@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Books I Think About All The Time
When I was a kid, I went back and forth with reading as far as loving it/not caring for it. I remember learning to read being somewhat of a struggle and it was thought I might have had dyslexia like my brother and dad. After being tested for it, they said my reading comprehension was okay. Like anything else, the more I read, the better I became. From a young age, I learned what it was like to get lost in a book. Before I learned this on my own, my Mom used to read to all of us. It was only recently I realized just how much I like being read to still. A smooth voice who inflects with character dialogue is a killer human. I never did care for reading out loud. I felt like it took me out of the story and I had to think about pronouncing the words which I did struggle with even if I know what the word meant. Because of this, I hated getting called on to read in school. However, I do love reading my nephew Anthony now. I love how he cuddles next to me and I can see him visualizing the story as his gaze zones out. And I love when he falls asleep next to me listening to the sound of my voice.
School sometimes made me hate reading. Because you’re forced to read. Often, you’re forced to read some things you don’t want to. Although, there are things I would have never really understood/appreciated had I not read them in school/college and discussed/dissected them with literary scholars.
For the last eight or nine years I’ve averaged about a book a month (sometimes it takes a little longer if the book is 1000 pages or sometimes takes shorter). My apartment has stacks of books all around and I have boxes of books in storage at my cousins house that I one day plan to put on a giant book shelf in a one bedroom apartment instead of a studio (I can dream!).
I like keeping the books and having them around. This way, when I see their binding and the title I’m reminded of the stories. I believe it helps my memory and inspires me. There are some books I think about all the time.
The Terror: The Terror is a bleak as fuck book by Dan Simmons which is a fictionalized tale of the true story of the EMS Erebus and EMS Terror that got stuck in the arctic trying to find a passage and every one dies. It’s sort of inspiring in the sense of what great lengths humans go to survive (they did find both ships and had inventory/diaries which Simmons pulled from for his book so many of the characters were real people).
“Francis Crozier believes in nothing. Life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. It has no plan, no point, no hidden mysteries that make up for the oh-so-obvious miseries and banalities. Nothing he has learned in the past six months has persuaded him otherwise.”
The Denial of Death: This psychology book by Ernest Becker basically explores (and proves) that almost everything we do is motivated by our fear of death. I honestly think this is a must read. It talks about how neither religion nor science will give you purpose. Because there is none. You make up your purpose and if you are worried about dying you are never really living.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August: This is a “reincarnation” fiction novel by Claire North. It’s about Harry, who when he dies he wakes up again as a new born in the same time and location. In his second life he commits suicide as a child, only to wake up again as an infant in the same time and place. The idea is that this is what happens to all of us. When we die, we are born back into our own selves only we start over. However, most people just make the same decisions. Their lives almost never change. Except those who can remember.
Watchmen: You’re probably familiar with the famed graphic novel turned into a movie and inspired an HBO series. I’m not really big on graphic novels but I understand why people love them. Watchmen is gritty, dark and existential. The characters are all tortured and I think of especially Jon’s character and lines now. Plus the drawings are amazing.
John Dies At The End: This could be my favorite novel. It’s a sci-fi/horror/comedy novel that deals with a drug that makes you see things from another dimension. This is how good this book is to me. The drug “soy sauce” kills most people who try and I would still try it after reading the book (haha— it’s not a real drug, don’t worry mom). Buy besides from being scary and funny it’s also oddly philosophical.
“Scientists talk about dark matter, the invisible, mysterious substance that occupies the space between stars. Dark matter makes up 99.99 percent of the universe, and they don’t know what it is. Well I do. It’s apathy. That’s the truth of it; pile together everything we know and care about in the universe and it will still be nothing more than a tiny speck in the middle of a vast black ocean of Who Gives a Fuck.”
― David Wong, John Dies at the End
Almost Anything By David Sedaris: Sedaris is easily my favorite writer. I love how he can write about almost anything, including the mundane, and make it funny and insightful. Sedaris is rare in the sense that he’s highly cynical but not unhappy. Sedaris’s book always make me laugh and think and are books I can easily return to time after time.
MacBeth: This Shakespeare masterpiece is something I probably wouldn’t have liked as much if I didn’t read it/dissect it in school. It’s my favorite Shakespeare with the best story as far as I’m concerned. The below passage especially slays me, even more so that my late grandfather could recite it from memory even in his 90s.
(from Macbeth, spoken by Macbeth)
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
House of Leaves: I’m not even sure how I could describe this book. It’s easily the most haunting book I’ve ever read. A family moves into a new house and it turns out the measurements of the inside of the house are bigger than the outside. Then, one day a door appears. And it gets really, really strange. It’s creepy and leaves you with an especially uncomfortable feeling. But beyond that there is much to be said about relationships, family and obsession within the pages.
All The Wonderful And Ugly Things: I read this at the end of last year and it’s one of the best books I’ve read in sometime. This Bryn Greenwood best seller deserves that title. It’s like a really, really fucked up fairy tale with meth addicts, violence and a beautiful but super strange relationship between an underaged girl and a young man. I love you all the way.
Factotum: Bukowski is one of my favorite writers and I’ve read a bunch of his work and probably confuse them all. But his writing always hit me in such a way in how raw it is and how at times it could be equally beautiful as it is heart breaking.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
― Charles Bukowski, Factotum
Illusions: One of my best friends, Dennis Rooney, gave me this Richard Bach novel, coincidently (or maybe not coincidence) at a time I really needed to read this novel. It’s a short one with some of the best life advice I’ve ever heard. I also think this should be a must read for all people. I felt great after reading it and often revisit quotes from it.
“Remember where you came from, where you’re going, and why you created this mess you got yourself into in the first place.”