The bookworm in me is alive and well here at sea. It does help that there’s a ton of down time, wifi costs $3.99 per hour, and on TV they just play the same three movies on a loop. And so we read! I’m on my sixth book since I’ve been here and they’ve all been wonderful. So in the hopes that all my lovely friends might pick up a book and put down the iPhone, here’s my review of the books I've had my nose in lately.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Apparently this is one of those books that a lot of people read in school. I wasn’t one of those people and I figured it was about time I should. I love dystopian novels and it did not disappoint. A world with no color, no options, everything pre-planned, but also no pain and suffering. Sounds okay, right? Well, if you're boring maybe.
It’s one of those books that really impressed me from a writer’s standpoint. Like wow, how did you come up with this idea of someone Giving all the memories of the world to a Receiver? For them to hold it all and feel everything so heavily for the sake of the community.
The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
It’s a story based in 1950’s San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I love that because I bought my copy in Old San Juan on one of our first stops in the city. This book is so beautifully written and it has easily become one of my all-time favorites. The book follows an American journalist living in Old San Juan through his drunken escapades, crude (yet, sometimes enlightened) inner thoughts, and completely wild lifestyle that accompanies an ego-centric writer. But my god, the way this story is written is just gorgeous. A stunning portrait of San Juan and of the fascinating people who may roam its streets.
She laughed. “It won’t last. Nothing lasts. But I’m happy now.”
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Now here’s one of the dystopian classics that has been on my list for ages. It’s the future and booked are banned. If you’re found with books, they burn them along with your whole house. Casual, right? Man, what a poignant book even decades after it was published. The scariest part is that in this dystopian world, people weren’t told to stop reading books. They stopped all by themselves. And we seem to be doing just that. The fact that bookstores all over the U.S. are closing (goodbye Borders) and people read more Facebook statuses than words on paper makes me sad. The good news is I don’t think that books will ever die. They’ve just changed to a more digital form lately. Basically, books are lovely and I’m glad I’ve been reading more. It’s a privilege to be able to read, so let’s do it.
The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun
I read this book in three days. I couldn’t put it down. It’s Alex’s book and he lovingly has been sharing it with us friends. Written by Adam Braun, founder of “Pencils of Promise”, he recounts how he created his world renowned organization and lays out some important mantras that I’ve found ring true in many areas of my life. In his travels, Adam began asking the local children what they wanted most. All of the answers he received were beautiful: to dance, to see my parents more often, etc. But one answer changed everything, when a child asked for a pencil. Now, Adam devotes his life to building schools in parts of the world that previously had no access to proper education. He is changing the world and his story is incredible.
In moments of uncertainty, when you must choose between two paths, allowing yourself to be overcome by either the fear of failure or the dimly lit light of possibility, immerse yourself in the life you would be the most proud to live.
The Narcissist Next Door by Jeffrey Kluger
This is one that reminded me of my Malcolm Gladwell favorites, full of interesting anecdotes and fascinating examples of narcissism, both good and bad. I always associate narcissism with being such a negative quality, but that’s not always the case. I’m sure we all know a narcissist or two who, at first, you can’t get enough of. But as you work with or form relationships with them, you find that they are positively blind to the idea that they’re no more special than any of the rest of us. How annoying.
Yet, in order to do great things, you have to truly believe you are great. For example, some classic examples of narcissism lie in American Presidents. Leaders of the “greatest country on Earth”. Wow, how modest of them. CEOs. Chances are they bluffed their way up. Man who sweeps you off your feet with his charm but who isn’t quite listening when you talk about yourself. Been there. Hell, I’m even a bit narcissistic. I’m a performer after all. Vanity is palpable backstage in the Lyric Theatre. The trick is not taking it too far and knowing when to show a little modesty. Overall, a very interesting read.
Currently, I'm reading "How To Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie and I'm looking for more suggestions. Let me know your favorites.