By Bob Gaydos
You meet the nicest people when you write about books.
A couple of weeks ago, I got tired of all the political angsts and anger on Facebook and wrote a column about books and synchronicity and what I was reading and asked folks what they were reading. To change the subject, you know?
The mind needs a break from corruption, greed, arrogance, duplicity, complicity, bigotry, cowardice and just plain stupidity, even, or especially, when those are the dominant traits of the elected officials filling the seats of power in Washington.
Books can take us elsewhere. Anywhere, really. They can remind us what it is to think, not merely react. To set aside our current grievances. To relax, imagine and discover … mostly ourselves.
So I asked people what they were reading and said I would share it with others. When I write about other topics, such as politics, the feedback I get tends to be from self-satisfied pundits who want to 1) tell me I’m an idiot and 2) demonstrate how much smarter they are by making some snarky remark about my opinion. They usually don’t spend time writing anything of any length themselves. It’s hit-and-run commentary. Insult and belittle. But it’s the age in which we live and I know that going in.
Still, a guy needs a break occasionally. Wouldn’t you know, when I asked people about books they were reading or would recommend or, a la “Fahrenheit 453,” a book they would be if they could be one, people gave thoughtful, respectful responses. Imagine that.
So here, as promised, are some of the replies I got from posting my column on several sites as well as zestoforange:
- Jo Cicale, with her new Kindle: What am I reading or what have I read? “All the Light We Cannot See” was among the best of the best. Just finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” and that is a wow! Geez, wish I could remember the name of the book about Alfred the alligator. It was such a fun read. Need laughs and fun, don’t we?
- Patricia Campbell: I am reading the two latest James Pattersons – “I, Alex Cross” and “Kill Alex Cross.” If I could be a book it would have to be “Bastard Out of Carolina.” This is a gritty look at child abuse and neglect, I could not put it down and so I didn’t.
- Toni Macaroni: Just finished “God Help the Child,” by Toni Morrison. I found it quite amazing. Quick read.
- Linda D’Amato Hayes: Currently reading “Alvin York, A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne,” by Douglas V. Mastriano, and “Angels of the Underground, the American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in WWII,” by Theresa Kaminski.
- Jason Harris: I’m currently reading two books. One I read to keep my mind occupied and is the height of Space Opera from the Black Press called “Mechanicum” and is part of a series called “The Horus Heresy.” The second I read in an attempt to better my soul and that’s “Living Buddha, Living Christ,” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Idrea Ramaci: “The Power of Now,” Eckhart Tolle. Already have it almost memorized, as I’ve read it so many times.
- Anita Page: “Dark Money,” by Jane Mayer. This book about the role the Koch brothers play in American politics is alarming, but worth reading. “Selected Stories,” by William Trevor — 48 stories by one of the best short story writers of our time. The collected works of Mo Willems (to be read aloud to grandkids). He’s terrific and very funny, which is helpful these days.
- Jim Bridges: The last book I read was Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness.” What book would I like to be – gosh, I immediately thought of one of Dostoyevsky’s novels, perhaps “The Brothers Karamazov.” Not sure why, but ever since high school I have liked his writing.
- Mikhail Horowitz: I am currently reading Shelby Foote’s 14-volume history of the Civil War. Mostly because a) he’s a wonderful storyteller; b) the parallels between the 1860s and the 1960s (my student activist days) are so uncanny; and c) during the recent presidential campaign it became obvious that half this country is still fighting the Civil War. Also, I thought I already WAS a book, but if I had to pick another book — actually, two books — to be, they would be a first edition copy of the “2050 Baseball Encyclopedia,” and a translation of “Finnegan’s Wake” into Mandarin.
- Christine Marsh-Rijssenbeek: “Half a Life,” by V.S. Naipaul. His writing is sublime. And if I were a book: “The Kon Tiki Expedition,” by Thor Heyerdahl because I feel as if I’m always floating in the middle of an ocean.
- Mary Makofske: Am reading “535 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity,” by Charles Lewis (and this BEFORE the ascension of Trump). Also some older novels, “Ishmael,” by Daniel Quinn and “Ecotopia,” by Ernest Callenbach (surprising how relevant they still are. Ecotopia is composed of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, which seceded). “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander. “The Harvest Gypsies,” nonfiction by John Steinbeck (led to “The Grapes of Wrath”). “Methland,” by Nick Reding, was an eye-opener. “How to Be Alive by Colin Beavan,: didn’t contain much new for me, but was a timely reminder. Wow, I’ve been reading a lot. Thanks for asking, Bob. I always like to see what others have discovered.
- John Escher: Nice. I was going to recommend that you stop reading books and see a movie, “FAHRENHEIT 453,” but see you already did. Personally speaking, I prefer early to late Wolfe. “Hernia hernia hernia hernia hernia.” And prefer partial to full knee replacements since I play tennis when I’m not reading books.
- Wise woman (obviously a nom de plume): Well you did ask. So here’s what I’m recommending according to the info you provided. Since you didn’t list a woman author, I suggest “Woman As Healer,” by Jeanne Achterberg. Then Deepak Chopra, “Perfect Health.” To round out some history you might not be familiar with, “Remembering Hypatia,” by Brian Trent. I met Brian years ago when he was a very young man and his book had just been published. I was highly impressed by his quiet intelligence and determination to tell a story that definitely needs to be told. These, if you should care to read them, will keep you busy for a while. Because of a protracted illness, I have been confined to my Kindle which has been a blessing since books are too heavy to read in bed. I wish you good health and success in sharing your experiences.
See what I mean? Nice people. Thank you. And if you want to keep commenting and suggesting, that’s fine with me. It adds to my reading list.