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Thoughts While Reading Last Night

Last week a friend of mine downloaded the Goodreads app to her cell phone and joined up with many others on a 2017 book reading challenge. You set a goal of a certain amount of books to read within the year and then off you go to meet that limit. I have never joined that since I generally go through phases where I’ll be in one mode or another. For example, I’m currently in knitting mode which means that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing until I’ve had enough. Then I’ll begin something else that catches my fancy, like reading. I’ll binge read until I can’t read anymore and then move on to the next shiny thing. Basically, I’m a popcorn kitten, popping here and there from one thing to another and then back again. Until last week.

Maybe it’s being cooped up because the weather is odd-one moment it’s cold, the next it’s summer outside-but last week I caved and began spring cleaning, except it’s supposedly still winter so I should say winter cleaning. I began with the master bathroom because it’s fairly straightforward and I had a new rug to put down on the enormous amount of cold tile in there. A pleasant place to sleep is a high priority for me so the master bedroom was next. It’s been the dumping ground for all things homeless and needing storage so it’s been slow going. As of last night, however, there’s not much left other than some dusting, putting up a couple of framed sayings, and vacuuming. Which meant that last night I was able to sit in bed and read without feeling guilty and stressed.

Maybe it was the cleaning that freed my thinking cap because my brain began going full tilt almost as soon as opened the book. I chose Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. As you know from one of my previous posts I put this book on my bedside table to read at some point and last night seemed as good a time as any. Already I can tell it’s going to be one of *those* books. One that opens my mind further and further. I even began taking notes and writing down my thoughts as I read. Honestly, I didn’t even recognize myself for a moment. It’s been so long since I even felt the need to do that. Mostly I read for pleasure and was expecting this to be the same kind of material. But, no. I should have known. After all, my dearest Lizzi was the one who made me aware of the book a few years ago. I doubt she ever reads much that’s not worth reading.

So, what kind of Thinks did I think? Well, how about this:

-creatures held in captivity tend to be more thoughtful-we remember there was something different before we were caged, something more pleasant or interesting maybe.

-what/who is holding us captive? What is keeping us from living a pleasant and interesting life?

-the concept of “feeding”: when what we need to survive is plentiful we never think about obtaining it-do you ever think about obtaining air to breath, or do you simply do it? *Feeding* only becomes *feeding* when what you need is inaccessible, when there is not enough.

-does location change us? If you are not changed and the people around you are not changed what is the difference in how they treat you? What is it that did change? Why are groups treated differently than individuals?

-why is the right to live as we please such an impossible thing to believe, to obtain? What keeps us from it? Are we even living as we please, or are we captive to some other will?

And that was just Chapter 3. I have a feeling this going to be an interesting ride. I can’t wait to read more.

Have you read Ishmael? What did you think? What books have you read that changed your thinking? What books would you suggest so that I can meet my goal of 25 for 2017?

xo Jesi

Jesi Scott is an aspiring writer of novels, a poet, and blogger. She has guest-blogged over at The Well-Tempered Bards, and has a post featured at For Love Of…. Jesi has two poems published in Memories of Mist, a literary anthology, and one published story in a newsletter. She is currently working on releasing her first poetry collection as well as writing her first novel. When not writing, Jesi can be found getting lost in bookstores, singing and dancing around the house, experiencing culture with friends, and generally having fun with her four sons when they aren’t driving her weeping into her closet, which she calls her Padded Cell. She loves to rescue stray bookmarks, as well as books, and has opened her heart to any and all stories needing a home. Archery is her current favorite thing ever but you might want to stand back a little as she still has a tendency to drop the bow occasionally.


  • Dawn D

    I’m like you. I go in spurts. I can’t stop reading, then I can’t stop knitting, then I can’t stop cooking, then…
    Ha! There’s one thing I have no trouble stopping, it’s cleaning. Actually, it’s not true. The problem often is starting. Once I’ve started, I’ve got a hard time stopping that too!

    I loe your Thinks. I have never read this book, but I just may…
    A book that changed my thinking the first time I read it already (back when I was immobilised by my growing descendancy that wanted nothing more than come out early) and again as I read it much later (shortly before leaving my now ex) was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I also read The Pilgrimage, by the same author around the same time and I remember vividly the emotions going through me at that time. That feeling that something had changed within me.

    There were other books, one of them being “Why love matters” by Sue Gerhardt. I remember taking notes in the margin, saying this is me, this is my mother, this is my ex, his brother, his mother… It was a book that gave me permission to be flawed, explained why, that I wasn’t the one responsible for being so crazy. And gave me hope too that I could change some things for my own children, especially the younger ones.

