Tom Being Tom

Just me, talking about stuff.

Reading List

time keeper

The Time Keeper

By on 11 Jan 2018

“We do not realize the sound the world makes—unless, of course, it comes to a stop. Then, when it starts, it sounds like an orchestra.”

I finished the first book of my 2018 Reading List. In pure math terms I’m about 2 ½ pages per day ahead of schedule. But that’s an illusion. I didn’t stick to my plan many of the days, but the book was remarkably easy to, no pun intended, catch up on time. Future tomes will not be so forgiving.

The first book was The Time Keeper, by Mitch Albom. This is the second book I’ve read by Mitch, the first being some years ago. His books could be described as parables, I suppose, each one simple in their storytelling and each one designed to teach a moral or spiritual lesson. Having enjoyed the first one, this one had been on my list for some (ahem) time. It made the final cut this year for that reason, and for two other very important ones: his last name begins with the first letter of the alphabet, and I knew I could breeze through his tome with little effort. I was right.

The former was important because I decided, rather whimsically, to read my 2018 list in alphabetical order, by author’s last name, to avoid any personal bias. The latter is important because I knew this was, undoubtedly, the season of new year hangovers and NFL playoffs. If I was going to get off to a fast start, I would require something breezy.

It worked. Self-awareness pays off.

The book itself? Just okay. Nothing challenging or life-altering, I’d say. The basic premise is an origin story for Father Time, told in conjunction with the tales of two modern mortals. Father Time, an early man named Dor, is on a collision course with the mortals, a teenage girl and aging billionaire, who are dealing with their own demise. One seeks it; the other seeks to avoid it, at all cost. Dor eventually teaches them each a lesson about the value of time itself. Sarah has her whole life ahead of her and should live it. Victor has his whole life behind him and should embrace the end.

I can relate, in ways, to both of the main characters. Who hasn’t felt despair and wondered, if this is it, why remain? Unlike Sarah, though, I’ve never felt despair enough to end it. I’ve always had a certain philosophy that carried me through dark times: when life is hard, it’s time to change. When there’s nothing left, there is nothing left to lose. Rock bottom is a wonderful place to start anew. That thought has always lifted me from the murky depths. Still, I understand the pain she felt, the pain that led her to that day. Life hurts like heck.

Victor I relate to all the more. Not his billions, obviously. I am rich in many ways, but financially is not one of them. His desire to persist, however, is unassailably mine. My answer to the question “if you could live forever, would you,” is inexorably yes.

Father Time teaches Sarah and Victor the value of a single life, nothing less, nothing more. I wholeheartedly agree with Dor’s  lesson for Sarah and am gladdened for her evolution. For Victor, however, I find the reasoning to embrace finality unsatisfying. If the future is a living hell, then living in it, to me, is still better than no life at all. In fact, an essential lesson taught to Sarah seemed to be forgotten in the lesson to Victor, when his fate was revealed:

“Time is not something you give back. The very next moment may be an answer…to deny that is to deny the most important part of the future.”

“What’s that?”

“Hope.”

The things that Mitch sought to teach, and did teach, will be added to my cognitive base of data. As I evolve I will remember the words and lessons, and use them accordingly. Perhaps, in time, the lessons that Victor learned will become more important to me. Perhaps.

The bottom line is that The Time Keeper was a pleasant, quick read. I felt for Sarah. I pulled for Victor. The lesson was understood, and I was happy for the final fate of Dor. Isn’t that what we ask a book to do? Tug at our hearts, get us to think, teach us, and then end well. In that regard, Mitch Albom gave us a good enough read.

And, now, on to The Handmaid’s Tale. The future, hell or not, awaits.

compiling a reading list

Your Help Appreciated

By on 16 Dec 2017

I have a simple question for you today:

What would you have me read?

I know, that’s a loaded question. You probably looked up from the falling snowflakes of my overproduced new blog theme, towards your bookshelf, and said to yourself, hmmm? 🤔

If you’re like me there’s a hell of a lot of material up there, covering a wide range of topics, so how do you pick just one? Well, don’t. Don’t pick just one. Pick a few and command me to investigate their contents. Command me to go forth and read.

Why?

I was talking to a fellow blogger in the comments section of her very inspirational, humorous, and quite ambitious New Year’s Resolutions post (go read it), when a thought occurred to me… I need to produce a reading list for next year. If it’s a good one, I typed aloud, I will post my 2018 reading list on my blog, and allow others to follow my progress. It sounded simple enough.

So, I mused.

And I researched.

What I found was that the average reader, according to this website, reads about 15 books a year. About 75% of Americans, they say, read at least one book annually. The median number of books read was 6, but the average is pushed up to 15 by you folks who always seem to have a book in your hand. God bless you; you are the wise.

I am not among the wise. I don’t always have a book in my hand. But I do know people that do, and they probably read at least one book a week. Maybe more. I do not.

But I am above-average in my absorption count, I’d say. 20-25 books a year, for me, sounds about right.

However, I like to leave myself some variance, for flights of fancy, so I’ve decided my cemented reading list for the coming year will equal the national average. So, I am preparing a list of “15 Books I Will Read in 2018.”

Once I’ve composed my list, I will put them in order and begin. I may even discuss each one briefly, upon completion, if so encouraged.

So, what I need from you is a little help in completing my list. I’ve been scanning the great electronic divide for ideas, and I have some. But I trust you, faithful reader, far more than the star-system “out there.”

“But what does Tom like,” you say, “How can I properly guide Tom?”

I’m glad you asked!

I’ve composed a list of some things I’d like to read, eventually (and maybe even this year). But before I get to that list let me quid pro quo ya, preemptively, and tell you what I would recommend for your reading list, if ya asked.

I highly recommend Yuval Noah Harari, both Sapiens and Homo Deus. I am finished with one and halfway through the other. My intention is to read them both again, in time, and take notes. Best. Stuff. Ever. I also recommend Flow, by Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi and, even better by him, The Evolving Self. I very much enjoyed Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael and adored Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis is probably my favorite book on positive psychology. Please read anything by Joseph Stiglitz. Take in Carl Sagan’s classic The Demon-Haunted World, also, several times if you can.

These are but a few of my favorites, all-time. There are many more I could recommend, but let’s move forth.

The books below pique my interest, or have been sitting on my electronic shelf*, waiting for me, for some time. Consider:

Abundance, by Peter H. Diamandis

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

The Time Keeper, by Mitch Albom

This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein

The Global Minotaur, by Yanis Varoufakis

In 100 Years, edited by Ignacio Palacious-Huerta

Kane and Abel, by Jeffrey Archer

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, by Anne Rice

Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Milliman

Capital, by Thomas Piketty

The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, by David A. Goodman

Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Anything by Chomsky.

A biography of Frank Sinatra.

More comic books. 😇

Again, this is not my reading list for 2018, but samples of books that might be included in it. I would like to read them all, at some point. My reading list for 2018 will evolve from this, and from your recommendations.

So, dig into your own archives and tell Tom, what would you have him read?

Your participation is greatly appreciated. 😊

*Any book that makes my list will have to be available in electronic format, through Amazon. I don’t carry a book with me everywhere I go, but I am always within hand’s reach of Kindle. 😉

 

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