Inderjit (@InderjitDeogun) is an Art History graduate, an environmentalist and a loud-and-proud bookworm. When she’s not fighting against climate change, she has her nose stuck in a book. With a particular love for children’s literature, Inderjit believes a word can be worth a thousand pictures. This is her second year participating in the 50 Book Pledge. To visit Inderjit’s bookshelf click here and be sure to check back monthly for her 50 Book Pledge updates!
My 2012 final tally: 57 books. Last year, I had the best reading year of my life. Taking the 50 Book Pledge wasn’t just about finding the time to read but reading widely. I read everything from fiction to non-fiction, classics to poetry, young adult novels to graphic novels. I read books that I’ve always wanted to read — Frankenstein, Dracula and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes — but for one reason or another had never gotten around to. When it came time to take the pledge again I was oozing with excitement. This time around I’ve upped the ante by devoting one-fifth of my pledge to Canadian writers. I’m off to a good start because my first book of the year was The Triumph of Narrative: Storytelling in the Age of Mass Culture by Canadian journalist Robert Fulford.
The Triumph of Narrative is part of the CBC Massey Hall Lectures series published by House of Anansi. After reading Winter: Five Windows of the Season by Adam Gopnik last year I couldn’t wait to see what else the series had to offer. The moment I saw The Triumph of Narrative I was sold because as a reader and a writer I’ve always been captivated by the act, the art and the role of storytelling in our lives.
One of the most striking points that Fulford makes is that storytelling develops “the building blocks of human thought”:
They are the way the brain organizes itself. … We pull together fragments and find meaning by connecting many elements. … When we compare one story we know with another, we are assembling the elements that make our brains work. Does this account for our need to tell stories and listen to them?
It’s a fascinating question to ponder because we dedicate an enormous amount of our most valuable commodity, time, to reading. So, why do we read? I read for the obvious reasons: To be entertained, to escape, to learn. But it also goes far deeper than that because reading the right book at the right time can make you not only see yourself but also the world around you more clearly.
I was struck by one such moment of clarity while reading The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. “Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.” When I read that, I understood what he meant. I was at a place in my life that felt like every minute of every day was clouded by the wants of others until time no longer held opportunity and possibility but rather failure and loss. I’m still mastering the lesson The Time Keeper was trying to teach me, and am better for it.
As January comes to a close, I can’t wait to see what this year’s 50 Book Pledge will teach me. I’ll see you back here next month as I take you on my journey. I have no doubt that the time I’m devoting will be time well spent.
Follow me on twitter @InderjitDeogun!