They say never judge a book by its cover, but I have to disagree.

No Matter The Wreckage: Poems by Sarah Kay

Borrowed from the Midget.

Sarah Kay writes and speaks poetry. I read her poems, sometimes in my head, sometimes in a whisper, occasionally aloud, before falling asleep in the evenings. They’re playful, but sometimes melancholic. The words twist and dance. They’re not following rules and there’s no rhyming scheme I understand. But all the same, they’re picture painting.

My favourite is one called ‘Dragons’. I don’t know why.

I’d read more of her work. It’s comforting.

Contagious: Why things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Library book.

A very general kind of book about what causes us to share ideas. It’s marketing in a breezy conversation with psychology. Between them they’ve agreed on some concepts and come up with some ideas.

The premise is if you want someone to think about something, you’ve got to show them the idea in the first place, and then you’ve got to continue to trigger it, again and again. The idea must appear to have worth to the individual – it makes them look good or allows them to provide genuine help to someone whose opinion they care about (makes them look good). The best packaging for a message, surprise surprise, is a story. Fairy tales and religious texts have been selling their morals and lessons for ages. But it also helps if the message is specific and individual. It has more power if it feels exclusive, unique, important, special… Exclusivity, ‘sale’, this week only…

Just a bit of light reading. Not particularly recommendable, but not a worthless read either.

One day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It’s not mine, but nor I don’t know whose it is…

This is a good book, a well-written book. An easy to consume, eye-opening, descriptive but constantly on the move book. It’s an account of one day of one prisoner’s labour camp jail sentence based on the author’s own experiences. The details bring it alive.

It’s not a depressing though as I imagined.

It’s a book that makes you question your own materialism. Solzhenitsyn makes you pause before you next eat. You find yourself looking a little closer at the plate in front of you, piled high and hot. This book has a horrible backdrop, but explores the uncomfortable setting through the delights of a puff on a cigarette, or an extra 20 grams of bread. For the protagonist to dwell on the horror of the circumstances he’s in, would be overwhelming. It goes unwritten, and is saved for the reader to feel when they step back and compare the comfort of one day in their own life to the hardship of one day like that.

Would recommend.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Borrowed from the Mother, who apparently bought it in a jumble sale, before she was married, according to the name inscribed in the front, but who has never read it.

It’s not my first Evelyn Waugh book. I read and enjoyed Scoop some years ago. Knowing I liked the author’s writing and having heard the name of the book a few times, I thought Brideshead Revisited would be a good read for me.

Now, I can’t disagree that it’s a good book, but I can’t claim to like it. In a way, I think the emotional journey through it was too close to my own emotions and my own frustrations, even if the actual story and characters are nothing like my life. Maybe that’s the mark of good literature, that it gives a different way of looking and feeling something that’s inherently the same.

But, frustratingly, nor do I dislike the book. I just don’t like the feelings it induces in me. There’s a hollowness it conveys, which is uncomfortable. And the reasoning, like so much of my own reasoning, is circular and blown out of perspective. It doesn’t make sense. But I know how it feels to have life not making sense around you. Damn frustrating.