The Constant Princess

How did you come across the book?

Funny you should ask! I’m actually in a book club, and I am about to meet them… um, pretty soon. This was a book that someone else chose. It’s only like five of us, but one of them picked this book for the month… and I’m just about to finish it up. Otherwise, I would never think to pick this out. It’s really good actually… I like it. That’s the part of… the good thing about book club… you read books that you wouldn’t normally pick yourself.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… this is like… kind of a historical account of the Queen of England, in around the early 1500s… and, uh… so I guess it just kind of opened my eyes to thinking… or the logic of that time. I guess that’s pretty much it.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Absolutely! This is… it has a really strong female, hero character… and, so… it shows that women can overcome… we all can overcome.

Remember, you must die.

Death; oh, how it has flooded my mind lately. More appropriately, the thought alone has consumed my attention, stood defiantly in place against my hesitant rebuttal, and toiled with my attempted understanding of it’s ominous position. However, with this, and with recent encounter of it’s inevitability and swiftness, death’s ever lingering presence has also brought about a sense of compartmentalization, towards how I divide the allotment of my time, who I decide to allow my being, and what I deem as worthy within and of my life. Death has a funny, and yet a not so comical, way of bringing back to the moment reality. We all WILL die, there is no changing this. Despite our various efforts towards a guaranteed life of longevity, no matter how cautious or how tame we live out our days, they are numbered and they remain, with unyielding persistence, in tally; destination and departure unknown. With this… memento mori.

Derived from Latin origin, memento mori, when translated to our modern form of the English language, reminds us bluntly, ‘Remember you must die’. From a perspective more poetically crafted, the painting above, master pieced into existence by 17th Century¬†French painter Philippe de Champaigne, displays through detailed expression the thin line of existence in which we abide. The tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time); life, our current experience, remaining in constant shadow of death, which we may encounter at any moment. The only guarantee between the triad conveyed at median; death.

There is no guarantee of a life, even less, if possible, no assurance of time. We aren’t promised a single breath, no law of nature ensuring us an abundance, or even a presence, of either element. So why are we so wasteful of it? Why do we engage with such petty occurrences and tasks? Why do we allow our lives to be consumed with such oblivion, with negligence towards it’s fragility? As mentioned, there remains a thin line between our existence and our demise, yet, we act as if the former is forever. Again, memento mori.

You may be sitting there, reading this, believing it to be the most pessimistic piece you have encountered of late, but I would argue against this innate response. Allow this idea, or truth rather, to bring about a vigor for this life, for this moment. Again we all WILL die, yes, but now, right now, truly be grateful to be alive, I beg you. Wherever you are, right now, reading this, look up from your screen, now around you, and find the beauty of this moment; better yet, bring the beauty to this moment. Take a deep breath, come back to your being, feel the world around you, understand with acquiescence the common fate of us all, and be grateful to be apart of it. You will die, yes, but for now you must live.

From this moment on, to reference the always pertinent Stoic philosophy, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “…think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy,to love.”

And with this, memento mori.

The Tin Drum

How did you comes across the book?

Oh! I go off into Strand, and I simply like to read… I just… I guess lately I like to read European authors… and he’s German; I’ve never heard of him actually, and realized that he actually received a Nobel Prize for literature. This was his first book… written 50 years ago. Yeah, he was born in the 20s, in Germany, so, even though it’s a translation, it’s absolutely interesting to read. But, yeah… well, I’m on page 13… interesting enough!

So far, what perspective have you gained from the book?

Actually… with this book, its difficult to say… considering that I’m only on page 13, but… I mean, I think that he writes in a very poetic way. However, it is from the perspective of someone who is in a mental health institution, so… it’s not as focused as you would expect. Yeah, I think that it is very interesting! I read reviews of the book, and they said it was quite revolutionary at the time, right, when it was published. Sorry, I can’t tell you more about the perspective!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Again… very hard to say… very hard to say at this point. I mean, I was born in Romania, right, so I feel very close, like geographically to the area… so I think of everyone who is coming from there, trying to understand that period, would probably gain from reading it. So, I would definitely recommend it to my daughters, because I think that the style is very different to what you read these days… not that it’s better, but it’s quite different; like the sentences are a lot longer, and the paragraphs have a lot more ideas… that sometimes makes it hard to follow actually! But, a lot of thought… you sometimes have to read paragraphs again, in order to really get it!

Visibility Marketing

How did you come across the book?

