Monday, August 19, 2013

My Nerdiest Moments

"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading." - William Styron, Conversations with William Styron

I am a book nerd. Period. It's a way that I truly define myself, and I believe I am a more open, a more tolerant, and a more educated person because I read. While I do indulge in a chick lit book every now and then, my true loves are books that make you think deeper about yourself and the world around you.

This summer, I did not get to read nearly as often as I wanted to. Alas, working a full time job and taking night classes on the side burdens the schedule. (Alas is one of my favorite words I learned from a book. Dumbledore taught it to me!)


"Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it." - Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

However, I did get to read two very interesting, very different books this summer that I feel may leave a lasting impression on me well into my life. They are books that I probably will not recommend to anyone, and yet, they are books that I continue to come back to and consider even after I've finished them.



The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The first one (and the one I am most likely to recommend) is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. The novel follows the journey of an old man across England. One morning, his every day routine gets interrupted by a letter from an old coworker stating that she has cancer and is dying. When he walks to the mailbox to mail a response, he ends up walking past his mailbox, down the street, and across England to see her. Throughout his journey, Harold reveals things about his past, his son, his wife, and his future.  He learns about himself and he inspires others. While the novel has very little plot (other than him walking and... walking...), it really stuck with me. Not only did it make me want to start exercising, but his self-awareness and personal growth really struck a chord. I felt like he was literally doing what I've been metaphorically doing lately, the soul searching and retrospective thinking to see what path my life has been on and where it should go from here.

"You got up, and you did something. And if trying to find a way when you don't even know you can get there isn't a small miracle, then I don't know what is." - Maureen, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce



The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The second novel is vastly different from Harold Fry. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson has won more awards than I can count on my hands, including a Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2013 Tournament of Books (knocking out The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, one of my personal favorites of all time!). I don't usually go for Pulitzer Prize winners. I have nothing against them, but I find that books that win awards like that are usually too deep and metaphorical for my taste (I'm all about the characters and plot, not the symbolism!). However, my book club chose this book for the month, and I was excited and up for the challenge! First things first, this book is intense. It's an undertaking to read because it is so lengthy in it's plot. The narrative overall covers a man's life in North Korea from the time he was born to his death, covering the time period from the Korean war to present(ish?). What fascinated me most about this book was the amazingly in-depth portrayal of North Korea. As students, we never learn about that area of the world. So little is known about their culture and government because it is mostly propaganda that comes out of the country. However, Adam Johnson (a graduate of McNeese actually!) was allowed to research in North Korea, walk among the people, and talk to some (approved) citizens. It was so interesting to me to learn about such a different area of the world where life is so drastically different from the life I know.

"Where we are from, he said, stories are factual. If a farmer is declared a music virtuoso by the state, everyone had better start calling him maestro. And secretly, he'd be wise to start practicing the piano. For us, the story is more important than the person. If a man and his story are in conflict, it is the man who must change...But in America, people's stories change all the time. In America, it is the man who matters." - Pak Jun Do, The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson



Overall, these two books are books that I may never read again, but I know they will stick with me for a while because they enlightened me and make me think on a deeper level.

"We read to know that we are not alone." - William Nicholson

2 comments:

  1. I love finding new books to read. These both look pretty interesting! I just finished "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller last night. It was one of those books that I stayed up late to finish. It's about writing a good story with your life. I would highly recommend it if you haven't read it!

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  2. I read the Rachel Joyce one for a book club I was part of in Toronto, and it was so interesting! :)

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