I'd like to use this space to share with you the five books that have changed my life. Please let me know if these books have changed your life, too; and feel free to comment with books that have changed your life!
I'll share these in the order by which they changed my life.
1. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
It's possible that The Tipping Point was the first real non-fiction book I willingly read. The book teaches us how small changes can make a big difference. One of my favorite takeaways from the book is the idea of a "connector." If you're planning an event, you don't need to make 100 phone calls to invite people; instead, call the five "connectors," the people who have a million friends, and they'll bring their networks. I use these concepts every day in my work life, volunteer life and social life, and I'm grateful to this book for piquing my interest in marketing and communications.
You should read this book if … you're looking for easy fixes to increase your success with friends, business, or volunteering.
2. Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey with Michele Bender
Curly girls, make some noise! Throw away your hair straighteners! Let your curls shine! Curly Girl: The Handbook is a curly manifesto, encouraging girls (and boys!) with curly hair to wear it proud. In another generation, curly hair was considered unprofessional, Lorraine Massey writes, but today it's fun, hip, smart, sexy and appropriate for the office.
This book offers both encouragement for curly girls and step-by-step tips on how to manage, maintain, and enhance curly hair. The advice offered in this book has helped me feel confident with my wavy hair, and since reading the book more than six years ago, I have not once straightened my hair (sorry, Mom!).
You should read this book if … you have curly or wavy hair and need some emotional (or shampooical) support.
3. The Spirituality of Welcoming by Dr. Ron Wolfson
This book is truly the reason I got into my current line of work -- synagogue membership and community. Dr. Ron Wolfson writes about the power of creating welcoming spaces and friendly communities. Synagogues (and really, any congregation or organization) can't just be about a big beautiful building -- people must feel comfortable and cared for.
Do your synagogues have directional signs? Would a visitor know where to hang her coat? Have visitors' needs been anticipated? After reading this book, I applied to work at Temple Jeremiah as the membership director and have never looked back. (Side note: When I met Dr. Wolfson a few years after reading this book, I was completely star-struck and felt I was meeting my celebrity idol.)
You should read this book if … you're involved with welcoming newcomers (and aren't we all?).
4. The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
My husband, Adam, recommended that I read this book when we first started dating. This book discusses five different ways of expressing love, and while this book focuses on romantic love, I think it can be applied to friends, family members, and even co-workers.
People express love differently and it is important to understand how your partner expresses and receives this love, whether it's in the form of words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service (like taking out the garbage or doing the dishes), quality time, or gifts. I found this book to be so eye-opening and a fascinating study on relationships.
You should read this book if … you're in a romantic, friend, work, or family relationship.
5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This is my new Obsession -- with a capital "O." I never, ever thought that tidying actually mattered all that much; everyone has a room that's off-limits during dinner parties where you throw all of your stuff into, right? But boy, do I think differently now.
In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up , Marie Kondo writes that you should only keep items that bring you joy, and everything else should be thanked and then discarded. Once you're left with only joy-sparking items, every item will have a home and should be returned to its home when you're finished with it.
Since reading this book in November, I've focused on little else other than tidying using Kondo's method. As a result, I've donated a dozen bags of clothes, three bags of books, and two bags of DVDs; thrown away another dozen bags of garbage and papers; bought a scanner so I can aim towards a paperless lifestyle; and given each of my items a home. There's still more work to be done, but our apartment is on its way to being a much happier place.
You should read this book if … your house or apartment isn't what you want it to be (or if you just have too much stuff).