Summer is coming to a close. Well, not the season exactly. It never really gets any cooler in my part of the world. I faintly recall it has something to do with being situated near the equator. Geography overwhelmed me very much – to be honest – not in an entirely positive sense.
I had decided that this was going to be a season of change. A few months of my life without any kind of pressure to be anywhere, have things to do, deadlines to meet, people to annoy or people to avoid. I also think it had been way too long since I last got so much time for myself and I had it all chalked out what I would do with it when it was at my disposal.
Looking back now, all those things that I intended to do with my free time mainly involved me never stepping out of my room. The idea was to limit human contact but try not to isolate myself completely as that is never a good thing and past experiences have taught great lessons that I’d rather not get into.
I think time and again I have argued with myself what type of a person I am when it comes to social interactions. I still don’t know if I’m entirely sure. The introvert-extrovert debate is really exhausting for people nowadays so they made a middle category; ambiverts. I am already an ‘ambi’ of another kind and that’s enough for me, I guess.
The days raced into weeks and the weeks transformed into fortnights and months and no surprises there, time passed. Looking back, I set out and did everything I intended to in some measure or the other. I wrote on my blog. I wrote elsewhere. I wrote for myself. I wrote a special birthday email. I read more books than I have in the past whole year. I voraciously read books on my phone, too. The desire to grasp and inhabit fictional stories was insatiable and I never felt alone. Not for a moment.
But then, as is the case with all good things, you know it can’t last forever. I recently read Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry and thought about a side-character in the book named Martin, who suffered from a severe case of OCD. He had all his windows taped with newspaper, all loose items in his house wrapped in plastic and everything set out to be in a particular way according to some inexplicable compulsive logic, as is always the case with such persons. At one point, Martin’s condition got so bad that he couldn’t step out of his house at all. He could barely stand ten minutes in front of his door before his mind mercilessly questioned his intentions of going out into the world where anything could happen to anyone. It’s funny that among all the other interesting and more important characters in the book, Martin was the one I most identified with and not because it had me thinking that I was probably suffering from anything psychological but because I knew that my summer of solitude was coming to an end. Just like Martin, I, too would be standing on that threshold of my door, wondering how I’m supposed to go out and do anything when all I needed was the safety and joy of my own company.
I began to feel that Martin wasn’t afraid of going out. He was afraid of going out and discovering that he was all alone in the way he felt. It made no sense that his wife, Marijke left him because she couldn’t deal with his habits. If he was that perturbed by her absence, Martin would’ve gone out sooner to bring back the love of his life. He did, eventually. But sometimes people do things not because they are entirely sure that’s what they want, they think that their actions will someday embody who they are and so they do those things, anyway, half-heartedly at best, against their own will.
What I’m saying is, I went out today finally. I saw trees with leaves on them and trees that provided shade on stone pavements. I saw people with faces that looked like faces and I saw the cars and buses that I hear honking all day in my room and when I looked down I saw my own two feet, walking and not missing a single step. Everything felt somewhat normal, even familiar.
“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
All of my existence can be summed up in those sentences. Summer’14 has been really good so far and quite exciting for all my reading indulgences. My recent book haul has left me extremely overwhelmed and also confused about what I should read next because each book seems to be competing and tempting me in equal measures. Here is a list of the books I shall be burying my nose in for the next few months. I’ll go in the order of the ones I’ve already read and then proceed to the ones waiting patiently for their turn to be devoured.
1. Bluets by Maggie Nelson
This is a book I read over a long period of time even though it isn’t a long read. Maggie Nelson’s words sing to me. They’re heavy and wrought with emotion. She is someone who leaks her heart onto paper in a way many female writers these days are afraid to. The book is a collection of 240 entries about love, loss, physical pain and the solace found in the colour blue. It honestly affected me in many ways because I, too, have fallen in love with a colour and often lead my life in a haze depending on the shades of what I saw to make me happy or unhappy. Bluets is a book that blurs the lines between poetry, essay and self-biography. I would highly recommend it to persons who enjoy references to famous authors, thinkers and philosophers and associate with colours just as they would with words.
