Alagappa Rammohan, 79, lives in Chicago having immigrated from Chennai, India in 1962. He has amassed enough books over the course of his life to fill a library. In his estimation, he has 10,000 — everything from religious texts to quantum physics.
When he was a child his parents would give him a rupee to spend how he wanted. Rather than use the money to purchase a candy he would visit the stall that sold children’s books and buy as many books as his funds allowed.
Rammohan says he sees books as a sacred transfer of knowledge from one person to another. He says, “A book doesn’t force you to read, but it is there.”
There are many benefits of reading. Reading has been proven to make us smarter, more empathetic creatures.
Matt Haig is a British novelist who writes books for children and adults. He says,
“Reading is the most profound kind of socialising there is. It provides a deep connection to the imagination of another human being.”Matt Haig
In his book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr writes,
“The words of the writer act as a catalyst in the mind of the reader, inspiring new insights, associations, and perceptions, sometimes even epiphanies.”Nicholas Carr
Literary critic and author Harold Bloom says,
“We should read to increase our wit and imagination, our sense of intimacy–in short, our entire consciousness–and also to heal our pain.”Harold Bloom
American educator, philosopher and popular author, Mortimer J. Adler says,
“A good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You become wiser.”Mortimer J. Adler
Reading doesn’t just happen. It is not something you can squeeze in between your other priorities. If you value reading you will make it a priority. You will make time. You will find a way of fitting books into your life and turning reading into a lasting habit.
During 2018 I read 60 books. This is my best result. My selection process, which includes reading reviews and recording recommendations, minimises the chances of being disappointed.
But I have also come to realise there is no virtue in reading a book that doesn’t grip you or inspire you. Put it aside. It’s likely, the time isn’t right.
The following books definitely worked for me in 2018 and were my ‘favourite’ books. I have included a quote from each book with a relevant tag. I have found this to be a helpful way of recording information for future reference.
About Grace – Anthony Doerr
Grief: “After his mother died, he and his father lived together like timid roommates, almost strangers, never touching, speaking softly over meals about nothing.”Anthony Doerr
The Shepherd’s Hut – Tim Winton
Connection: “Thing is, I’m not alone in the world. That’s the only thing keeps me going.”Tim Winton
Scrublands – Chris Hammer
Loneliness: “Has that been the big mistake in his life, the essential flaw in his character – that he’s always been a loner, slow to make friends, reluctant to make allies, resistant to commitment?”Chris Hammer
The Book Shop of the Broken Hearted – Robert Hillman
Contentment: “He worked alone and with a profound contentment. He heard the leaves of the cider gums that the northerly picked up from the ground falling with a tapping sound on the iron roof of the tractor shed. And he heard the breeze itself, every so often a stronger gust like a raised voice in an argument.”Robert Hillman
The Girl with Seven Names – Hyeonseo Lee
Identity: “I wanted to belong, like everyone else around me did, but there was no country I could say was mine. I had no one to tell me that many other people in the world have a fragmented identity; that it doesn’t matter. That who we are as a person is what’s important.”Hyeonseo Lee
When Elephants Fight – Majok Tulba
Hope: “You did what you could. You survived. Now what you have to do is keep your hope alive; because without it, we’re as weak and fragile as grass in a summer fire.”Majok Tulba
Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward
Rejection: “I was shocked by the rejection of my father’s leaving, which felt like a rejection not of his wife or his domestic life but of me. Children often blame themselves when a parent leaves, and I was no exception.”Jesmyn Ward
Book of Colours – Robyn Cadwallader
Death: “She understood: death is so hard and final that it always asks if we could have, should have, done more.”Robyn Cadwallader
Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
Acceptance: “Mental illness taught me that progress is a matter of acceptance. Only by accepting a situation can you change it.”Matt Haig
Unsheltered – Barbara Kingsolver
Marriage: “His confidence was enviable and maddening. Most of the time she didn’t want him to solve or contradict her worries, she just needed him to listen and agree with her on the awfulness at hand. This was a principle of marriage she’d explained many times.”Barbara Kingsolver