Medical doctors, PhDs, and authors alike are people whom I’m in awe. Anyone who can consciously slave away for thousands of hours over multiple years to create a book of any type: memoir, history, fiction, dissertation or serious treatise is remarkable. Novelist Philip Roth considered it a very good day of writing if he produced one page that satisfied him. Writing books is not for sissies.
Stephen King said: “Writing is a lonely job. It isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well”.
The five books briefly described here are written by friends and family whom I’m privileged to know. Two of them are “Halperns”, my brother Skip and my wife Arlyn. The others are good smart people I have gotten to know along the way. I was an early reader of three of the books, and I wanted to share them all with you.
The blog post is much longer than the usual length, but worth it. Each of the authors submitted their abbreviated descriptions of their books. They are listed in alphabetical order by author. They are all available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller (or will be soon starting with the first one below):
GOOD BOYS – GROWING UP AWAY FROM HOME! By Tom Brodnicki
We were lucky. Actually, in retrospect, without knowing it, we were blessed.
Born amidst the “Baby Boomer” generation, we grew up as 13 or 14 year old boys on a quest to follow our parents’ dream for us to become Roman Catholic priests. We attended St. Augustine Seminary located in Michigan away from home as high school seminarians during the turbulent 1960s. Although away from home, family and friends – together we learned, we grew, we experienced the events and turbulence of our nation and the world. We lived in a bubble of sorts as we shaped our values and discovered how we would choose to live our lives and our faith over the decades to follow. “GOOD BOYS” captures our story and answers the question often asked “Given the time, energy and money invested in seminaries like this, was it worth it?”
DANCING INTO THE LIGHT: A Spiritual Journey of Healing By Arlyn Halpern
A heartwarming memoir that captures one woman’s transformative journey of self-discovery by making peace with a family at once extremely dysfunctional, yet oddly endearing: a troubled interaction with her depressed mother co-existed with the affection she held for her happy-go-lucky father.
A series of fateful events, from exotic dancing in a carnival to travel to Israel in the aftermath of the Six Day War, led her to falling in love with a Swedish man and moving to his native land. A meeting with a college professor, and their subsequent marriage, set Arlyn down the path of Buddhist practice. A pilgrimage to India where she received teachings from Tibetan Buddhist masters and where Arlyn undertook the rigorous study of Indian classical dance sustained her through heart-rendering challenges along the way.
Throughout this engaging and courageous tale, she never wavers from looking inward, facing her demons and developing greater wisdom and compassion. It is a redemptive tale of love and loss that will leave no reader unmoved.
WELLSPRINGS OF WORK: Surprising Sources of Meaning and Motivation in Work
by Samuel Halpern
Whether you’re just starting out, in mid-career or retired, WELLSPRINGS OF WORK: reveals often- unappreciated sources of meaning and motivation in work. Unlike the many books bemoaning how work brings you down, “WELLSPRINGS” explores a dozen sources of fulfillment to lift you up.
This book is for anyone considering the value of their own work as well as its limits and trap doors. These concerns are especially urgent today because of a range of societal forces – from Covid to the digital revolution to the gig economy.
For anyone involved in business, investing, consulting or law – occupations that strike many as soulless – “WELLSPRINGS” points the way to values and meaning beyond the buck. Samuel “Skip” Halpern found his own nearly 50-year career across those fields spiritually rewarding. His far-ranging experiences – with investor Warren Buffett, legendary fraud Bernie Madoff, the 2008 Financial Crisis and investment funds covering professional athletes, Inupiat Eskimos and hundreds of millions of Chinese workers – are springboards for exploring purpose and value across a wide range of work.
“WELLSPRINGS” provides insight into what clicks for a variety of workers …and maybe what clicks for you.
EAVESDROPPING IN OBERAMMERGAU by Hilary Salk
A Jewish American child living in Germany three years after the Holocaust is the first-person story told by Alison Gold, an inveterate eavesdropper and daughter of a U.S. Army officer stationed in Oberammergau, Germany. She narrates her discoveries of Nazi hatred for the Jewish people in this village known for its holy Passion Play, perfumed every ten years since 1634.
Alison overhears the stories told to her mother and her visiting grandfather by the German piano teacher, who we learn is a Jew, through a convert to Catholicism. Based on a true story, this fictionalized character, renamed Stefan Hirsch, came to Oberammergau in 1934, where he lived until attacked on Kristallnacht by a group of Nazi youths, one of whom performed the part of Jesus in the 1950 pageant.
Hirsch was imprisoned in Dachau and eventually released. He lived out the war in England, after which he returned to Oberammergau.
The novel creates the reason for this return, which drives the plot of her novel.
WORLD WAR BRANDS by Barry Silverstein
…. shows how the war itself was “branded”, how brand advertisers leveraged the war, and how the post-war economy helped birth the modern brand. Included are 38 vintage wartime ads and scores of stories about some of the best-known brands of the ’40s and ’50s. Many brands from this time have survived and thrived into the 21st Century.
This unique book takes a fresh look at the impact of World War II on America from a marketing perspective. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a convincing history about the role of World War II in developing brand consciousness among consumers in the United States.”
There you have it. Do you have a book “in you” too? If so, what’s it going to be about? I’d love to hear more. Thank you.
2 thoughts on “In Awe of Authors”
Good idea for a blog.
If you can make after-the-fact edits, pls add my subtitle, “Surprising Sources of Meaning and Motivation in Work,” b/c that immed’y answers the inevitable question, “What’s your book about?”).
Btw, in the piece about Hilary’s book, you wrote “perfumed” and meant “performed.”
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This post is marvelous. I fall on the side of awe. Without books written by blood sweat and tears, I would not have survived . Books have always, and still are my comfort and salvation.
Thank you for giving these extraordinary people the respect and credit they are due.