Highlights from all books

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Cover of You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
  • It’s not easy, but I’m not easy, so we match.

  • Blackness is not a monolith. There’s nerdy black, jock black, manic pixie dream black, sassy black, shy black, conscious black, hipster black...the list goes on and on. But some people don’t want to believe that, because if varying degrees of blackness become normalized, then that means society has to rethink how they treat black people.

  • coded language—which is language that, on the surface, seems to mean one thing to the average person but has a different, often pejorative, meaning to the person or group of people being talked about...

  • Do everything you intend to do with no regard for how people want you or expect you to behave.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Cover of Interview with the Vampire
  • People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil. I don’t know why. No, I do indeed know why. Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult.

  • I should like to pass through all manner of different keyholes and feel the tickle of their peculiar shapes.

  • I thought of what lay before me throughout the world and throughout time, and resolved to go about it delicately and reverently, learning that from each thing which would take me best to another.

  • I suppose that is the nature of the monument. Be it a small house or a mansion of Corinthian columns and wrought-iron lace. The monument does not say that this or that man walked here. No, that what he felt in one time in one spot continues. The moon that rose over New Orleans then still rises. As long as the monuments stand, it still rises. The feeling, at least here … and there … it remains the same.

  • Like all strong people, she suffered always a measure of loneliness; she was a marginal outsider, a secret infidel of a certain sort.

  • The sky had come down to meet the sea and that some great secret was to be revealed in that meeting, some great gulf miraculously closed forever.

  • I had one of those rare moments when it seemed I thought of nothing. My mind had no shape. I saw that the rain had stopped. I saw that the air was clear and cold. That the street was luminous.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Cover of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
  • Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

  • Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

  • To remain valuable in our economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things.

  • Two Core Abilities for Thriving in the New Economy 1. The ability to quickly master hard things. 2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.

  • When you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow—a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task.

  • The Principle of Least Resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment.

  • Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.

  • Our brains instead construct our worldview based on what we pay attention

  • Human beings, it seems, are at their best when immersed deeply in something challenging.

  • The meaning uncovered by such efforts is due to the skill and appreciation inherent in craftsmanship—not the outcomes of their work. Put another way, a wooden wheel is not noble, but its shaping can be. You don’t need a rarified job; you need instead a rarified approach to your work.

  • You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. Your will, in other words, is not a manifestation of your character that you can deploy without limit; it’s instead like a muscle that tires.

  • The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.

  • Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets… it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

  • Trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day enough that you end up getting less done than if you had instead respected a shutdown.

  • Enforce at least a five-minute gap between the current moment and the next time you can go online. This gap is minor, so it won’t excessively impede your progress, but from a behavioralist perspective, it’s substantial because it separates the sensation of wanting to go online from the reward of actually doing so.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Cover of The Color Purple
  • It all I can do not to cry. I make myself wood. I say to myself, Celie, you a tree. That’s how come I know trees fear man.

  • She skinny as a bean, and her face full of eyes.

  • There’s no beginning or end to teaching and learning and working—it all runs together.

  • We know a roofleaf is not Jesus Christ, but in its own humble way, is it not God?

  • She say, Celie, tell the truth, have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.

  • God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.

  • My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and I cried and I run all around the house.

  • God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves ’em you enjoys ’em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God by liking what you like...more than anything else, God love admiration.

  • People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.

  • I just feel funny living in a square. If I was square, then I could take it better, she say.

  • She got a right to look over the world in whatever company she choose. Just cause I love her don’t take away none of her rights.

  • Here us is, I thought, two old fools left over from love, keeping each other company under the stars.

  • The only way to stop making somebody the serpent is for everybody to accept everybody else as a child of God, or one mother’s children, no matter what they look like or how they act.

  • It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t hardly know nothing.

  • I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Cover of Life After Life