Marcia Bookstein’s Bookshelf
So, the first book is Lost Connections, by Johann Hari.
I heard him on TED radio, and he has a TED talk, worth listening to if only for his adorable British accent. As you read the book you’ll hear his voice in your head, and it will become that much more enjoyable.
He talks about what we used to think and what we now know about depression and anxiety. What peaked my interest at first was the fact that we had both been on Paxil for thirteen years, and then went off. It’s a powerful drug, but doesn’t solve any problems. The problems, he posits, are caused by how our society is organized–the perceived positives of having “things”, the lack of community, the lack of purpose, or a meaningful job. So the book starts off as a sort of self-help book and ends up being thoroughly political.
Tiny side note here: When the Mariinsky orchestra played with us, the San Diego Symphony, I found someone fluent in English and asked him to translate so I could chat with another of his colleagues.
“What will life be like when we become a colony of Russia’s?”
“You won’t have things.”
This book is a fun romp through the deceits of the pharmaceutical industry, many countries visited and experts interviewed, and one man’s purposeful and sometimes accidental adventures. Highly recommended.
Another: Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi.
A friend of mine is from Persia, or, Iran. She gave me a book and told me, “This was my life.” The book is Persepolis, and her pronunciation is accented first syllable, and no second syllable. A movie was made from this graphic novel, but the book continues into Marjane’s young adulthood in Paris. Once you get to know her life and her family, her changing situations, her adventures and thoughts, you no longer think that war against Iran is a good idea. There are lovely people who live there! Just like you and me. With the same desires and emotions, the same kinds of bodies, the same wish for a better life and more compassionate country. My friend’s father-in-law is 106, still voting, still going to work. People sit in traffic, go shopping, visit with friends. This book is a peek into a beautiful woman’s life as a little girl, the politics and how it affected her and her family, the brave souls who went to prison or were murdered. The author did the drawings, and they are honest, and wonderful. This book is not to be missed.
Speaking of war: Chris Hedges is one of my favorite authors. Beautiful writing, but, boy, what a downer: War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges.
He describes his experience covering the war in Croatia, looking under the blankets covering the dead, the politics, life before, during and after, and our involvement. It gives you an understanding of the attraction and benefits of war as loved ones are dying all around you: War creates a cohesiveness, a tight-knit group of like-minded people, helping each other–against the enemy. Who is the enemy? It doesn’t seem to matter. Anyone who isn’t “us”. And the “us” forgets the internecine differences for a moment because we have better and more important things to do. This book is a powerful warning to all of us to examine our motivations before pulling the trigger.
These three books together make the idea of invading and punishing other countries extremely horrific, if not anathema.