Friday, April 15, 2011

Two more of my favourite books

I love being able to tell other people about books that I have enjoyed reading, and, more importantly, have taught me something more about human nature. Here are two more, quite different ones.

I don’t know how I came across Louis Sachar’s Holes, probably through one of those lists of people's favourite books. I gather that Louis Sachar is really a children’s writer, though Holes, like the books of Jacqueline Wilson, is really for everybody, and perhaps particularly for hard-bitten, life-weary adults, for whom reading about what can make life so precious is a powerful antidote to reading any of today’s newspapers. He has apparently written a follow-up book to this called Small Steps, which I have yet to read.

I always find it difficult to describe what a book is about. I have no memory for facts at all; I have difficulty remembering the name of the author, the name of the book or plot of a book, even the country it is set in, but I can always remember the feeling of a book, and, as now, if it is a good book, of something powerful having been added to my life. So the only way I can describe Holes is to say it is a kind of a myth about children despatched to some corrective establishment in some desert place, which is presumably America, but could be anywhere in the world, and the relationships of the children to each other, and, in particular, the beautiful relationship which develops between two of the children.

My second book of the day is by the travel writer, Colin Thubron, To a Mountain in Tibet. Obviously, from its title, I know which country this book is about, and the mountain is Mount Kailas, the Holy Mountain for both Buddhists and Hindus. Colin Thubron is neither, but he is certainly what I, with admiration, call a spiritual man, and the book can truly be called a spiritual journey in the deepest sense.

I found both these books uplifting, a word I use sparingly, because so very little is uplifting, but which I always think of as meaning something which helps me raise my eyes to what lies beyond and above.

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