Here I Am — Jonathan Safran Foer

‘Here I Am’ is the kind of book that you find yourself so emotionally invested in, the story becomes a part of your own. This book is about family, what it means to be Jewish, and the slow unraveling of a marriage. Intimate and heartbreaking, 'Here I Am' is both profoundly sad and beautiful, if sadness can be beautiful.  


In sickness and in sickness. That is what I wish for you. Don’t seek or expect miracles. There are no miracles. Not anymore. And there are no cures for the hurt that hurts most. There is only the medicine of believing each other’s pain, and being present for it.
— Jonathan Safran Foer (Here I Am)
The morning Julia found the phone, my parents were over for brunch. Everything was falling apart around Benjy, although I’ll never know what he knew at the time, and neither will he. The adults were talking when he reentered the kitchen and said, “The sound of time. What happened to it?”

”What are you talking about?”

”You know,” he said, waving his tiny hand about, “the sound of time.”

It took time - about five frustrating minutes - to figure out what he was getting at. Our refigerator was being repaired, so the kitchen lacked its omnipresent, nearly imperceptible buzzing sound. He spent virtually all his home life within reach of that sound, and so had come to associate it with life happening.

I loved his misunderstanding, because it wasn’t a misunderstanding.
My grandfather heard the cries of his dead brothers. That was the sound of his time.
My father heard attacks.
Julia heard the boys’ voices.
I heard silences.
Sam heard betrayals and the sounds of Apple products turning on.
Max heard Argus’s whining.
Benjy was the only one still young enough to hear home.
— Jonathan Safran Foer (Here I Am)
All happy mornings resemble one another, as do all unhappy mornings, and that’s at the bottom of what makes them so deeply unhappy: the feeling that this unhappiness has happened before, that efforts to avoid it will at best reinforce it, and probably even exacerbate it, that the universe is, for whatever inconceivable, unnecessary, and unjust reason, conspiring against the innocent sequence of clothes, breakfast, teeth and egregious cowlicks, backpacks, shoes, jackets, goodbye. Jacob
— Jonathan Safran Foer (Here I Am)

Everybody Writes — by Ann Handley

You’ll want to keep this book at your desk for when your writing is feeling lackluster and uninspired. Writing guidelines from this book that I immediately implemented: identify the business goal and write it at the top of the page, start with a single line that sums up everything, and focus on the value to the reader and the “gift” you’re giving them. Make your writing concise, clear, and useful, and above all, be empathic.

Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.
— Woody Guthrie (Everybody Writes)
Start with empathy. Continue with utility. Improve with analysis. Optimize with love.
— Jonathon Colman (Everybody Writes)
So, before you begin the writing, be sure you know the purpose or mission or objective of every piece of content that you write. What are you trying to achieve? What information, exactly, are you trying to communicate? And why should your audience care?
— Ann Handley (Everybody Writes)

Improv Wisdom — by Patricia Ryan Madson

Using techniques employed by performers, this book helps you become a more effective communicator and in general, a happier human, at work and at home. Her lessons seem simple and sometimes obvious, but they require dedication and daily practice, like any other skill. Be present (listen actively and stay focused on the present), be thoughtful and positive (see problems as opportunities), and take action (trying and showing up is better than inaction). 

The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes
— Marcel Proust (Improv Wisdom)
Keep adjusting to how it is rather than how you’d like it to be.
— Patricia Ryan Madson (Improv Wisdom)
To respond to a question or start improvised scenes, begin immediately using the first words that come to you. Trust your mind. Your first thought is a reasonable starting place; it is good enough. Don’t hesitate. Once you begin speaking, you have something to work with and build on. With the first-thought method it is as if the idea selects you rather than the other way around. The improviser focuses on making that idea into a good one, rather than searching for a ‘good idea.’
— Patricia Ryan Madson (Improv Wisdom)

Hyperbole and a Half — by Allie Brosh

A very honest and real portrayal of someone experiencing depression alongside funny personal stories about her family, dogs, and daily life that will make you laugh out loud at the absurdness and silliness. She is able to tackle the heavy subject of depression in a way that is straightforward, genuine, and surprisingly lighthearted. Through the silly anecdotes and illustrations, she shares powerful messages and nuggets of wisdom that make a lasting impression. 

But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn’t going to work.
— Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half)
When you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable.
— Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half)
Nobody can guarantee that it’s going to be okay, but - and I don’t know if this will be comforting to anyone else - the possibility exists that there’s a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you were laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed.
— Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half)

Leaders Eat Last — by Simon Sinek

Dozens of examples of companies that value people and longterm successes over shareholder profits and short term gains. These companies can weather a financial storm and a bad economy with a team of people that are loyal and dedicated to the company and their work. People are motivated when they feel valued and that the work that they do matters.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
— Simon Sinek (Leaders Eat Last)
How you do anything is how you do everything.
— Zen Buddhist saying (Leaders Eat Last)
Children are better off having a parent who works into the night in a job they love than a parent who works shorter hours but comes home unhappy.
— Simon Sinek (Leaders Eat Last)