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Books that influenced who we are today

Books can be a powerful tool for expression, healing, and learning. We read for many reasons – to get lost in an adventure, to have conversations, to learn, to find connection and meaning, to remember, etc. In honor of our passion for education, literacy, and the power of the written word, staff at WISE have put together a list of some of our favorite books to celebrate National Read A Book Day on September 6th. These books have had influence on us through different stages of our lives. We hope that what we share encourages our readers to remember that one book that resonated with them and to pass it on to someone who might need it.


A New Earth book cover

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Recommended by Kohpa

This book clarifies to me what the ego is, what it does (the good and the bad). Learning about my ego helped me to have compassion for my ego, so I know how to use it in positive ways to better my life. The teachings allow me to know when my ego needs to be put in check and that it doesn't have to be something that is only bad. It's here for my survival and as such I treat it like a friend because it's a part of me that I cannot get rid of.


The Prophet book cover

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Recommended by Pamela

This book has depth, insight and beauty. Khalil Gibran was a gifted poet, philosopher and writer. His prose is elegant and succinct. I appreciate how he talks about simple things in life and examines them bathed in light and wisdom.


A Series of Unfortunate Events book cover

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Recommended by Ayman

The book follows the lives of three children after their parents die in a mysterious fire. In the first book, Bad Beginnings, they are placed in the care of Count Olaf who wishes to steal their inheritance. As a twelve-year-old kid with a very predictable life, I spent a significant amount of time invested in the lives of these children and all their misfortunes. I was drawn by each character’s ability to persevere when others would lose hope and that they always knew what steps to take to ensure their safety. As "dark" as some of the themes are in this story there is humor and sarcasm sprinkled throughout. I would recommend these books to both kids and adults who would like a fast-paced, easy, and fun read.


Rich Dad Poor Dad book cover

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Recommended by See

This book helped me change my perspective about money, job, time, and self discipline. Though the book focused a lot on business/money and the economy it was still very prevalent to how I view my finances and my own personal struggles not related to finance. This book shifted my mindset from working harder to working smarter. I found myself focusing on finding a solution to my problems instead of running away. I also found a purpose in everything I do and learned to lead with the right intentions to ensure I deliver quality work and maintain healthy relationships with money, time, friends/family, and my environment. Instead of finding excuses to all of my mistakes I learned to redirect that to “what can I do better moving forward” and “how do I change the way I look at issues.” I do recommend this book to everyone; it helped me find clarity and peace and I hope it does for you too. You don’t have to be business savvy to read the book.


Letters to His Son and Others, Burmese book cover

Letters to His Son and Others by Lord Chesterfield

Recommended by Hau Nuam

This book is a collection of letters to his son, Philip Stanhope, by Lord Chesterfield. The letters were written in the 18th century and those are still useful in the 21st century for young people like me. Each letter aims to teach his son to be a better person in masculinity and femininity. My father passed away when I was 11 and I have no more learning opportunities from my father. Whenever I read that book, I feel like my father is teaching me how to live and behave in life. However, I read in Burmese translation. I always recommend to young people to read this book.


Lord of the Flies book cover

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Recommended by Florence

Ralph's group travels to Jack's stronghold in an attempt to make Jack see reason, but Jack orders Sam and Eric to tie up and fight with Ralph. In the ensuing battle, one boy, Roger, rolls a boulder down the mountain, killing Piggy and shattering the conch shell. I love the way these boys try to survive amidst the Island and how the boy they despised a lot was so great in the end. There are many great lessons to learn like not judging others by what we see but giving everyone an opportunity to be their best then we can make the world better.


Howl's Moving Castle book cover

Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones

Recommended by Pakou

I am a nerd for fantasy adventure novels and was drawn to this novel because of the female protagonist, Sophie. I first read this book in my early 20s – a time when I was pretty much trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do. I resonated with Sophie as someone who feels stuck in her life but through a series of events that lead her to meet new people and travel to new places, she is able to cultivate her true potential and find her belonging. Even now in my 30s, Sophie still motivates me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things so that I can continuously grow!


Becoming book cover

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Recommended by Stephany

Becoming by Michelle Obama is one of the best books I've gotten to read. Becoming is a memoir of the former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. In this book, Michelle gets very personal and talks about her roots, her experiences, and finding her voice in such a loud world. When I read this book, I needed to have a highlighter with me because there was so much wisdom and power in the words of Michelle that I wanted to remember. Michelle is a really good story teller and I loved learning about her story growing up and what her experience was like being in the White House as a Black woman. There's a lot to take and apply from this beautiful memoir.


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