Mind Exercise

Training the body and living life to the fullest is an enjoyable way to live. The mind needs work hard too, and I don’t mean the stress associated with worry and constant bombardment of life. My favorite way to exercise the mind and relax is to read. To even say that I read for pleasure causes many people to cringe. Not just any book either, I read good writers. To consume the writing of a word painter like John Steinbeck is like eating filet mignon. Mark Twain once wrote, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read.”

My Top 10 Classics You Must Read Before You Are Dead

10. Moby Dick; Or, the Whale                                   Herman Melville

“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.”

9.  100 Years of Solitude                                          Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”

8.  To Kill a Mockingbird                                        Harper Lee

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

7.  Walden                                                               Henry David Thoreau

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

6.  The Shipping News                                           Anne Proulx

“We’re all strange inside. We learn how to disguise our differences as we grow up.”

5.   Of Mice and Men                                             John Steinbeck

“Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head.”

4.  The Beautiful and the Damned (or) The Great Gatsby                           F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Things are sweeter when they’re lost. I know–because once I wanted something and got it. It was the only thing I ever wanted badly, Dot, and when I got it, it turned to dust in my hand.”

3.  The Hobbit                                                         J.R.R. Tolkin

“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”

2.  The Winter of Our Discontent                          John Steinbeck

“When a condition or a problem becomes too great, humans have the protection of not thinking about it. But it goes inward and minces up with a lot of other things already there and what comes out is discontent and uneasiness, guilt and a compulsion to get something–anything–before it is all gone.”

1.   East of Eden                                                             John Steinbeck

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

A Good Blog About Great Books to Read

How to Read a Book!

15 thoughts on “Mind Exercise

  1. Great Mark Twain quote. Besides has major sense of humor, he had some profound thoughts. Agree with many of your choices. Would like to suggest the following authors who are among my favorites: Charles McCarry – superb fictionalist. Love his hero – Paul Christopher. James Ellroy – my idea of a modern Hemingway. His L.A. Confidential became a great film, but the book is light years beyond it. Worth checking into. I’ll quit with those two.

    1. The writing is mind blowing. She is such a wonderful talent. My other modern is John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. It would be tied with that book.
      Side Note: The Shipping News won’t leave you all warm and fuzzy, BUT it is like eating handfuls of delicious cake when it coming to the art of writing.

      1. I loved Irving’s Garp, Cider House Rules and A Widow for One Year, in that order. Never tried A Prayer for Owen Meany, but I’ll give it a whirl, along with The Shipping News.

  2. Finally getting back to responding on this. I did read both “Owen Meany” and “The Shipping News” and both were extremely rewarding. Wish I had something profound to say, but let’s just leave it at this: Thanks!

    1. That is great! I’m glad you liked them. It’s bad when books are recommended and I get a blank stare when asked if they were enjoyable. Ms. Proulx lives in Seattle. She’s 81. I’d like to meet her. 🙂

  3. I would also like to add The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. This is an amazing epic. The three films made overseas are very good, far better than the Hollywood version of the first book. We are approaching summer and beach reading. If you haven’t dipped into these, you have some fine reading ahead of you.

      1. You are entirely welcome. I have read all three books more than once and also seen the original videos several times. What a shame author Stieg Larsson died before his work burst on the public consciousness.

  4. I second the notes on the Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo – taut writing, concise and evenly paced, Steig Larsson demonstrates a sure understanding of the human condition and its perversity as well as its purity. I obviously prefer the books…which are always soooo much better in my mind than any film I’ve seen, but the European movies are good and a refreshing change from Hollywood bluster.

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