Sunday, July 15, 2012

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave by Frederick Douglass

I won this book from MJ at Wandering in the Stacks and finished reading it back in May. There are few books that can completely change the way you think about something. For me, this was one of them. 

Week after week, I’ve pondered whether or not I should write about this book.  I did not think it was possible for me to articulate the way it touched me.  But I felt it would be irresponsible for me to have this platform and not write about his book. And so I did.

I’ve never read the work of an author that writes with so much emotion.  After reading this book, l understand the difference between superficial desires and yearnings that come from the soul. For anyone that’s ever wondered what perseverance looks like, it is epitomized in Frederick Douglass.

As the author documents his journey from slavery to freedom, the defining moment is the one in which he realizes his pathway to freedom is education.  And once he learned to read, he became aware of his condition. Douglass concluded that to make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. 

The realization that education and slavery are incompatible with one another is profound on many levels. The author is obviously discussing slavery. But today, it's about much more than that. What would become intolerable to you if you took a moment to further educate yourself? 

Never again will I under appreciate the value of my education.  I’ve long adored this quote, “The first power we have is knowledge.”  After reading this book, I get it. 

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.” Amen. 
The Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

Sunday, July 1, 2012

COFEE TABLE BOOK: Esquire The Meaning of Life by Esquire Magazine

Even though I don’t loan my books, after much pleading, I was able to convince a friend to let me borrow this one.  Esquire The Meaning of Life: Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder from 65 Extraordinary People contains one page interviews that allow the interviewee to speak freely about a given topic.

 I applaud Esquire for choosing such a diverse group of individuals, several of which I was unfamiliar with. I initially started to turn to the faces I recognized and the names that were familiar. But after deciding to read each of the 65 interviews in the order listed, I was surprised to find that the ones I thought would be my favorites were not.

Within the first three or four responses, I could accurately predict whether or not I’d enjoy the rest of the interview. For each person, this turned out to be the case. It made me wonder how that translates to interactions with real people when I first meet them.

I enjoyed the interviews of Bill O’Reilly, Kirk Douglas, Christopher Reeve, and Roger Steiger the most. The following are a few quotes that I jotted down. 

 “There is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head.” Robert McNamara 

 “The only way to make a deal is if you’re ready to blow it.” Robert Evans

 “If you don’t care what other people think, you can feel comfortable anywhere.” Bill O’Reilly

 “In order to achieve anything, you must be brave enough to fail.” Kirk Douglas

 “Never accept ultimatums, conventional wisdom, or absolutes.” Christopher Reeve

 “I wish that we could measure how much the potential of the mind to expand has been stunted by television.” George Carlin

 “The things that are perfect are the things that we don’t have any control over.” Lucinda Williams

 “Discipline yourself and others will not need to.” John Wooden

If you could interview any one person, who would it be?