Monday, March 08, 2010

Books, or why I love them.

Livejournal's Writer's Block Question for yesterday:
Is there any book you can read over and over again without ever getting sick of it? Do you discover something new every time you read it?

Why yes, there are two books in my life that I can simply read over and over and over and over and over and never get sick of them. I've read one in its original language and the other I'm working my way through. (Who is surprised that my two favourite books were not originally in English? Bueller?)

My favourite book of all time, and one I am constantly re-reading as a source of inspiration in both my life and my writing is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This book is so amazing and means so much to me. My current facebook quote is from the last lines of the novel:

"Darling," replied Valentine, "has not the count just told us that all human wisdom is summed up in two words? - `Wait and hope.'"

My own philosophy toward my reading materials and my interests in life comes from the middle of the text:

My kingdom is bounded only by the world, for I am not an Italian, or a
Frenchman, or a Hindu, or an American, or a Spaniard -- I am a cosmopolite. No country can say it saw my birth. God alone knows what country will see me die. I adopt all customs, speak all languages.

It's a long read (over a thousand pages) but entirely life-changing for me, who encountered it in French class.

My second favourite book, and one I read all the time (except right now because I damaged my copy far beyond repair and need to buy a new one) is The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende.

In a previous post I mentioned that I love the country of Chile, and I never truly explicated why. This book is the gateway to that love. It's not just the history of Chile, it's a family story, with bits of spirituality and just a bit of supernatural beauty that makes this book a winner. It was Allende's first novel and she's only gotten better (ask my friend Phil if I'm wrong). Like Monte Cristo, this book influenced the type of books I want to write, and how I write. It's a little more accessible than Dumas, but just as important to me.

Since the book was originally written in Spanish, I'm trying to read through it in that language. It's a little harder for me because I have a deeper background in French than Spanish, so I have to keep pausing to absorb what I've read, even though I know the story by heart. I will persevere though.

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