Saturday, 6 January 2018

Reading Notes 1/52 : January

During the Christmas holidays I went through reading challenges and book lists. There are so many great books to read in this world and new ones coming each month. Those who have followed me a bit longer know that 2017 I made a decision to read more. It was one of the best decisions I have made. It took a while to learn how to concentrate on reading and enjoy books again. I had developed bad habits with my phone, computer and TV trio. Sometimes I had all three on at the same time and the level of concentration was low. No wonder it took lots of effort and motivation to pace down and read a book. It is so easy to slip into constant surfing and mindless browsing these days. 

I value good books, writing and learning. It is magical how many thoughts one book page can give if you read the words carefully and take time to ponder. Now about seven months later I have better skills to concentrate. I can pick a book and read hours. My to be read -lists are becoming longer and longer. Social media and book blogs are excellent sources of inspiration. Many classics are waiting to be found and I can´t wait to get my hands on 2018 releases. 

After going through excellent reading challenges I thought I will go with the most simple one. One year, 52 weeks and 52 books. No categories. I just get to read 52 books. What I love about this idea is that it challenges to read more through the year. I can also go according to the current mood and read mainly new releases or classics or scifi or what ever feels great and I don't have to remember what category is still unfilled. While reading I am going to take notes to learn more and develop personal thoughts. 

1/52 This year's first book is Lidia Yuknavitch's The Book of Joan (2017). Following might contain some spoilers! I had gone through book reviews on Goodreads and knew that The Book of Joan doesn't open easily. This in mind I started reading and enjoyed poetical and thought provoking style. After finishing the book I did not have a coherent picture in my mind. Story had brought up different themes that I connected to things that are currently happening in the world. For example in the book nature is exploited and ruined and a dangerously charismatic father figure gains supporters in the middle of crises. 

The story is set in near future where Earth is ruined. Towns have become deserted and nature's resources have been used. Natural catastrophes have lead to crises and wars. The world's elite has left the Earth to live in a constructed platform CIEL. Only few people live on the Earth hiding from CIEL. Humans have become creatures living in an environment where nothing is alive anymore. Only one who has not been affected and has kept her full humanity is Joan. 

The story itself opened to me one night, exactly 24 hours after reading the book. It describes the corruption of humankind and questions what is left of culture and humanity when nature and Earth are destroyed. It made me think whether culture and humanity can exist without nature. Nature gives us life and is an essential source of inspiration. 

In CIEL nothing is authentic anymore and the whole environment and system is the result of human made technologies. Maybe because the link between nature and humankind is missing people have become creatures. I wonder how would it be like to live in a fully constructed environment that is built in emptiness. I would have possibility to eat, exercise and rest but there would be no nature and interactions with other people would be restricted. The world of CIEL is brutal and violent. Only form of self expression are stories written on skin. Makes sense. 

Joan is the counterforce for CIEL. She has kept a connection with nature and seen some of the future happenings beforehand. Maybe the ability to listen what Earth has to say has kept Joan unchanged when others have lost parts of their humanity. After the wars Joan is still living on deserted Earth with Leone, with whom she has gone through many battles. Their love story is a big contrast to CIEL's artificial and horrible reality. It makes you think what is humanity and the threats that can destroy it. Now we have a good time to evaluate what are the things actually worth living for. In a material world it is easy to neglect the message nature is giving us. But it might be that without the Earth as we know it there is no humanity we would recognize. 

Have you read The Book of Joan? Have you made plans to read more this year?

Relaxing and peaceful weekend to you all!


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