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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Reading Right and Meaningfully...

I finished "The Year of Magical Thinking" in less than a day. It is not the fact that I read fast (although I suppose I did), but the real and tangible experience it was to absorb every word, to take in all of its messages and enjoy one of the most productive reads I have had all year. Joan Didion is a great writer. Her emotions translate on the page as if they were happening to us in real life. She confronts the loss of her husband with courage and determination and could be seen as heroic in her efforts to restore normalcy to her life. The book is not depressing, although it deals primarily with the consequences of death to those who remain living. This is one of my top recommendations for this year. Excellent book.

What strikes me odd was the way I came across "The Year of Magical Thinking." I bought a couple of books at Amazon last year while we were still living in the apartment. Over the course of the year, I have gone back to Amazon to check reviews or information related to several books I have purchased elsewhere. The algorithms that select "recommendations based on what you have purchased or on the basis of what other people who purchased the same book have also purchased" seems to me sort of horrific. Nevertheless, one day, up comes "The Year of Magical Thinking" and I took it up to read it because the subject matter attracted me. I didn't get the book at Amazon. I went to "Half-Priced Books" and after a couple of fruitless searches, I found it on the fiction section under "Dickens." I didn't read it right away, and I am glad that I waited. The fact that at first seating I read over 100 pages is a testimony (from a slow reader like myself) that the books is an engaging piece of genius.

The next selection on my reading list is "The Myth of the Sisyphus" by Albert Camus. Now, now... it's not that I am in a binge of depressing books--far from it. I am reading these in preparation to a larger topic in both my fiction and non-fiction reading: that of the meaningful life and how to live it. The center piece of Camus' book is the question of whether or not life has to has meaning in order to live it. Moreover, if life does not seem to have significance or meaning, is it worth living or would it be much better to commit suicide? These are difficult questions, of course, but from what I have read from Camus before I know he will deal the subject with intense passion and scrutiny. What else could we ask for?

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At 11:27 AM, Blogger jenclair said...

I like The Myth of Sisyphus...or rather, I like Camus' take on the topic. Thanks for visiting my blog; I've enjoyed my visit here!

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Lover of Books said...

I hope to read The Year of Magical Thinking some time. :)

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Susan Abraham said...

I was about to say with no reference to the title, how magical it all sounds, Jose.
Especially when you think that there are so many exciting ways to study a book. Well done! :-)

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Bookgirl said...

I have Year of Magical Thinking on my stacks waiting to be read. Did you know that Joan Didion wrote a play based on the book? It's just opened in New York. I bet that would be amazing to see as well.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Kirsten said...

Thanks for posting about The Year of Magical Thinking. I've been meaning to pick up a copy - sounds great!


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