MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “books”

Blue lenses to another world

© CEAyr

He had recently gotten new blue glasses because he had misplaced – ergo lost – the previous ones.  She was so excited to see them left on an open book one afternoon.

She had been trying to get him to read forever.

Readers do that – they try to insert everyone in their magical world. That place where you can escape to from anywhere at any time. Where you can, temporarily at least, forget about the things troubling you. Where you can raise your mind and glimpse into another world, another perspective, another universe. And you always come out wiser, sometimes even bolder.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

The bleeding of a pen

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People who write share a secret. They know how to view the world in different lenses. They think too much, overanalyse, create scenarios that may hardly correspond to reality, and feel too deeply. They have a vivid and often wild imagination. But often, that is exactly what helps them survive.

The best part about meeting other authors, is that you realise you are not alone in your weirdness. Authors are exquisite people. They shine a light on aspects you never thought of before someone pointed them out to you.

They are the ones who put words on a page, coherent ones, linked together and invite you to form the images in your head. Every book is just that. But every reader has a different playout created in their mind. And that is precisely the magic a pen can fashion.

Writers are not as competitive as people of other professions are. They will urge you to write. They will inspire you. To believe that you can do it; that you can accomplish whatever you imagine. Because they know what it feels like to sit alone in front of a screen, fighting with and for words. They have gone through the anguish of trying to promote their work for the masterpiece they believe it is. They have faced their demons of fear, of not being good enough. And they understand. They know that you need to write something first to come to believe that you can actually achieve your goals.

The best thing about meeting a writer is that you gain an insight on why and how they write. Sometimes the reason is the simple fact that they were bored and wrote a book. Other times it is because they wanted to say something. They want to make readers think, to enter a world that is unknown; to escape a reality that is sometimes better than we imagine if only we see it in a positive light. But every writer wants something they never admit: to make the reader feel they are not alone.

A book is the best company you can have. Because it opens up worlds you never knew existed and expands your mind more than anything else ever can.

A woman’s silence

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She would often wander in a world no-one could understand. The real world made no sense anymore. She would retreat in the attic and later in the bedroom or living room. She would watch the time run by as she lost herself in books or let her mind gaze at TV series. She didn’t care anymore if she was alone. Now, it was something she actually looked forward to.

In the cold winter days, she would sit on a couch wrapped in a warm blanket with the company of her fluffy soft-toys. In their big glimmering eyes, she would find comfort. In there, she saw the reflection of who she wanted to be; who she was striving to become; who few would appreciate or, even more, understand.

Perhaps that was what was most disappointing. That no matter how much she explained her point of view, hardly anyone would see it. It is easy to put the blame for everything on someone else; it is even easier to dismiss all their views as wrong simply because they don’t agree with yours.People only listen to what they want to hear. And whatever you say, they will only focus on what they think is important, rendering everything else unsaid. She was tired of having to repeat herself so often, and not being heard. She was not understood. And that was perhaps worse than not being appreciated.

So, she drifted away. She had grown weary of trying to change a world that so adamantly refused to do so. She stopped insisting. Her grandfather once told her that people should fear a woman’s silence, for a woman who stops moaning and more so talking is one who has simply given up. A woman’s silence is her loudest cry. But few can truly realise that. Even fewer are bold enough to do something about it.

It’s easy to keep demanding that everyone else changes. The real courage is to admit that you need to change too. And to do it.

The lure of a bookstore

https://s26162.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/bookstore-slide-2MCD-superJumbo.jpgFor Martia, walking into a bookstore was like walking into a magic realm. In the words of Jen Campbell, “you see, bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are simply put, the best of places”. In fact, she could hardly ever walk into a bookstore and not leave without buying something.

Martia’s life revolved around books. She loved reading, wrote a blog about books and worked as an editor in a publishing company. She lived and breathed books.

Yet, ironically, she could not find the words to describe how much she adored these tomes of paper. As environmentally-unfriendly they were, there was nothing like the smell that transpired when flicking the pages of a new book. Used books also held their secrets gripped within their pages. Because no one could read a book and remain the same person.

