What I’d Been Reading
How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh
This was my first time reading the late Thich Nhat Hanh’s work, and I love how simple and meaty they are. In this particular book he leads you to reflect on how as children, we used to walk because we simply enjoyed walking. As we grow older, we tend to take this blessing for granted as merely a means of getting from point A to point B. Walking, as Nhat Hanh shows us, can be a great way for us to practice meditation, if we just slow down and take one mindful step after another.
How to Fight by Thich Nhat Hanh
Most of us grew up not knowing what healthy communication looks like. Because chances are, our parents didn’t know either. So we reenact the same patterns of condemning the other person, which we know only makes things worse. But if we take a moment to calm down, we can see where our anger comes from, and in turn, prevent ourselves from displacing it onto others. We would be in a better position to bring up our needs or complaints without making the other person feel insulted or belittled.
Iron Ambition by Mike Tyson
Honestly didn’t really enjoy this read. As per the sub-title, I expected the book to be more about the lessons Tyson learned from his coach — but it only turned out to be a small part of it. The rest is focused in great detail about D’Amato’s struggle with boxing politics, which was exhausting to read. I found the writing style to be cringey as well. Tyson hired ghostwriter Larry Sloman to work with him on this book, but the flow just falls short for me. It seems as though Tyson was thinking out loud in his interviews — f-bombs and all — and that’s exactly what was written in. And in the other part about D’Amato’s life, it suddenly feels like you’re reading a scholarly biography with all the facts chucked in. Though I did like the lessons that Tyson shares, I think that overall, hardcore boxing fans would enjoy this book a lot more than I did.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
If you’ve never read any of Cormac McCarthy’s writings, you should know that they’re, well, dark. They’re the kind of books that tear your heart out and force you to reflect on reality as you reel. But for me, “Blood Meridian” is particularly difficult to read because it’s just too violent. It’s set in the Wild West and it follows a gang of scalp hunters. Through their dark odyssey, McCarthy casts a mirror on our bottomless capacity for violence and warfare — that there are some of us who simply find pleasure in them and commit them for sport. And that’s the way we have always been.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I also re-read my very first McCarthy book, and it’s even better than I remembered. It’s a story about the aftermath of an unnamed disaster, in which human beings are left fighting for their own survival. Everyone is scared of one another, out of fear that they might be cannibalized or enslaved. Yet, a father’s love for his son survives as they make it through this wasteland. I loved this book so much that the line “carry the fire” actually inspired the logo that you see on my blog, and it formed the basis of the e-book I wrote two years ago. It symbolizes keeping hope in spite of all bleakness, which is what I constantly try my best to do in my writing.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Re-read another one of my favorite novels, and I was able to appreciate it so much more now. Though I initially picked it up as a Rolling Stones fan (because of their song “Sympathy for the Devil”), I’ve come to internalize its message the second time around — and it’s really a book about courage. It’s about being bold enough to say what needs to be said in your writing, even if the odds are stacked against you, even if you wouldn’t be alive to see its lasting impact on the world around you. As Bulgakov famously writes in the novel, “Manuscripts don’t burn.”
Chronicles by Bob Dylan
And lastly, I re-read Bob Dylan’s memoir. As I’ve said before, even if I weren’t a Dylan fan, I’d still highly recommend it to everyone I know. It teaches you a great deal about creativity, among other things — that the best works are created by first being an ardent student of your influences. But other than that, there’s a lot to enjoy in this book in terms of its writing. It’s no surprise that Dylan has a way with words, that he’s able to make you feel as though you’re reading one long poem.