George, Nicholas and Wilhelm

How did you come across the book?

It was probably an internet search… my mom is housebound so I buy a lot of books for her and she’s interested in history, so… and I’m interested in history, so… I think I just came across it and it looked interesting… and it is, very!

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

I just think it’s fascinating to… you know, it really helps us to understand where we are if we know where we came from… and, I think it’s just fascinating! What fascinates me about that time period is that, you know, all of the monarch’s that were involved, in World War I… they were cousins, all related to Queen Victoria… and that sort of… not really incest, it’s not the right way of putting it, but… yeah, they were… they’re still all related… the royals. But, I just find it very fascinating… and I think that we have to understand history in order to understand the present.

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

I’d recommend it to people who… you know, what I like about the book is that it’s… it’s history, but it’s very readable… I think people are sometimes afraid of reading biography, autobiography history because they expect it to be dry, but this is really a beautifully written book… Miranda Carter is the author, and… yeah, I’d recommend it to anybody who’s interested in… I mean, it’s European history, it’s not American history… I read a lot of American history as well… but, I think we’re living in a time right now which is going to be written about, a lot! We’re actually… we’re living in the middle of history… I mean we always are, but… right now it’s just really fascinating, and… you know, it’s fascinating to see what our relationship with Germany is becoming because everything that happened in this book… you know, the end of War World I was only a hundred years ago… a tremendous amount has changed in a very short period of time, and I just find that fascinating… the acceleration of things… and now with the internet and these devices that we all carry, things are accelerating at a really fast pace, and… I don’t know… I think looking at the past gives us perspective on the present.

Station Eleven

How did you come across the book?

Actually, I bought it in… is it World Aid? First Aid?… Goodwill! The american version! I’m actually on holiday and I just needed something to read… and, as I like a bit of Sci-fi, the description caught my eye… about a flu pandemic so, you know… very american, based I think… well, anyways… at the moment I can’t remember where its based… but, it’s american! And, yeah, it’s so far been brilliant!

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

Perspective? Hmm… I guess… people are people, everywhere! Umm… I’ve literally only read a few pages… hang on… Toronto! It actually takes places in Toronto! Well, so far, not a lot has happened… a guy actually died on stage and the main witness that you see this from actually wants to be a paramedic, so it’s all kind of tying in and it proved that his calling was true, as he ran up on stage and tried to help and save him. And, his girlfriend went home and left him there… so. He was thinking that she would feel that he was a hero, but all she said was, “could you bring milk? I’ve gone home!” We haven’t even hit the flu part yet! So yeah, I guess that’s what I mean by people are people!

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

I think it’s a touch too early to tell… but so far I would, to people who like books that are a bit different… maybe. And, a bit weird! Yeah… so that’s it!

Infinite Jest

How did you come across the book?

I actually heard of the writer himself first from a friend of mine. He recommended to me a commencement speech from the same author called ‘This is Water’, and after reading that I decided to look at a couple of his fictional works because I prefer fiction over nonfiction. So, I read his first novel, which was ‘The Broom of the System‘, and umm… because I kind of liked his style I decided to go on to this one because it’s known as his magnum opus, and so… a lot of people sing high praises for it, but a lot of people also kind of criticize it for being so lengthy and just kind of like rambling, but I think that it will be an interesting read.

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

I mean the thing is… more than a perspective from the book… like from the information from within the book, I think it’s teaching me something about being a reader, and I think it’s… it’s making me realize just how, I guess… how much more I have to read, or how much more I have to experience through reading itself, because… it’s like I’m reading the book, and I’m like going right to the dictionary because I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know what this means, I don’t know what this means!”, I think that just… it’s also kind of… it’s kind of really an awe-inspiring feeling knowing that there are so many writers that are just so talented. I’m actually majoring in English so I… I’m like… perhaps looking forward to publishing something in the future, but just knowing that there are geniuses out there who can use diction so freely… and such complex symbols or analogies with… ease… it just… it really humbles the reader. So, it’s teaching me a lot about just how much work I have left to do.

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

Umm… I think… so, I did say that I read a previous book of his, ‘The Broom of the System‘, but I also read a series of his essays… just really recently; it’s called ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again‘. What I’ve heard from people is that… because this is quite a lengthy book, unless you’re really invested, or unless you’re really curious about the author or the book itself, I think that you’ll find it really difficult to continue reading it, because I find myself sometimes struggling through a page but I’m just like, “OK, I know what to expect from the writer”, because of his previous writings, so I’m kind of looking forward to it no matter how lengthy it is. So, I think if someone were to get into this writer, I would recommend his essays first… and then I would recommend maybe reading ‘Infinite Jest‘.

The Martian Tales Trilogy

How did come across the book?

Well, I’m familiar with the series from a child… like, I read most of them in school and haven’t touched them… I’m up there so… since like, junior high. So, you know, 20 years later! I was in Barnes & Noble and I was just like, “You know what? I love the series I just haven’t gone there in a while… I haven’t read them in so long”. It’s my first summer read; I read a lot of books in the summer!

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

Well, I really found it interesting… the author wrote it during a time period where there were so many different… I guess in terms of turn of the century here in America… he wrote in the perspective of a Virginian that grew up at the end of the Civil War, so then the conflicts that were going on were addressed… you know, people were still referred to as slaves at that time… like everyone… they were itemized into specific categories based on wealth and color and race and religion. But the character eventually travels to, which I’m familiar with, to Mars or the red planet, or whatever they’re calling it in the book, and the order of hierarchy of people is actually reversed; like the red skin person is, they’re the top because they are the top tier people… the darker skinned people are like the oldest living, or the black race is the oldest living race of people… and the white race is kind of referred to as like a monkey or like a third-level… like kind of in reverse order as it was set up at that time in our country. Yeah, it’s a very interesting perspective which I remembered from reading it before, and it’s like I wanted to re-read it and see where I’m at now and how I see it with, you know, a lot of the progress we have made and then watching a lot of the regression in the past election we’ve had, and I’m like, Some of these things I need to revisit Click To Tweet, and really just get in touch with my… I grew up in the south, so get in touch with my southern roots a little bit, so. I’ve found it interesting so far.

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

I would definitely recommend it for… well, first of all, it’s a classic so… but it’s a classic that reads in a fast paced modern perspective, or a relate-able perspective… so, if you’re someone that  went to go see ‘Lord of the Rings’, or went to go see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, and enjoy reading… you would actually enjoy reading this because it still is relate-able and adaptable currently. It’s not just something that’s only for a specific time period; it’s very general and you can relate to most of the characters in it.

Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

How did you come across the book?

It was a book that has been on my list because I’m really interested in Stoic Philosophy; I really like reading Plato and Aristotle and all that… and so I hadn’t read this one… and so I put it on the list!

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

Oh… that’s a tough one! A lot of… you know… practical ideas about the human condition are spoken about in this book and it’s really… well, one of the interesting perspectives is how universal it is, after thousands and thousands of years! You can pick up this book and realize, Wow! Things haven't really changed in the human psyche all that much! Click To TweetSo, that’s been my main take away and kind of using some of these lessons and concepts to inform my own life.

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

Oh… that’s a tough question… another one! These are good! Umm… I would recommend it if you’re looking into thinking deep and thinking about society… thinking about people… thinking about yourself… and examining it in a different lens, and kind of questioning the world around you. So, that’s who’d I recommend it to… anyone who’s looking for answers… or looking to ask more questions!

 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

How did you come across the book?

