The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Part 2)

In my previous post about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I wrote that I stopped reading the book at page 516.  At that time I never thought I would pick it up again.  I was wrong.

wind up bird

Two weeks ago I started a new job and moved to a new city.  All of a sudden I was wondering how Mr. Wind-Up Bird was doing.  The book is about the changes that happen in his life.  And as my life changed, it made me think about him.  As I wondered where this new road would lead me, I also wondered where Mr. Wind-Up Bird ended up on his journey.  So I picked up the book where I had left off.

I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed the rest of the book.  I finished it this morning.  I think books are like relationships.  Sometimes you need a little bit of a break  in order to begin again.

A Little Less, A Little More

One of my new year resolutions for 2016 is to read a little less and spend more quality time with each book I read.

I’ve often seen people give themselves a challenge that they will read 50 books this year or 100 books this year and so and so.  I never gave myself that kind of challenge.  And I don’t intend to.  My goodreads record says that I read 41 books this year (but that’s not quite true because I didn’t log some of the books or articles from books I had to read for work and I didn’t log all the manga I read either). Anyway, the number of books I read may not be a lot compared to people who read 100 books a year.  But I still think that I read too fast and too many books.  I don’t have a bookshelf at home (There’s a reason for that, but I’m not gonna go into it right now) so when I finish reading a book I put it in a box (I have several boxes with different categories).  And sometimes I think, is that it?  I’m just gonna be done with it just like that?

I remember when I was a kid and I didn’t have money to buy my own books and I had to ask my mom to buy them for me.  I didn’t have very many books then, but I spent a lot of time with each one of them.  I read them over and over and I daydreamed with them.  Those were such wonderful times.  Now I read like I’m in a race.  And I don’t like it.  Some books are too good and too special for that.

I read a lot less then than now, but my memories of each book I read when I was a kid are still very vivid.  Now sometimes I don’t even remember the title of the previous book I read.

So in 2016 I want to spend more time with each book I read.  I want to read slower and I want to let each book sink in before I reach out to grab a new one. I don’t know how to do that yet, but we’ll see.

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife

(SPOILER ALERT!)

When I started reading this book I was wondering why it was called “The Time Traveler’s Wife“?  Even though the story is narrated by both Henry (the time traveler) and Clare (the time traveler’s wife), I feel like the only person I’m following is Henry.  To me Henry is more interesting than his wife, not only because he’s the time traveler but also because of everything that he has to go through, all the decisions he has to makes, and all the action he takes.  I feel like the main narrator here is Henry.  And Clare’s part just fills in a few gaps here and there. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel for Clare.  It just means that for me Henry is clearly the main character here.

ttw

The book is darker than I expected.  And I really feel for Henry.  I feel like his life is really fucked up with all the time traveling (and the conditions that come with it), the death of his mother, the relationship with his father and everything.  The most heartbreaking part for me is when his feet are cut off. It’s just cruel (I don’t understand how the writer could do this to him).  He’s the guy who goes running every morning because his life depends on it. He needs his feet to survive.  Henry’s life is difficult enough with both his feet.  And sure enough after he loses them he loses his will to live.

One of the things I don’t really understand is how Henry and Clare fall in love.  Henry meets Clare for the first time when he’s 28 and she tells him that she’s his future wife and that he has been visiting her since she was 6 and she’s been in love in him all her life and then he decides that she’s the one.  And Clare is visited by this stranger time traveler guy who tells her that he’s her future husband and she becomes really devoted to him and no matter what happens she wants to be with him.  I may not be a romantic person, but I feel like their love life (and especially Clare’s life) is manipulated by Henry’s time traveling ability.  Sure, if Henry doesn’t tell Clare anything they might still meet when she grows up.  But as a reader we don’t really get to see that possibility.

This love story confirms my already pessimistic view of love that it always leads to suffering.  I’m not trying to be a Buddhist here, but that’s what I believe.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t ever want to fall in love.  I’m not afraid of being dumped or being betrayed or getting my heart broken that way.  But what would happen if you spend what seems like your whole life with this one person and one day he leaves you forever? That is something I don’t think I can stand.  When I read this book I felt that Henry’s and Clare’s lives are full of suffering.  And I wonder if it’s worth it.  Sure, they have some good moments (and of course, great sex).  But is it really worth it? (I’m asking myself here.)  Even in the end when Clare gets to see Henry one last time, is it worth spending your life waiting with all the memories and the longing and the sadness?

My thought right after I finished reading this book was we write to make sense of the world around us and to find meaning in things that happen in our life.    There are stories we want to tell and there are certain ways we want to tell them.  And in this case it’s time traveling.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  I just think it’s a bit too long.

I didn’t watch the movie (I don’t think I’m going to), but I watched some of the scenes on youtube (I just had to).  The film looks better than what I have in my imagination.  I mean, I think my imagination looks more realistic than the movie.  I imagine Henry in a really bad shape when he time travels (he’s exhausted and hungry and he steals clothes that don’t perfectly fit him).  Toward the end of the book Henry is so skinny and sick-looking that his co-workers think he’s dying.  But Eric Bana is gorgeous from the beginning to end and everything he wears looks good one him (he looks good when he’s not wearing them either).  Anyway, I’m not complaining here (because I love Eric Bana) and sometimes I wish my imagination wasn’t so realistic so I wouldn’t be too depressed when I read things like this.

I admit I did cry a few times.

Two Books at a Time

I once told myself that I would read only one book at a time, except for the books or the texts I had to read for work or for other projects.  I created that rule  because I wanted to be completely immersed in the world of the book I was reading.  But sometimes the book I’m reading is really long, and I want to read something else at the same time.

I’ve notice that usually when I’m reading a fiction, I might want to read a non-fiction on the side.  And when I’m reading a non-fiction, I feel that I want to read some fiction as well.  And sometimes I don’t want to wait until I finish the one book I’m reading before starting a new one.  I tried rushing through a book a few times so I could start a different one, and it destroyed the joy and the pleasure of reading.  being zen1

So now, starting from today, I allow myself to read two books at the same time (and if I have to read for work there might be three or four books going on at once).  
matilda

This morning I started reading Being Zen by Ezra Bayda.  I like reading spiritual/religion books in the morning to help me start my day.  And I also started reading Matilda by Roald Dahl.  These are the two books I have going on right now.  I read Being Zen in the morning when I have my morning coffee.  And I carry Matilda around to read when I’m waiting for the train or when I have free time.  I think it’s a pretty good combination.

How many books do you usually have going on at one time?

If Life is a Game, These are the Rules

I came across this book by accident.  I just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I didn’t know what I wanted to read next.  I had a lot of books in my to-read pile, but I didn’t feel like reading any of them (and I really hate this feeling).  One night I started listening the an audio book of Matilda by Roald Dahl, and I thought I wanted to read it instead of listen to it.  So the next day I went to a bookstore to buy the book.  After I found Matilda on the shelf, I turned around and saw If Life is a Game.  I never heard of it before.  And to be honest the book cover doesn’t look that interesting either.  But something about this book caught my attention.  Maybe I just liked how small and light it seemed.  I picked it up and read a few pages of it and decided to get this one as well.

if life is a game

I haven’t read Matilda yet, but I finished reading If Life is a Game this afternoon.  The book is simple and easy to read.  The rules make sense and easy to understand.  I like all the stories the author uses as examples.  I can relate to them, and they help me understand the teachings better.

While reading this book I started journaling again and wrote the lessons life presented me and the messages I received from my inner self.  I’d been jounaling on and off lately, but this book inspired my to start journaling again (it was the off period at the time).  It provided topics for me to use to examine myself and to write about in order to better understand my life and my circumstances.

I believe the right book will come to you at the right time, and this book certainly came to me when I needed it.

Thank you, Matilda, for helping me find this book :)

Big Magic

I finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert two weeks ago.  I think it took me about a whole week to read the whole book.  I had a busy week, so I could only read a little bit each day.

big magic

I love this book.  I like how Gilbert focuses on creative living.  I think that’s what everybody needs in life.  I agree with her when she says that we should do the work because we love it and because we want to do it rather than doing it for a result, whatever the result you want is.

I’ve always wanted to become a writer (of fiction), but I gave up so many times because I focused too much on the result.  I was too serious about it.  And because of that I didn’t enjoy it.

But I am a playwright, and I believe I became a playwright because I was not serious about being a playwright at all.  I started writing plays for myself and for fun.  When my play was performed by actors for the first time I was very excited about it.  But I never told myself that one day I would become a playwright with big productions that sell tickets and stuff (well, I never have big productions, but we do sell tickets).  I continued writing plays simply because it was fun and because I felt that I could express myself that way.  But inspiration came to me quite often.  And sometimes I sat down and wrote a whole short play in one sitting without knowing in advance what I was about to write.  It was like something passed through me and became a play.

I’ve been writing plays for more than ten years now, and I still love everything about it.  It’s true that I can’t make a living being a playwright, but I don’t intend to.  I don’t even write scripts for a living because I told myself that this is something that I do just for myself.  There are other ways to make a living that I don’t hate too much (like teaching theatre courses, writing research, and translating books).  And so in my spare time I work for an independent theatre company as a playwright,  actor,  producer, and etc.  And that is my creative life.  I believe that if I was really serious about being a playwright or being in theatre, I wouldn’t have made it this far.  I mean, I’m very serious about my work, but at the same time I’m not.  And I think that’s really important balance to have.

Another thing I love to do is writing poetry.  I started writing poetry when I was young, but I knew then that I could never make a living being a poet.  So I continued writing just for myself.  I have a poetry blog (actually I have two poetry blogs), and I write whenever I feel like it.  To be honest, I don’t think I can live without writing poetry.  It’s how I express myself, and who I am, and whatever I am feeling at the moment.  I write when I’m happy, and I write when I’m really sad and have no one to lean on.  I owe a lot to poetry.  It’s one of the most important things in my life.

But it’s different with writing fiction.  When I told myself that I wanted to become a published writer, I focused more on the end result.  And I never wrote fiction for fun like I do plays and poetry.

While reading Big Magic I got to start thinking a lot about myself and my creative life.  And it makes me want to start writing fiction again, just for myself, and maybe for a few more people who care to read.  I think the most important thing is to live everyday creatively and happily.  And that’s what I intend to do.