Martia had learned to appreciate even more people who read. Not on an electronic device, but the actual paper copy. Books, she said, made our minds sharper, life more exciting, they lift your spirits, lower your stress levels and make your heart more compassionate. Books always had something new to say. And there is a book on almost anything by almost anyone. What you should be careful to do is pick out the right copy – find the book that says something, in language worthy of the paper it is printed on, that makes you think and makes you want to change things.

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking” – Jerry Seinfeld

Knowing One’s Own

Book cover NK.jpegThere is a special connection that ties people who write with each other. More so, when they share similar views and may recommend readings to each other. It is not often that I embark on a personal rant, but this is about a person who is more than my employer or my co-worker; he is my mentor and the person who always has some exciting book / author to recommend and some fascinating viewpoint to share.

Knowing One’s Place is Nicholas Karides’ first book, published in December 2017. It is a book of memoirs: those recited by the writer and those ignited in the reader. When I first asked him why he was writing a book, he told me it was because he wanted to put all his notes from his journals into some logic order. I was intrigued, as I am well aware at how his scrapbook-snippets consist of historical milestones, incidents of history that we quickly forget until someone reminds us of them again. His book is precisely what it promised to be: “Essays on journalism, diplomacy, and football”. It talks about the controversial state of journalism in today’s digital area of constant reporting from all sorts of media – at anywhere at anytime; it discusses the diminishing traits of bold world leaders in a time when everyone can rise to power (given the right connections); and it shares thoughts about a rapidly changing world with its never-ceasing developments. More than that, the book offers a greater insight and a different perspective into the place in which you were born and bred and which you shamefully come to realise you know little about. Cyprus features a great deal in the book, and it is the tool through which you get to know the writer a bit better, but also this European country that, albeit small, has suffered a lot and is still caught in the crossroads of history. As with every book, you appreciate every thing a little bit more when you are aware of the circumstances being discussed, and when you know the person holding the pen.

This is a book that is extremely well researched, calling upon a list of prestigious sources, well justified and above all really well written with the perfect dose of wit. Every word is important. And it manages to grasp your attention and maintain it until the very last page.

It’s a book about how we must value the time and world we live in, but also about the significance of education and the need to keep it alive. It serves as a reminder to constantly contemplate the circumstances that surround us, to reflect, and to engage in opportunities that may help us improve, both ourselves and the places we live in.

The book on the shelf

http://onlinesalesstepbystep.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/book-on-a-shelf.jpgIt stood there longing to be read. But instead its pages crinkled with time as they gathered dust. If it was ever opened now, the reader would be able to see the passing of time imprinted on the yellowing of the paper. Yet it remained on the shelf, unopened, unread.

Potential readers passed by its location daily. Their eyes always passed over it but none focused on it for more than a second. And that was never enough to grab their attention.

Books on either side of it were removed and returned frequently, but that persisted always firmly in place.

The book had now aged. But its content was always timely. If only someone chose to pick it up and open it, they would experience the wisdom in its pages diffuse into their mind. A closed book is hardly of any use. Just like a parachute, it works better when opened. When read. When understood. When applied.

You never know the inspiration and the knowledge you may find, unless you actually fall upon it, by choice or by chance.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Shelf

Fine Art, Flawed Artists

books1There are times when you come across a book that you cannot put down, not because of its plot or fictional narrative, but because it is so inspiring you want to learn more. When such books are recommended by people who know you well enough to safely bet that it will enrapture you, then you are certain to read through the entire book in less than a couple of days.

Clive James’ Latest Readings is such a book.

Masterfully written it is witty, funny, absorbing, entertaining, inspiring. The flow of language is so effortless that it can be read in a gulp. There is a uniqueness in every line, blooming with such an exquisite narrative, that it makes you feel as if the author is sitting right there conversing with you.

Although an esteemed literary critic, in this specific book, James does more than simply review the books he read. He reviews a lifetime of reading books. Because he artfully combines his opinion of the book’s content, with its background epoca and its context, associating everything with current events – from the rise of ISIS, to the digitization of the written word, to Bill Cosby’s trial, even to recent TV series and movies. And all of this is combined with a telling of his own state (he was diagnosed with terminal leukemia) and the fact that he was melting away, or, like he says, “slipping into time”.