2. Under The Skin by Michel Faber
I found out about this book from the movie by the same name made by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson. I made sure I read the book before I watched the film (which won’t release in my part of the world, unfortunately). There is really not much I can tell you about this book without revealing major plot hints and spoilers. But if you’ve already been sucked in by the hype of the movie, just like I was, you’ll know that it is based on extra-terrestrial beings and what it is like to be human underneath it all. I’m not sure how true the cinematic experience will stay to the book but if it is as terrific and uncomfortable as the written word, we will have to keep an eye out for my movie review. Under The Skin is an ambiguous tale of an alien named Isserley who has been put to work to lure well-built hitchhikers from a Scottish land. For a long while, it is unsure what the end goal actually is, what had been done to Isserley to make her appear human and why she would choose to lead a life like this. Mostly, the reader is left to believe what they want. But when the real nature of her job is revealed it puts several things in perspective. Isserley’s character although so alien and queer it’s still very human and ultimately the message is sent across in a very stark way that under the skin, we are all the same.
Here is a trailer if you’re interested in watching a surreal and beautifully disturbing movie about what it’s like to be human being.
3. A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelley
It has been many, many years since I have felt this strongly about a book and could bring myself to admit that there was writing out there that could actually challenge my favourite book. I favourite things which I relate with the most. I think being able to associate and connect your life with the words written by an author you’ll never personally know and being bound by the secret knowledge that they can put into words exactly what you feel is a luxury every person in the world is entitled to. This is precisely why I loved A Gathering Light right away. That it was a splendid and exciting read and had the most satisfying conclusion only added to and extended the delight of reading it.
A Gathering Light is a compelling and very beautiful read about a young girl named Mattie and how she deals with her familial responsibilities, her dream of being a writer and the flurries in her stomach from the brewing of a first romance. Connected with a real murder at the turn of the century, Mattie comes across letters written by the deceased woman and finds out more about herself and what she wants than she could’ve ever realized on her own.
4. Inferno by Dan Brown
One of the main reasons I read Dan Brown books is to know more about cultures, practices and various historical and art references that you barely find in great detail in any fiction novels nowadays. There is always a lot of controversy surrounding his views and opinions stated implicitly or otherwise in his books but I have always affirmed that he is a brilliant author. To be able to set a pace to a story quite the way he does is rare and exhilarating. Inferno is based on a very interesting topic, Dante’s Divine Comedy. The lucid explanation interspersed with beautiful descriptions of various monuments and landscapes of the most picturesque places in the world, Inferno is one of the most gripping books written by Dan Brown, in very close competition to The Da Vinci Code. The plot twist and dramatic climax is done to perfection and is actually so terrifying that think what I might, there’s no escaping the hell on earth itself that Dan Brown has predicted in Inferno.
And here is a list of books I’ll be reading soon. If you’ve read them, it’d be great to know which ones should have my immediate attention and also any further reading recommendations are most welcome. Drop a comment and let me know.
- Aftermath – Peter Robinson
- Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
- Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
So if you’re looking for me this Summer, you know where to find me. Happy Reading, folks.
I’ve been trying to understand so many things in my life lately. I’ve been cleaning, throwing out, recycling and constantly refreshing my space as if that’s going to give me a new, enriching life. A turnaround of sorts.
I don’t think people even realize change is important and how change alters and refines your perspective. I don’t know if it’s all right to feel a certain way but at least now I’m sure about how I feel. I’m sure that I can actually feel something in the first place.
I’ve been writing and backspacing and I’m mostly never sure about what I intended to say initially. The haphazard and mish-mash of punctuated words, opalescent thoughts trying to look very charming and eloquent, all those qualities that are rare and that the world just has to notice and appreciate. That is not me so I will erase and write what I really feel.
I’ve reached a point where I no longer self-loath. I do not aspire to be what I’m not. I’m just content and loved and that is enough. I’m no longer ambitious or even afraid about the fact that I’m not. I’m still driven by my desire to do a lot of things and be someone good but it’s not the only thing in my world and that’s perfectly okay.
I wish I could make these words spilling out of me look as pretty as the person I love. Or sound like the voice of the person I love. These are things my words can’t do but I always try. I tried when I was heartbroken and sad to provide comfort to others like me. Now that I’m happy, I’m always shy and worried about expressing it. Why should I? Why the constant guilt about being overjoyed? These are the things my summer thoughts are made of. I’m not going out very much but I don’t have to, my mind is already in far-off lands brewing tales and experiencing things which only a strong imagination can conjure and bring to life.
The days are warm and hazy. My air is filled with love. If the weather and my heart were the only things that mattered I would say my life is almost perfect and that I’ve never desired more than that.
I didn’t think that this blog would end up like a diary entry. I didn’t even know what I wanted to write about when I started. I was filling a void in my morning, trying my best to fill that space which belonged to a person, with words. But as you can see, my distractions only last a few paragraphs before I start writing about you again.