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Archive for June 12th, 2007

What I’ve Been Reading

Since it is summertime, it is time to talk about books.  I’m going to Puerto Rico with my family tomorrow, and I need to go to the bookstore tonight and get some new books – let me know if you have any suggestions real quick.  In the interest of fairness, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been reading lately.  Don’t laugh at me, I read random books. 

Ill_3 

Illusions, by Richard Bach – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.  This is a book Todd sent me a long time ago, that kept getting lost in the shuffle of other books.  I really enjoyed it, I’m not even sure exactly how to explain it.  But what I walked away with from this book is that the way we think and perceive the world can either limit our abilities and experiences or can magnify and increase our abilities and experiences.  That reality is fluid and dreams are important.  It isn’t a very long book, and the writing isn’t complex.  But there is something weighty and heavy about it, something that caused me, while reading it, to put it down for a few days and think before picking it back up again.  Bach also wrote Johnathan Livingston Seagull, which I would also recommend.  If you are going to read them both, read Seagull first. 

Ss The Secret Sharer, by Joseph Conrad. 

This isn’t really a book so much as a story.  The book I have also included Heart of Darkness, which is something I always planned on reading and haven’t.  But I really enjoyed the Secret Sharer, it is the story of a young Sea Captain, his first voyage as a captain, and the boat has been at sea for months with the same crew when he takes over.  The Captain rescues a man who has escaped from a passing ship where he has been accused of murder.  It is a story of finding your identity and how strongly empathy can touch you once you see yourself in another person. 

Gt The Grand Tour – by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Steverman.

As it turns out, I like to read children’s novels.  This book is by two authors I used to read as a child – they write books about magicians, and dragons.  This book is about two young socialite girls from england who have just married and are traveling around Europe enjoying high Paris fashion at the turn of the 20th century.  The best way I can describe it is to say it is a Harry Potter crossed with the Davinci Code.  The two girls and their husbands get caught up in a plot involving ancient artifacts from across Europe and a pagan rite to create a ruler to unite all of Europe.  I know it sounds silly, but the history is well researched, and the ruins and places they visit are real.  Seriously, if Harry and his crew were the main characters in the DaVinci code.  I really liked it. 

Md The Midnight Disease – The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain  – by Alice Weaver Flaherty

This is a book I borrowed from Ivy.  I haven’t read the whole thing, I don’t have the psych background to really grasp a lot of it, but it is about hypergraphia – which is when you have the uncontrollable desire to write, and essentially the opposite to writer’s block.  The book also talks about writer’s block and a lot about creativity.  I found the definition for creative that the book gives to be interesting, two requirements – it must be novel and valuable.  If you have a novelty that isn’t valuable, it isn’t creative, and if you have something valuable but not novel, it isn’t creative either. 

The book also talks about motivation and your vocation.  One part I liked was the word Workaholic – and how some people assume that workaholics are driven by anxiety and that the workaholic works to relieve the anxiety and not because he enjoys his work or is trying to reach a goal.  But that it is almost impossible if you have a true vocation and your work is part of who you are, to always work for pleasure or for a goal – that terror and anxiety are going to be your motivation from time to time.  There is a lot more in the book – in just this one chapter I’ve been quoting from, about hobbies (which are often just work for fun) that are a release for people, and how paying a writer for his work can sometimes kill his motivation, or make him sloppy.  The book examines the ebb and flow of a writer’s words, seasons, hormones, age, fatigue, depression, illness, alcohol, drugs, music, deadlines, procrastination, etc.  It even talks about how the graduate student is likely to have writer’s block and hypergraphia at the same time – being completely blocked on an important paper while writing heavily in the realms of email and blogging.  Wow.  Sounds familiar. 

Anyway, the book is full of quotes from famous writers, and written by a neurologist who teaches at Harvard Medical school and who seems sincerely interested in the topic.  Most of it is over my head, but I felt like I learned something.  Writing is a mysterious past time. 

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