This is an illuminating book in many ways, because, although some books and writers may not be familiar to you, he will awake in you the urge to read more. He will illuminate the dream of having a large room with huge double doors opening into an entire library full of books. One that contains bookcases rising up from the ground to the ceiling, so complete that you need an incorporated sliding ladder to move across them. A library so full, that you would eventually need to smuggle books in and hide them, as he does, being under embargo for bringing in more books. And he encourages you to love books, despite the rapid conversion into the “rational solution” of a digital form, as “being book crazy is an aspect of love, and therefore scarcely rational at all”.

But he will also inspire you to become a better author in order to produce the book you dream to write. He urges you to be open to self-criticism, because “unless you can criticize yourself, you are not a writer”. He even calls out to journalists themselves, a dying craft of our times, stressing that “journalism is the first draft of formal history”.

He explores the background stories of the writers themselves, opening up details into their lives that you never knew. One of the most memorable phrases in the book is that “fine art is usually work of flawed people”, giving you hope that no matter your troubles, you can always produce something great.

His ode to Ernest Hemingway is beautiful, particularly noting that “he was a giant of who dreamed of being a giant” and was an author able to deliver such a convincing narrative, such that “his way of putting things was a transformative illusion”. His closing reference to Florence Nightingale is also both touching and enlightening.

What is most astounding throughout the book is that, despite his illness, James never gives up. He doesn’t abandon his wit and sharp intellect, nor does he stop reading, expanding both his knowledge and his world. And that, is perhaps, the most inspiring aspect of it all. After all, as he so deftly states, “If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do.

Paper books or e-readers?

books vs ebooksWith so many things to read nowadays, we often get lost not only in the material but in the medium of reading. You see people reading constantly and everywhere – paper books, magazines, newspapers, on tablets, phablets, e-readers, phones. Choosing the right medium is not simply a matter of preference, it is also of convenience. So what do you prefer, a paper book or an e-reader?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Kindle (for many more reasons beyond its practicality), but there is just something else present in a real paper book that cannot be replaced by any screen. And it is not just the excitement of getting your hands on a new book every once in a while (because, really, how many times are you going to buy an e-reader?).

In an era that sees the rapid rise of a “screen culture” we often need to take time off any and every screen. It is just not natural. And it is unhealthy being stuck in front of a screen all day. Get your hands on a book, flick through its pages, smell that odour of print and paper, rub the rough yellow sheets between your fingers, roll your hands over the indentations of the cover, mark the page you left off, feel the agony, work and inspiration that were involved in making that book, and let the magic radiating from each and every page carry you away.

Of course, you can still read the same book on an e-reader, but this digital medium just won’t allow you to completely engage in the relationship between book and reader. Sure, it is more convenient in many ways – for example, e-books are cheaper than paper ones; you can carry your e-reader anywhere at any time, having with you an abundance of books all at once; and quite significantly, you can read anything anywhere surreptitiously without being afraid of being judged, as it is impossible to see what you’re reading and can thus saturate your curiosity for a range of genres.

Reading a book is not just a past-time. It is an experience. A journey into another world. It is a way of getting lost without even moving from your couch. And it is one that will enrich your life.

So in essence, it doesn’t really matter where you read something, just as long as you immerse yourself fully into it. You’ll never regret it. (Unless it is a really bad book, but that’s another story).

The art of writing

writing2If there is an elegance in knowing how to speak, there is a charm in knowing how to write. In being able to express the thoughts that swivel in your mind, into words, phrases, sentences. Giving them meaning to paint an image to the outsider, enabling him/her to witness with their own eyes a fraction of your very being.
Being able to write is a gift, a talent, a skill.

In an age when we are constantly busy with something, and never have enough time for anything, possessing good writing skills is a trait few truly have. For, from a very young age, we are taught that reading and writing are intrinsically linked. They are two skills that you learn simultaneously. Today, we spend most of our precious daily time skim reading texts of all sorts. We have no time to waste. If the first few sentences do not grip your interest immediately, the text is not deemed worthy of your attention. So being a good writer becomes all the more important. You need to invite the reader in, to arouse their attention, raise an issue of common interest to them, welcome them into your stream of words, and grasp them so tightly that they would want to stay along for the entire ride. And if you are exceptionally good, you will leave them with an afterthought, having awakened inside of them their spirit of curiosity, of questioning, of bewilderment for the very world we live in. It is true that nowadays we speed read all the more, but that does not necessarily mean we should also skim write.

