Alain de Botton is probably the only writer who gets mentioned consistently in this page. I don’t mind so much because he is a very good writer and though I wouldn’t talk about him at a show and tell on favorite books (just because that’s pretentious and a form of pandering to whoever might be listening), he really does write incredible things.
What I’m not telling you is that the only book I’ve read from cover to cover is On Love because the voice clearly resonated with last year’s version of me. His explanation, that discourse on love he presented, read like a manual for heartbreak which didn’t just explain why people got dumped but went as far back as to discuss first impressions and why people clicked in a way you’d never expect. This was the clinical, written-down version of every good friend’s advice during the dark ages. Everyone needs this to move on to their own version of the Enlightenment so it’s without apology or shame that I profess my humble allegiance to this short book which I later developed a love-hate relationship for since you can’t really explain love mechanically. Or at least that’s what I think and that’s why the book is now shelved elsewhere and forgotten.
But see, de Botton’s books are among those I’d love to take with me on every worthwhile life journey, if you will. Yet, as in life, I can’t seem to finish his books. There’s just so much information to be processed at every turn of the page. There’s the need to stop and think and also another one that commands the opposite as if to say that all of this I already know. Maybe. But still, why can’t I finish them?
January is a good time for difficult books. The resolution-high kicks in enough to help with the plowing through pages. If you’re lucky, you’ll get through it. If not, the year will feel like it ended just as it began but let’s not go there. In the spirit of getting things done, I’ve listed ten books I want to finish by January. Here they are:
- The Visible World by Mark Slouka
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- Visitors by Anita Brookner
- The Lover by A.B. Yehoshua
- La Dame aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas fils
- How Proust Can Change Your Life by de Botton
- Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson
- The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
- Love in the days of rage by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
- Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman
It’s a long list met with the brevity of days separating this month from the next but I’m optimistic. It shouldn’t be so hard to do what you love and frankly, de Botton’s take on Proust is really proving to be a good year-starter.
So, here’s to getting things done.