: “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak…the way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe…Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen.” Why we like it: As streetstyle photographers, we are constantly aware of how we view others, and how you present yourself to the world informs the viewer about who you are and what you do. Dress codes and subtle details can affect what we understand about a person, even before we get to know them. In all, the book encourages you to re-examine the way you view the world, and is also a great read for an audience that is interested in developing a view for art, architecture, photography and design. 3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow Non-fiction, Inspirational Summary: If you knew that today was your last day on this earth, and you were given a chance at one last lecture, what would you want to say to the people around you? What kind of wisdom or legacy would you impart to the world? For Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, the situation wasn’t hypothetical — diagnosed with terminal cancer, and with only several months to live, Pausch was given a chance to share what he knew and had come to learn about the world, life, and dreams, not only to the people in the audience, but to his young children who would grow up without him. The lecture eventually inspired this book, cramming a lifetime of lessons into just over 200 pages. Quotable quotes: – “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.” – “No job is beneath you. You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom And when you get there, here’s what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.” – “I know you’re smart. But everyone here is smart. Smart isn’t enough. The kind of people I want on my research team are those who will help everyone feel happy to be here.” Why we like it: While Pausch could have easily slipped into self-pity and depression, he dealt with his impending death in a very logical, matter-of-fact way. Inspiring, at times humorous, and undeniably moving, The Last Lecture holds lessons for everyone who reads it. An important book, especially, for times when we get so caught up with our jobs, career, and where we’re headed that we forget where we come from.