I’ve written before about my journey with reading for pleasure. After years of reading heavy literature and philosophy and complicated scholarly articles, I naturally wasn’t too keen on reading for fun.
Recently, however, I’ve been reading a little and I’m really happy about that!
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Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham
I started off December by listening to Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can. As a Gilmore Girls fanatic and a lover of Lauren Graham’s work in general, I was excited to hear her funny writing and learn about her experiences filming both eras of Gilmore Girls. While it wasn’t as long as I was hoping, I really enjoyed the book overall!
I still find that, in general, having a plan is, well, a good plan. But when my carefully laid plan laughed at me, rather than clutch at it too tightly I just made a new one, even if it was one that didn’t immediately make sense. In blindly trying a different path, I accidentally found one that worked better. So don’t let your plan have the last laugh, but laugh last when your plan laughs, and when your plan has the last laugh, laugh back, laughing!
Vous n’aurez pas ma haine – Antoine Leiris
I have been searching for this book for months! When I took my mom and brother to Albertine bookstore so they could see the painted ceiling, I looked again to no avail but as we were leaving I took one last lap and spotted it! Victory!
This book details the author’s experiences with his young son in the days after losing his wife in the Bataclan terrorist attacks. It is equally heartbreaking and moving. If you can read French, you need to read this book.
Alors non je ne vous ferai pas ce cadeau de vous haïr. Vous l’avez bien cherché pourtant mais répondre à la haine par la colère ce serait céder à la même ignorance qui a fait de vous ce que vous êtes. Vous voulez que j’aie peur, que je regarde mes concitoyens avec un œil méfiant, que je sacrifie ma liberté pour la sécurité. Perdu…Nous sommes deux, mon fils et moi, mais nous sommes plus forts que toutes les armées du monde…Car non, vous n’aurez pas sa haine non plus.
(Rough translation, by me): So I will not give you the gift of hating you. You have sought well, yet to respond to hate by anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, that I look at my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, that I sacrifice my liberty for security. Lost…We are two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.
No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering – Clara Bensen
After a quarter life crisis and a bout of severe anxiety, Clara signs up for OKCupid and meets Jeff, who seems her exact opposite: spontaneous, energetic and outgoing. Very recently after meeting, she decides to join him on his annual summer trip—the only catch: no baggage, no plans, no reservations. The book follows Clara’s account of their journey and includes funny anecdotes, literary and historical references, and open discussion of her mental health.
I got the book because it sounded like a fun read and kept reading it because it really spoke to me on a mental health level. I annotated so much of this book, but I’ll spare you the vast majority of my favourite passages! Definitely check it out if you want to read about a cool travel experiment or about overcoming mental health problems.
Out of habit, I calculated a mental list of The Very Worst That Could Happen. There was a chance that we’d end up lost, exhausted, and temporary roofless, but were we courting imminent disaster by jumping on a random train? Not really.
Anxiety was a lens that reduced every aspect of my life to a series of deadly, worst case scenarios.
Life is about trust. Nothing happens until you take a step out. The universe gives nothing to those who do not trust.
I’d have saved myself some heartache if someone had informed me that life isn’t a linear, teleological climb that culminates in some final plateau. It tends to look a lot more like a rolling tumbleweed that gets blown off arroyo cliffs and trapped in barbed cow fences just as often as it rolls smoothly down the road.
To know myself was not just to know the sunny, sparkly bits but all the parts: shadowy corners gathering dust, private fears, old wounds clumsily bandaged but never treated. These sorts of wounds don’t fade over time. Pain is patient. Ignoring it in no way makes it done.
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
This book brought me to tears. Paul Kalanithi has been training for almost a decade to become a neurosurgeon when he finds out he has terminal lung cancer. The memoir that follows is touching and thought-provoking, covering everything from literature, medical school, life, death, and challenging decisions doctors make on a daily basis. It does delve a little deeply into literature and philosophy at times, but that itself captures Kalanithi’s path through life. Read if you can.
“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
“What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?”