Friday, November 18, 2005

Night reader

I am forever beginning new books, setting them down next to bed and starting a new. Most months I'm concurrently reading snippets of at least 3 books for pleasure and 5-7 for work. I read in the mornings before I go to work, on the subway, in my office, on the way home, and every night before bed. Below is a list of the books I've been enjoying the most in recent memory:

Kafka on the Shore by Murikami ::: I got this off the free bookshelf at work over 6 months ago and have been reading it on and off for at least 3 months. I'm currently on page 72. It is the only book I am planning packing for the trip home for Thanksgiving and I am desperately looking forward to having time to read it.

Best American Nonrequired Reading edited by Dave Eggers, Introduction by Beck ::: This is a collection of 24 works assembled by the Egger's supervised critics club of 826 Valencia. The Amiee Bender story was one of the best I've read in ages and I actually recounted to Robert it in a play by play commentary on the subway and got so animated that I had a small audience by 14th St.

NO,UB&SOTTAaS,M,DoHYFALL etc. edited by Ted Thompson ::: If you haven't heard about this, well, then, you don't deserve to know. One of my new all time favorites. I mean really--Nick Hornby, George Saunders, Neil Gaiman, and Lemony Snicket in one collection with a cover by Chip Kidd? Unbelievable. I am savoring every word. Only a few precious pages left.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith ::: Something I started and stopped because I wasn't giving it the attention it deserved. If I didn't have the Murakami waiting for me this would be #1 on the list of things I can't wait to finish.

Stories by T.C. Boyle ::: I borrowed this almost a year ago and am still dipping in and out. I went to see him read at the New Yorker festival this year and was smitten--I spent the entire following Sunday morning reading him in the park with a coffee and fruit from Russ and Daughters. I'm starting to doubt I'll ever return the book, it's become my bedside companion.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A question for the ages

Where do you fall on the question of free will? Up until quite recently, I was firmly entrenched in the camp of choice. I subscribed to the idea that on any given day choices appear before us and we, the individuals, have the opportunity to select an option of that choice and see where it takes us. There was no higher plan, the route was not mapped, no intelligent design had been arranged for our lives. But today I find myself reconsidering. Not that I have any more belief in a god or omnipotent being pulling the strings, but that we can not escape a certain form of destiny that has be laid out for us in the nurturing of our youth. We are all the sons and daughters of our parents, and I wonder how much of our choices, our ways of processing our options really comes from the design and traits of our guardians. The human condition has been laid out in literature for centuries and there are certain themes that all human interaction can be categorized into, everything boiled down into some motif, some pastiche that's been experienced and written about before. Can destiny be defined by the repetition of successes and mistakes that have all been made in the past by someone else somewhere in the world? I suppose the easy answer is to say that our decisions are acts of free will shaded by the information given to us as children. People rise above and fall below everyday, we can not lay blame on the intentions of a god or on the failings of our parents. But if choice defines who we are and all choice is influenced by an understanding of our education, is our will really just a reflection of the past?