This was on one of my reading lists when I was in high school. I had like a hundred contemporary classics that I wanted to read through, and a hundred like “Classic Classics” that I wanted to get through… I don’t remember what my lists were titled… but this was on there! I had seen it in book stores, never bought it and then I went to my Godmothers place in Boston and she had a copy… long story short, she gave it to me with a nice little note in the back!  It says… Eyes changed after they looked at new things. Click To Tweet

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

Well… to be honest with you, its kind of… well, the girls perspective is that she’s just really eager to learn and to gain education anyway she possibly can… which I guess is kind of nice for me to be reading while I’m in business school because I don’t really want to be in school. I like to learn things, but I like to learn them on my own and not forcibly in a classroom… but here’s a girl who can’t do that… and so she’s learning on her own, because she just doesn’t have the luxury to learn in a classroom. So… I think that’s kind of the perspective that I’ve gotten so far… and maybe it’s been a little motivating!

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

Yes, I’d recommend it. Umm… it is a little slower as I kind of mentioned… and I think it’s… I’ve been reading it for over a year… I mean I’ve read other books in between but, I’ve been reading it for about a year and I think I’d recommend it to people who are still in school or who are thinking about going to school. For me it’s kind of also… I miss New York… and it references a lot of old New York that I wasn’t even a part of but… it just kind of makes me nostalgic. So, anyone who wants to read about growing up in Brooklyn in the 19… I don’t know, I think it starts in 1910 or 1920 something… so, that would be… yeah… I also think it’s like a contemporary classic… Betty Smith I think published this around the 50s or so and it’s on those classic lists so… yeah, I think it’s more of a young adult into… like, I would say maybe early teens to late 20s would be a good group to read it… I’m not sure, honestly. It’s kind of a baseline book… like it’s not… there’s not much going on in it… but there’s also a lot going on in it… internally and externally. It’s just kind of more like seeing the perspective of living in poverty in Brooklyn during that era… and what you would have to do to sort of survive and get by. I don’t know what else to say about it… it’s just a great book.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

How did you come across the book?

So… I’m an avid movie watcher and a good friend of mine, Amy, put me into the movies years ago. At first I was like, “No, I’m not watching this cause I don’t want to be a part of the system! And everybody’s obsessed with these things!” And then I sat down and I watched them… and I was obsessed! The movies captivated me but I’m not a big fiction reader… I read history, but I’m not a big fiction reader… but um… my wife has been bugging me, “Babe, come on… like every year I’m like babe it’s time for us to do our Harry Potter binge!”… and we watch all the movies again… and she’s like, “You’ve gotta read the books!” So… at first I was like, “You know babe? You know me… I struggle when I read fiction books… like, I’m good.” So she said, “Fine, I’ll buy you the audio book.” And so she gave me the audio book of the first one, and I listened to it… and it was incredible. I couldn’t stop listening to it! So then I was like, “Babe… I think I want to read the second set of books.” So she bought the collection… and I read book two in about a week and a half… and I’ve just been storming through book three! This one’s my favorite movie… and now it’s my favorite book! This is…. this is incredible! The symbolism in it… you know, the story in general has captivated me on a whole different level… that’s why I said you picked the wrong person to interview ’cause I have this like deep Harry Potter theology about my life and… Prisoner of Azkaban really embodies, you know, that selflessness and that… living for others… the thing that I’ve always loved about the series in general!

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

Oooh! So… I was just telling him… there is, you know… the interesting thing about Harry Potter… and if you know about the story of Harry Potter… you know, he’s this kid and he’s born in one world but his parents were killed, so he had to be raised in another world… and later on he goes back to this other world and… some reject him, some accept him, some glorify him, some… you know… hate him… and it’s this… this thing where he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and he is literally just existing as a kid… growing up and learning. I realized, for me… it doesn’t matter what your destiny is, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what your background is, what your future holds… you know... grow, and just live! Take the shackles off yourself and be free! Click To Tweet For me, it hits a little closer to home because as a Christian I look at… I’m like man, Jesus came to this earth and he died to give his life to us for our sins, and I’m like… here’s this kid who came to a world… they didn’t receive him in it… ultimately in the end there’s this correlation to that, and I don’t want to give any spoiler alerts, but… if you haven’t seen it, check it out… but if you know it, you know he ends up giving up a lot of himself for this world and it becomes this beautiful story of love and no matter what… in this story particularly, he has so much anger towards this one character, then in the end, ends up forgiving him and showing grace to him… and it’s so amazing because… he’s just a kid. You know, I’m like, if this kid can embody this kind of love and this kind of passion for life, then… so can I. That means everyday, live it to the fullest… everyday be free… everyday take the shackles off myself, the shackles that people have put on me… my parents have put on me, my friends have put on me, teachers put on you, educators put on you… and, whatever people put on you, it is to your best interest if you just… take them off, and just be you. Be Harry Potter, be free in your little world, learn what you got to learn… and if people say you’re not good enough, whatever… you know, just live free man… be free for who you are. There’s too much beauty in this world to live it beneath shackles and chains. So… that’s what I got from this.

