Creative Crushes: Who I'm Reading, Listening To, and Thinking About

This week I thought it would be fun to share some of the writers, thinkers and artists that I've been appreciating most recently. I hope you find someone new here that also speaks to you!

Paul Jarvis. I’ve subscribed to his thoughtful, high-quality Sunday Dispatches for years. His intentional approach to living and entrepreneurship has always made him feel like a kindred spirit. His most recent book, Company of One, is about choosing to create a minimalist business, valuing quality of life and work over big growth. Recently I enjoyed his article “Working remotely on an island: a day in the life of a company of one" (and plan to write my own version soon!).

Oliver Jeffers. I set my heart on one of Jeffer’s prints after reading a review of his book Here We Are in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings (also worthy of subscribing if you don't already). My husband bought this print for me last Christmas, featuring dozens of animals in bright and detailed watercolor. It's currently propped up on my desk. I get so much daily joy out of these colorful renderings: first, admiring the artist’s creativity and, second, admiring Creation itself, that so much beauty, variety and whimsy within life on Earth.

Periodically my daughter also comes in and practices her newly acquired words in English and Catalan, adding yet another layer of joy:

Peix! (pronounced "peh-ssh", fish)
Bee! (pointing to an ant, butterfly, bee or ladybug)
Piu-Piu! (“tweet-tweet”, i.e. bird)

Austin Kleon. If you don’t already follow the author of Steal Like an Artist, I highly recommend you check out his work. Austin Kleon is another person whose emails I never miss. I also really enjoyed his recent interview on one of my favorite podcasts, The Good Life Project. One takeaway from that interview was when he spoke about how he wants his life and his children's lives to be "privately happy and publicly useful." Yes.

James Clear. I love learning about productivity and habits, so I was surprised that James Clear and his book Atomic Habits had somehow missed my radar (can’t wait to read it!). I found him through this interview on failures. This quote had me hooked:

“Often, feeling like a failure is just a mid-point in the process, and not the end-point if you’re willing to continue working on it. Failure is often just work in progress, not the final result.”

Adam Grant. He’s the host of my latest favorite podcast find, Work Life. I love the way he describes himself: “I’m an organizational psychologist who studies how to make work not suck.” I get it: I’m a coach who helps clients make changes so work doesn't suck. Ha! That’s one way of putting it, for sure.

I really identified with episode “When strength becomes weakness.” Listen to this episode and you’ll understand why I work with clients around their strengths, especially when they are looking to improve their current job or find a new one.

Caroline Fraser, author of Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

It was pure coincidence that I read these two books one right after the other. Strangely, Heartland is really a perfect sequel to Prairie Fires. Both call BS on some of America’s most cherished stories about itself, including Westward Expansion, opportunity, hard work, and upward mobility.

Though I live in Spain, my own country still occupies much of my attention (and heart). Perhaps it’s because I’m such a writer and reader. The stories about where I am from and who I am are something I’m always thinking about. Within these two books, I found much that reflected my own history.

My mother's family was originally from Ohio and moved west in search of work, which brought them finally to tiny farming town in Oregon. These books have offered a richer and often sobering understanding of both my personal story and my country’s.

How about you? What’s been on your playlist, night stand or podcast lineup? What can you recommend?