Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fiction - the best book lists from Flashlight Worthy

Fiction - the best book lists from Flashlight Worthy: "- Looks to be a treasure chest for readers. There 's more than fiction on the site, I just chose the obvious based on my personal preference.

Peter Steinberg and Eric Mueller, who run the site, both love to read very, very much, and explain Flashlight Worthy is equal parts Peter's idea, Eric's coding, the suggestions of the Flashlight Worthy community, and the support of friends and family.

They take suggestions for their lists from the community at large, if you register and have something they agree needs adding.

If this isn't a jumping off place for bibliotherapy, I don't know what is. Well done, boys.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Read?

My fascination with bibliotherapy is rooted in a need for self validation, granted. But there are reasons we value reading of the pleasure variety. My heretofore undocumented intent for this blog is to keep me focused on this idea so that there may come a time when I can put all the pieces together and have something worth sharing.

Tonight (3:51 a.m.), eureka, we read for positive self reinforcement. That, and as an added benefit, we have a better chance of embedding something in our memory if it's in the form of a story. (There's a reason all religious leaders have been excellent storytellers...)

Then again, stories have multiple level impacts, one of which involving affecting our moods aka emotions aka neurotransmitters or brain chemistry. So...in effect, we could alter our mood, or state of mind, by what we are reading, i.e., reading alters our consciousness. Trippy, right?

So, if we tag what we read, not just with subject, author, title, keyword language, but take it to the next level and tag with how the reading made us feel, we would have a huge database equivalent to a literary drugstore of psychotropic and/or homeopathic remedies. (That is, if you are like me in that sometimes you find yourself not in the frame of mind you would like to be inhabiting and would like to lift to a preferable head space.

More on this, and please make suggestions on implementation of the above. The collaborative opportunity is a big part of what would make this work.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cory Doctorow's FOR THE WIN and Alex Shakar's THE SAVAGE GIRL

Every now and then, synchronicity strikes and I find myself reading two books that dovetail thematically. Such is the case with For the Win and The Savage Girl. Both novels endeavor to awaken our sensitivities to the out-of-control influences extant in our late stage capitalism.

Doctorow's book is being marketed to young adults and the style and pacing is perfect for his market. Loved the book and the message: Solidarity! but missed a more adult approach to character development. That's where Shakar's book came to the rescue: slower plot development, but we have the opportunity to develop a little insight into the main characters.

Doctorow's book has been published recently and Shakar's in 2001. Both books voice a strong concern for our devolution as a species brought on through our enslavement to consumerism. Doctorow's gamers fight for standards, such as those safeguarded by unions. Shakar talks of a "post-ironic" society where we as consumers no longer exist outside of our "purchasing power" and constantly buy to self identify.

We are each alone unto our credit rating... "But," Shakar says, "hell is not necessarily other people, no, not necessarily; hell is being surrounded by people who share no solidarity, it's like dying of thirst on the bank of a contaminated river."

Why is this we may ask ourselves and Doctorow answers, "It's the stupid questions that have some of the most surprising and interesting answers. Most people never think to ask the stupid questions." And I would add to that the many are not asking for fear of being perceived as stupid because the question IS stupid. But, the stupidity rests in the question, not in the asking which is simply part and parcel of the inconceivable path we are all on that brings us to this "post-ironic" point in time, smug in our knowledge. Because, are we not spoon fed up to the minute news stories from all over the world? Do we not have access to mindboggling POV from diverse media as well as individuals, through social networking? Are we anything if not informed? BUT, can we take the information we receive and translate it into an understanding of the forces around us that governs our lives? There lies the rub.

My bathtub book during this same time frame further supported the theme. (This has been a very, very good week or two of reading.) One of my favorite authors, Aldous Huxley, touched on some of these same subjects in his TIME MUST HAVE A STOP. However, in true form, Huxley leads us to the subject from a more philosophical frame of mind: "...there's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." A principle that is in direct contradiction to his character of rich uncle Eustace who surmises, "So long as one was alive, death didn't exist, except for other people. And when one was dead, nothing existed, not even death. So why bother?"

Little does rich uncle Eustace know that no sooner than the words are uttered than he has a heart attack and dies, primarily from apathy and overindulgence. But this isn't what's of interest, rather Huxley's description of the death experience on pp.125-129, or most of chapter 13.