The Books of September

Today, a blog I follow called LIFESFINEWHINE posted a list of recent reading and I thought that’s a wonderful idea to get me back into the swing of writing about things that aren’t me.

I read a lot compared to most of the people I meet; around 25 pages a day. 25 pages may not seem like much but between work (two jobs as of today!) and college, it is what it is. I prefer non-fiction but I try to read both fiction and non-fiction at the same time (one book each). I’ve heard from some people that they can’t read more than one book at a time because they start to get confused but I don’t even understand how that’s possible!

September was a light month for me because the last two weeks of it were depressed, but I still got a few good books digested…

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I read this back in July and loved it so much I went back over my highlighted passages in September. Walden really changed my outlook about a lot of things to do with the outdoors. It got me to start gardening, hiking, and photographing nature a lot more. The book can be dry at times, especially when he’s going over how many beans he grew and how much he sold them for, but overall it is easy to get the sense of awe and excitement that Thoreau had for the natural world through his words.

Crime & Punishment by Fyoder Dostoevsky

The bulk of this was read in August but I finished it in September so I’m counting it! If you’ve been following me for a time, you’ll remember that I hated reading this book. Despite that, the story and characters have stuck with me very vividly. Perhaps the book being such a chore has etched it permanently in my memory. The writing is very dry and conversations turn into chapter-long diatribes which are difficult to follow, but overall the book is a manifesto against atheism and objectivism, albeit a weak one (straw men do not make great arguments but as this is a work of fiction I feel we can forgive Dostoevsky). The lead character, Raskolnikoff, is able to be an atheist on one level but can not reconcile his spiritual torment over what he has done. That’s the bulk of what the book is about. It’s an interesting read, at least, and I think that it is a fairly poignant representation of the illness we feel in our gut when we know we’ve done something abominable.

Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt

Although this book has some exercises for determining what activities are in your “desire zone”, I feel that it falls flat like most business/self-help books do. Chapters and chapters on why you should find your true calling and focus on it without any sort of real advice on how to do that. It’s designed to work alongside the Full Focus Planner which I use religiously, so I was able to glean some insights from it. Overall, though, it’s a lot of fluff and filler just to say “focus on the things you love and say no to the things you don’t love.” Pretty common advice in these sorts of books.

Wow, that’s really all I read in September?! Well, October is already shaping up to be better. I’m half-way through both 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’ll reserve my thoughts on those for the next reading post!