Oddly, I haven’t entered a blog post in nearly a month. I have a couple of books that I need to catch up with, but December wasn’t a time for lots of reading. The holidays were a good time for spending time with family, catching up with old friends, and avoiding big projects and small ones like blog entries.
Now that the new years is upon us and before I get caught up on Just a Geek and Istanbul, both memoirs that I finished this past month, I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on some of the best things that I read over the past year and purge my files of the great quotes that never made their way into my blog entries.
Feel free to ignore this post if you like, it is mostly for myself and my own reflection and I’ll admit that this list type of stuff isn’t my desired reading, but I feel like I need to just get a few things out before I move on.
The Cyclist Conspiracy was easily the most fun and thought provoking book I read this past year. I had hoped to use the following quote in a separate post that blended some of the wild ideas inspired by the Cyclist Conspiracy with some of the thought provoking ideas from Fear and Trembling but I never got around to it, but it is a great passage to quote, so here it is:
“If I am mortal, if God does not exist, then, as Dostoevsky says, I am allowed to do everything. Why shouldn’t I be? Anyway everything is disappearing into nothingness. Spineless men with some sort of fluid morals blather on in highfalutin speeches, but there are no morals. A mortal being cannot be moral; in the best case scenario it might become esthetic. And logically a creature that has no future turns to the past. That is how the homo isotoricus comes about. His only basis is the past, he attempts to fill the past with pleasant memories. When someone says “my life” rarely do they mean that they are alive here and now, rather they mean their biography – their life wasted in times past. The ideologies of death are always focused on the past, always oriented to the idealization of things vanished. In such societies, the future is more of a respect for grammar than it is a hope. And that is logical as well: in a future filled with vague projections, only one thing is certain – death.” (The Cyclist Conspiracy, p. 249)
Another fantastic read I enjoyed this year second toThe Cyclist Conspiracy was Oakley Hall’s Warlock. That book was littered with great quotes and mesmerizing passages to inspire reflection. I don’t have any left over quotes because I wrote a pretty thorough and encompassing review, but I couldn’t let a 2014 review go unfinished without acknowledging this fantastic book.
Over this past year I have enjoyed turning back to books that I’ve read years ago such as The Stranger and Siddhartha and in 2015 I plan to re-read some old classics that have been on my mind such as Lolita. Returning to these older books reignited my interest in the canon of these authors and I enjoyed picking up Camus’ The Plague, a spectacular examination of social disorder:
“It comes to this: nobody is capable of really thinking about anyone, even in the worst calamity. For really to think about someone means thinking about that person every minute of the day, without letting one’s thoughts be diverted by anything – by meals, by a fly that settles on one’s cheek, by household duties, or by a sudden itch somewhere. But there are always flies and itches. That’s why life is difficult to live. And those people know it only too well.” (The Plague, p. 217)
Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March was a troubling book that I learned to love with time. It was a very long read with a lot of dense ideas and I wanted to write so much more about it than I did. These quotes were sitting around begging to be used:
“On the road was this wanderer population without any Jerusalem or Kiev in mind, or relics to kiss, or any idea of putting off sins, but only the hope their chances might be better in the next town.” (Augie March, p. 190)
If so many do the same wrong there maybe is something to it that’s not right away apparent. (Augie March, p. 220)
2014 was filled with a lot of non-fiction reading with pop-philosophy in Why Does the World Exist, a focused examinaiton of colonial Africa in the Scramble for Africa, and a broad examination of the Middle East, and a theoretical examination of the history of violence. Of all the non-fiction I read, my favorite was Oracle Bones, a journalistic examination of China’s past and present. Of course there was plenty of travel to reflect upon as well as an over-indulgence in David Bowie that I’m not quite done with (there is a David Bowie book that I recently read that I have review as well).
Well, this is hardly an all encompassing discussion, and it probably wasn’t the most engaging read, but as I said above, this was mostly for me. Time to move on, get caught up with some reviews and get 2015 under way.