Why Books Matter

books,read,reading,distraction,

I finished this book last night. I don’t recall another book packing such a punch at the finish.

“I felt myself enter Fitzgerald’s language, felt its lilt, its music, carry me away.”

Right book.
Right place.
Right time.

I’ve included the closing five paragraphs below. If you want to avoid a spoiler, stop here and go pick up David Ulin’s book:

David L. Ulin. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. (Sasquatch Books. 2010)

[Read more...]

(Truth) The junkie’s temporary relief at the fleeting fix

lab-rat

For most of my adult life, I have read, like E. I. Lonoff in Roth’s The Ghost Writer, primarily at night: a hundred or so pages every evening once Rae and the kids have gone to bed. These days, after spending hours on the computer, I pick up a book and read a paragraph; then my mind wanders and I check my e-mail, drift onto the Internet, pace the house before returning to the page. Or I want to do these things but don’t, force myself to remain still, to follow what I’m reading until I give myself over to the flow. What I’m struggling with is the encroachment of the buzz, the sense that there is something out there that merits my attention, when in fact it’s mostly just a series of disconnected riffs, quick takes and fragments, that add up to the anxiety of the age. How did this happen? Perhaps it’s easier to pinpoint when. Certainly, it began after the fall of 2006, when I first got high-speed Internet, which I had previously resisted because I understood my tendency to lose myself in the instant gratifications of the information stream. [...] It all felt so immensely freighted that to look back now is to recall little more than the frantic blur of stimulation, the lab rat’s manipulated jolt at pressing the proper button, the junkie’s temporary relief at the fleeting fix.

~ David L. Ulin. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time.


Related David L. Ulin Post: We immerse, slow down. Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

Saturday Morning: We immerse, slow down

read-morning-coffee-saturday

“… to read, we need a certain kind of silence, an ability to filter out the noise. That seems increasingly elusive in our overnetworked society, where every buzz and rumor is instantly blogged and tweeted, and it is not contemplation we desire but an odd sort of distraction, distraction masquerading as being in the know. In such a landscape, knowledge can’t help but fall prey to illusion, albeit an illusion that is deeply seductive, with its promise that speed can lead us to more illumination, that it is more important to react than to think deeply, that something must be attached to every bit of time. Here, we have my reading problem in a nutshell, for books insist we take the opposite position, that we immerse, slow down.”

- David L. Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading


Notes: Quote – Litverve. Photograph: Amoris-Causa

 

Read

Beyond the First Draft

wsj: How to Read a Book – and Maybe Write One:

 Beyond the First Draft” is a collection of essays about writing. Because they are about writing, they’re also about reading. For John Casey, as I would judge for most good writers, it’s difficult to separate the two activities. One feeds into the other, and the process is repeated in reverse. No doubt there are exceptions, because there is scarcely a rule to which there aren’t, but it is rare to find a writer who wasn’t first, and for a long part of his life, a devoted and compulsive reader, though not necessarily a discriminating one.

[...] This is just what John Casey does in these essays, encouraging us to look more closely and intelligently at what we read and even at what we may be trying to write.

~ Allan Massie, in a review of John Casey’s “Beyond the First Draft”


John Casey, 75, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Iowa. His previous novel, Spartina, won the 1989 National Book Award for fiction. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is Professor in the English Department at the University of Virginia.  In Beyond the First Draft he offers his essential and original insights into the art of writing—and rewriting—fiction. Find his new book on Amazon here: Beyond the First Draft.

 

Truth: I am a habit machine. I suffer from character sclerosis.

Six-figure advance: Vincent Deary sparked a bidding war for his book.

Carole Cadwalladr, ‘Vincent Deary: ‘Are you living the life you want to lead?’

At the age of 40 Vincent Deary jacked in his job as an NHS psychotherapist, sold his house in south London, moved to Edinburgh and locked himself in a small room for two years to write a book. Or, more accurately, to think about writing a book. He spent the first year mostly writing Post-it notes. By the fifth year, having turned 45, he finally finished it and called it How to Live

…What comes across most strongly in How to Live is just how bloody difficult it is to change. Or, as is more often the case, to handle change. Deary had a choice – to stay in London or to go – but many of those he cites in the book don’t have a choice. Change has been thrust upon them – partners leave, work dries up, people die. “There are many ways our worlds can end,” he writes in the book. “It may start as a distant rumour, a noise outside your small world, or an unexpected intrusion within it… sooner or later your current world will change, the present season will end.”

