Month: October 2016

Eight Books to Read as the Leaves Change

Fall is one of my favorite seasons – as I’ve mentioned before. But not because of pumpkin spiced lattes (ew) or for sweater weather (though I do love wearing cozy sweaters) or even for the beautiful changing leaves.

I love the season for its growing darkness, for the solemnity it brings, for the gloomy rainy days that remind me that life is short and always changing. I find the somber skies and falling leaves give reminder to the inevitability of death, yet within that inevitability a beauty, a calmness, and a renewed appreciation for the fragility of life. It instills in me a vigor to appreciate the quiet moments as well as the exciting ones, the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, because all contribute to a life well lived.

In my reflections on this season of change I began to think about the books that mirror my emotions regarding Fall. Literature that taps into the dichotomy between acceptance of death and decay and the appreciation and love of life. Works that shed wisdom on the seasons of life, on the challenges of change, the sorrow of death and the acceptance of its inevitability.

Each of the eight books on my list offers a unique perspective on changing seasons of life, giving little insights and revelations into what it means to have a life well lived and how to approach death. Some are somber, some are hopeful – some vague and others pointed – some poetry and some fiction and even some philosophy. Yet, each work has influenced the way I think about my life and my future.

One thing a majority of these works have in common is that they are episodic, situated somehow outside of time, whether through stream of conscious or through use of anecdotes. Through this they each touch upon the eternal, this touchstone allows them to transcend the boundaries of seasonality and life and give way to the eternality of life. Though individuals are constantly passing through life, often without notice or care, their individual stories create a multitude of voices that create a cycle of life and death that influences those who remain.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Five Categories of Fear – Ten Books

Another week, another Top Ten Tuesday!  This is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish which challenges bloggers to create lists on the weekly topic. In anticipation of Halloween this week’s topic was: “Halloween related freebie: ten scary books, favorite horror novels, non-scary books to get you in the Halloween/fall mood, bookish halloween costumes, scariest covers), scary books on my TBR, etc.”

There is a lot of room for creativity within this one, too much almost. So, as I was brainstorming ideas I got to thinking about the basic kinds of fear. Which generally can be confined to five categories: extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation, ego-death. Pretty much any work of horror can be categorized within these genres.

So, I decided to narrow my choices to find two of my favorite scary books that fit into each of these categories. Some were more challenging than others (possibly because I don’t read much horror) but still it was fun to place different novels into their respective categories. Let me know what you think!

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An Unlikely Union | If The Catcher in the Rye Was a Dance

Through all my schooling I somehow managed to miss reading Salinger’s famous The Catcher in the Rye. It seems impossible – EVERYONE reads it during high school. I didn’t though, so I decided to right that wrong and I am certainly glad that I did. I loved every minute reading it. Holden is such a fantastic, well articulated character. He was frustrating; he was endearing. He was naive and wise beyond his years at the same time; you couldn’t help but love him even when he was beyond irritating.

But, that’s not what I want to talk about right now. Because, halfway through the book I had a revelation. If The Catcher in the Rye was a dance it would be choreographed by the amazing choreographer Barak Marshall.

Of course I immediately wanted to share this idea with everyone. Unfortunately, I know very few people who know enough about literature and dance to fully appreciate how wonderful such a pairing would be.

I continued meditating on this dilemma, pondering how to describe what makes Barak Marshall’s choreography so fitting for The Catcher in the Rye. Through this I came up with three defining factors of Marshall’s choreography that mirror Salinger’s writing.

Articulate. Melodramatic. Humorous.

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Trials of Writing About What I Love

Those of you who have read much of this blog have probably noticed that I often struggle to find words for books and music that I love. In fact, it is has caused me to avoid writing about certain topics because I believe that my words will not do them justice.

However, this morning has been filled with rants with my best friend about something we mutually dislike. And when angry my words flow forth like gold. Utilizing phrases like “trite morality” and “warbling aesthetic” I was shocked at my ability to conjure such interesting imagery so early in the morning without even thinking about it.

Which caused me to think about it more. I have sometimes spent hours laboring over the best way to talk about topics I love. I struggle to find words that are worthy to discuss the way I feel about Martha Graham or Emily Dickinson.

While in college I would nearly always write essays on whatever topic or literary work I liked least. This caused me to write an essay in support of censorship. This caused me to be the only one in a class of twenty to write about Margery Kempe. This is why, when I chose to write my senior thesis on Willa Cather, a much beloved author of mine, I had a mini crisis. I loved her work too much to write about it. Words would not come to me (don’t worry, they did).

 
I think the reason for this struggle is that writing about something I love means revealing much more personal,private feelings. Because then, if someone doesn’t like it, I have been exposed. And I am not the best at opening myself up. So instead I have practiced (and become adept at) talking about things I dislike. And not always critically – I find good things about them, I treat them well and analyze them far more indifferently than I would something I love. In fact, it is a good exercize, looking at something that you don’t like and finding the good in it. However, it is also important to learn why you like what you like.

In one of my freshmen introductory classes our professor challenged the class to investigate what attracts us to other people. Not romantically necessarily, but in friendship. What qualities attract us to others – is it wealth? Beauty? Humor? In other words, what do we find to be ‘good’ and why? This was an important exercise in analyzing the sort of people we were and I believe can be extended to activities and things that we like as well. Because ultimately anything that we like says something about what we find to be good and important in life.

I struggled with this a lot, when I found the answer it was only through analyzing the people I did not like. However, now I am trying to challenge myself to find out the positive attributes of what I like rather than defining what I like by what I don’t like. It is difficult though, and requires a lot more vulnerability.


So, how about you all? Do you have more trouble writing/talking about things you love or things you hate? What defines what you love and what defines what you dislike?