Today I asked two of my favorite former students to guest blog for me. My question was simple..."What was the best book you read recently?" Here are there answers:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Arthur Dent, his alien hitchhiker friend, the woman that rejected him for a "space man," the space man with a personality literally split into two, and a manic depressive robot. What do they have in common? Absolutely nothing, which is why their severely misguided journey to find something as serious as the meaning of life in made comical by their utter incompatibility. Trying to understand the dynamic that Douglas Adams successfully established is like imagining a child futilely jamming a square block into the space for the circle. One would think it would never work, but what Adams does well is hack away at that square in order to make it fit. Arthur Dent, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, Marvin, and Ford represent all the square blocks in the world that just would not fit in the circle. Yet these rejected circles are expected to find the meaning of life, to get to the bottom of why they exist. What ensues is both hilarious and oddly insightful because ultimately the answer to the overarching question is rather meaningless: it's 42. Arthur has his home planet--Earth--blown up. Zaphod steals a legendary ship. Trillian is almost eaten alive. All for a lousy number. It may not have been intentional, but Adams speaks to the unnecessary importance we often place on life having a meaning, on the desire for life to have meaning. The result is that, as passion builds to find meaning where there is none, the true meaning is lessened because anything will be accepted to satiate that hunger for meaning. Almost like planting evidence just to be right. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy becomes a piece on absurdism, evolved from its comedic origins and superficial observation.
The last great book I read is actually the book I'm currently readying. It's called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I'm only partially through the novel, but I really like it so far--mostly because I can relate to it. Not to the fact that Cath, the main character, has a twin sister, but every other aspect about the main character I can relate to. It's about how Cath is undergoing her first year at a university and she still isn't over her obsession with Simon Snow. Cath is me because I'm going to go to college in the fall and I'm still not over my obsession with Justin Bieber (although I'm really into a band called The 1975). She's a bit antisocial and the friends she befriends seem like they're going to be her close friends for a long time. (She only has 2). I'm currently at the part where she's having an emergency dance party with her new friend, Levi, and they're dancing to Kanye. Whenever I'm stressed or upset, I always listen to my favorite songs on repeat. (I have a special playlist that I listen to.) My favorite author is definitely John Green, so I recommend people read ALL of his books, including his part in the multi-authored book, Let it Snow.
As for me, I'm currently reading my first Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Each night I get to sneak in a few pages--I am a mother of two young children after all--his words drip like honey off the page. They're sexy and funny and devastating and honest. I'm not a passive accomplice when reading his work, instead, I'm an active participant. He invites me into his universe, and I can see it and smell it and feel it. It's hard to articulate the feeling I get when experiencing his language, only that it's as if I'm transported to a place where I get the pleasure of watching his various worlds take shape. And Marquez? He's a master craftsman. A builder of life.