Thursday, September 19, 2013
The Power of a Good Book
One of my favorite authors is Annie Dillard. I can remember reading her novel Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for the first time in college and instantly falling in love with her language and style. Still today there are parts from that novel that I can quote and that I reread from time to time for new insight and illumination. Such as: “There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end,” or “Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock—more than a maple—a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”
Recently, I saw an article come through on Facebook about why Generation Y-ers are so unhappy and Dillard’s writing came to the forefront yet again (You can find the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html). Now don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy Facebook and what it offers: connecting and staying connected with those who are all over the world, literally. That being said I also think that Facebook can lend itself to unhappiness because Facebook is all about persona and persona is not real life. Facebook can encourage people to “make itsy-bitsy friends” and “diddle around.” This is why I love literature…why you might ask…how does literature help?
Literature challenges us to move outside of “diddling” and see and feel a world that is bigger than we are. We are faced with stories and experiences we would have never considered and known about without a story. Literature exposes us to perspectives and people we wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. Literature often opens up human nature and we see ourselves, and others, in a way we hadn’t before. Literature is beauty. It is art.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dream, and health, and quiet breathing”
- Keats, Endymion
All voracious readers have those works that have inspired them; works that they turn to when they need encouragement or even a sanctuary. I want to share a few of my favorites (I have many more than this!)…I would love to know some of yours. Who knows, maybe it will become my new favorite!
1. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
2. The Sunday Philosophy Club Series – Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Chosen & The Gift of Asher Lev – Chaim Potok
4. Children of the Alley – Naguib Mahfouz
5. Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
6. Song of Myself – Walt Whitman
7. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
8. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery