Saturday, February 28, 2015

Read books. Feel like shit. Repeat.

They are those things made out of sheets of paper

I've been reading a hell of a lot lately and it made me want to write. I guess much in the same way that you watch people play sports on TV and so you go outside and throw a ball around. Except in this case it can be done from the comfort of a chair I bought at Ikea.

This reading tear I've been on has run the gauntlet from Oscar Wilde to Charles Bukowski to Jhumpa Lahiri.  One of which is one of the most important thinkers of the late 1800's (according to me) and one of them is the filthy version of Kurt Vonnegut and one of them is named Jhumpa.  It's always a good idea in my opinion to get your paws on whatever you can and read it.  50 Shades of Grey? Fine, whatever.  Hamlet?  Go get 'em, tiger.

When I'm reading, one thing that I love to do involuntarily is to assume that the writer is speaking directly to me or about me.  Oscar Wilde is talking about how when we're young we are beautiful and incorruptible and have the world by the balls.  That's great! That's me!  Bukowski is telling me that no matter how much of a miserable asshole I am, as long as I'm pretty good at something people will always be drawn to me. Excellent! Carte blanche!

Say goodbye to your ability to think

I think my generation and younger are losing our attention spans.  Especially for books.  We read tweets that are 140 characters or less (no exceptions!).  Facebook posts are often no more than Instagram posts: photos of something with a little blurb.  We have our faces glued to our cell phones.  Trivia Crack.  Candy Crush.  Goddam Snapchat.  How often do you see people on the bus or on the bench reading a book?  You actually probably remember those people because of how subtly out-of-place they seem.  Who the hell is this nerd reading a book?  Ding! You've been invited to play FarmVille!

When you're reading something interesting you're experiencing something interesting.  You're learning what it's like to be an older, alcoholic writer who is terrible with women but makes it to bed fairly often.  You're learning what it's like to be a spoiled dilettante in 1891 London.  When you're playing Trivia Crack you're learning that the Broncos won the Superbowl in 1999.  Neat.

So what?

So you want, if you've read this far, for me to give you a moral of the story.  The moral of the story is - predictably - pick up a book.  Shut off your television.  Give Netflix a break.  Take a breather.  Let your mind do some of the work for you.  You'll thank me later.

Here, read these:

  1. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
  2. The sun also rises by Ernest Hemingway
  3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  4. Women by Charles Bukowski - Don't tell your mom you read this
  5. The Godfather by Mario Puzo - It's better than the movie(s)
Read two books and call me in the morning.  I personally am going to go watch Season 3 of House of Cards. Peace.