Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book By Book

Another book by Mchael Dirda, Book By Book: Notes On Reading And Life is a short collection of essays about topics that include reading, learning, work, leisure, love, art, the self and death. For each of the themes, Dirda includes exquisite passages and meaningful quotes/life lines, and lots of book recommendations - all relevant to the themes being discussed.

The lists are in fact highly personal and you might disagree with any of them. Such is what strongly anticipated and encouraged by the author himself, You might go ahead to make your own lists, quote the passages that mean the most to you, name the most important books and authors of yours, and come up with an entirely different result. Yes, a reader's guide of your own.

A few favourite passages/quotes from the book:

The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for a love relationship is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don't know what will be the end. - Michel Foucault

Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle

There is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school. To begin with, it is a prison. But it is some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for instance, you are not forced to read books written by the warders and the governor and beaten or otherwise tormented if you cannot remember their utterly unmemorable contents. In the prison you are not forced to sit listening to turnkeys discoursing without charm or interest on subjects that they don't understand and don't care about, and are therefore incapable of making you understand or care about. In a prison they may torture your body, but they do not torture your brains..... - Bernard Shaw

No man is offended by another man's admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who can make it a torment. - Jane Austen

Romanticism is what brings a couple together, but realism is what sees them through. - John Updike

A few passages for your thoughts as well:

Lying awake at 2 AM, though, even the most apparently successful among us might wonder: Did I somehow take the wrong turn in the road? What went wrong? How did I come to be so dissatisfied with everything? A good deal of this malaise can be blamed on the cult of speed. We are always on deadline, rushing from one appointment to the next, grabbing a quick bite at our desks, constantly multitasking, repeatedly checking our PDA and e-mail, weeping with road rage when the traffic slows, logging in ten or twelve hours at work, day after day. How many of us live on that edge, that fraying edge? In every aspect of our daily routines we feel overbooked, overscheduled, and overextended. Alas!

The novelist Arnold Bennett once estimated that "not in 1%, even of romantic marriages are the husband and wife capable of passion for each other after 3 years. So brief is the violence of love! In perhaps 33% passion settles down into a tranquil affection - which is ideal. In 50% it sinks into sheer indifference, and one becomes used to one's wife or husband s to one's other habits. And in the remaining 16% it develops into dislike or detestation."
(What mentioned afterwards is true - shared memories, common pursuits, reliable support during times of crisis, even the same old arguments - these really matter than you realize.)

Don’t harp on “good books”. Remember how boring you thought required school reading was? Nothing kills what pleasure a novel might offer like ordering a kid to read it just because it’s won a Newbery or Coretta Scott King award. Roald Dahl pointed out that what really matters in children’s books is that they be so entertaining that they "convince the child that reading is great fun."

Sadly, we grown-ups can't help these shameful desires. To feel proud of one's children - this is the drug every parent hungers after. Only when the kids start to disappoint our expectations, as inevitably happens, do we settle for wanting them to be merely happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment