It has been almost a year and a half since my eyesight gave up on me. On my second bought of meningitis, my eye-sight was affected. I couldn’t even read the text messages on my phone. It was horrible. I could hardly see the person in front of me. When I finally won against meningitis, I could see again but with a lot of difficulty. But reading became extremely difficult.
The last book I read was Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. It was a good book, albeit a heavy one, with so many flawed characters that it was hard for me to care about any one of them. But the writing was good and I was able to finish it. But it was a difficult process and I gave up reading, waiting for my eyesight to completely heal.
It never really did. But moving houses allowed me to have access to all my books and I found more and more of them that I haven’t read yet. It had been so long and I couldn’t believe that I haven’t read any in such a long time that I decided to bring two with me to Iloilo and Guimaras for my vacation. I chose Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life and James Blish’s A Case of Conscience.
Very good choices, I might add. Strange to bring with me to a lovely beach-side vacation a classic Science Fiction book and a non-fiction book but both writers are very, very good. Alain de Botton’s Proust is actually a self-help book but because it is so well-written and takes its subject matter from the supposed literary genius Marcel Proust (I have never read him), it elevates itself to real high-brow literature; but at its essence, it is a self-help book. A really good one.
I was surprised, though, that I had found my way to many of the methods of living properly on my own and without needing to read it from de Botton. I learned the hard way, but at least, reading the book allowed me to validate what I’ve learned in life. And de Botton is such a great writer. He makes clear a lot of the process. I know I’m on the right path. I had no idea, of course, that de Botton and Proust had already paved the way earlier. It was so refreshing.
James Blish is a lot like Philip K. Dick; a classic science fiction writer whose work goes beyond the science and into the realm of philosophy. A Case of Conscience struggles with the idea of humanity and morality and offers a dilemma of an interplanetary, intergalactic scale. The book was so old, it was tearing apart in my hands, the pages thrown into the wind as I finished it. By the time I was done, the book was only half of its original shape and form; as if the universe was telling me I could only read it once and never again.
It was a lovely experience. I love how classic Science Fiction is more fiction than science. The science merely creates a larger universe with which to question human nature. Nowadays, I find modern Science Fiction more about the science than it is about the story and the narrative.
I have a couple more James Blish books in my collection and eager to start on them but then again, I also have some Harlan Ellison and Philip K. Dick, so the choices, as of the moment, are limitless. It’s so exciting, for me, to get started. But I’ve read non-fiction and classic SF, so maybe I should go back to regular contemporary fiction just to keep things interesting and varied.
Still, two books in a matter of six days. I’m so happy to be back reading again. And now I have my collection of books available to me again so I can continue this run. I miss reading so much. Your world is so much bigger with books in your life.