Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Reading leads to thinking, lots of thinking...

After finishing the Twilight Saga this past weekend I was feeling the need to seek out and read literature. I never know how to find a good book; it's easy enough to ask The English Teacher, but our tastes differ and he will read anything just to be reading- he gives every book a chance. One of my favorite books is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, I love the writing style and stories about familial ties and origins. I Googled Middlesex to see to what kind of list the title might belong, maybe a "Top 10 Books of the New Millennium" or "Top 25 Novels with Verse-y Prose" to find titles to read. It actually was a much more obvious list I found, the Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction (Middlesex won in 2003). I love lists, so my goal for the following months is to read most, if not all, of the Pulitzer Prize winners. So to make a long post longer, I saw 2007's winner was Cormac McCarthy's The Road . My husband and other family members loved this book, and they all spoke rather wistfully about it. We had a copy of it lying around so I jumped right in and finished it yesterday.

In a nutshell, it's a post-apocalyptic setting with a father and his young son travelling the road from North to South, seemingly in the U.S., to avoid the coming winter. It's intentionally vague about why and how the world is as it is. It's dark. It stressed me out. I loved it.

There are many posts on others' blogs that thoughtfully review The Road and right now I can't really seem to express articulately what I thought about this book yet, so I won't try very hard here, but I would urge someone to read it. I will say the timing of my encounter with this book may have something to do with how I feel about it; my lackluster job, the word depression being thrown around on the Today Show, the Dow sinking below 7000, and various other crises I'm not sure if it makes me care more or less about them. One part of me reduces the situation in the U.S.- things could be a lot worse, we haven't resorted to cannibalism and another part of me thinks, yeah, yet. The less dramatic part of me just wants to take away from the book a notion of simplicity. What surrounds me in my life is actually necessary, do I work this well-paying, but mind-numbing job because I think it's what's necessary? Is it necessary for me to have a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home to sustain my existence?
I don't always get so meta about books, but I think I've been too long in reading a thought-provoking book that my brain is ready to latch onto new perspectives via literature. Vampires are fun and all and I did get swept up in the Twilight mania, but I much prefer getting swept up in examining my life because a well-written piece of literature moved me to do so.

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