The Books I Love: What I Read This Summer

Photo by Geralt via Pixabay Creative Commons.
Photo by Geralt via Pixabay Creative Commons.

Real life usually impedes on our little pleasures. It’s just how it plays out for most: in high school and university you had more time to do as you liked in between classes and studying (if you were studying at all). Even when you were shuffling part time work, internships and a typical course load, you somehow could find the energy and time for pub crawls, club nights, weekend trips into the city, etc. etc.

Not so much when you’ve hit your mid-20s. By then you’ve got loan officers and stacking bills and a 9 to 5 and whatever other ugly responsibility comes your way. But I don’t begrudge these things, I go with it and I steal my “little pleasures” when I can: a good solo dance session in the privacy of my room, an indulgent Vietnamese coffee on a hot day, and a lazy Saturday with nothing but a book and nargile to keep me company.

This summer, these are the books that stole my attention.

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With Change Comes Remembrance: Giving into Nostalgia

At every crossroad in my life, I have found myself returning to the words, the places, the music, the art that carried me before. Volver. Retourner. Zurückkehren.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote that “the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.” I think that little tool of survival also helps us confront the future. And I confront it with Schubert in my ears, poetry open on my lap and photos of moments now passed.

Moving forward and saying your goodbyes isn’t easy, especially when you have been living for so long from city to city. Seeking and seeking. It’s even stranger when you realize that in so many ways, you always will go back to where you started.

I am counting down the days left in Europe and suddenly I’m remembering everything differently; nostalgia is a trickster and fear is his accomplice. It leaves you crossing yourself and muttering prayers.

But in honor of that cunning fox, memory, here are pieces of what was and is and will be.

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The Books I Love (But Don’t Ask Me for a Recommendation)

It usually happens spontaneously, barrels at me without warning, a single question that leaves me um-ing and ah-ing: ‘What’s your favorite book? Suggest something for me to read!’

I have a degree in English literature and people would (wrongly) describe me as ‘well-read,’ so I suppose there is an expectation that I simply know what’s good. Let me tell you now: I don’t. Most of the things I read in university, I had to consume quickly because I was overloaded with novels and academic articles and poems and x-y-and-z. I forgot how to savor literature, and I suppose, I began to fall out of love with it. I probably fell asleep reading A Winter’s Tale on more than one occasion and I’m pretty sure there’s a Dickens’ novel tucked away somewhere that I still haven’t finished. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard for my degree and held high expectations for myself but there are plenty of people who know more about literature than I do. Talk to them. They’ll have better advice.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an endless list of books I adore. Books that remind me of rainy mornings and hours gone by; books that remind me of people and places I have loved; books that evoke a bit too much nostalgia.

Continue reading “The Books I Love (But Don’t Ask Me for a Recommendation)”