Over the years I’ve been impacted or gripped by a number of authors and several books. In some instances the impact was only felt from one book, in others it’s continuous. Take Bryce Courtenay for example. I read “Power of One” in high school and I still remember spending days, if not weeks thinking about the characters in the story and how will power should never be underestimated, all taught through reading about a little boy whose biggest life lessons came while spending his free time in a prison. I read “Thandia” immediately afterwards and while good, I barely spent a second thought on it. I tried several books, even recently, written by this author and I did not finish any of them.
On the other hand, there are authors like Vikram Seth, Paulo Coelho or Gabriel Garcia Marquez whose books I always finish way too soon. Even the less interesting ones keep me going. When I was younger I spent most Saturdays in this tiny library reading Dean Koontz or Stephen King books but reading “A Suitable Boy” was my mission. It was the biggest, thickest hard cover book I had ever seen. 1400 pages of people’s lives being told in a complex tale by Vikram Seth. For an entire year I stayed away from it, waiting for the 2 month school holiday so I could give it all the attention it deserved. The title irritated me; giving people the notion it was a romance novel and bringing the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” to life. This book was about the real world, real people and very little about romance. Following different families with different tragedies all at the same time allowed me to experience their pain and struggles without leaving the sofa. It took 3 weeks to finish. 3 weeks that flew by too quickly.
Then there’s Paulo Coelho’s books and this requires a confession from me. The first time I read “The Alchemist” I was in university and I didn’t understand it. This book was supposed to be life-changing and all it did was make me feel like I wasted my time. It was too airy-fairy and I was too grounded to believe in such. I didn’t touch any of his books again until I started working years later and I read “Aleph.” Just as airy-fairy but also just as real. I had sticky notes on nearly every page trying to remember all the quotes that hit me. He was writing to me. Messages were everywhere. I went back and read “The Alchemist” again and all of a sudden my life changed. I started believing in magic. And as I consume his books, one by one, the magic grows.
I’ll end off with a book I was introduced to through a movie. A very graphic, traumatising movie (way too much nudity for me) made worse by the fact that I endured this while watching it with my mother and brother in a cinema. But the tale itself and the beauty of the words spoken by each character made me track down the book and read it. Every word was well thought out, every idea, every description I absorbed. While I continue to read GG Marquez’ books none melted me the way “Love in the time of Cholera” did. Also books filled with magic, it stretches the imagination and makes one believe in miracles.
No wait. That’s not true…….So what do they do?
They make you believe that life with all its experiences is a miracle and if you believe this then you’ll experience the magic every day.
“Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.”