Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Watch

"I am eternally grateful for my knack of finding in great books, some of them very funny books, reason enough to feel honored to be alive, no matter what else might be going on."

I love to read. Books inspire me. Books relax me. Books rejuvenate me. A good book is almost as refreshing as taking an actual vacation to a faraway place. I said, "almost." ;) I've thought about buying one of those "nooks" -- those handheld devices that is kind of like an ipod, but for books -- so that I can easily take any number of books with me in my purse, and it'll be weightless and easy. But, I decided not to. I love the actual, physical book. To me, it's part of the whole experience. You have to smell the freshly printed pages, experience the turning of each page as  you advance through the story and fumble to find your place when you accidentally close the book and you haven't dog-eared the page.

From time to time, as I find precious gems of literature, I will be posting them here as a "book watch." To start, here are two of my all-time favorite books: The Little Prince and The Tao of Pooh. These are two of the wittiest and wisest books I've ever read (and I read a lot!). I've added a few quotes from each to give you a sample:

The Little Prince by: Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

"I have had, in the course of my life lots of encounters with lots of serious people. I have spent lots of time with grown-ups. I have seen them at close range.. which hasn't much improved my opinion of them."

"Grown ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: 'What does his voice sound like?' 'What games does he like best?' 'Does he collect butterflies?'. They ask: 'How old is he?' 'How many brothers does he have?' 'How much does he weigh?' 'How much money does his father make?'. Only then do they think they know him."

"If you tell grown ups, ' I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof..,' they won't be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, 'I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs.' Then they exclaim, 'What a pretty house!'

"If I commanded a general to fly from one flower to the next like a butterfly, or to wrote a tragedy, or to turn into a seagull, and if the general did not carry out my command, which one of us would be in the wrong, the general or me?

'You would be,' said the little prince quite firmly.

'Exactly. One must command from each what each can perform,' the king went on. 'Authority is based first of all upon reason. If you command your subjects to jump into the ocean, there will be a revolution. I am entitled to command obedience because my orders are reasonable."

"One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eye."

The Tao of Pooh by: Benjamin Hoff

"When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun."

"You'd be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are."

"From the state of the Uncarved Block comes the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work, odd as that may appear to others at times. As Piglet put it in Winnie-the-Pooh, "Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right."

"Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."

"Whether many people realize it yet or not, man, the Inferior Animal, has by now proved himself incapable of keeping his own species - and others - alive for very much longer.  So the earth has begun its own plan to set things right."

"But isn't the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn't? It seems fairly obvious to some of us that a lot of scholars need to go outside and sniff around - walk through the grass, talk to the animals. That sort of thing."

"Now, scholars can be very useful and necessary, in their own dull and unamusing way. They provide a lot of information. It's just that there is Something More, and that Something More is what life is really all about."

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