In the Still of the Night

How did you come across the book?

The first book I read by him was called, um… ‘The Supernaturals’… and this is part two if it. He has a lot of other books out that I just haven’t gotten around to yet, but ‘The Supernaturals‘ was the first.

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

It’s about a group of people who met… in the first book they were only about… eight people, and only two or three really knew each other. This book takes place about seven years later, so these people have gotten closer, but they still have a lot of issues. It is about… well, supernaturals… so it is sort of a horror book… but its also about human nature. It’s about politics too, which is very timely… I mean, I didn’t realize that until I started reading… but its very timely now… and its about a president who is disturbingly like what we’ve got in the White House. So, um… yeah, so… I have no idea how its going to end, but it’s just very, very interesting, and um… some parts are disturbing, because… oh my goodness… human nature… people who’ll do anything for power. But, then again, there’s a lot of friendship in this too, because again, these people have gotten to know each other, and each of these people have like real, serious, um… somewhat tragic backgrounds, so… its good to see them come together. But yeah, lots of disturbing stuff in here too, which is… uh, I mean… to be expected.

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

Oh, absolutely! I would recommend it to anybody who… who… just enjoys a good book that you can just sit down with and just, you know… go with it! Yeah, just go with it. Don’t have any preconceived notions about what its about… just go with it. Normally people would say, “Well ok, if you like horror, then go…”. No… just, just read it… just read it! You know… cause’ I mean… I read everything… you know, I read everything. I don’t care, you know… you cant tell me, because I’m reading a horror book, only recommend horror books to me… no! Read everything! If its an interesting book… recommend it to me, and I will read it! So… same thing here… read it!

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore

How did you come across the book?

Truthfully? I work in the same building as Penguin Publishing, and there’s always free books in the mailroom. Yeah! That’s how I came across it.

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

Well… its mainly about a woman who is just trying to find herself… and she’s going through these major changes, so I feel like, in regard to perspective… I mean the character, she’s very daring and true to herself, so I feel if anything, that’s the perspective… to just stay bold!

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

Yes, I would recommend it. Probably to one of my best friends who is an English teacher, just because I feel like she would appreciate literature taking place in the 6th century. So… that’s who I would recommend it too.

A Poem to Share: ‘Nothing More’

It isn’t lonely,

for I have been there before.

Its absence,

nothing more.

 


Pair this short read with ‘The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone‘, brought to you by Maria Popova’s brainpickings.

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 its ominous position. However, with this, and with recent encounter of its inevitability and its 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, yes, 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’. In reference to the piece pictured above, from a perspective more poetically crafted, ‘Vanité’, master pieced 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 its fragility? There remains a thin line between our existence and our demise, yet, we act as if the former is forever. Again… memento mori.

As mentioned, I recently encountered death, not my life, but a loved one, and as I write this, with mind lost in consumption of its very nature, I find it, with slight grief, irresponsible and selfish of myself to only be aware of it now, in light only because of our latest confront. A loved one, so dear and close to my heart, to my being, to my life, almost taken away, by a true evil of this world, one which affects us all, directly and indirectly; addiction. Stolen it felt, robbed, if even only for a moment, with monstrous lack of care or of concern for all involved, for death does not carry with it a sense of compassion or refrain, only a duty, a duty to take, always too soon it feels, for death doesn’t, it only does.

How arrogant it feels though, how wrong and self-loathed it seems to allow the tribulation of another the right to provide you with any sense of pain, or for that matter, of thanks; he experienced this inevitably, you merely observed, for now. You have no mind even to what it truly entails, to what he truly experienced. Is there pain? Perhaps a release? How intense the struggle? Do we succumb with ease? Or, maybe, just nothing.

Enough, these thoughts, they’re needed, these feelings too, and it’s okay, life tends to provide the test first and the lesson later, death staying true to this form. Meditate on this however, understand what this is, this feeling, this experience, this will happen again, to you even, to another so dear, sooner or later, but no matter, for it will happen again, no matter.

