What are you reading?

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~Dr. Seuss~*

I bought the Divergent box set recently off of Amazon, and it has sat of my desk for several weeks, begging me to be read. I found some time on Tuesday to crack open the first book, and instantly found myself drawn in by the story. I stayed up until three in the morning reading the book before putting it down to sleep. I finished it the next morning.

I’ve started the second book in the series, Insurgent, and I’m loving it. I plan to be done with it by this evening, and maybe start reading the last book, Allegiant. Then there’s the movies. Divergent is in theaters, which I’m planning on seeing tomorrow after I get off work.

It’s been a long time since a book has captured my attention in this way. Rowling managed to do so with her Harry Potter series, and once I discovered it, So did Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I read the Twilight novels, and I enjoyed them as well for what they were, and I fail to see why people reacted to viscerally against them, especially since most poking fun of the series probably have never read a book.

These are just a few of the books that have entered the popular consciousness to such a degree that they become inescapable. I’ve read plenty of other books by authors that have not cracked the Best Sellers lists. I’ve enjoyed many self-published titles, many I have reviewed for you here on my blog. On of my favorite author is Morris West, author of The Shoes of the Fisherman, and The Clowns of God.

I read to escape the tedium of life. I read to lose myself to the imagination. I read to transport myself into adventure. I read so that I may know, and in so knowing, to learn, to grow, and to better myself.

I’ve encountered strange ideas, thoughts that were at once foreign and alien to me, but once read, helped shape me into the person I am today. I soaked up ideas like a sponge, thirsty for knowledge, insatiable and unquenchable. I know I’m not alone.

I read mostly for pleasure, but what I read can provoke me to think about the bigger picture. What is the book about? What is the author trying to say?  How is what I’m reading relevant to me and to the world at large? Good books promote lively discussions.

My question today – as you can probably guess by my not-so-cryptic title – is what are you reading now? What ideas are you gleaming from the book or article? Are you willing to share with us? Leave a comment and share with us your thoughts. I would love to know!

“A home without books
is a body without a soul.”
~Marcus Tullius Cicero~*


* – Quotes on reading came from ThinkExist.

They’re here…. I’m talking about my book order

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a day! I went in to work for a few hours – I work in the paint department at a home improvement retailer – before leaving for class. Business is brisk at the moment so when I’m working I’m usually busting my butt trying to take care of everyone, but it feels good. I’m not a manager nor am I a supervisor, I’m just a worker and it feels nice not being in charge. It’s temporary but at least it gets me out into the workforce again.

So I worked four hours today before leaving for class. I was worn out from all the action so I was a bit zombified in class. Nothing to report there except for a dead brain. It’s coming back online as I type this.

Now I’m home. I spent a bit of time wondering what I was going to write about. My exhaustion? Okay, but that can be done in one sentence. I’m tired. See? A short sentence, a subject and an intransitive verb. Damn! Maybe I picked up something in class after all. Cool beans.

Still it’s nothing to write about, but then I got home and I saw that my books were in. I ordered a few books a few weeks ago, the Hunger Game Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Council by Greg Tobin, and The Bridge by Allan Krummenacker. I received The Bridge last week and I’m half-way through it. The other two were waiting for me when I got home from work and school. Huzzah!

I’ve already read The Hunger Games, but I want a copy for myself so I can read it again. Council is a sequel to his novel Conclave, which I read years ago. All in all, I have a good deal of reading waiting for me. I love reading. It relaxes me, especially when I have to time actually read and relax. Preferably in a hot bath.

The next few weeks will be a bit on the hectic side, but it’ll be okay. I have a lot to do, but on the other side of this semester I will have a prize waiting for me. Come to think of it, I may not have enough books. Perhaps I should order a few more. I still have J. K. Rowling’s novel, The Casual Vacancy to read. While I’m at it, I may as well reread The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I enjoyed her book tremendously.

This is the good life.

Piece of the wrong puzzle

Puzzled

puzzle perspective

puzzle perspective (Photo credit: jugbo)

It’s hard to describe what my life is at the moment. It’s a jumble, a fragmented picture that I’m trying to piece together without a clear understanding of what the picture is supposed to be. Do you understand how frustrating it is?

Where does this piece go?

Here?

No.

Screw it. I’ll set it over here for the moment and deal with it later.

Playing the “What If” Game

I’m finishing up the last of my college. I have spoken about his often, probably because this is something I have wanted for a long time. I’ve often wondered where I would be today had I done the intelligent thing and finished over a decade ago. If I hadn’t stopped in 1999, presumably I could have graduated by 2000. Would my life have been better? Worse?

What if? I know you’ve played that game before. What if I had gone out with this person instead? What if I had taken that job? What if..?  What if…?  What if…?

The problem with this is that it presumes that we have the ability to know what would have happened. In hindsight everything seems so painfully obvious, but the problem is that what we know is a result of our experience. Had we gone and taken that other path, that what if, we very well could be asking what if we had done the very thing you currently wish you could have avoided.

