I wanted to start a new instalment here on WPR about the books that I have been reading. I've been an avid reader all of my life, and I just love it. In my opinion, it offers far more to its audience than watching television does. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind television at all, but it is incredibly passive. Everything, including the plotline, the visuals, dialogue, and the performance is handed to you on commercialized and glossy plate. There is often very little, if nothing at all, that is left to the imagination. (Don't even get me started on all of the advertising. That's a whole other can of worms.)
To me, the beauty of reading is in its simplicity. First, you can grab a book (or e-reader) and take it anywhere. Whether it's in solitude, on the train heading to work, in the bathroom, or in bed before you go to sleep at night, you can read. It's unbelievably convenient. You can also go at your own pace or stop completely if you don't like the book you chose.
Reading a book also offers something incredibly vital. It invites you to use your imagination. I often create scenes in my head and imagine faces and foreign places when I read. It also invites you to contemplate different meanings and ask questions. Everything isn't offered right off the bat. You, the reader become engaged and invested in the content. It is among the most active things you can do without lifting a finger (outside of actually turning a page, that is).
So there. Reading will save the world. It is an age-old practice that has inspired great art and started revolutions. Give it a try. Find a book about something you like or are curious about at your local library. Find a cozy spot, and read.
For my first instalment of "Reading Will Save the World", I have three books to recommend. They're page turners for sure.
I spent most of last October being enamored of the late Stieg Larsson's best-selling "Girl" trilogy. By "Girl", I mean "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played with Fire", and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest". These books have sold well over 65 MILLION copies around the world to date. They have been incredibly popular and for good reason. Even though I wouldn't call them classic literature, I'd say they offer a thrilling ride to very, very, VERY dark places.
What I loved the most about this thrilogy is the characters. The "Girl" these books refer to in their titles is a character named Lisbeth Salander. She is, quite possibly, the best female heroine that exists in this current era of modern writing. I wasn't expecting someone like her at all. She's a complex, brilliant, and all-around bad-ass character unlike anyone else I've ever read. I'm willing to bet she's the reason why 65 million people have read these books.
This story is a character-driven, manic, psycho-sexual foray into unfathomable darkness. They are not for the lighthearted but well worth the journey. I read all three books, with a combined total of just over 2,000 pages, in less than three weeks on top of my own hectic schedule. I could not, for the life of me, stop reading.
If you are thinking about reading these books, I have a couple of things left to say.
First of all, I strongly recommend reading them before seeing the recently released movie currently in theaters. I think David Fincher, who directed the film, did a fine job honoring these characters and their story, but these books are the real deal.
Lastly, don't be discouraged by the first 40 pages or so of the first book (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). You might, as I did, find them kind of boring. Well, they are kind of boring, but they exist for good reason because they offer vital information that will fuel the rest of the story.
Think of these first few pages as the calm before the storm. Because truthfully, it's gonna be one hell of a storm.
I've just added another page to this blog site. THE READING ROOM!!! Since 1991, I have kept a record of all the books I have read. I've decided to share this list with all the world. As time permits, I'll be adding more information to this page. I'll be listing the following tidbits: 1. Book Name 2. Author Name 3. Number of Pages 4. Thoughts/Reviews There will also be a rating system by way of "G's".GGGGG: OutstandingGGGG: GoodGGG: FairGG: PoorG: Don’t Bother To see this new page, just click HERE. (It is a work in progress.) Reading is the most empowering practice I have ever taken on. In high school, it is the very thing that constantly nourished my spirit. I was a bit of a loner in school and lived on a small island in the middle of the South Pacific ocean. Reading books informed me and gave me a much larger perspective of the world beyond my little island paradise and limited human interaction. To this day, I champion all of the benefits that come with reading books and encourage any and all of my friends to read!! Here are five of my all-time favorite books. In my life, these books changed me in some vital and powerful way. I am who I am now due to the grace and beauty found in the pages of these books: [caption id="attachment_872" align="aligncenter" width="290" caption="The Pearl by John Steinbeck"][/caption] This book was actually a reading assignment for my English class. Being that I lived on an island with a strong native culture, I related to this book's story immediately. Reading this book was one of the first times I can remember a book making me feel so impossibly sad and heartbroken. It tells a simple fable of a man and a family who find and own a pearl. It is a colossal tale in the most understated and delicate of ways. This book is a masterpiece. [caption id="attachment_874" align="aligncenter" width="235" caption="Les Miserable by Victor Hugo"][/caption] Much has been said about this story both in its written and musical/stage form. There is a reason that numerous film versions of it have been made. It is a compelling narrative of the human struggle. At times gut-wrenching, poignant, and all too tender, Jean's unbreakable connection to Cossette in this story is a thing of beauty. I love this book. [caption id="attachment_875" align="aligncenter" width="140" caption="The God In Flight by Laura Argiri"][/caption] This is probably the most obscure of my all-time favorite books, but it is no less amazing. As a debut novel, it is a formidable force of literature. Set in the 1800's at Yale University, it tells the story of two unlikely lovers--a brilliant young student and his volatile male Greek art professor. Yes, that's right. This is a story about two men who fall in love and the tide of struggles that befall them. While this premise might be enough to turn off most readers, I have to say that in addition to being such a unique period piece of a story, it is remarkably well written. I don't think I'd be out of line if I said that, in the greatest likelihood, even the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen herself would praise this book. It took Argiri 20 years to write this book and is a testament to her skill and power as a writer. [caption id="attachment_876" align="aligncenter" width="182" caption="Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte"][/caption] Speaking of the Bronte sisters, I have a soft spot in my heart for Charlotte Bronte simply because of her timeless classic "Jane Eyre". This is essentially the story of an orphan who finds her own way through a difficult set of circumstances. She becomes self-empowered, and she finds love in a man who is truly worthy of her. Some people have Superman, while others have Frodo, or heck, even Buffy, for that matter. As a teenager, I had Jane Eyre. She was as good of a hero for me as any. It was my Junior year of high school. My pre-calculus teacher was sitting next to me at our basketball court. Maybe he could tell that I was pretending to be interested in the game that was going on because he asked me if I have ever read this book. He said that he thought I would really appreciate it. We only ever talked about math, and I thought it was strange that he would mention this book to me. A couple of weeks later, I managed to find a copy of it, and I read it. It was unlike any book I had ever read before. Certainly not terribly formal but actually quite intimate in its own way. I liked it and found myself thinking about it often. It somehow put to words the sense of listlessness and confinement that I felt back in those days. I didn't have my own words for how I was feeling at the time, but this book was eloquent enough. In its few pages, it speaks volumes of truth. Feel free to visit my new Reading Room any time. First off, I have the arduous task of updating it all the way through to this year, and then, I will keep adding to the list as I read more books. Please leave a comment on the Reading Room page if you can and share your thoughts. I welcome them all. More to come. By all means, read something. You might discover something you never thought you would. -g
There are three items I own which I'll always upgrade when a significant upgrade exists: my computer, my camera, and my Kindle. Yesterday I got my new Kindle, the fourth generation one that was just released. Before I talk about this specific Kindle, I want to address some general points about the Kindle.
Some people balk at the $189 price tag of the newest 3G Kindle (which is the only one to buy, by the way). It's expensive, but only if you consider it a drop in replacement for books. I consider it $200 to ensure that I read at least 10X more than I used to.