January 30, 2008

The Rapture of the Word

I read for pleasure in bursts. I nurse a single book for weeks, a few pages before I fall asleep a few nights a week until there's a weekend involving a plane, a beach, a lake, or any other opportunity to sit still and read, at which point, I'll race through as much text as my time allows.

This weekend, I started Friday's travel by speeding my way through the Wall Street Journal at the airport, followed by the courtesy subscriptions I receive thanks to Active.com's subscription offer at race sign up -- Namely, the quality reading material offered by the fine people at People and National Geographic Adventure Travel.

I also managed to enjoy the Economist cover-to-cover, something I rarely have enough time or focus to do. But when I do, I sincerely enjoy it. Leave it to the Brits to make snarky comments about political economies that can make me laugh out loud. And, to round out my periodical consumption, I spent some time each day perusing the Miami Herald that was delivered to our hotel, including the articles on Jose Padilla's Sentencing, which, sadly, is something educated Americans should know and think about.

But enough of the regular circulation. Let us focus on my chosen books.

First (one down!), I finished Arvay's gift-book of Martin Booth's Gweilo: A emoir of a Hong Kong Childhood. Oh my. How does someone like me even begin to discuss this book. It's everything I love: foreign lands, foreign cultures, food, common humanity, adventure, and, above all else, curiosity. I highly recommend this book for those who are looking for an educational escape to Hong Kong of the 1950s.

Then (2 out of 20 down!), I read Sabine Dardenne's I choose to live. Wow. This is why I read books. The strength of this young woman (although parts of the book include letters she wrote at the age of 12, I will not call her a child, for she gave up her childhood the second she was kidnapped and refused to be a victim.) This book was not a literary work of art. Rather, it was a work of life. A story that needed to be told: of survival, fighting, and the reality that even happy endings are often full of struggle and unhappiness -- but we must struggle and find the happiness. Because that's the whole point.

And, to mellow it out (3/20 isn't particularly memorable), I meandered through The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. The scary thing for me is that I've jokingly referred to myself as one of highly functional aspergers. I know it's probably true on some level, but it doesn't really affect my life -- I live in Silicon Valley. Reading this book brought home some realities about how I handle stress, how non-neuro-typical those behaviours are, and how much I can relate to a severely autistic individual. No doubt, the book was written to evoke this response from its readers. So it did a good job with me. But still. I found this book significantly more affecting than I expected. Well done Mark Haddon.

And there you have it. Back to the grind. Next time I find time for enjoyment of the word outside of work and blogs, I'll be sure to let you know.

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