You only ask because maybe things would have been better the other way.

In flight

But what I’ve discovered is that I’m a man still in flight, fleeing a past that has probably been long forgotten by the other party. Is this normal? When something traumatic happens, is it only a trauma to one and not the other? Could something that is holding me back be a non-issue for the other?

I realized that I’m still running away from the ghosts of my past yesterday afternoon. I had to go to the bank inside a Walmart to take care of an outstanding issue that I should have dealt with ages ago. Took fifteen minutes and I was done. Typical.

Anyway I left the bank and I wandered around the store and I felt apprehension. Why? Because that’s where the forsaken she-devil works. I’ve avoided the department that she works in ever since we broke up. Forget the obvious that she works at a store 400 miles away, but I really have no idea if she still works there, at the store, in that department, or even in the company. I could easily find out, but why do that to myself?

So why avoid it? I’ve conditioned myself to avoid it. Being in the area brings back memories which makes me sad, fills me with pain and anger, and all I want to do is to escape. I leave. I feel better. I think that may constitute negative reinforcement.

I haven’t dealt with the underlying problem. I ran away from it, from her. At the time the pain was all-consuming, it encompassed my entire being. Those close to me are probably better able to describe how I was than I am. I shut down. I didn’t function really for a long time. I lost my job because of it and look at me now.

So walked in, half-expecting to see her, knowing that I was being an idiot. I walked around, trying to break the synaptic connections that make me associate that department to the girl who hurt me. She hurt me, and she works there so being there brings back the pain.

Walk around.

Look at bbq things.

She’s not here.

Cool patio set

I wish I could see her.

What would I say?

Nothing. I’d run away.

I’ll have to go back more often to free myself of that particular association. It’s silly, but is it really? I’ve decided that it isn’t. I’m entitled to my feelings and I’m entitled to dealing with them in my own time. Emotions are too complex to figure out.

Some of you might be judging me, you may say I’m weak, that I fell apart. What can I say to that? Fuck you. That’s what. You don’t know me. You don’t know the experiences that I’m gone through. What would it take for you to fall apart? You’re not as strong as you suppose. We all have a breaking point, and the trigger may be something you’d never see coming.

So what now?

I live my life, that’s what. I walked around and window shopped for a while, but I didn’t buy anything. I left and drove to the Barnes and Noble to escape into fantasy. I walked in, after being gone since 2000, I’m immediately flooded with memories from an even more distant past. A less painful past.

I walked around, glimpsing at the thousands of stories there were to be discovered. It was nice to be surrounded by books. The feel, the smell, the connection you get by the tactile immediacy of holding a book. It’s wonderful and joyous and marvelous and…

Oh shit.

Do I really expect to join all of these books, vying for shelf space, hoping to attract a readership? Am I good enough? Do I have a story to tell? Would anyone be willing to spend their time and money to read what I have to say?

Don’t know.

So I walked around, forgetting myself and my troubles, leaving my doubts and fears behind, and I shopped for a story, somebody else’s story. There are so many books to choose from, so what do I get? I looked for a book, and it took me several minutes to remember the name, but who was the author? Crap. Oh there it is, magically appearing before me on a display. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This was a NaNoWriMo novel she wrote and got published. I had to get it.

I walked around some more, searching but not finding, wondering if it did so poorly that B&N decided to discreetly banish it from the store. An employee asked me what I wanted. “The Casual Vacancy,” I replied sheepishly. Why sheepishly? It’s my money, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I knew J K Rowling was going to publish a non-Harry Potter book. Screw reviews I’ve seen. I wanted it.

Books in hand, and almost $60 poorer, I left the bookstore, knowing that there were better things on which to spend the money, but nothing that would give me more pleasure. I got into my car, went to Kohl’s and bought me a shirt. Happy, I got into my car, went through the drive through of a McDonald’s, and headed home.

So? What the hell is the point?

That’s the puzzle, isn’t it? You live, you have an epiphany, and life goes on. Here soon I’ll have my degree in hand, and I’ll find a job and then what? Hopefully I’ll find someone to blur the edges of my bad memories and who will dull the hurt that I guess I’ll still have. I know I still harbor resentment. Will that ever go away?

Who knows, but I have two books to read, and a few stories percolating in my head. I have a quiz on Monday, an exam on Tuesday, and an essay to read on Wednesday. And you know, I should probably start working on my mental health project that’s due on the 25th.

Life goes on and you deal with things as they come. I’m slowly dealing with her, but you know what, she’s not as big a piece of my life and I once thought. And you know what? That puzzle piece I couldn’t figure out where it went? It doesn’t even belong to my picture and I can chuck it into the trash can.

And just like that, maybe I’ll be able to throw her away, just as she did me. She doesn’t belong in my picture so why keep her on the table, and life moves on.