The power of a book

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

James Baldwin

 

 

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: Be the architect of your own destiny

“New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story ?  Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.” 
― Alex MorrittImpromptu Scribe

I will keep this post brief.  The choices we make, whether proactive or reactive, set a chain of reactions and events in motion. How we act (or don’t act) and what we say (or don’t say) will  play a pivotal role in how we engage with others and in what we hope to achieve in life. Sometimes we find excuses for our own inertia or our bad choices. We play the blame game: “It’s his/her fault that this happened, not mine.”  In some instances, this is correct. But they’re the exception, rather than the rule.

Let’s face it, there are times that bad things happen. And it’s no one’s fault. But it’s how we handle  the hard times, the tragedies and disasters that determines our forward path.  The person who deals with hardship with humility, integrity and grace is the person who will likely also use every life experience – be it good or bad – as a lesson to learn from. True wisdom is hard-earned.  

So let 2017 be the year we, each of us, write our own life story. Let’s hold ourselves accountable for our actions and our words. 

Let the first chapter begin.

“Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, and destiny.”
– Alfred A. Montapert

Here today, gone tomorrow

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“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”

 ― Jules Renard 

I will preface this post by saying that there is certainly, in my view, nothing wrong with wanting to make money from writing.  That would be a hypocritical thing to say, since I write for a living.

However, I write about things that interest me, that I’m passionate about –  thoughts, ideas, issues and concerns that I want to share with others, raise awareness  about… and, ultimately, engage in discourse.

I do not write a book just to satisfy a market trend or to capitalize on a subject that I would not normally even consider, just to make a quick buck.

Trends are here today, and gone tomorrow.

It’s really, really important to remember that.  Writers, please heed this advice.  Trendy books eventually fizzle out. They do not live in perpetuity. Their final resting place lies in a dusty old box, stored in some obscure warehouse. 

Make every post, every article, every book you write… a labor of love. Whether you write as a hobby, part-time on the side, or 24/7 (like me) – write something that fuels your adrenaline.

If you find yourself writing for hours on end – oblivious to all the sights and sounds around you, with a cup of coffee that has been cold for at least three hours – you’re probably writing for the right reasons.

Recently, I read an article (can’t remember where, though) that said:

“Write the story that gives you insomnia.”

That’s when you know that your book will have staying power. And, once you’ve written it, perhaps you will catch up on your sleep!

 

Image: Sandra Gligorijevic/Stock

heatherfromthegrove’s non-fiction spotlight for today: “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo

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Monday, July 22 – Saturday, July 27

NON-FICTION

 @ heatherfromthegrove!

Enjoy some good summer reading.

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“It seemed to him that in Annawadi, fortunes derived not just from what people did, or how well they did it, but from the accidents and catastrophes they dodged. A decent life was the train that hadn’t hit you, the slumlord you hadn’t offended, the malaria you hadn’t caught.” 
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

From the moment we are introduced to the intelligent and resourceful Muslim teenager, Abdul, living in the slum settlement of Annawadi, we are drawn into an underground world that is as tragic and heart-wrenching as it is humorous and hopeful.  The characters are so vivid and their stories so compelling that one has to remind oneself that this is not a tale of fiction.  This beautifully crafted piece of narrative non-fiction is the end product of three intense years of reporting by master journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo.

The gripping stories of the families, surviving in a makeshift settlement near the Mumbai airport,  make us cry, wince and laugh. Living just a stone’s throw away from  luxury hotels filled with wealthy patrons, we feel their distress and anger as they battle the inequalities of class and caste.  In the dawn of a newly prosperous India, the stark contrast of the abject poverty with the neighboring wealth is a constant (and harsh) reminder that not all things (or people) are created equal. Fuelled by  hope and tenacity, the people of Annawadi strive for a better life,  despite the challenges and roadblocks that intercept them at every turn.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an unforgettable book and probably one of the best I’ve read in a while.

heatherfromthegrove’s story spotlight for today: “Oscar and Lucinda” by Peter Carey

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Let’s wrap up fiction week, here @ heatherfromthegrove, with a love story.

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“She held out her hand, like a man. He hesitated, then took the hand and shook it. It was very warm. You could not help but be aware of the wild passage of blood on the other side of its wall, veins, capillaries, sweat glands, tiny factories in the throes of complicated manufacture. [He] looked at the eyes and, knowing how eyes worked, was astonished, not for the first time, at the infinite complexity of Creation, wondering how this thing, this instrument for seeing, could transmit so clearly its entreaty while at the same time—-Look, I am only an eye—-denying that it was doing anything of the sort.”

Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda

What better way to enjoy a summer weekend than to curl up in your favorite chair and read a love story?  Written by Australian author Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda is a satire about two star-crossed lovers in mid-nineteenth century England and Australia. Growing up in a strict, religious (Plymouth) household, the shy young man rejects his father’s religion in favor of the C of E (Church of England), and becomes an Anglican priest.  Lucinda is a headstrong Australian heiress who is a feminist before her time. She buys a glass factory, in the hope of one day building a church made from glass and transporting it (intact) to the Australian Outback. Oscar and Lucinda meet on a ship, en route to Australia and discover they share a common vice:  gambling  (he, the racetrack; she, a deck of cards). When they arrive in Australia, neither one fits well in their social circles and the two “outsiders” form a bond.  The wickedly witty gambling duo make a wager that unleashes a series of events that affects the course of their lives.  The wager?  Lucinda bets Oscar her entire inheritance that he would be incapable of transporting the glass cathedral (without any breakage or damage) to the Outback.

Told in a long flashback, this enchanting story is about two people who were truly meant to be together.  And we, the readers, fall in love with them – vices and all.

Other novels by Peter Carey:

* adapted into a film (1997, USA) by the same name; directed by Gillian Armstrong, and starring Ralph Fiennes (as Oscar) and Cate Blanchett (as Lucinda).

** adapted into a film (1986, USA) by the same name; directed by Ray Lawrence.

In addition, he has written a large body of work: short story collections, uncollected short stories, juvenile fiction, non-fiction and screenplays.