On the nightstand recently . . .

These books were pretty good . . . Why? They almost inspire me to do the things that they do, like travel, write, run (yuck!) and draw cartoons (can’t)

Paul Theroux’s Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
Amy Chua’s Day of Empire
Harumi Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons

Ghost Train is Paul Theroux’s retracing of the journey that started it all in The Great Railway Bazaar. Definitely stirred up the travel bug in me. To ride trains end on end, with the luxury to read and read and do little else. . . .

Day of Empire is based on an intriguing concept: that empires were successful in part because the rulers practiced plurality and ‘tolerance’ for the various ethnicities/cultures/ religious beliefs of the peoples being ruled over. Chua uses several overly simple (and contrived) historic examples to make this point, and how it applies to the world today. I don’t know enough history to come up with examples to refute it, although I’m sure they exist.
On a mundane level, I see it as affirmation that Silicon Valley’s dominance and prosperity as an economic ’empire’ is due to its multiplicty of restaurants, so that you could go a whole month without eating the same type of cuisine twice!

I don’t like running. And I’ve never read any of Murakami’s work. But this book is about writing as much as it is about running. As a wannabe writer, of course I’m interested in how successful writers do what they do. It’s making me want to write again.

Lynda Barry: There’s more to her than Marlys!


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