Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When books help guide you

Okay music really sets me free, but like music, I don't think I could live without books.  Good, bad, depressing, chipper, chick-lit, smut, sci-fi, historical, bios, humor, self-help and textbooks- I need them all! In my life, all the time.  Give me books and I'll forever love you.  I've written about reading and books a little before here in January.  I wrote about my nook and my new love Goodreads. At the time I was still under a dozen books for the year, by now I'm at 34 for the year so far- no signs of stopping.

I think I started devouring books like a monster in middle school.  I was addicted to R L Stein's Fear Street books- the girly version of Goosebumps I guess.  I continued my passionate need for reading when I discovered Half Price Bookstore and I just bought the books that had interesting covers.  Yep I do that still sometimes- worked out great for The Night Circus.  Then people would recommend books to me, and I hadn't yet learned to be discerning about different tastes.  So when my dad told me to read Helter Skelter about the Mason murders or the Shining, I didn't know it would scare the crap out of me.

The sometimes people would recommend books to me because they saw something in me and thought I'd really connect with the book.  THOSE recommendations were always the best, because they aren't just random popular books being thrown around, but something more.  usually these books come to me at a certain time in my life where I need them.  They are either in sync with what I'm currently going through or can help kinda guide me out of it.

The first instance, and most influential, of this was The Celestine Prophecy, my camp counselor at the time thought I would love the book and let me borrow it one summer.  I was about to be a Freshman in high school, going to a new school, on a different side of town and with barely anyone I knew from middle school.  Celestine Prophecy is kinda cheesy when you look at it.  Goodreads describes it as

"You have never read a book like this before -- a book that comes along once in a lifetime to change lives forever.

In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript has been discovered. Within its pages are 9 key insights into life itself -- insights each human being is predicted to grasp sequentially; one insight, then another, as we move toward a completely spiritual culture on Earth. Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your life right now and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimisim as you head into tomorrow."

Yah I guess that's what it's "about".  But to me I pulled on the synergy or synchronicity thing.  That the coincidences in your life will lead you in the direction you should be going.  This was something I had always believed in when it came to music.  I always thought music had to be a part of my life because there were so many damn coincidences.  In choir at school we would sing the exact same songs that would show up again that summer at camp.  Again after reading the book I noticed it more- coincidence that the last show my freshman year was "Crazy for You" and that summer at camp we just happened to do all Gershwin songs- coincidence or fate?  It was like the whole universe was trying to tell me music is a part of this, don't ever quit music.  Those coincidences went on my whole school and camp music experience.  Every year.  Also I can't forget this was the book that brought me and my now 12 year pen pal together.  So from this book I learned about coincidences and it helped solidify my "need" for music in my life.

Since then a few others books have come into my life and seemingly the right time to influence my thoughts or feelings on certain matters.  A close guy friend and I very much agree that On Love by Alain de Botton is the one fo the best, and most honey, relationship books we've ever read.  It's kinda like how I feel about the movie Closer, honest, brutally honest about relationships.  On Love is written by a philosopher, so his approach to love and relationships is completely rational, everything is deciphered and then deciphered some more.  

“If cynicism and love lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, do we not sometimes fall in love in order to escape the debilitating cynicism to which we are prone? Is there not in every coup de foudre a certain willful exaggeration of the qualities of the beloved, an exaggeration which distracts us from our habitual pessimism and focuses our energies on someone in whom we can believe in a way we have never believed in ourselves?” 
― Alain de BottonOn Love

I always go back to this book.  I can read it a hundred times and never get tired of it's simple truths.  It's very hard to find, so I recommend ordering it online, but it's worth the read and amazing.

Recently a book fell into my lap after I entered a Goodreads giveaway.  I'd been winning a lot lately and didn't check it very often, just waited for the emails telling me I'd won.  Then one day I got an email from an author, saying I'm sorry you didn't win, but can I send you an epub version for you to read and write a review for.  I agreed.  That's how I came to read You Know Your Way Home. I started reading it thinking it would only be a memoir of a woman's quest to find herself after 5 failed marriages.  Soon I realized it was much more than that.  This woman's journey through therapy and finding how to be happy with herself was very inspirational.  Her writing style wasn't always the best and some parts of the book were very self-indulgent, but overall the message was about finding your faith and taking control of your happiness.

Like another book I'm finally getting around to reading. Years ago a friend lent me the book "Eat, Pray, Love" and told me to read it and that I'd love it.  It's sat on my shelf since then.  I saw the movie and loved it and kept meaning and meaning to read the book.  I'm finally getting around to it and wondering why I waited so long.  So far I'm loving it.  I have no desire to travel, in fact leaving San Antonio makes me anxious.  I don't like being away from home, but through books about travel I can see how some people find it soothing and healthy to get away every once in a while.  The idea of going off to another country or countries for a year scares me to death, but I can appreciate that it can somewhat force you to have to find yourself.  

For me I can do it through books, by reading other people's journeys I can learn from their wisdom and from their mistakes.  To me it's less risky- as we say frequently in Student Affairs- Why reinvent the wheel? So I use my books to guide me, to remind me that music is important in my life, to remind me that sometimes love is really messy and to help find myself.  Books are my therapy, just like how sometimes music is my therapy.  I can't wait to see what more I can learn.

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