    I’m sure there are numerous other books. “The red tent” by Anita Diamant spoke to my feminist nature. “Slave” by Mende Nazer was poignant too. Even more so because I got to meet her. It brought questions of “why are humans so mean to one another? Why is there war?” and so on.

    Maus by Art Spiegelman is one of the few books about Nazi Germany that touched me whose title I remember. I also remember that “Animal Farm” by Orwell impacted me when I read it (in my early 20s). “The kite runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “We need to talk about Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. All oldish books, that you may very well have read already.

    Enjoy the challenge and the clean bedroom. I still need to work on mine πŸ˜‰

    • Jesi

      I am going to write all of these down because I have not read any of them although The Kite Runner was everywhere a while ago. Except for The Alchemist. I read that whole book on a flight from Chicago to Dallas when I visited my best friend three years ago. It was amazing. I was only supposed to borrow it but it’s still sitting on my shelf. LoL

  • Lizzi

    Ah, but you know, it was Beth who put me onto Ishmael in the first place.

    I, too, was left with lots of thinks after reading it, and I found it wonderful and provoking and challenging and soothing all at once. There’s so much to consider, and so much which I think doesn’t really have an answer.

    Just skimming the comment previous to mine, ANYTHING by Khaled Hosseini is worth reading. And ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ is just desperately horrific and I recommend you steer clear of it. Lord of the Flies is good for thinking about, though, and to be honest, if you want a good wholesome think, get any ANY of Lewis Thomas’s books of essays, but I especially recommend ‘Lives of a Cell’ and ‘The Medusa and the Snail’.

    As to your questions – we’re trapped more effectively in our lives than any caged animal.

    • Dawn D

      I agree! I was in a good place when I read ‘something about Kevin’. Not something I could read at any time, just like there are many movies I didn’t go watch because I knew I couldn’t stomach them (The Schindler’s list being the one that really comes to mind).

      In a different, more gentle sort of book, I also enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love. It too made me thing lots of Thinks. But it also made me laugh. πŸ™‚

      • Lizzi

        I saw parts of Schindler’s List, but the ones that really did me in were Escape from Sobibor, and Paradise Road. Good GRIEF!

        I tried Eat, Pray, Love, but it really irritated me! Like, a LOT! Which annoyed me because I like the things Elizabeth Gilbert has to say, on the whole. I’m currently reading a bunch of the Anne of Green Gables books, and there’s a LOT of old wisdom in those, which is rather lovely πŸ™‚

        I can’t remember what mood I was in when I read ‘something about Kevin’ but I know by the end of it I was in a totally dark place. Hate it when a book does that to me. Trying to remember others which have done the same but I must have cast them from my memory…

        • Dawn D

          At the time Schindler’s list came out, I was deeply depressed, even though I didn’t know it. But I could feel that I couldn’t see a depressing movie, that would do me in. So I didn’t go.

          I liked Eat Pray Love because it arrived in my life at a time when I needed it. I was that woman on her bathroom floor, wondering whether she should go. I liked it because it gave me insight while being quite positive about it. I mean it didn’t depress me but empowered me. I guess I could have felt differently about it depending on where I was on my journey to self-discovery πŸ™‚

          I just may have to read Anne of Green Gables then πŸ˜‰ Thanks!

      • Jesi

        I have both the book and movie of Eat, Pray, Love but I have neither read nor watched them. I did watch Schindler’s List. I had mononucleosis at the time and felt just about as out of it as you can. I thought it was a fantastic movie but all I can really remember is spending half the movie crying and being miserable.

    • Jesi

      Ok, so no Kevin. (Not one of my favorite names anyway πŸ™‚ ) I will probably never read Lord of the Flies again. I had to read it when I was 13. It shocked me to my core and I cried through most of that book. That human nature could be so cruel and that it was portrayed in children was very hard to read. Now, though, I read things like that all the time so I don’t know why I still have a block against that book. I did feel it was a wonderful book though. I just can’t read it again.
      I think we’ve trapped ourselves pretty well, too.

      • Dawn D

        If you don’t like the name before reading the book, then you would like it even less after!

        I’m like you about Lord of the Flies. I was gifted a copy (translation, but I don’t think it is the reason why I reacted the way I did) when I was probably way too young (my aunt and uncle only gave us books for Christmas, and usually not suitable for our ages. I may have been 10 or 11). I had a hard time finishing it I think.
        And I must thank you for putting the finger exactly on why it was so hard to read. Because I couldn’t imagine children being so cruel to one another. I didn’t want to imagine it.
        I hated the book from the beginning. Way too dark for me (I was probably already somewhat depressed at the time, looking back. Or at least much too much of an empath not to feel bad about the characters).

        As for trapping… I’m working daily to extract myself from there. It seems to be working at times, thouhg not at all times…


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