It happened twice to me in the last year. I walked past the bookshop… Well I never just walk past the bookshop, when the whole new worlds may await just there in the display window.
I have two things in this category of cheap (or free) thrills I get when walking through our little town. Window shopping for books and window shopping for movies that currently play in the cinema.
So, as I run my errands, this looks like this: I walk in the direction of my next errand, I see a bookshop or film posters, my heart skips a bit and my steps changes direction a bit. And then I read all the movie descriptions and think “Ohhh, I gotta see this film.” Sometimes I even take the picture of description to look up for the movie later on the internet. And then I usually forget all about it. But sometimes it is just a must that I see something. Then I go to the cinema. Sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone. The cinema in the Ptuj town feels like a safe space with its red chairs, more than enough space and friendly faces of the employees.
But I don’t want to talk about the movies today, I want to share with you two of the books that I read in the last year. Both of them are novels. And both of them I saw first in the window of the bookshop while running the errands. Of course, I had to check, if they are on Scribd (an app through which I am reading e-books; you can get two months of reading for free via this link) and they were! One of them already on my reading list. Great feeling when you want to read the book you see in the display window and realise you already have it in your pocket.
I don’t read enough novels in my opinion. I usually read books that you could put in self-help and psychology category. I am intrigued by how humans work. However, I am realising again and again that good novels gives me insights in the psychology of humans. Consuming art can be the best form of self-help as the writers put things I also experience in my life in the poetic words and then something that feels mundane in my life changes to something worth noticing. When someone else sees it as ink worthy, I see it too.
Cooking sometimes felt for me as an activity you just have to get through if you want to eat a meal. But when I read Murakami’s books and descriptions of his protagonists preparing their meals… It brought a new quality to my cooking. Washing the vegetables, cutting the onions, stirring the pasta and then licking the wooden spoon… it all started to feel like something special, worthy of attention and awareness. I became more mindful in my cooking.
So, the first book that caught my attention in the display window was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb.
I laughed and cried through it. I am sure it influenced some moves in my life. And probably got me more comfortable about going to psychotherapy. (There actually is a box with tissues in the therapists office, thanks-fucking-god, because I really needed them!)
It’s a story about a therapist who after a break-up goes to therapy herself. We read stories about her clients and the thoughts she has in her head as a therapist, and then we see her in the role of a client, how she suffers with the same issues she helps others with. Meanwhile, she explains some psychology therms and phases we go through in therapy, in the flow, as part of the story. It is an emotionally rich experience… you relax as you find yourself in her story or stories of her clients (“So it is not just me”), it makes you think and potentially face some issues of your own that you’ve been avoiding, you experience catharsis yourself through transformation of her clients as they start to engage with life again… and with all the explanations of the therms and patterns of human behaviour, you feel a bit smarter, more educated by the end.
I marked half of the books, but I decide I am going to share just 3 quotations, because otherwise it would be too much.
"But Wendell (her therapist) told me that by diminishing my problems, I was judging myself and everyone else whose problems I had placed lower down on the hierarchy of pain. You can’t get through your pain by diminishing it, he reminded me. You get through your pain by accepting it and figuring out what to do with it. You can’t change what you’re denying or minimizing. And, of course, often what seem like trivial worries are manifestations of deeper ones."
"If you stay in therapy,” I say softly, “you might have to let go of the hope for a better childhood—but that’s only so that you can create a better adulthood.” " (this one makes me cry)
"Not speaking about something doesn’t make it less real. It makes it scarier."
It is for sure one of those books that make you believe again that life is worth living, even with all of its struggles and pains.
The second book I saw in the display window and then found on Scribd is Circe by Madeline Miller. Art deco cover instantly caught my attention. It’s a story about the witch that turned Odysseus’s sailors into pigs. A story told from her perspective. I am a sucker for Greek mythology (it all started because of Xena, The Warrior Princess ;), I love stories with pantheons and I love witches. I knew I was in for a treat.
I read in some reviews later that it is a feminist book. When I was reading it, I did not even think about it. I was so indulged in the book. I so much enjoyed the witty descriptions of difference of social hierarchy between gods, other non-mortal creatures and humans. I relished on the thoughtful descriptions of human character, and there were sentences that I could call psychology in poetry. I saw myself in her story, going from naive idealism to bitterness and then carefully learning to trust again. I was so immersed in how the story mirrors my thoughts and experiences, that I didn’t think how it is a version of heroine’s journey that a lot of female population could identify with. When I look back now through my bookmarks, I can totally see why this book is a feminist one. And a hella good one.
"But there was something in me that was sick of fear and awe, of gazing at the heavens and wondering what someone would allow me."
From interview with the author of the book Madeline Miller at Refinery29: “Culturally both in the ancient world and today, women are expected to be reacting to their family, taking care of their family, being corrected by their family, doing the things that their family, friends, husbands or fathers expected them to do. What the solitude allows is for Circe to be who she is without having her selfhood deformed by the expectation of her father, family, or society. She can finally say who am I, really? Who do I want to be? What do I believe in? I don’t have to think about doing something that is socially acceptable anymore so what do I want to do? “
"I could feel his power reaching for my secrets. In the old days I would have rushed forth with a brimming cup of answers, to give him all he wanted. But I was not the same as I had been. I owed him nothing. He would have of me only what I wanted to give."
"Penelope and Telemachus still did not speak to each other. Hour after hour, meal after meal, the air between them was brittle. It seemed absurd to me that they did not just confess their faults and sorrows and be done. But they were like eggs, each afraid to crack the other."
I hope you enjoyed this post and that you would add these two books on your reading list! Do you have any great novels to share with me? Let me know in the comments!