And even the perfect people of Facebook, with smiling kids and sunny skiing holidays, are not immune. “They will fall for their lover, their dog will die, they’ll have to move house, they’ll go bankrupt, they’ll die, they’ll age and if they stay the same their circumstances will change so their old responses won’t produce the same response from the environment. So even if they stay the same, that will mean change.” The problem is that we are “habit machines”. We suffer from “character sclerosis”. “Left to [our] own devices, the result will be the downhill slide of a life dictated by whatever happened last, by happenstance and habit.”

Read entire column at The Guardian


 

 

Monday Mantra: Go Deep

thomas-bernhard

“I have, in my life, turned pages a million times more often than I have read them, and always derived from turning pages at least as much pleasure and real intellectual enjoyment as from reading. Surely it is better to read altogether only three pages of a four-hundred-page book a thousand times more thoroughly than the normal reader who reads everything but does not read a single page thoroughly, he said. It is better to read twelve lines of a book with the utmost intensity and thus to penetrate into them to the full, as one might say, rather than read the whole book as the normal reader does, who in the end knows the book he has read no more than an air passenger who knows the landscape he overflies. He does not perceive the contours. Thus all people nowadays read everything and know nothing. I enter into a book and settle in it, neck and crop, you should realize, in one or two pages of a philosophical essay as if I were entering a landscape, a piece of nature, a state organism, a detail of the earth, if you like, in order to penetrate into it entirely and not just with half my strength or half-heartedly, in order to explore it and then, having explored it with all the thoroughness at my disposal, drawing conclusions as to the whole. He who reads everything has understood nothing, he said. It is not necessary to read all of Goethe or all of Kant, it is not necessary to read all of Schopenhauer; a few pages of ‘Werther’, a few pages of ‘Elective Affinities’ and we know more in the end about the two books than if we had read them from beginning to end, which would anyway deprive us of the purest enjoyment.”

— Thomas BernhardOld Masters: A Comedy (University Of Chicago Press, 1992)

[Read more...]

James Joyce. His Bell Tolls (for me).

It continues to haunt. James Joyce and Ulysses. Unfinished, brooding on my book shelf. I first discussed his book in a earlier post: Just Can’t Finish. Then I tripped into this video. Luck? I don’t think so. It’s time. Time to pull it off the shelf and give it another whack…

Larry Kirwan, 71, Irish writer and musician, on James Joyce:

Never once did he doubt his own genius, and God knows he had a awfully hard life. He became almost blind to his always broke, always borrowing. And yet he knew his strength. His strength for story, and words and music. I think we read him because of his music and his rhythms.  Catching the soul of a person. And catching the inner dialogue, say in the Molly Bloom thing, you could never have met a woman and read Molly Bloom and know what a woman is about. He’s that strong a writer to me.

Frank Delaney, 71, Irish journalist, author and broadcaster, on James Joyce:

This is what he does better than anyone else. He understands the tiny sins, the tiny virtues, the tiny venalities, the tiny advantages that people will look for in life. And nobody else ever did that before and nobody, I would contend, has done it as well since.


Monday Mantra: Stirring the Pot

pot-boiling-stir

When the mind becomes highly relaxed and alert at the same time, three wonderful qualities of mind naturally emerge: calmness, clarity, and happiness. Here is the analogy. Imagine you have a pot of water full of sediments, and imagine that pot is constantly shaken and agitated. The water appears cloudy. Imagine that you stop agitating the pot and just let it rest on the floor. The water will become calm and, after a while, all the sediments will settle and the water will appear clear. This is the classical analogy of the mind in the alert and relaxed state. In this state, we temporarily stop agitating the mind the same way we stop agitating the pot.

~ Chade-Meng Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) [Read more...]

Yep, you’re addicted

book-coffee-bed-weekend-read
49 Signs You’re Addicted To Reading by Koty Neelis:

1) …People are cool but reading is your preferred social activity.

8) You carry a book with you at all times because you never know when you’ll have a spare minute to do some extra reading.

16) You legitimately don’t understand people who say they don’t read.

25) You honestly can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday than reading a book and drinking coffee or tea.

29) You buy more books even if you have a stack of books that haven’t been read yet.

Read all 49 signs your addicted @ 49 Signs You’re Addicted To Reading


Photograph: weheartit

Early we receive the call

Christian-Wiman-portrait
The endless, useless urge to look on life comprehensively, to take a bird’s-eye view of ourselves and judge the dimensions of what we have or have not done: this is life as a landscape, or life as resume. But life is incremental, and though a worthwhile life is a gathering together of all that one is, good and bad, successful and not, the paradox is that we can never really see this one that all of our increments (and decrements, I suppose) add up to. “Early we receive a call,” writes Czeslaw Milosz, “yet it remains incomprehensible, / and only late do we discover how obedient we were.”

— Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013)


I finished this book last night. As Henry David Thoreau said: “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”


Notes:

Gaffe

funny-life-mistake-autobiography


Source: Living in Maine

Sunday Morning

grass-dew-morning-sunny-light

It is a time of quiet joy,
the sunny morning.
When the glittery dew is on the mallow weeds,
each leaf holds a jewel which is beautiful
if not valuable.
This is no time for hurry or for bustle.
Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.”

~ John SteinbeckTortilla Flat


Notes:

Or. Don’t End. Don’t End. Don’t End.

book-cover-reading

When you finish a book and want to start another but you think the one you just finished deserves a moment of silence.

~ Ourfandomtopia

 


Illustration: Adara Sánchez Anguiano

 

It trembles, liquid to the mind, then falls

water-drop-gif

Sometimes you linger days
upon a word,
a single, uncontaminated drop
of sound; for days

it trembles, liquid to the mind,
then falls:
mere denotation
dimming the undertow of language.

John Burnside, from “Like me, you sometimes waken” 


Notes:

 

 

In a job, where you wonder, a year later, what happened to that year

on-looking-alexandra-horowitz

Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) in a Conversation with Alexandra Horowitz (Cognitive Scientist): The Art of Looking: How to Live With Presence, Break the Tyranny of Productivity, and Learn to See Our Everyday Wonderland

AH: I am not encouraging productivity — and I don’t mind that that’s the case. I value the moments in my life that are productive, certainly, but only the ones that are productive and also present. So it doesn’t have to be either-or. But [I have also] spent time in a job where you then wonder, a year later, what happened to that year. And if I had bothered to sit on the subway, commuting to my office, looking — looking — I think that those moments would have been memorialized, and I would know what happened to that year…I don’t mean to be testifying against productivity per se, but I do see that it’s certainly mindless, the way that we approach there being only one route to living one’s life. And it is within us, this capacity to alter that — at any moment, even within that framework — to change your state.

MP: What’s interesting about the productivity dogma is that we live in a culture where we worship work ethic — by a very narrow definition — as some sort of this grand virtue. And we define it as showing up, day after day after day. But I often think that that’s the surest way to lull ourselves into a kind of trance of passivity, where we show up but we’re absent from our own lives. And I think one of the most beautiful things you do is you show how we can be present in our own lives, through these eleven different people and their perspectives.

AH: Thank you. You know, you are thought of as being, probably, an excessively productive person — again, in that literal sense. You have such a fertile mind — would you say you are not productive? Or, how do you achieve your productivity?

MP: For me, I read, and I hunger to know… I record, around that, my experience of understanding the world and understanding what it means to live a good life, to live a full life. Anything that I write is a byproduct of that — but that’s not the objective. So, even if it may have the appearance of “producing” something on a regular basis, it’s really about taking in, and what I put out is just … the byproduct. It’s kind of like going down the rabbit hole but digging it in the process, too.

See full post here: The Art of Looking: How to Live With Presence, Break the Tyranny of Productivity, and Learn to See Our Everyday Wonderland

See short video on Horowitz’s book On Looking. Find the book on Amazon here: On Looking.

The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of teaching were…

joseph_epstein

…The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of university teaching were those I encountered when I first began, in the early 1970s, who almost all turned out to have been put through Catholic schools, during a time when priests and nuns still taught and Catholic education hadn’t become indistinguishable from secular education. Many of these kids resented what they felt was the excessive constraint, with an element of fear added, of their education. Most failed to realize that it was this very constraint—and maybe a touch of the fear, too—that forced them to learn Latin, to acquire and understand grammar, to pick up the rudiments of arguing well, that had made them as smart as they were…

..So often in my literature classes students told me what they “felt” about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one’s feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power. In essay courses, many of these same students turned in papers upon which I wished to—but did not—write: “D-, Too much love in the home.” I knew where they came by their sense of their own deep significance and that this sense was utterly false to any conceivable reality. Despite what their parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. Besides, one of the first things that people who really are significant seem to know is that, in the grander scheme, they are themselves really quite insignificant.

~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays


Thank you Michael Wade for your recommendation of Epstein’s new book: A Literary Education and Other Essays. I’m half way through and loving it.  Joseph Epstein, 77, was born in Chicago. He is an essayist, short story writer, and editor. In 2003, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


“Which do you pick?”

green-paint-brush-color

And so I ask Helen my favorite question: “If you could have one sense back, which would it be?” Her fingers go round and round in circles, and I can feel the girl actually thinking in my palm.

“Which do you pick?” she asks.

