A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958
As my life seems to be getting busier and busier I am finding it even more important than usual to carve time out of my day to read. Living vicariously through the lives of others gives me a wee break from my own thoughts and worries and tops up my tired brain with new insights and ideas. Here are a few I have been pondering over the last month or so.
Better Off byEric Brende. I loved this book. Probably because sometime in my early twenties I decided that I was born in the wrong century and really wished I could spend my life on the ‘ol homestead. At its core, that is not really what this book is about, but it is what got me hooked. The author takes his brand new wife on an 18-month adventure living in a rural community without electricity or electrically controlled mechanics of any kind. He explores what it really means to be “self-sufficient” and how “work” can become something that doesn’t feel like “work” at all. He tries to answer the question “Is there such a thing as too much technology?” and what he discovers resonated with me. (But I still love my computer.)
Thunder and Lightening by Natalie Goldberg. Having devoured Natalie’s earlier books Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind several years ago, this one came as a bit of a shock. There is a hardness, a sadness, to Natalie’s voice that certainly did not appear in her earlier works. But there is a deepness there too. In some way I believe (at least in my mind) that she has moved from encouraging teacher to wise writing mentor, and although I miss the upbeat positivity I remember from her earlier works, there is the truth of “Real Life” that resonates through this book that I can’t ignore. In its serious and sincerity, I am reminded that there is a lot of work I still need to do.
29 Gifts in 29 Days by Cami Walker. I am not sure how this book came to be on my reading list. I think it was one of those Amazon “If you liked this book, you might enjoy this one” (which I always take to mean…if you liked this book, see if the library has that one…) or perhaps it was a suggestion I read on someone’s blog post? Regardless, it got moved way up on my reading list for the sole reason that the library, indeed, had a copy and it was available right away.
In this autobiographical work, the author shares how she moved past her struggles with MS by cultivating a giving attitude in giving 29 gifts in 29 days. The spirituality in this book is definitely not my own, and the foul language that appears in parts of this book grates on me, yet there is something compelling about this story. I think there is truth to her words in how focusing on giving to others changes who we are and what we believe about ourselves and our lives. I love that most of the gifts are not monetary, but gifts of time, compassion, a listening ear. Her idea obviously resonates with many as it has grown into a worldwide movement of giving documented at 29gifts.org.
What about you? What books have you read recently?