Books: Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman, and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherImagine getting a shoebox in the mail, a shoebox full of cassette tapes sent from a school friend who has just committed suicide. In this story, the tapes have been sent to the 13 people who are the reasons behind why she killed herself. Clay Jensen is appalled to be one of the recipients of these tapes. He listens to them in a state of shock as unknown events are revealed to him, all tied together in one way or another. This book makes the point that even things that don't seem like a big deal, can become a big deal, and can be overwhelming, if there are enough of them all strung together. Asher’s debut novel is well written, a quick read – but the subject matter will stick with you for a while.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
If you like etymology and lexicography, then this is the book for you. Turns out that one of the major contributors to the OED was a murderer, locked up in an asylum for over 30 years. While this book makes fun of the pedantic language of the era when the OED was written, the author primarily uses the same tone. It does provide an interesting glimpse into the way this renowned work was created. It certainly made me stop to think about compilation in a new light.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I tend to read fiction, and a lot of fantasy fiction at that, so it was a stretch for me to pick up this book. However, I was at a bookstore in Berlin and my English language choices were fairly limited. In addition, my aunt had recommended it, so I picked it up. Although I have heard some disparaging remarks made about it, I enjoyed it. Gilbert spends a year in 3 different countries (Italy, India and Indonesia) in an attempt to re-order her life after a bitter and prolonged divorce. In a journey that is mostly spiritual, but not overly religious and pious, Elizabeth is able to come to terms with a number of important self-reflective issues. There were various things she said that I could relate to – some as mundane as the joy of eating gelato and some as deep as how one needs to be content with oneself before being able to bring that into a relationship situation as well. I found it to be a quick read in some ways, especially as she describes her travels and the places she visits, but one to be re-read and contemplated for more reflective, life-issue ideas.