KEEP READING—READING IS A GIFT

KEEP READING—READING IS A GIFT

Dear Reader,

The illustration above caught my eye, the awakening and vivid colors: she’s on a train (I like reading on trains, on airplanes, even if I’m a passenger in a long car ride) and the word LIFE on the magazine or book she’s reading. Like the apple on her tray, the cup of water—reading is life-giving, reading should always accompany us on our life’s journey. And notice the colorful stamps on her luggage, stamps people once used to reveal, to celebrate where they had been.

A bookcase full of books or a Kindle jammed with titles, does the same thing, celebrates where you have been. Because reading is always about taking a journey, about opening your mind and emotions to someone’s ideas.

DAILY NEWS SOURCES—NEWSPAPERS, THE NET, MAGAZINES, TELEVISION

 In today’s society, newspapers are struggling, but if you happen to subscribe to the magazine THE WEEK (I do) you will find major newspapers and magazines are still very important in pinning down stories that profoundly affect the bottom lines of our lives.

True, that many people now get the news online—or rely only on television news. But that doesn’t always provide you with an analysis, an interpretation to guide you through the pitfalls of opinion. When you READ, you can pause and evaluate a situation, you can compare the writer’s point of view to what You already know, what You have already read or an opinion You have maintained for a long time. Reading helps you grow, because it often challenges an idea or opinion you have held for a long time.

When you engage with a different point of view—that’s a good thing. Yes, we bring personal experience to almost every idea we encounter. But staying lock-step without looking around to investigate, might lead us to a dark place—or the wrong place.

And getting the NEWS isn’t always politics. News can be about an advancement in medicine, the pros and cons of self-driving cars or CBD oils, the latest advances in tech—anything you are currently interested in, anything that might change the society, the environment we share.

POETRY, ESSAY, NOVEL, NON-FICTION, QUIRKY

To stimulate your appetite for READING, I pulled some books off my shelves.

POETRY: Billy Collins, our poet laureate from 2001-2003; verses from ONLY CHILD (he wishes he had a sibling)

I would gaze into her green eyes

and see my parents, my mother looking out

of Mary’s right eye and my father staring out of her left.

which would remind me of what an odd duck

I was as a child, a little prince, a loner,

…and maybe we would have another espresso and a pastry

And I would always pay the bill and walk her home.

ESSAY: Marilynne Robinson, from WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? 

The U.S is in many ways a grand experiment. Let us take Iowa as an example. What would early 19th century settles on the open prairie do first? Well…they found a university, which is now about 170 years old. Agriculture became, as it remains, the basis of the state economy. How did the university develop in response to this small, agrarian population? It became…a thriving and innovative center for the arts–theater, music, painting and, of course, creative writing. ..the arts are the signature of the place and have been for generations.

NOVEL: Alice McDermott, from CHILD OF MY HEART

...all their interest and enthusiasm was reserved for the places they had left. Like exiles, their delight was not in where they now found themselves, but in whatever they could remember about the place, and the time, they had abandoned. 

NONFICTION: Margaret Robinson Rutherford, PhD from PERFECTLY HIDDEN DEPRESSION

As I’ve stressed before, the characteristics of perfectly hidden depression, in moderation, can be helpful. But when they begin to govern every aspect of your being, they can become a huge problem. It becomes self-destructive when your perfectionist critical voice is screaming at you nonstop in the background. 

QUIRKY: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS (quirky, because this little book of 48 pages could change the world.)

Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture… My own definition of a feminist is a man or woman who says, “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better.”

HAPPY READING, Beth

P.S. Thanks to amreading.com for the photo. 

Books That Pave the Way for Life’s Journey

Books That Pave the Way for Life's Journey

Books can take us on many journeys and I love to get lost in fiction. But ever so often a book can inform, change an attitude, a choice, maybe even a life. Having the ideas of thinkers and researchers at our side when we have a question, a problem or a new idea can make the difference between informed choice and blowing in the wind. The net makes it even easier, as you can type in a term: education, marriage, parenting, employment, health, exercise, travel, science, politics–and voila, your choices are numerous. I’ve picked a few today to get your thinking about nonfiction. Some of these choices have been in print for years. Some are hot off the press. We all want to embrace the next decades with knowledge and understanding–so happy searching and reading.

I highly recommend Dr. Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine and Miracles that relates, through his personal experience, how death is truly part of life and acceptance of a loved one’s death makes a passage easier on the one leaving and the one staying. When he was asked to recommend a list of self-help books, he responded: “Every book ever written is a self-help book. What’s the Bible? What about Buddha? Each generation thinks somebody new is starting the process, but we keep repeating the wisdom of the sages and the ages.”

Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient was written by Norman Cousins, a longtime editor at the Saturday Review. The book relates how Cousins laughed his way out of a crippling disease by watching the Marx Brothers and thus “jump-started the whole mind-body connection.”

Man’s Search for Meaning is the memoir of Victor Frankl MD PhD, who survived Auschwitz. He argues that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, states that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, but the discovery and then the pursuit of what we find meaningful..

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi This is one I have not read, but it is definitely on my list. If you have read Atul Gawande and Anne Lamott, readers state you should read this inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir that finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds. It is written by an idealistic young neurosurgeon as he attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? He died within two years of his diagnosis.

Blindsided by Richard M. Cohen, a Journalist and husband to Meredith Vieira. In this memoir, Cohen relates his battle with MS, startling the reader with his grace and wisdom.

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Mood and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison This professor of psychiatry shares her personal struggle with manic depression. She is also the author of Touched with Fire: Manic-depressive illness and the Artistic Temperament.  

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion A personal favorite, this 2005 National Book Award winner recounts how Joan could continue to live after her husband’s sudden death and then was faced with their only child lapsing into a coma. (Read Blue Nights for the end of that part of Didion’s story.)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I received this book for one of those “life-changing” birthdays. It’s amazing. The author shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world. You will better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics.

The Book of Joy authors, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama Despite the hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—these two men are the most joyful people on the planet.

If you have suggestions, please mention them in your comments. Wishing you good health and good reading. We are all in this together.

Parts of this post appeared in 2011 in a different form.

Photo credit: janeaustenrunsmylife