Sunday, January 13, 2013

#106. 4 Books, 4 Weeks

No really, I love pictures of books.
I love books. I love their smell, how they look on the bookshelf, I love pictures of books, I love to decorate with books, I love opening and closing books, I love talking about books, I love scouting out new books and discovering old books and I love more than anything else I have ever done in my whole entire life, reading books. There is nothing more invigorating than sitting down with an enthralling and captivating read, especially in this 'day and age' when distractions are plentiful. The fact that books still matter (at least to me) demonstrates the power of the written word in its lengthiest, most detailed form.

On December 6th of last year, after finishing my last semester of a full, part-time course load, I committed to spending my holiday break reminding myself how much I love to read for pleasure (as opposed to for a degree). I've already outlined the positive outcome of these four weeks above, but let me tell you a little more about the culprits:

Book 1: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - The book you bring on a beach vacation. You'll easily pick up where you left off, be eager to finish it, and probably have some fun jumping between the lost wife's and the left-behind husband's perspectives. It's a light but engaging read. I highly recommend this book if you need a distraction in upcoming travels or commutes.

Book 2: Mortality by Christopher Hitchens - Vying for a spot in the 'changed my life' column. I never read Hitchens before, but Holy Cow, how he crafts a sentence! Not to mention the ideas and concepts he discusses are bold, containing no trace of cliché or hyperbole. He was an incredible thinker and a beautiful writer, and I'm sorry to have discovered his works only there will almost certainly be no more. I highly recommend this book to all thinkers and cancer survivors.

Book 3: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - It seemed the most interesting of Capote's works. It was impressive read, but mostly because it demonstrated the author's complete immersion into the horrific murder of a family in 1960s. No easy feat, I imagine. Interestingly enough, the conclusion of the book addresses the theme of mental illness in the 1960s justice system, which I knew little about. I wouldn't recommend this book if you're a fan of the true crime genre, but you might like it if you're into literature.

Book 4: Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens - This isn't the first time you've heard about Hitchens, and it definitely won't be the last. I'm a little obsessed with his writing, and of a life committed to forming bold, brash opinions on international events, and them consciously and purposefully. His memoirs are a fascinating account of the brotherhood of the International Socialists and the international literary scene. He commits a lot of space in his memoirs on his relationships with and influences of Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, among other important literary and political figures. I am so inspired by him and his works, and recommend this book if you're interested in literature, current events or The Left.

I'll be honest, dear reader, this list was meant to be 5. But by book number two, I had already achieved more than I could have hoped for: I had discovered a new favourite author. Reading Mortality immediately inspired me to write, resulting in some of the most popular, and most powerful, blog posts I've ever written. Completing this small but significant goal reminded me why I read, for both enjoyment and encouragement.  

This Semester At Grad School, I'm taking only one course, which is 50% less than the four semesters until now. With that much less work, I will continue to seek out both inspirational and enthralling reads for pleasure. Because to be a better writer - in any genre, academic, blogging or otherwise - I  must read good writing. 

Also, I am closest to the truest form of happiness with a good book. And no degree is worth sacrificing that!

What book or author inspires you?

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