A Book About Someone Who is Living Your Dream: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge

October 4, 2021 | Nalini

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When I was a child I dreamed about becoming an ecologist even though I wasn't exactly sure what ecologists did. Fast forward some years later, my dream was to work in a library. Fast forward many years later, to today, and my dream has changed again. I guess that's the beauty of dreams - they can change.

Here are a few books that can be used for the TPL Reading Challenge category "a book about someone living your dream".


The Expatriats

The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee

Anyone else wish they could move to another country? This novel tells a story of expat life that I did not expect - it speaks about the loneliness and isolation that comes with living in a foreign country. It follows the story of three expat women, all in different circumstances, living in Hong Kong. Mercy is a young university graduate escaping her past life, Hilary is a wealthy housewife struggling to have a child, and Margaret is a mother stricken by anxiety and grief. They all struggle in a place where the culture is foreign to them. I loved the writing in this book, the characters were all well developed, and the description of Hong Kong made me yearn for the days of international travel.

Other categories:

  • a book about someone unlike yourself

- Nalini, Senior Branch Head


Joyful Mending

Joyful Mending by Noriko Misumi

Am I recommending another sci-fi novel? A graphic book? No! I am recommending yet another book about sewing and repair. Why? Because I love Noriko Misumi's take on mending and her sense of artistry in what she does. Plus, her mending tips are great for beginners who are just looking to get started in extending the life of their clothing. After reading books such as Fashionopolis and Unraveled, I really want to repair and extend the life of ALL of my clothes, to be more mindful of what I buy, and to develop an eye for making beautiful, visible repairs. So, Noriko Misumi is definitely living one of my dreams - even if it's a pretty humble one.

Other categories:

  • A book that is someone else's favourite (it's definitely my favourite mending book, although I just learned Misumi has a new one - Mending with Love 
  • A book by two or more people (this book was translated from Japanese)
  • A book by or about someone you'd like to meet (she teaches classes! I'd love to take one)
  • A debut book
  • A book about love (not just the romantic kind) (love of our clothes/things, and treating them well)
  • A book in a genre you've never read before (if you don't read books about sewing/mending)

- Ames, Services Specialist


Save Me the Plums

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reich

The book is about Ruth Reichl's time spent as editor-in-chief at Gourmet magazine. She had previously worked as a food writer and restaurant critic. I always thought it would be fun to work at a magazine or as a writer. Combine that with my love of all things food and this sounded like a dream job! It's a really good book, it even includes recipes related to the chapters.

Other categories:

  • A book about someone unlike yourself (unless you work in the publishing industry)
  • A book that is someone else's favourite
  • A book about growing older
  • A book by or about someone you'd like to meet
  • A book that is narrative non-fiction

- Pauline, Librarian


Travel as a Political Act

Travel is a Political Act by Rick Steves

The person living my dream is travel writer Rick Steves. In this book, Rick Steves goes beyond the regular travel route and digs deep into culture, political culture, foods, family life, and homes. He has been all over the world, even to places we might not venture to! He writes his unbiased or biased opinions (depending on how you look at it) on each culture and encourages all of us to embrace each other. Being a traveler myself I don't just want to see the 'tourist' locations but I want to walk their side streets, eat at their more off-the-beaten-path restaurants, and talk to the locals.

Other Categories:

  • A book about someone unlike yourself 
  • A book by or about someone you’d like to meet
  • A book that is narrative non-fiction

- Despina, Branch Head


How to Build a Car

How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey

I don't dream of becoming an automotive engineer, but I do dream of getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a Formula 1 racing team! Engineer Adrian Newey's picture and diagram-filled autobiography tell the story of his career through the cars he designed. I am a recently converted Formula 1 fan, so I enjoyed learning more about car design and the sport's history. Beyond Formula 1 fans, I also think this book would appeal to engineering enthusiasts.

Other categories:

  • A book about STEM

- Myrna, Librarian


My Place at the Table

My Place at the Table by Alexander Lobrano

Alec is living my dream as a foodie in Paris. His memoir is funny and reminds me of Forrest Gump--he was in the right place at the right time and has met many famous people.

Other categories:

  • a book about someone unlike yourself

- Catherine, Services Specialist


Entangled Life

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

This is a lyrical and gripping book about studying mycelia. If I'd known as a kid that being a biologist could involve crawling around a jungle floor closely inspecting unfamiliar life forms, I probably would have made some different choices in my life.

Other categories:

  • a book about STEM
  • a book about love (not just the romantic kind), because Sheldrake really loves mushrooms!

- Wendy, Digital Content Lead


Who is Maud Dixon

 Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews

The main character in Who is Maud Dixon? is not so much living my dream as having my dream job. Florence Darrow, the main character, loses her job at a publishing company because she's such an awful person. Somehow she manages to get a job as assistant to bestselling novelist Maud Dixon. Maud is a pseudonym and no one knows the author's true identity. Soon Florence is living in luxury, traveling to Morocco with the author to research her latest book and getting advice about writing and life. This sounds like a great opportunity to me, and because I'm not a terrible person, I could have done it better than Florence who allows everything to descend into chaos.

- Margaret, Librarian


Field Study

Field Study by Helen Humphreys

A refreshing and meditative journey; of morning walks through nature with a canine companion; of immersing oneself in a "library devoted" to the collection and preservation of botanical specimens, evocative of a much less chaotic time in the world... 

Other categories:

  • a book about STEM
  • a book published this year

- Nancy, Public Service Assistant


The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food

The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food by Joseph Tychonievich

This fun, super informative book really helped my family plan, grow and harvest the kitchen garden of our dreams.

I'm also going to recommend any and all books by the late, great Mary Oliver. Oliver lived a long, quiet and seemingly contented life, writing astonishing poems and spending lots of time in nature. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

- Jennifer, Librarian


Recommendations from our Facebook Reading Challenge Group:

Need even more recommendations for "a book about someone who is living your dream"? Check out this recording of our online book discussion where library staff spoke about this topic.

And if you are ahead of the game and have already completed our TPL Reading Challenge, don't forget to fill out this survey to enter to win an awesome prize!