2017 has been a year of change, chaos, and learning for me. As an exercise of discipline, healing, and preoccupation, I challenged myself to read two books a week starting in October. That’s 26 books folks, in a period of three months. I only got through 18 books in 3 months, but I feel like the main take away from this self-assignment, was that I learned a lot about myself in the process. When you read something, and it really resonates with you, I feel like the book essentially becomes a part of you forever. The words you read on the page transform from a story, to an outlet of sorts; they help heal us, teach us, and help us to grow. That is where I got my blog name from, the truth in the paper.
There were probably 3 books that I read this year that were important. One was a book of poetry by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass. The content of this book is straight out of the stratosphere, and I don't think this statement is too strong at all. It had every inch of the hope, romance, strife, and sadness that we all experience every single day. I wish I could emphasize this more someone how in this writing. It easily has become one of favorite books over the years, as I have read it many times. Whitman was obviously a people-lover, and full of passion. He was defining himself and making an outline of his mind, for all the world to see. He is honest and truthful in his pieces, which made them easy for me to read and absorb.
The second book that was most influential to me this year, was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This book literally changed my entire mindset on everything. It challenged me as a reader, to not expect the same happy/sad/romantic/funny plot line in every book. It also challenged me as a human being, to evaluate my existence, my consciousness, and my own identity. I have never been so floored after reading a book in my life. I filled half a notebook with notes and ponderings during my first read. This book is in a world of its own, and is a book written for those who actually chose to think. Rand repeatedly emphasizes the fact that "no man or group has the right to initiate force or fraud against any other man or group" and that you cannot climb the mountain by digging a deeper hole.
The last book that I can say was my favorite read this year is hands down, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. This book was the perfect blend of dystopia, nonfiction, a touch of romance, and suspense. Hig is the main character, and he seems to be a broken, lonely bit of a man in the beginning. Then you get to see who he really is, as he continually faces struggles during this time in his life. This book is like reading Hig’s journal, and you really get to see into his soul. There are so many passages about loss and grief, and love, and the sky and god just everything. I borrowed one copy and bought two paperback copies for myself after I read it. I keep one with me, and the other copy is on a continuous cycle of book borrowing to different friends. Everyone that I have loaned this book to since I was first given it, has had the same guttural reaction to the book as I did, just simply amazed and heartbroken at the same time.
I recently shared on my social media that I wasn’t going to make New Year’s resolutions this year, and that was the truth. I am setting goals, small, smart goals; that are attainable. I’m going to keep reading, I am going write again, and I am going to be more careful in 2018, with everything. I will not let 2018 be as unkind to me as 2017 was. I’ll leave with a quote from The Dog Stars.
“There is a pain you can’t think your way out of. You can’t talk it away. If there was someone to talk to. You can walk. One foot the other foot. Breathe in breathe out. Drink from the stream. Piss. Eat the venison strips. And. You can’t metabolize the loss. It is in the cells of your face, your chest, behind the eyes, in the twists of the gut. Muscles, sinew, bone. It is all of you. When you walk you propel it forward. When you let the sled and sit on a fallen log and. You imagine him curling in the one patch of sun maybe lying over your feet. Then it sits with you, the Pain puts its arm over your shoulders. It is your closest friend. Steadfast. And at night you can’t bear to hear your own breath unaccompanied by another and underneath the big stillness like a score is the roaring of the cataract of everything being and being torn away. Then. The Pain is lying beside your side, close. Does not bother you with sound even of breathing.”-- Peter Heller, The Dog Stars