But oh how it hurts when you are so near it, how odd and unsure the moment it provides, how abrupt it impedes everything, stops us on our path and challenges us to accept, for with death there is no other way, no alternative route, so accept. Death ceases life, but life itself does not cease, and that is the hardest truth to accept. Beyond you is more, beyond our loved ones, beyond this moment, the same, but no matter, nor you or I will be a part of that, we are only a part of this, right now, so the future, no matter, only now.

So than, what to take from this? Death is always there, here rather, around you and I, always, right now. You are already dead, your life already destined to end, finale inscripted, you just don’t know it yet, you don’t truly know it, and by the time you’re allowed to, you’re gone, too late.

So than, what to take from this? Live, live now, before it is too late, do not fear death, rather accept it, embrace its forthcoming with repose, for… ”nobody dies before his time comes, so I am calm. I know I am going to die, I just don’t know when.”

Thankfully, with deep gratefulness of fate and of circumstance, he is still here with us, still able to converse, still given time to express ideas and to share perspectives, to create and to learn, still capable of life and of love and of all that comes with it. We all are, remember this, you the same if you are reading this now.

However, this experience, as gratuitous its perceived purpose at the time, excavated from within me, from depths of inactive essence, from thoughts of idle action, an awakening and a forging of a practice, one towards understanding and of gratuity, towards acceptance and of regard, for this life, for death to come, and for the sustain of this moment… “thankful, for it is not ours to own, only to borrow. Death will come, know this, use this.”

You may be sitting there, reading this, believing it to be a rather pessimistic piece, but I would argue against this innate impulse of thought. 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 beauty to this moment. Take a deep breath, come back to your being, feel the world and its nature around you, understand the best you can with acquiescence the common fate of us all, and be grateful and amazed to be a part of it. You will die, yes, no matter, but for now you must live.

From this moment on, in our constant face with death, to reference the always pertinent Stoic philosophy, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “…think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breatheto thinkto 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.

Positive Discipline

How did you come across the book?

Because I needed to read it for work, so it’s a good tool to learn how to work with kids.

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

It shows that there are many ways to be kind, and to be strict with kids, and you have to know how to use both.

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

Ok… would I recommend it? Yes, because for parents that do not know how to teach kids… this book is perfect.

Move On And Let It Be

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be…

When you find yourself in times of trouble, whoever or whatever Mary may be to you and your natural incline, let the guidance of your own directing mind lead you; nothing more. Listen to your internal words of wisdom, be selective from which you hear external of this, move on and let it be.

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be…

In your hour of darkness, or moment, or second, or however present it’s duration, allow the internal to stare you down as you stare back, never wavering nor allowing oneself to turn away in guilt, or in shame, or in doubt; strong and steady stare back, accept this, allow it, embrace it, become it if you dare, then, move on and let it be.

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer
Let it be…

And when the broken-hearted people, or those broken by disagreement or by disgrace of their own nature, living in this world agree to begin accepting first themselves and second their brother’s and sister’s, there will appear an answer. Once acknowledged, once accepted, once felt and embraced, no more doubt of this, no more hate of this, no more refraining from this, move on and let it be.

For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer
Let it be…

For though they may be parted, at this moment of opportune, which is every moment we are given if we understand it’s potential, there will forever remain a chance that they will see. Allow others their rightful time to become aware, in due time, in accordance with their own nature, in timing of their own experience and choice. There will always be an answer, move on and let it be.

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow
Let it be…

And when the night is cloudy, and the opportune moment seems to have passed, understand, or rather truly see, that there is still a light shining down on me, on you, on him or her, on us all, and it will shine whether we accept it or not, always there will remain an answer, on until tomorrow and of tomorrow of that, move on and let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be…

Waking up to the sound of music, whatever that melody of serenity is to you, the Mary of your choosing and of your nature will come to you, there is no right or wrong here so do not worry, once again, speaking, some moments with a subtle whisper and others with roaring demand, words of wisdom for you. Listen, accept, or not, it’s up to you, if not now, maybe later, but, no matter your choice, move on and let it be.

There will be an answer
Let it be

There will always be an answer, but that is for you to see, move on and let it be.