Think about the books you read. There are some that you can literally not put down. Not even when you feel your bladder so full it is pressing against your stomach, and you’re dancing around on your seat, trying to finish one more line, one more sentence, one more page, before you have to race to the bathroom like a mouse on fire. But there are others that actually put you to sleep after just one or two pages. It might not necessarily be just the plot at fault. It is the way the plot is written. The descriptions, the narrative, the tone. It is no wonder, therefore, that the best books you read – those that remain with you long after – are the ones in which the flow of words can reach deep into your soul, caress every atom of your being, and so thoroughly describe every emotion you feel to the extent that you experience a hair-raising chill down your spine. The most memorable texts are indeed the ones that so vividly describe exactly what they make you feel. The ones that help you embark on a rollercoaster of emotions, of racing heartbeats, and of sighs of relief.

Knowing how to write is more than a dexterity. It is an art. And like many others, everyone claims to know how to do it. But few truly do it well.

Also part of Daily Prompt: On the Edge

Turn to page 82

82The thing with bookworms (people who love books, not worms who live in them) is that they are deeply attracted by the writing on them, particularly that on the cover. And especially the back cover. So, when you grab a book with a huge “82” drawn on the front on a blueish background and with all sorts of creatures and objects flying, crawling or even drilling their way out of the number itself, it does catch your attention. So, you turn it over to read the summary on the back. All it says is “This book has a significant focus on the number 82. It tells a story like no other, which will remain with you long after you read it. Now, you want to find out what the number 82 has anything to do with it, don’t you? Well, you’ll just have to read the book then…” You think it is silly. But it already has you gripped. And the next thing you know, you’re comfortable in your relaxing armchair, with your soft, fleece blanket at your knees, and a steaming hot cup of tea at the table beside you, and you turn the first page of this new book.

It had a fascinating start. It was a story about a young man who had learned to read from a shepherd who took refuge in his barn one night. And he inadvertently found his first book one morning when he went to offer the shepherd-guest some food but discovered he was gone. All he left behind was a book. Intrigued, the young man began to read it, as he believed it would solve the mystery of the shepherd’s presence.

That is when it first appeared.

“Turn to page 82”.

Was this a Fighting Fantasy book? It couldn’t be. But the man tried to find page 82 to turn to anyway. (So did you). Page 82 was nowhere to be found. (It was nowhere in this book either). It was not between pages 81 or 83, nor misplaced in any other part of the book. Nor were there any signs whatsoever that it had been ripped out. Page 82 had simply never been a part of that book. (Nor in this one – clever, huh?).

But drowning in curiosity, the man continued to read on from where he left off. A few pages later, it appeared again.

“Turn to page 82”.

The same process was wearingly repeated. The man continued to read on. It was a story that seemed incoherent. With weird animals, imaginary creatures and ghosts appearing out of nowhere, with the story taking place on earth, in the ocean, on different planets, in different universes, at different times even. It was utterly confusing, but for some reason it kept you wanting more. That’s the other thing with bookworms – they must finish the books they start reading; it’s a matter of principle.

So whenever the prompt to turn to page 82 appeared – and it appeared quite often – the man simply ignored it and continued to read on. (So did you). He had still not understood the storyline or purpose of the book, but was profoundly drawn into it by now. (And coincidentally, so were you).

Alas, he reached the final page. He thought that finally he might understand what all this “turn to page 82” was about. It turns out, however, that the book would eventually end in a cliché: this was all a dream. The young man had apparently imagined it all – the strange paradoxes, the hen fighting with an elephant, the appearance of a yoku (a beast which was half eagle, half something that resembled a lion-snake) and its defeat using rat’s poison that was taken from a far away planet that could only be reached by planting a specific type of bean that grew from tomato plants watered with coke. It was so confusing that you were surprised you had managed to last until the end. So, although you were deeply disappointed that all this time you were reading something that was in essence never there, a smile did form on your face when you read the last sentence explaining that the man had fallen asleep in his quest to find page 82 in a book that simply did not have it because a publisher had been distracted when numbering the pages.

And that is when you closed the cover and put the book down. “Well, that was ingenious”, you thought.

 

Inspired by Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots

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