Here we are again. That time when we walk the tightrope, balancing between wanting to be a better person whether it be a spouse, parent, child, co-worker, friend or just a compassionate stranger, and just wanting to give up and follow the same paths as in the past.
As human beings, it's natural that we strive for doing our best. As Bloomington native Elbert Green Hubbard said, "There is no failure except in no longer trying."
So on that note — and a little late — I bring you my annual suggestions for your New Year's resolutions. As a twist this time, all of these have been noted by a variety of sources as one of the best books of the year.
— Are you weary of the daily grind and yearn to get in touch with your creative side? Start by reading "Remodelista" by Julie Carlson. This popular book is focused on recognizing and choosing classic pieces to decorate your home.
The pictures are inspiring, and I love the idea of embracing a clutter-free environment to bring out the best ideas — not only in decor but in focusing on the important things in everyday life.
— When you're done reviewing that, move on to "Martha Stewart's Favorite Crafts for Kids: 175 Projects for Kids of All Ages to Create, Build, Design, Explore" by editors of Martha Stewart Living. Yes, Martha is still around, driving us crazy with her perfect tarts and gold- leafed frames. But this book is one that the whole family can enjoy.
Most of the materials were things that I have at home, and the age level starts at maybe 5.
— After enjoying some creative activity, how about learning more about your fitness and athletic ability? In "The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance" by David Epstein, we encounter truths and suppositions when it comes to elite sports performance.
Why do some countries consistently produce athletes that excel in a particular sport? This book might change the way you watch sports on television. It is particularly interesting as we gear up for the Sochi Olympics in February.
— Are you ready to learn a new way of cooking? Try "Daniel: My French Cuisine" by Daniel Boulud and Sylvie Bigar. This large coffee-table-size book satisfies with beautiful color photographs — and a mixture of interesting essays, humorous anecdotes and sophisticated recipes.
Even if you don't plan to cook something as extravagant as Duck a la Presse, it's fun to look at the pictures and read about people who do cook like this.
— If you'd prefer something a little more practical for your dinner ideas, try "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook" by Deb Perelman. Written by the owner of the Smitten Kitchen blog, I love the everyday style in this one.
The author isn't a famous chef; she's just a really good — and smart — cook. Evenly divided among desserts, salads, side dishes and main entrees, this has something for everyone. With her stunning photos and cute anecdotes, this one has been a favorite in my house.
— How about improving your business skills? Forbes magazine recommends a number of new titles this year. Because of a proliferation of little plastic blocks in my house, I enjoyed reading "Brick By Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation" by David C. Robertson with Bill Breen.
I always enjoy reading success stories from companies that take smart risks and create strong lasting products.
— An alternate might be "To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others" by bestselling author Daniel Pink. In this day of pitching ideas, providing great customer service or creating a satisfying work environment, most of us work in a sales environment.
Just because you don't actually work at a store and accept money from customers doesn't mean that the concept of great salesmanship can't work for you. How do you represent the company you work for? How do you answer the phone or participate in meetings?
All of these things tie into — and can benefit from — a good sales pitch.
There are so many things at the library to help you with whatever endeavors you choose in 2014. Come by and take a look. Ask some questions.
Be enriched this year — at your public library.
Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.