Friday, September 2, 2016

What Have I Read?

For some time now, I have been thinking about sharing the kinds of material I have read since people assume because I’m a writer, I must have read a lot; especially of the classics. English is not my mother tongue and I took up serious reading only in my twenties. Malaysia and Singapore have a peculiar brand of spoken English. In Malaysia, it’s called Manglish and in Singapore, it’s called Singlish. Both are a mishmash of the local National language and various Chinese dialects. Most of the local people don’t speak proper English and my writing style tends to be basic and simple.

I developed the reading habit as I said, relatively late – in my twenties. It started with the books and magazines that were passed down to me by my family of friends and budget travelers who were mostly Caucasians. At the time, Colleague One was a Psychic and Colleague Two was a Palmist and I would hang out with them and their foreign clients for a social life that was out of the ordinary. I didn’t have to leave home to meet the world; the world came to me.

These travelers were usually adventure and/or spiritual seekers out to taste the world or “find themselves” on a shoe-string budget. When they were done with their reading material, they would hand them over to me. These ranged from Time and Newsweek magazines, Readers’ Digest, History to Metaphysical and Spiritual books. When these ran out, I would hit the second-hand book stalls for autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, more Metaphysical and Spiritual books. 

Our local libraries don’t carry the kinds of material that would interest me. Books from second-hand book stalls were supplemented by assorted books that were passed on to me by yet more friends and contacts. Books in my country are relatively more expensive than in most other parts of the world. Even buying from Amazon, the shipping cost of the books is more than the price of the books themselves. Outside of the USA, there is no free shipping. I was thankful I did not have to buy a book until I was in my thirties and they were Astrology, Numerology, Palmistry and Oracle types of books. As well as Tai Chi Chuan, Yoga, Herbs, Gems, Essential Oils types of books.

I have since given away the books that I didn’t think I would need for reference. I am a de-clutterer and we de-clutterers tend to de-clutter. So I can’t go to my book shelves now to share the titles of the Top 100 books I’ve enjoyed or that have impacted my growth the most.

I have managed to go to storage (boxes with silver fishes!) to see what books I have kept to come up with a list of my reading material to share in this write-up. Too many loved books and “old friends” were given away as I didn’t want to burden myself with them, moving as I did, from rented house to rented house. I felt that good books should be shared so I parted with gems like ‘A Brief History of Time’ (Stephen Hawking), 'Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’, and many, many more I can’t recall as of this writing.

The books that are still in boxes (collecting silver fishes) are:

  •        Tao Te Ching
  •        Chuang Tsu
  •        Lao Tzu
  •        I-Ching
  •        Chinese Pa-Kua
  •        Astro Psychology (Karen Hamaker-Zondag)
  •        Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse)
  •        Drinking Tea, Living Life (Visuddhacara)
  •        Dancing Wu Li Masters (Gary Zukav)
  •        The Teachings of Don Juan (Carlos Castaneda)
  •        Tibetan Art of Living and Dying (Sogyal Rinpoche)
  •        Conversations With God -- the trilogy (Neale Donald Walsch)
  •        Supernature (Lyall Watson)
  •        Assorted Tai Chi, Wushu, Yoga, Guasu, Oracles, Gems, Precious Stones,       Sacred Science, Astrology, Numerology and Philosophy books.

Just off the top of my head, here is a list of some of my favorite books:

1. The Godfather series – Mario Puzo (bought at second-hand bookstores – since given away)
2. Papillon -- Henri Charri̬re (bought at a second-hand bookstore Рsince given away)
3. The Teachings of Don Juan -- Carlos Castaneda (a gift)
4. Dancing Wu Li Masters – Gary Zukav (passed on to me)
5. Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche (passed on to me)
6. Drugs and Magic – George Andrews (bought at a second-hand bookstore)
7. Conversations With God (the trilogy) – Neale Donald Walsch (Book 1 was a gift. Later, I gifted someone with a new copy of Book 1)
8. The Third Eye -- Lobsang Rampa
9. Almost all of Shirley MacLaine’s books (all now given away)
10. Assorted Biographies and Memoirs (all now given away)
11. Assorted History, Philosophy, Reincarnation, Astrology, Numerology, Oracles, Metaphysical books (Mostly given away)

What have I been able to take away from the reading?

  • We are all basically energy; or stardust. Everything else is just humans making a lot of sh*t, creating drama and stirring more sh*t. Low vibration stuff.
  • As a semi-recluse, I stay away from as much sh*t as I can. I survive as a human being until I don’t. We survive every single moment until the last one.
  • I have reflected upon all the reasons people lose their lives. I have reflected upon how much I have sacrificed to be healthy. I have thought about how much others have to fight to stay alive.
  • When the going gets tough, just remember to breathe. Deeply. We get our second wind that way.
  • We can all survive on the planet if we can get back to basics.
  • The brain is the hardware; the books, the data. What we put in, we churn out. So we need to choose our reading material carefully.
  •  Books we read stay with us longer than the shorter reading material we scan on the internet. It takes me days, weeks or months to get through a book at my own pace so it has a greater impact than social media reading.

There is a saying that people who read the same books make good friends because in general, “No two persons ever read the same books.” -- Edmund Wilson

Here are a few more quotes about books and reading:

  •         “You will be the same person you are today in five years but for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” -- Charles “Tremendous” Jones (I know … who? :))
  •         “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.”  John Green
  •         “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” William Styron
  •         “The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.”W. Somerset Maugham
  •         “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”Toni Morrison