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Archive for September, 2013

Top 5 Books

flipping book pages

When I was a child, I hated reading. I was slow at it, kept losing my place, and got headaches every 10-15 minutes. But each week my mom checked out books from our local library, forced me to read them, and then questioned me about their content. Little did I know she hadn’t actually read any of them, but it was enough to know that I was being quizzed that I did as I was told. Because of that early childhood experience–or rather, despite it, depending on how you look at it–I’m now an avid reader. No other activity has impacted my life quite so profoundly as reading. If you are the average of your 5 best friends, then allow a good book to be one of those friends. When you read, not only are you accessing the writer’s thoughts, but his best thoughts, the ones he felt fit to share with the world.

Since quite a few people have asked me for recommendations, I thought I would share my top 5 books. The only problem I encountered was this: how does one compare a play like Hamlet to a book like The Selfish Gene? In my opinion, you can’t. So I decided to make a separate list for each of my 5 favorite genres. Here we go, in no particular order:

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an open cookie jar

People are constantly on the lookout for shortcuts–memory tricks and secret societies and wheat grass shots–things that may, by some hitherto unknown mechanism, bring them unbridled intelligence, perfect test scores, and scores of unbridled women. I certainly have been guilty of this kind of thinking a couple of times, ok maybe even a few times, but that’s not the point. The point is that sometimes I too, despite my Shaolin Monk-like mental discipline, wish to have everything I’ve ever wanted, instantaneously, at the snap of my fingers. I’ve worked harder and persevered longer than other people I know, I might tell myself, but I haven’t been quite as lucky! This kind of thinking is poison.

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Duplicitous Snake

snake trail in red sand

I tried to be friendly
Though you were hostile.
When I confronted you
You swore denial.

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3 silver keys

We all need a home, a source of constancy, a place to return to in order to gather strength, clarity, and equanimity. There are 3 homes with which to concern yourself.

The first home is your Home Team. These are the people you associate with and with whom you surround yourself. They act as your support, your competition, and your inspiration. As an introvert, I know far too intimately the comfort and pleasure of keeping to oneself, slowly transforming into a Zen-level hermit, but your home team can never be neglected. If you ask, “What’s the point? Why can’t I just spend all my free time on myself?” I will say this:

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