At ndp, we’re all about being inspired, and inspiring others to change the world.
We recently asked our staffers,
“What book has provided you with exceptional inspiration or insight, or changed your life – and why? Was it a self-help book, a story of survival, or a fictional journey of growth and overcoming the odds – what book has made a positive impact for you?
Here are their responses.
There are countless books that have influenced me and that I return to with some frequency. First, Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – touching, honest, funny, written with a style that feels inventive and deeply personal, more conversational than anything I’d read before. Perfect for a memoir and a straightforwardness to it that makes you buy into everything the narrator tells you without questioning it. I like to reread this one every now and again because it still feels fresh.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Pictures of the Gone World – West coast Beat poetry, capturing those young days of college and travel and new ideas fighting old society. Some light, some deep, some touching and some silly. I spent too long making bad copies of Ferlinghetti and Ashberry, as one does when trying out poetry muscles. I think anyone can appreciate both and find something to take from them, whatever their poetry interest or professional area.
The book that comes to mind is The Greatest Generation. I grew up watching Tom Brokaw and reading this book about so many brave men and women really touched me. I loved reading their stories and realizing just how much their effort and dedicated helped shaped our nation.
Another one of my favorites is The Devil in the White City. It’s a great book that combines my love of architecture, history, and suspense.
I’m a big fan of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson. It’s an insane mix of fact and fiction. I read it periodically to reset my frame of mind when it comes to creativity.
The book that has inspired me the most (there have been several) is called Be Here Now, by Ram Dass. The hardcopy of this book is incredible to read when you are feeling out-of-sorts. The audio book consists of one of Ram Dass’s lectures, where he is speaking to this subject. It is an incredible example for inspiration to just live in the present moment. Dealing with anxiety and a career I felt I was stuck in, this book inspired me to believe within myself and only focus on the present place where I was. The book and subsequent audio book are an incredible resource to simply: stop and smell the roses. I recommend anyone and everyone to at least peruse some of the pages that are scanned and put up on the Internet.
I loved of Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life – written by Queen Noor of Jordan. She wrote her book in an effort to dispel the about the Muslim faith – particularly timely right now when there is so much fear and hatred of anyone who looks, talks or prays differently.
One of my all time favorites was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This was a rare book that shows adversity throughout a young man’s life. It’s a fav of mine because it brought me and my boyfriend back into the realization of how much we love to read and that we wanted to take our friendship to the next level. Plus the book is centered around one piece of art but it rarely makes an appearance. And yes, the BF and I are still together.
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. I've always loved food and trying new restaurants and worked in restaurants in high school and during college. About 9 years ago I got really interested in cooking and preparing food. My son was a baby and enthusiastic eater and became my test kitchen. A few family members were going through serious health issues (diabetes, breast and bladder cancer) and I was reading a lot of different articles and blogs about food as medicine. Bittman’s book was a resource I used almost everyday for a couple years whenever I had a preparation question, and helped inform what has now become a larger cookbook collection. I still go back to it when I can’t find an answer online.
All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten - cause it’s simple and true.
As sad as it sounds, Where the Red Fern Grows. It taught me loyalty, humility and the world of sacrifice. It changed the way I view friendships and dedication. I remember reading it in class in 3rd grade and I was hooked. A close 2nd would be To Kill a Mockingbird – stick by your convictions and don’t judge a book by its cover (no pun intended).
You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. An irreverent, hilarious, unapologetically real guide on how to pull yourself out of the muck of your life and propel it into greatness, this book was my self-help Bible during a difficult few years. I recommend it to everyone and still refer to it when I need a reminder of how badass I am.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Less like inspiration, more like advice for living in general – essentially, I am reminded you can manage all manner of crises if you have the right perspective.
~Shaun Amanda Herrmann
Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Helps guide you in designing the life you want and makes you rethink your approach to living a balanced life.
I recently read the book, Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. An excellent read on how to change things when change is hard. There is a great tactic to try when you are facing a difficult challenge or problem with a client, vendor or situation that involves asking yourself two questions.
The first is called the Miracle Question. Essentially, you imagine that while you are sleeping tonight, a miracle happens and all of the troubles related to your challenge or problem have been solved. So, you then ask the question: what’s the first small sign you’d see that would make you thing that the problem has gone? Don’t think about the miracle itself, rather identify the tangible signs that the miracle happened?
Once you’ve outlined even a few specific signs of progress, follow up with the second question: the Exception Question. When was the last time you saw a little bit of the miracle, even if just for a short time?
The theory is that there are exceptions to every problem and those exceptions can be carefully analyzed and point towards a solution that is workable. Give it a try next time you’re facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
Shel Silverstein – Where the Sidewalks Ends – endless life lessons, but most of all it spurred my passion for creativity at a young age. No matter how many times I read it, between the poems and illustrations, I can find a new perspective in each page.