Though I have been deprived of all senses save touch since the age of two, while she is only deaf and blind, for me the choice is simple. “Sight,” I tell her, all the glorious colors God has painted on lands and faces. Green is the color I remember with the most pleasure: green from the grass outside our house in New Hampshire. Blue still spills from that square of sky visible over the bed where I lay ill for almost a year, and Mama says my eyes were bright blue before they shrunk behind my lids. Red I have a strong and disagreeable sense of, from when they bled me with leeches. And black, black I know the longest and best because it is my constant companion. These are the only colors I can recall or imagine with any clarity.

~ Kimberly Elkins, What Is Visible, A Novel


This is an excerpt is from a novel about Laura Bridgman (1829-1889). Laura Bridgman’s family was struck with scarlet fever when Laura was two years old. The illness killed her two older sisters and left her deaf, blind, and without a sense of smell or taste. She is known as the first deaf-blind American to gain a significant education in the English language, fifty years before the more famous Helen Keller.


Photography: Media.photobucket via Your Eyes Blaze Out

Yes, Really

funny-read-books


Source: Living in Maine

I heard Resurrection

pine-cones-black and white

The lodgepole pines I had seen as red and dying were now part of the story they introduced as fire ecology, with pine bark beetles entering the cambium layer of the tree, killing it, and preparing it for fire. Ted spoke of the flames rising with the heat in the forest, splitting open the cones that drop their seeds in the seared soil for the lodgepole’s regeneration the following year. “Lodgepole pinecones may remain unopened for years and burst open only during a forest fire,” Ted said. “They are referred to as serotinous cones.” As a young Mormon woman, I heard “Resurrection.”

~ Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice


Photograph: Pendletron

 

A thousand positive remarks slip by unnoticed, but one “you suck” lingers for days

book,quotes,

“Have you ever noticed the peculiar tendency you have to let praise pass through you, but to feel crushed by criticism? A thousand positive remarks can slip by unnoticed, but one “you suck” can linger in your head for days. One hypothesis as to why this and the backfire effect happen is that you spend much more time considering information you disagree with than you do information you accept. Information that lines up with what you already believe passes through the mind like a vapor, but when you come across something that threatens your beliefs, something that conflicts with your preconceived notions of how the world works, you seize up and take notice. Some psychologists speculate there is an evolutionary explanation. Your ancestors paid more attention and spent more time thinking about negative stimuli than positive because bad things required a response. Those who failed to address negative stimuli failed to keep breathing.”

- David McRaney


Notes:


Lit Boy

John-VandeZande

I’ve reached the half-way mark of Updike, a biography on John Updike written by Adam Begley.  I pause to reflect on how I arrived here.  “Here” being how did I come to be reading John Updike’s biography.  Yes, it was Amazon’s Best Book of the Month for April, 2014. That helped, but that wasn’t it.  It was that man in the photograph that is responsible.  John VandeZande.

It was an undergraduate elective class titled “Good Books.” It was highly recommended by my senior jock buddies: “Just show up, read a few books and you’re done.”  I signed up for the class. I sat in the back of the room.  And hoped never to get called on.

He would assign Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce, Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Updike, in his biography, would describe them as “textual titans.” At the time, I would describe them as literary unknowns – – DK, a lover of Hardy Boys who then graduated to the genres of Jeffrey Archer (Kane & Abel), James Clavell (Shogun & Tai Pan) and Stephen King – – was being heaved up into the major leagues.  I slumped further down in my chair at the back of the room.

He would break the awkwardness of the early classes by reading long passages from the assigned readings. He would sit on the edge of his desk.  The book in his right hand.  And then immerse himself in the passage. There were no pencils tapping. There was no shifting in chairs.  We were gently transported with him on the journey.

He struck the match. And stoked the fire. And I went on a tear.  First Hemingway with The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea. Then Faulkner with The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!. Followed by John Steinbeck with The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row and East of Eden.  And then John Updike with Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux and Rabbit Is Rich.  And to this day, my serial runs on “Textual Titans” continues. (In Begley’s biography of Updike, Updike explained that: “A real reader,” he explained, “reading to escape his own life thoroughly, tends to have runs on authors.” That had my head spinning.)

[Read more...]

Leap around like panicky jackrabbits

rabbits-jumping-illustration-gif

Mark Morford nails it again in: The Tragic Death of a Good Read

…You are not alone. Researchers say our brains are getting so heavily iTrained to leap around like panicky jackrabbits, any sentence that dares to contain more than eight words, any paragraph that contains multiple clauses, any long-form work that offers deep background info or long-winded, roundabout verbiage – AKA “literature” – merely leaves you sighing heavily and wishing for Candy Crush Saga

…English profs are reporting that their students are struggling more than ever to make it through the classics, because Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne don’t read like Gawker.

