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READ: 10-01-2015 | RATING: 7/10
Reading this book has proven a natural progression onward from the heavy time I’ve invested in the psychology and philosophy canons over the past few years. Although not strictly about either of those subjects, the book makes plenty of philosophical meanderings asking questions as broad as what it means to be human, what it’s like to be blessed with complete control of our senses and the role that nature and art play in delivering us a ‘deeper’ connection with the world and that which surrounds us.
Oliver Sacks’ work in neurology and his exploration into the world of his patients is a revelation if you’ve most likely never come into contact with people suffering from a range of neuropsychological disorders like dementia, Tourette’s, autism, amnesia and more. The way he recounts his meetings and psychiatric assessments of the broad range of people whose stories are recounted in the book hit a range of emotions from deep sadness to resounding joy. The biggest take-away? Just how fragile and open to interpretation questions of consciousness and perception can be.
READ: 12-01-2015 | RATING: 7/10
I was expecting bigger things from this book due to its ratings and recommendations across the web. It’s a brief and concise read, interesting in relation to Randy Pausch‘s meditations on life with death knocking at his door (pancreatic cancer) and enjoyable enough to warrant a fair review. That said, there’s nothing groundbreaking in The Last Lecture that I haven’t read or heard before in most books of this nature. At times you’re looking for deeper insight, greater resonance, something more profound. This never comes but, suffice to say, isn’t a slight on Randy Pausch’s writing nor what he has to say, it’s just that I was expecting, due to what I’d heard about this book, something fantastically philosophical and wise.
As the book comes to a close, it does have the capacity to move you – as most books that take stock of a human life, in the window of death, might be expected to. Pausch’s life, recounted in pursuit of his childhood dreams, and his academic and family life, is just as valid as any other. There are plenty of lessons to learn from reading The Last Lecture, just none that I hadn’t already heard. Perhaps it’ll come better with time, as I move on to fatherhood, marriage, respect and acknowledgement in a career and a better understanding of my craft. Until that inevitable point however, I’ll probably find other books, ones more closely related to the stage of life I’m in right now, to have bigger impact.
READ: 13-01-2015 | RATING: 9/10
Having never read Winnie Pooh nor been into it as a small child it took me a while to get into the allegorical style of storytelling or feel any kind of affinity with the characters. That slowly evaporated however as the book went on and I became further and further charmed by its philosophical message and the dissection of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit and Owl as characters who stand in communion with nature. Interspersed between the dialogue of Pooh and his friends, which, although I’m an adult I have to say was highly entertaining and enjoyable, the book relays the main points on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and explains life openly for what it is.
The message relayed throughout The Tao of Pooh had a pretty deep impact on my reading and brought me to a strange place of calm while I read it. From here on in my state of awareness might consider itself elevated as I continue on the road of giving myself to Wu Wei and not fighting so much with the constant labouring of the mind. Benjamin Hoff has it right, this is an amazing foreword to deeper philosophical and spiritual readings; especially if you’re curious about Buddhism, Stoicism, the teachings of Alan Watts, Lao Tzu and other modern day evangelists of meditation, mindfulness or just getting the best from life.
READ: 23-01-2015 | RATING: 10/10
Mind-bending, perspective-altering, fact-startling perfection. From the moment you begin reading this to the moment you finish it, you recognise just how crucial a read this is for all members of the human race.
Carl Sagan is more than a scientist, astro-physicist, cosmos-contemplating sentient, he’s a masterful poet and craftsman, stringing together the overwhelming task of making sense of who we are and where we sit in the largest of all contexts; the cosmos. Read this and you’ll be forever changed. You’ll wonder why you spend the majority of your time on Earth trapped in rootless desire, painful anguish and meaningless pursuit of invisible things and feelings. Put in the context of what surrounds us, how fragile we are, how little time and space we occupy, you’ll witness your ego come crashing down and something overtly spiritual and communal take its place.
Cosmos is one of those reads that beats to a pulp any other casual guide on mindfulness, spirituality or self-help; it delivers just the cold hard facts of existence (well, based on what was known in the late 70’s anyway) and in doing so supersedes any modern day populist effort designed to make us feel better and promote someone’s agenda or fortify their fleeting fame.