What's On My Shelf and My Tablet?
The Half Known Life: in search of Paradise, Pico Iyer
One of the hazards of attending the annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference is all the new books I buy to get inspired, to learn, and to enjoy. One of the hazards of buying all those books is not having enough time to read each one from cover to cover for awhile.
I mean well but honestly, between my writing and life in general, I start but don’t finish things, especially books. Does that happen to you?
To encourage myself to get going, I’m going to post some books I’ve bought on and you can read them too. If you have a few to add to my list, please put them in the comments.
The Half Known Life, Pico Iyer
The first book I simply must get through is The Half Known Life by Pico Iyer. It won the Gold in this year’s American Society of Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas Awards for a travel book. Yes, it’s that good.
Iyer is a reader’s writer and a writer’s writer. His work is always deep, always thought-provoking. In The Half Known Life he deals with the topic of Paradise, “that elusive place where anxieties, struggles, and burdens of life fall away”.
Iyer spoke at the most recent Book Passage Conf. I’d like to tell you about meaningful conversations we had but we didn’t. He’s likeable and spoke several times to the group, but frankly, Iyer isn’t much of a mixer. He skipped out on the karaoke (that didn’t surprise me) but stayed through to the end of the conference. What did surprise me about him? He’s lived in Japan for over 30 years and is married to a Japanese woman and yet he doesn’t speak Japanese!
Here’s a taste of Iyer’s chapter on The Holy City:
“Inner Australia had shaken me because it had shown me how threadbare every human settlement - and certainty - must remain; the traditional owners had learned to read the signs of brush fire and flash flood, yet their wisdom seemed to come in the form of knowing how little they could do to control them. Yet here in Jerusalem, humans were so sure of their gods that each one drew, in rough bold strokes, his own image of paradise on top of somebody else’s; it was dangerously easy to believe that what we do with heaven is even more important than what heaven does to us.”
See, he’s deep. I love that type of writing. Why does he call it The Half Known Life? You’ll have to read it to find out, as will I. If you’ve read it, please tell me what you thought. If there’s another book I should put on my shelf or on my tablet, please write its name and why you think it’s a must read in the comments.
Would you like to purchase The Half Known Life? Book Passage has an extensive offering of travel guides and related books and lots of experience shipping them to their customers.