…It might be a small problem. It might be just a little indicative of a disturbing shift, a wicked sea change in the way we navigate not just books, not just magazines and media, but love, time, each other, the world.

…Have our insta-everything devices beaten the gracefulness out of our hearts and the patience out of our brains? And also the depth? And the meaning? Maybe.

Don’t miss reading the full post @ The Tragic Death of a Good Read


Image Credit

Crippled by procrastination…panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy

Robert De Niro

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy… and that’s on a good day.”

Robert De Niro


Source: Photograph – Awards Circuit.  Quote: Your Eyes Blaze Out

Get. To. The. Point.

brief-joseph-mccormack


Excerpts from the Joseph McCormack’s Book Brief: The Brevity Mandate

“Here are the daunting challenges we all face every day to be heard: Attention spans are in a tailspin. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds and now it’s only eight. Professionals are interrupted 6-7 times an hour, often unable to get back to the task at hand. More than 43% abandon complicated or lengthy emails in the first 30 seconds. And the majority of people admit ignoring half the e-mails they get every day.”

“The more you say, the less people hear”

“The business world today is full of information overload and there is not enough time to sift through it. If you cannot capture people’s attention and deliver your message with brevity, you’ll lose them.”

“The discipline to capture and manage elusive mindshare now shapes and defines professional success. Shorter emails, better organized updates, and tighter and more engaging presentations are immediate indicators that you’ve got what it takes to succeed in an attention economy.”

“Getting to the point is a non-negotiable standard.”


Find book on Amazon here.


Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel…

book,quotes,

“Pay attention to when the cart is getting before the horse. Notice when a painful initiation leads to irrational devotion, or when unsatisfying jobs start to seem worthwhile. Remind yourself pledges and promises have power, as do uniforms and parades. Remember in the absence of extrinsic rewards you will seek out or create intrinsic ones. Take into account [that] the higher the price you pay for your decisions the more you value them. See that ambivalence becomes certainty with time. Realize that lukewarm feelings become stronger once you commit to a group, club, or product. Be wary of the roles you play and the acts you put on, because you tend to fulfill the labels you accept. Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel. The more kindness you express, the more you come to love those you help.”

- David McRaney


Quote Source: Brainpickings – The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters. Image from Amazon.


That’s right. Not yet.

true,funny,reading,books,


Looking at a many books < on my book shelf > and knowing…


Source: Assorted

I have led too serious a life

Henry-James

I have led too serious a life; but that perhaps, after all, preserves one’s youth. At all events, I have travelled too far, I have worked too hard, I have lived in brutal climates and associated with tiresome people. When a man has reached his fifty-second year without being, materially, the worse for wear — when he has fair health, a fair fortune, a tidy conscience and a complete exemption from embarrassing relatives — I suppose he is bound, in delicacy, to write himself happy.

~ Henry James (1843-1916) from The Diary of a Man of Fifty


Reference/Credits:

  • Henry James: “The Diary of a Man of Fifty is FREE at Amazon for Kindles/iPads.
  • Henry James was an American-born British writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
  • Image and Quote Source: Brainpickings

You can never have too much sky

blue-colors

You can never have too much sky.
You can fall asleep
and wake up drunk on sky,
and sky can keep you safe when you are sad.
Here there is too much sadness
and not enough sky.
Butterflies are too few
and so are flowers
and most things that are beautiful.
Still we take what we can get and make the best of it.

— Sandra Cisneros


Credits: Image – A Poet Reflects. Poem: Stalwart Reader from The House on Mango Street


She meant slowing things down often classes them up

Frank-Bruni

“My mother was always lavish with advice, little of it original…—“Count to 10 before you speak,” she frequently said, and she meant not just that you can’t take back what’s already been uttered. She meant that pauses are the spaces in which passions cool, civility gets its oxygen, and wisdom quite possibly finds its wings. She meant that slowing things down often classes them up….”

“What would she have made of the social media born long after she died? Of a world in which so many of us, entranced by the opportunity for instant expression and an immediate audience, post unformed thoughts, half-baked wit or splenetic reactions before we can even count to three?…I’m talking about a revved-up metabolism and roughened-up manners…That happens in part because the exchanges are disembodied: We don’t have to face whomever we’re lashing out at. But it’s also because they’re impulsive. Their timbre conforms to their tempo. Both are coarse…”

“Conversely, there was talk this year about the benefits of an activity that’s in some ways the antithesis of texting and tweeting with their rat-tat-tat rhythm. That activity is the reading of fiction. According to some researchers, people who settle into it are more empathetic — more attuned to what those around them think and feel — than people who don’t…” [Read more...]

