Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book meme

No thanks to weeshiong, I have now been tagged for this book meme. So here goes.

But before that, what the heck is a meme? A favourite phrase of a narcissist?

Meme, (rhymes with "cream" and comes from Greek root with the meaning of memory and its derivative "mimeme"), is the term given to a unit of information that replicates from brains and inanimate stores of information, such as books and computers, to other brains or stores of information. The term meme was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins in his bestselling book, The Selfish Gene. Inanimate sources of information have been termed 'retention systems'.

And what a coincidence that I am reading a book by Dawkins.

how many books do i own?
Statistics show that Malaysians read two books a year. I definitely read more than that, but still, it’s too bad that all those nutritional info on cereal boxes and canned food do not count. And how do you quantify online erotic stories into number of books?

So let’s see. *deep thought* I would say a little over hundred. And not unlike jay, any new book that looks interesting will end up on my shelf and the unread ones forgotten. I have around ten sitting prettily, still unwrapped on my book shelf.

the last book i bought
Blind watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design, by Richard Dawkins, the meme word-coiner himself. I think the title says it all.

Yeah, I read deep stuff. *feel smug* So deep that I worry that I might fall off the deep end. You know deep, deep end? Get it? Deep waters?

Anyway, I have stopped reading fiction for the past few months and have delved into the creationism and Darwinism debate. Not that I read a lot of fiction in the first place anyway.

the last book i read
Last book I finished reading was Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. Very good, non-fiction, of a man who knew he had only six months to live. Somewhat perverse though, reading about how his body deteriorated and having no control of his limbs whatsoever; he was as helpless as a baby in his dying month.

Not as insightful as I had expected it to be, but still a good read about life lessons learnt, regrets, love, marriage, etc.

My own category : last book that I did not finish reading
Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. Since it’s non-fiction, I can pick it up any time and continue from where I have stopped.

five books that mean a lot to me

A Density of Souls, by Christopher Rice, son of Anne Rice. It was the first book I read in which the main characters were gay, or the very least had engaged in gay sex. In addition, there were murders, hate crimes, betrayal and incest. Of course, it was another plus point that the characters were good-looking teenage jocks. ;P

To kill a mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Now, who does not like the adventures of Scout and her brother Jem? They were young, wide-eyed and innocent, with a mostly understanding father in Atticus. I have always wished that my father could be more like Atticus.

If you have read the book, you would definitely remember that Scout was not like the typical girl. She had her own identity and did not follow the traditional expectation that society had on her to be lady-like. The southern society in the 30s was racist and absolutely frowned on differences. Now, that is definitely something I can relate to.

Why does this keep happening to me? by Alan Downs, Ph.D. Okay, this is a self-help book. It was an impulsive buy, after I broke up with my boyfriend.

One of the issues he addressed was, Why can’t I believe in myself? I shall quote a few paragraphs here:

So many people, eager to become their best, try to do so by improving their weaknesses. They read books, attend seminars, and they try, try and try. This is a very important insight: You won’t improve through remedial education directed at your weaknesses. You improve by unleashing the power of your strengths.

In other words, focus on what you do well, and practice, practice, practice. You don’t fix your weaknesses – you escape them through your strengths.

This is NOT the same thing as sweeping your weaknesses under the rug of denial. Rather, it is the process of acknowledging and befriending those weaknesses.

Stop trying to fix yourself. But spend your time and energy on your strengths. As you do, your talents will far outweigh the weaknesses that may now seem insurmountable.

It’s true: you can’t have it all. The belief that “I can do anything if I just believe it and try hard enough” has ruined more lives than anything else.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to buy that. But I do agree that there are some things which you can’t do, no matter how hard you try or put in the effort. It’s a reminder of when to stop trying, because the glass ceiling sometimes just won’t break.

The Alchemist
, by Paulo Coelho.
This is an inspiring and uplifting tale of a shepherd, Santiago, who had a dream and willing to travel far and do whatever it takes to fulfill his dream. One of the most memorable quote is, “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true"

Of course, this does not necessarily contradict my previous paragraph. I said sometimes we have to accept our weaknesses and stop trying to fix it and instead work on our strengths. If I was (fine, I am) dreadful in singing, I can train and practice and attend singing lessons until the cows come home, but I still won’t sing like Fantasia or Clay because it is just not my strength or talent.

Coelho captures the human spirit very accurately, its flaws, strengths and its beauty. How at some point we lose the ability to control our lives and become the pawns of fate and we shou

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