Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Am a Part of All I Have Read

I love to read.  But I don't have as much time for sitting down with a good book like I used to.  Life and mothering and keeping a clean house, and working out, and kids sports, and I'm learning jazz piano and practicing at least 2 hours a day, and cooking and laundry, and did I tell you that I homeschool my children now? and ....... you know the drill.  And so I've compromised.

We all agree in one way, shape or form, it's not possible to get through the day without agreeing to at least one compromise.   The very best compromises, like having a lifestyle you can work with, cover all your needs while satisfying a few of your wants.  I need to read. It's not just a want.  Reading absolutely feeds my soul.  And so, while I haven't been able to read all the books on my 'list', I thought I'd share with you, my dear readers, the books I've managed to carve out some time to enjoy this year.

#1 - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 
  This one took a few months to conquer.  I really do mean conquer.  I tried to read 'War and Peace' by Tolstoy when I was in high school and stopped half way through since it was so tricky trying to keep all the Russian names straight.  Enter cliff notes!  I first memorized the character list for Anna from the cliff notes before proceeding.  The story of Anna's tragedy kept me in complete suspense.  Tolstoy is a master of understanding human nature, and why we fall in and out of love.  He tackles the big question, "what is love and marriage all for, anyway? why do we do it?" and he comes to a beautiful conclusion that I too agree with.  We do it for the soul.  Because we were born to love and be loved.   It's so sad how messy it can get.  
But we must keep trying.

#2 - What a Wonderful World - 
The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years 
by Ricky Riccardi 
This one has some colorful language, which I don't mind a bit since it makes me feel right at home with my family.  But I thought I should warn you.  Lois himself was a quite colorful man. And I dig every single thing I've learned about him.   The book asserts that he was probably the hardest working man in show business.  Armstrong was often dismissed as a buffoon-ish, though popular entertainer.  But when I hear his music, decades later, I hear a genius whose trumpet playing goes right through me to the very core and whose voice... that voice teaches me where to really sing from and why we even sing songs in the first place.  
He is the embodiment of depth of expression and sophistication, 
all the reasons why I love jazz.

#3 - Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer 
  I couldn't put this one down.  I've been wanting to read the epic account of the Mount Everest disaster for a long time, I have some mountain climbers in my family. Now that I'm living in Seattle, and staring at  Mount Rainier every other day, I decided it was time.  
The following quote is worth repeating: "The more improbable the situation and the greater the demands made on [the climber], the more sweetly the blood flows.... The possibility of danger serves merely to sharpen his awareness and control.  
And perhaps this is the rationale of all risky sports.... 
It's a small scale model for living, but with a difference: Unlike your routine life, where mistakes can usually be recouped and some kind of compromise patched up, your actions, for however brief a period, are deadly serious." - A. Alvarez, "The Savage God:" - A study of Suicide 

And how ironic when I was reading Krakauer, he quoted Tolstoy: 
"The core of a man's spirit comes from new experiences" -Tolstoy .  I'll probably never learn Russian, learn how to play jazz trumpet, or summit Everest.  But thank the heavens above for good books!!