For the millionth time in the history of feeling

performing art, pink,color

“Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist, there are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges and absorbs the impact.”

Nicole Krauss, from The History of Love


Credits: Source: larmoyante. Photograph: Youreyesblazeout

Sad. 3 out of 10.

top 10 most read books in the world


Source: digg
Related Posts:

  1. He’s read 6128 books
  2. Books, Books, Books

Fact.

reading, books,book,true,funny


Source: Themetapicture.com

That old September feeling

angle of repose - wallace stegner

“That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air… Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”

— Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose


By one my favorite authors from one of my favorite books, the Pulitzer Prize Winning Angle of Repose.


Quote Source: Stalwart Reader. Find book on Amazon here.


I don’t seem to get to that wonderful state by working harder and faster

David-Allen

“Folks, can we hear it for sloth, indolence, and procrastination?!” That’s how I have started many of my seminars over the years. And it always gets thunderous applause and raucous cheers. I think it hits a nerve.

I’ve been working on both (self-forgiveness and sense of humor) for decades now, and still find it quite challenging at times. But you know, when I’m in a loving, whole, and healthy state of mind about myself and about life, everything’s cool. Where I am, doing what I’m doing, is exactly where I need to be and what I need to do. God’s on her throne, the mail is coming, my dog loves me, and tomorrow is just fine right where it is, not showing up until then.

And I don’t seem to get to that wonderful state of mind by working harder and faster. Sometimes it helps, but more often it just perpetuates the angst. [Read more...]

What is it that has etched itself into you?

Karl Ove Knausgård

“In the window before me I can vaguely see the image of my face.  Apart from my eyes, which are shining, and the part directly beneath, which dimly reflects light, the whole of the left side lies in shade.  Two deep furrows run down the forehead, one deep furrow runs down each cheek, all filled as it were with darkness, and when the eyes are staring and serious, and the mouth turned down at the corners it is impossible not to think of this face as somber.

What is it that has etched itself into you?”

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard (My Struggle: Book 2: A Man In Love. P.553)

 


I (finally) finished Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 1 and My Struggle: Book 2.  Highly recommended.

Related Post: That is when time begins to pick up speed (Karl Ove Knausgaard quote and bio)
Image Source: dagsavisen

wabi-sabi

home,warmth,comfort

sunlight,sun, sun rays [Read more...]

A life lived well is never wasted

Marilynne-Robinson

Lori, LouAnn and Sandy Sue inspired me to read books written by Natalie Goldberg following my share last month.  So I dove into the Long Quiet Highway and came across this passage early in her book.

“Often when you take on the voice of a great writer, speak his or her words aloud, you are taking on the voice of inspiration, you are breathing their breath at the moment of their heightened feelings, that what all writers ultimately do is pass on their breath.”

I paused and reflected on the “great” writers that I have read.  Marilynne Robinson immediately came to mind.  She has the ability to transport me to another place and time – – writing with such grace, such beauty and such humanity.  She’s won literary “hardware” for her three major novels.

  • HousekeepingNominated for the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and winner of the Hemingway/PEN Award for first fiction novel.
  • GileadWinner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and winner of the National Book Circle Critics Award for Fiction.
  • HomeWinner of the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction award.

Soon after I read Goldberg’s thoughts on great writers, I came this excerpt from a Chicago Tribune article shared at Lit Verve  where the writer asks Robinson about Rev. John Ames, a congregational minister in Gilead, Iowa and the main character in her novel Gilead: [Read more...]

l’esprit de l’escalier

l'espirt de l'escalier word definition

murr-ma word definition

tsundoku word definition

[Read more...]

The End of Night

the-end-of-night-Paul-Bogard…In our haste to embrace a 24/7 lifestyle that makes increasing demands on our time, nocturnal hours once reserved for sociability, reflection and rest have been usurped. “What art thou good for … but only for love and fornication?” the character “Night” is asked in John Dryden’s comedy “Amphitryon” (1690). Today, not only is one-fifth of the labor force employed in shift work, but many day-to-day tasks (grocery shopping, for instance) are performed after dark. Silence and solitude fall prey to around-the-clock television and the allure of the Internet. Texting teenagers take their iPhones to bed. Burning the candle at both ends, we struggle to streamline sleep with the aid of plush pillows and prescription drugs and, in the process, impair our age-old ability to dream, a wellspring of ideas as inspiring as a starlit sky.

~A. Roger Ekirch, a review on Paul Bogard’s book titled The End of Night.


Credits:

In the skein of life

skein,string,yarn

“We say to the confused, Know thyself, as if knowing yourself was not the fifth and most difficult of human arithmetical operations, we say to the apathetic, Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as if the brute realities of the world did not amuse themselves each day by turning that phrase on its head, we say to the indecisive, Begin at the beginning, as if beginning were the clearly visible point of a loosely wound thread and all we had to do was to keep pulling until we reached the other end, and as if, between the former and the latter, we had held in our hands a smooth, continuous thread with no knots to untie, no snarls to untangle, a complete impossibility in the life of a skein, or indeed, if we may be permitted one more stock phrase, in the skein of life.”


Skein
/skān/

Noun
  1. A length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted.
  2. A tangled or complicated arrangement, state, or situation

Source: Thank you Whiskey River.  Image: yeraydorta

Yes.



James Joyce - Ulysses


 

Interpretation of passage in James Joyce’s Ulysses by shmoop.com:

“…The prose in the last few pages of Ulysses is breathtakingly beautiful. Throughout Bloom’s day, we’ve been forced to see all the banal unattractive parts of life: boredom, hunger, despair, the need to go to the bathroom, broken trust, small-mindedness, unrealizable dreams, apathy, our own insignificance. Joyce gives us a lot of very good reasons to think that life is a pretty tiny and horrible thing. Of course, we read this and we think that our life isn’t going to be like Bloom’s. I mean, he’s one pathetic guy, our life will be infinitely better than Bloom’s. But, truth be told, we have no way of knowing what our life is going to be. It’s quite possible that one day we’ll find ourselves in Bloom’s shoes, in a marriage based more in fondness than in romantic love, in a place where most of our dreams are stretched out behind us rather than laid out in front of us. And for all that, Joyce is telling us: Do not despair. He’s telling us to say yes to life, to swallow it whole, to find happiness wherever we can…”


Quote Source: proustitute.  Image: wallquotes.com.

A Love Letter from Kafka

Fran Kafka signature in letter to Milena Jesenska

Franz Kafka’s signature in a letter to Milena Jesenská. It reads:

Franz wrong,  F  wrong, Yours wrong
nothing more, calm, deep forest

Prague

July 29, 1920.


In 1919, Milena Jesenská was working as a translator.  She discovered a short story (The Stoker) by Prague writer Franz Kafka, and wrote him to ask for permission to translate it from German to Czech. The letter launched an intense and increasingly passionate correspondence. Jesenská and Kafka met twice: they spent four days in Vienna and later a day in Gmünd. Eventually Kafka broke off the relationship, partly because Jesenská was unable to leave her husband, and their almost daily communication ceased abruptly in November 1920. They meant so much to each other, however, that they did exchange a few more letters in 1922 and 1923 (and Kafka turned over to Jesenská his diaries at the end of his life). Kafka is regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.  It is generally agreed that Kafka suffered from clinical depression and social anxiety throughout his entire life.  (Source: Wiki)


Source: Journal of a Nobody

Where is everybody? Inside your breast and skin, the entire cast.

Saul Bellow

“And now here’s the thing. It takes a time like this for you to find out how sore your heart has been, and, moreover, all the while you thought you were going around idle terribly hard work was taking place. Hard, hard work, excavation and digging, mining, moiling through tunnels, heaving, pushing, moving rock, working, working, working, working, panting, hauling, hoisting. And none of this work is seen from the outside. It’s internally done. It happens because you are powerless and unable to get anywhere, to obtain justice or have requital, and therefore in yourself you labor, you wage and combat, settle scores, remember insults, fight, reply, deny, blab, denounce, triumph, outwit, overcome, vindicate, cry, persist, absolve, die and rise again. All by yourself? Where is everybody? Inside your breast and skin, the entire cast.”

- Saul Bellow


Saul Bellow (1915 – 2005) was a Canadian-born American writer. He was born in Lachine, Quebec and died in Brookline, MA.  For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. He is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest authors.  Bellow grew up as an insolent slum kid, a “thick-necked” rowdy, and an immigrant from Quebec. As Christopher Hitchens describes it, Bellow’s fiction and principal characters reflect his own yearning for transcendence, a battle “to overcome not just ghetto conditions but also ghetto psychoses.  The author’s works speak to the disorienting nature of modern civilization, and the countervailing ability of humans to overcome their frailty and achieve greatness (or at least awareness). Bellow saw many flaws in modern civilization, and its ability to foster madness, materialism and misleading knowledge. Principal characters in Bellow’s fiction have heroic potential, and many times they stand in contrast to the negative forces of society. (Source: Wiki)


Credits: Image – Flavorwire. Quote: WhiskeyRiver

That’s me. And me. And me. And me.

reading,read,addiction,books


But NOT Biblioclast (Sacrilegious!), Biblioklept/Bibliolestes (Blasphemous!), Bibliopole (Rarely and with anxiety), Biblioriptos (No!  Set them down gently, carefully, cautiously).


