Day 3: Favourite Series

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Most of the things I have read in the past involve science fiction and fantasy. I grew up on J. R. R. Tolkien and Ursula K. Le Guin, all the classics of the genre. I was introduced to the world of the books by my brother, who, still a fan of the genre, kept reading and gifting me books from various writers. This one time, on my birthday, he gave me three small books that were written my no other but Douglas Adams. It was the first three books of the series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Unbeknownst to me, I thought to myself that these short books simply won’t satisfy my thirst as a voracious reader. Oh boy, was I wrong.

The story follows like this: unsuspicious Arthur Dent finds out that the Earth is going to be destroyed in order to build an intergalactic highway in the universe. His long term acquaintance Ford Prefect turns out to be an alien, a hitchhiker who prolonged his stay at our planet and gives the news to his poor human friend and they proceed to travel through the universe together. On the way, they meet (one of my favourite character of all time) the paranoid android Marvin, the infamous Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Trillian, another past inhabitant of the planet Earth. Together, and with a help of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy which is a manual for space travelers with kind words of Don’t Panic! at the cover travel through the vast space.

The whole premise of this book seems like they were written either by a lunatic, or a complete genius. There are very witty passages written by the author of such marvelous series. I am a fan of this particular one, which summarizes my thoughts on how limitless universe is:

“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

Another thing that became iconic was a simple… towel. The most convenient and clever invention that has ever been produced by the mind of a humankind. You can keep yourself warm with a towel, you can dry yourself with it, you can spill some B complex onto it and suck it in the times of need. Truly genial. In fact, two weeks after Adams’ death, people decided to commemorate his work and his legacy by turning the 25th of May into the International Towel Day. Talk about a great impact on the world.

All in all, the book itself could be talked about for ages. It is one of the most humorous, one of the most clever books I have ever read. The author’s command of language and loony sense of humor that can’t take anything seriously was and still is right up my alley. I love it with all of my heart and I cherish the books I got my hands on when I still didn’t know what kind of a gem I just acquired.

Looking back at it, seven or ten years later, it became timeless and utterly irreplaceable in my bookshelf. It’s a quick read and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who just wants to have a good laugh or needs to spend their time with what now could be considered one of the classics of science fiction.

And don’t forget the fact that it answers to the question about life, universe, and everything ^^

Day 2: A Book That You’ve Read More Than Three Times

71c5xwv-fklThis is one is my all time favourite. Dune by Frank Herbert is the very first book that’s over 600 pages (at least the version that I got my hands on) and powered through it until its very end. It is centered around the main character named Paul Atreides who becomes a leader of a tribe on the planet of Arrakis. With a status of their Messiah, he leads the Fremen people in a place that’s heavily dependent on melange, a spice that is highly addictive and main source for of their food.

What interested me the most about this book was the fact that all the plotlines happen on a backdrop of struggle over politics, religion, economic issues and all the new technology. At an age of twelve, I haven’t read any book that has been as detailed in the world building thus far, and the fact really made me interested in the other sci-fi novels with similar themes. I loved every bit of it and up to this day, it has a special place in my heart.

The book popped into my mind due to the fact that I rummaged through my brother’s bookshelves and found a copy in English. I was thinking of revisiting the place of Arrakis one more time. Now that I am free from a responsibility of going to work, I want to dive into the novel and enjoy it in the original.

One passage that often comes into my mind is the Litany Against Fear. I find it one of my personal favourites and when in tough times, I recite it in my head.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

However, the whole book is a well of great quotes and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in power struggles as one of the plotlines in the book they read. Not only do you get to think about colonialism in a fictional world, you experience many social upheavals throughout reading one of the sci-fi classics.

 

Day 1: Best Book You Read Last Year

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The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks is an astonishing work of art with vivid description of what it is like to be a person with schizophrenia. The topic is, for obvious reasons, very dear to my heart and I wholeheartedly recommend the book to those who still fear mental patients for their unpredictable psychotic behaviour. Many times, it is us who are the ones with the shorter end of the stick, experiencing the illness, discrimination from other, healthy people, or downright abusive behaviour at the mental hospitals. Ones who suffer from any kind of mental illness will find this book like a breath of a fresh air. Even though it is popular nowadays to have these topics talked about in modern literature, the authors who haven’t got the slightest idea of how it is to be treated for a mental illness will try to incorporate a very poetic, life changing story that carries some romanticised and profound meaning hidden behind the illness itself. I don’t ascribe to such grandiose ideas. However, as Saks puts it, there is a different kind of meaning behind the madness. It’s the same with philosophy, both of them seem incomprehensible at first, however there is a rule, only known to the person who is experiencing it. One needs to find it in order to understand it.

To be completely honest, the last thought often pops into my mind even now. How much of my psychotic behaviour was consisting of metaphors, delusions, tropes that continue to haunt me to this day. There is, hovewer, not a single profound meaning of life I gathered from my experiences. I am simply ill, and much of my time was wasted being treated, oftentimes wrongly, for my illness.

Just like Mrs. Saks who herself was a victim of bad handling of her psychotic states, being tied and in constraints, I saw the mistreatment that goes on at mental wards. Students of medicine poking fun of their cases, a demented old lady or a schizoaffective patient who was deep in  her delusions. The nurses turning blind eye to caged patients, treating them very much like animals in the zoo. Refusal to let the patients gain some knowledge about how their treatment is going and what they are actually being treated for. The help which we needed was in the end returned to us in form of ridicule or complete ignorance.

But Mrs. Saks doesn’t stop there. She openly admits to her unhealthy relationship with her therapist, who she was obsessed with, to her refusal to take meds and living a productive, and one could even venture to say with outstanding accomplishments (which I very much aspire to) like completing defgrees at Oxford University and Yale Law School among others. Her life is nothing short of the beauty, ups and lows, hard work, anything that other, healthy people experience.

This was overall the best book that came through my hands in 2016. I read it voraciously and without stopping, seeing that somebody finally validated my own experiences and shined a light on a not so pleasant part of mental health institutions. It is admirable that Mrs. Saks lives her life without medication and even though I know this is a personal choice for every patient, I wish there was more freedom in terms of medicating people with drugs most of the time doctors have very little knowledge of their effect on us. The brain is such a peculiar and delicate instrument and there are many studies that show that medicating will have a long term effects on us, not to mention becoming addicted to some of the chemicals.

In the end, I recommend this book to any one of my followers of people who are interested in reads about mental health, those who wish to see the reality of it and who aren’t afraid of putting down their rose coloured glasses in order to understand  us, the patients, a little bit better.

30 Day Book Challenge

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This is a very old challenge, the blog I found it had it posted in 2014, and it is an Instagram challenge. I, however, won’t be uploading such huge amount of bookish pictures to my gram and instead will write a word or two here, on my good old blog. Hope I will finish this and actually post every day, which would be a great accomplishment for me since any kind of habitual work is not ingrained in my DNA. So, fingers crossed.

As of tomorrow, I will be doing the first day of the challenge and will finish at the last day of February. Indeed, I wish it will be a next step to my intention of becoming a creature of habit and these posts will find their audience in one way or another. I honestly can’t wait to share my opinions on the books I will write about and look forward to having fun with this challenge as much as possible.

I’m not going to lie, some of those post will be pre-scheduled since I have a few important events coming up in February, not to mention that some days, the inspiration to write won’t strike me as much as, let’s say, today. I will be checking comments regularly though, and other than posting this challenge, I will write other blog posts about different topics. So stay tuned 🙂