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

Umm… oddly enough… I’d recommend this book to everybody and anybody! You know, for kids, it is an imagination roller-coaster! Like, this woman… and even when you know her story of how she wrote it, you start to realize that the woman who wrote this, J.K. Rowling… she’s a conqueror; she fought against so much just to get to a place where she could produce these magical books. And then, so much more as a Christian… you know, I know people who are like, “Ah, no! It’s witchcraft… you shouldn’t read it.” And then I realized one of the greatest authors in my opinion… C.S. Lewis… penned one of the greatest fiction stories… The Chronicles of Narnia… and if you ever get a chance to read those book’s, which I did go back and read… they are an incredible adaptation of what it means to really just… believe! The problem with the day we live in now is, we stop believing. Everything has to be tangible before we believe, and I’m sorry man, like… I want to go back and believe in the mysticism, and believe in the magic, believe in the force of love… the beauty of what magic does and how it makes us feel… I want to believe and I don’t ever want to lose that, and I don’t ever want to lose my imagination, because… what I’m noticing is that the reason why the world looks the way it does is because people stopped having imagination…. people stopped believing for more. Books like this man, they open kids up to the world; to see and to be like… Man, the flick of a wand could create this! And I'm like, Yes! Go out and imagine. Click To Tweet You don’t have a wand, but you have a computer… and you might not have a wand, but you can build something… and go and stretch your imagination… and I don’t care if somebody tells you that you can’t fly; jeez louise… you can fly! Somebody tells you, “You can’t walk on water.” Give it a chance… you might walk on water! People will tell you so much… and I look at it and I’m like… somebody told me one day, “Naj, you will never teleport.” And I was like, “That’s my lifelong dream, to one day teleport.” They kept saying you will never teleport, and I’m like, “Cool… because somebody told somebody they’d never fly… and now look at us… we’re flying!” The minute I stop believing that I’ll teleport… that’s when that dream is dead, and that’s when I will never teleport. And trust me, it sounds silly… look, I’m 36 years old… I’m not actually sitting out here saying, “Yeah, jump off a building and fly!” I’m not talking about being irrational or irresponsible; I’m talking about… just dream! Dream big man! Dream that this world will stop living based on the colors of our souls, thinking that it’s just black or white… no man… dream one day! Look at Martin Luther King… he had a dream, and that dream turned into a reality! We’re still fighting for it, but… that was a dream, and somebody told him lunacy, somebody told him it was magic, that it was imagination… and I just… it’s when we give up on those dreams, when we give up on changing the world, that’s when the world stops changing…and that’s it. I recommend it to everybody and anybody. The thing is... just have your eyes open! Click To TweetLike me… I wrote this book off when it was a movie because I was like, “Witchcraft, Witchcraft, Witchcraft!”… until a friend of mine was like, “Nah, it’s chill. Check it out!” Stop living with your eyes closed, you know… you never know… you’re rejecting stuff for rejecting stuff sake… accept stuff and then sift through it and realize if you don’t want to spit it to somebody else, or if you don’t think you should even eat it… spit it out, you know… put it to the side. But yeah… there’s so much more about it man!