Source: Thank you Mme Scherzo via Amanda Patterson

And this is important! And this is important!

black and white,photography,portrait,close-up,woman

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you, to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say “No. This is what’s important.

~ Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You


Credits: Quote – Thank you Mme Scherzo via I Wrote This For You: The Grand Distraction.  “I Wrote This For You” Book link @ Amazon. Photo: Impactlab.net

That is when time begins to pick up speed

Karl Ove Knausgård

“As your perspective of the world increases not only is the pain it inflicts on you less but also its meaning. Understanding the world requires you to take a certain distance from it. Things that are too small to see with the naked eye, such as molecules and atoms, we magnify. Things that are too large, such as cloud formations, river deltas, constellations, we reduce. At length we bring it within the scope of our senses and we stabilize it with fixer. When it has been fixed we call it knowledge. Throughout our childhood and teenage years, we strive to attain the correct distance to objects and phenomena. We read, we learn, we experience, we make adjustments. Then one day we reach the point where all the necessary distances have been set, all the necessary systems have been put in place. That is when time begins to pick up speed.  It no longer meets any obstacles, everything is set, time races through our lives, the days pass by in a flash and before we know what is happening we are forty, fifty, fifty…Meaning requires content, content requires time, time requires resistance. Knowledge is distance, knowledge is status and the enemy of meaning.”

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle: Book One (p.14-15)


Karl Ove Knausgård (born 6 December 1968) is a Norwegian author, most known for six autobiographical books, called Min Kamp. While Knausgård´s two first books were well-received, it was with the “Min Kamp”-books that Knausgård became a household name in Norway, due to the books large success, as well as the controversy they raised.  In 2009, Knausgård published My Struggle – First Book, the first volume of a total of six autobiographical novels, which were published in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The six books total well over 3500 pages.  The “Min Kamp”-books caused massive controversy when they were released, and whether Knausgård goes too far in exposing the private lives of his friends and family, including his ex-wife, has been much debated in Norway. The books have nevertheless received almost universally favourable reviews and were, even before the final book’s publication, one of the greatest publishing phenomena in Norway ever. (Source: Wiki)

James Wood at the The New Yorker titled his book review “Total Recall“: “There is something ceaselessly compelling about Knausgaard’s book: even when I was bored, I was interested.”  Wood nails it.  I’m 50 pages in and I find myself spellbound by his life story.

Credits: Quote Source: My Struggle: Book One @ amazon.com. Bio Source: Wiki. Image Source: dagsavisen

Reading. On Metro North.

reading

It’s Tuesday.
I’m on the 6:22 am train to Grand Central.
One of few trips a month taking me back to Manhattan.
I drift away for a moment.
It has been six years.
Six years since I’ve changed Company. Changed routine. Changed my life.

Two hours a day of uninterrupted reading time.
To, near zero.
Churning through three books a week. 150 books a year.
To, near zero.
Lost. In a character. In a story. In another place. In another time. [Read more...]

Synecdoche

I’m worried.  I liked this.  Don’t ask me how many times I hit go on this 8 second clip.  Here’s how to pronounce “Synecdoche“.  And, if the suspense is overwhelming and you want to know what “Synecdoche” means, the definition can be found here.


And if you are looking for a real word treat, check out this old post titled Words….  Loved this too.


Source: videohall

Related Posts: Synecdoche (jettiepoetry.wordpress.com)

People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~ Maya Angelou

I’ve heard the last sentence of this quote (many times) but never the entire passage.  It has stuck with me for several weeks.  And I had no idea who the woman, Maya Angelou, was.  (I may be the only one on the planet. Francine/Joyce, don’t scold me.)  So, I started with Wiki and then went to an Oprah Interview.  What a life.  What an inspiration. A few excerpts from Wiki and Oprah’s talk: [Read more...]

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss. Let’s Read.

Dr. Seuss

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

~ Dr. Seuss


Theodore Seuss Geisel was born today in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He attended Dartmouth College and Oxford.  He was a perfectionist in his work and he would sometimes spend up to a year on a book. It was not uncommon for him to throw out 95% of his material until he settled on a theme for his book.  Geisel’s first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it was finally published by Vanguard Press in 1937. The Cat in the Hat was published in 1957.  Green Eggs and Ham in 1960.  (Could it have been that long ago?)  Geisel’s birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day.