“When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.” – Michel de Montaigne
Michel de Montaigne, who I have only just discovered, makes an excellent point. But it is one that I carry much further – I run to books not only when attacked by gloom, but when I am bored, happy, sleepy, trying to wake up, or if I am unable to stop my thoughts from worrying a problem. In short, you will always find me with a book close at hand and at least two more in various locales across my day.
This is a very happy book week for me. I am deeply caught up in four books and each one is worthy of your time.
The first is Alain de Botton‘s Consolation of Philosophy (Pantheon Books). Alain, who I recently friended on Facebook and got a friendly response back, is a modern-day philosopher tackling the hard questions and daring his readers to craft for themselves a genuine life that is balanced and happy. This is the fourth book of his that I have read, and it is amazing. I have avoided philosophy before now because I was intimidated and believed the learned men to be above me. But with Alain’s reassuring prose and confident air, I have become acquainted with six philosophers – Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. Each one’s philosophy is attractive for a different time and reason. Finding my world view lining up with Seneca, Montaigne, and Nietzsche, I simply cannot wait to read more.
Next we have Dark City Dames by Eddie Muller (HarperCollins), who explores the complex and shadowy world of film noir. Built from interviews with Coleen Gray, Jane Greer, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Savage, Audrey Totter, and Marie Windsor, the book presents the human side to these femmes fatales who brought men to the edge of ruin. Part explanation, part redemption, Muller’s book is a celebration of a distinct chapter of cinematic history whose reach continues to the present. Influencing modern films, literature, art, and even fashion, film noir is an inextricable part of our cultural heritage, and this book is amazing.
Early this morning in Dupont, while I waited for a civilized hour to come bringing with it daylight and appropriate work tasks, I started Mireille Guiliano‘s Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire (Simon & Schuster, Inc.). Following her huge successes with French Women Don’t Get Fat and French Women for All Seasons (Knopf, Vintage), Mireille has written the book she wishes she had had as a young woman starting out in business. In her conversational tone, with French expressions breaking in on nearly every page, she talks about how to live a happy life, balancing your professional life with your work life and your personal life. Everything from how to do well at work, to business etiquette, to style, to creating a space for yourself outside of work, and of course to food.
The allure of books grabbed me early. I learned to read at age four over the shoulder of my older sister, and I have never strayed. Each book promises adventure or knowledge or explanation. Each one leaves me thirsty for more, sparks my curiosity instead of satiating me. I love meeting people who read, sharing a knowing glance when the title of a book is mentioned, discovering new avenues of thought, knowing that here is another thinking creature who refuses to allow their education to end. Reading will keep us all young.