I came across the book a few weeks ago at… Strand Bookstore. I’m a business person… an entrepreneur… and marketing is everything… and so, I looked in the column… the row that marketing books were, and I came across this one. And one thing… one of the reasons that I picked this book, as opposed to some of the others… it’s from 2016, and so I wanted something that was fairly current, in light of social media and those types of things. So, yeah…. so I chose this one.

So far, what perspective have you gained form this book?

I think one of the main points is being authentic. In other words, if you say that… in terms of a business… if you present yourself as, or position yourself as being… you know, a person concerned with customer service, providing good customer service… than you need to do it. If you say you provide products on this day, or services on another day, or whatever… than you need to do it. You know… so that’s one of the things about being authentic… if you say you’re going to do something, than do it.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Umm… I would recommend it. I will say… to be honest… some of the stuff I knew, so it’s more so reinforcement for me, because I read this type of stuff… and I have read it for the last 20+ years. But, I would recommend it, and I would recommend it mostly to someone who’s starting out I would say… in business… because marketing is crucial and most people think it’s just about having a product or service, and that’s it… and then everybody will just flock to them because it’s such a great idea, great product or service… but it really is about how people engage or interact with your product or service, or you as a company… and it is about being true, to the brand, true to what you say the company stands for. So, I would recommend it to… uhh… mostly newbies… but anybody can learn!


P.S. This individual is also a writer himself, author of the book¬†Think Outside the Cell: An Entrepreneur’s Guide for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated.

The Name of the Wind

How did you come across the book?

Umm… I was… how did I come across this book? I think I was reading a review of another book… it was a fantasy book… and it mentioned this one, which is the first in a trilogy, and it described as… like, “Harry Potter for adults”… so I was like, “Yes, I need to read that!”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh man! What perspective? Umm… well the thing about the book that is interesting… that makes it different from normal fantasy genre… is the hero of the story is telling his own story, looking back on it. So, it kind of plays with perspective in an interesting way… I wonder if it’s gonna kind of like, mess with that at all, and have him be an unreliable narrator, or anything like that. But, umm… I don’t know… as far as perspective in my own life? Not really!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes! I would recommend it to anyone who’s remotely interested in fantasy… likes Game of Thrones… any of that stuff; it’s really well written. A lot of times I get scared to start a book, so I’m like, “Oh, what if I don’t like it?” But, this sucked me in immediately! I’ve already read 200 pages in about a week… so… yeah! It’s addictive! I definitely recommend it for fantasy fans.

A Poem to Share: ‘Smile’ by Gloria Carter

Listening to Jay Z’s latest album released, 4:44 , I was moved by one song in particular, more specifically it’s ending passage. Given the beginning of a new week, I wanted to share with you all the beautiful words of Gloria Carter, Jay Z’s mother, and her reasoning for our choice to Smile:

Good morn or evening friends,

Living in the shadows, can you imagine what kind of life it is to live? In the shadows people see you as happy and free, because that’s what you want them to see.

Living two lives, happy but not free. You live in the shadows for fear of someone hurting your family or the person you love. The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free, but you live in the fear of just being me.

Living in the shadows feels like a safe place to be, no harm for them, no harm for me. But life is short and it’s time to be free. Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed.

Smile.

– Gloria Carter, ‘Smile’

Treasure Island

How did you come across the book?

This is a book my father read to me as a child… a lot of sweet memories… some of the best memories of childhood is my dad reading to me as a kid, so I thought I’d re-read this one.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It’s an adventure story… a coming of age story, and the cool thing about it is… it follows this young boy who’s serving as the shipmate on a boat, and it’s really… he’s realizing a lot the realities of a pretty harsh and broken world. But, it’s told in a really just fun, kind of, you know, child’s story; I think there’s something beautiful about it, because I read it as a child and it just seemed like an “adventure story” and a fun time, but you look back as you grow up and you realize that you’re learning things about our broken world and how we embrace them… and how we deal with them.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah… I think it’s a great story; I’d recommend people to read it to their kids… yeah, I don’t know if people still do that, but it definitely is a special thing… at least in my memory. But, I think there’s something to reading simple fiction as an adult, you… if you’ve like … like, I’m finishing up studies at university… you read a lot of kind of erudite, and thick books… and there’s something about reading something simple and easy, it just gets you back to the joy of reading… you get to 110 pages in two hours, you know… it’s just nice.