Sunday, September 27, 2009

A tale of two books

About 10 days ago, I was struck down with another bout of the flu. My throat had hurt a bit that morning, but by dinner time, I was slightly delirious, having a hard time staying upright and hurt all over. Fixitman came home from Scouts reporting similar symptoms.

The next morning when I attempted to get up, the room spun. I lay back down and made peace with having a "sick" day and picked up the book I'd been slowly reading. Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge. Dinoguy happily brought me some toast and water when asked and he & Trainboy spent the day watching movies (they were not sick). Fixitman lay on the couch with the boys and I kept Munchkin with me, for napping & nursing.

The next day I was able to stumble around the house some, but was still quite ill. I'd finished Pilgrim's Inn, so I started on another book I'd been given to read, The Choice by Nicholas Sparks.

Perhaps if I had not read The Choice right after reading Pilgrim's Inn, my reaction would not have been so intense. But then, I am a person of strong opinions (according to my dear sister), so maybe not. But the contrast between them was strong.

Both are love stories. One is uplifting, inspiring and discussed selfless giving and making loving choices for the better of others. The other is crass, sensual, glories in selfishness and being unable to control ones' impulses - really about lust, not love.

It was the stark contrast between them that brought to mind counsel to search out the best books. Even in books read primarily for entertainment. There are so many good books out there, and I usually am surrounded by excellent reading choices. I really think we learn and absorb information from all things, even those things we choose for entertainment. If our chosen entertainment is degrading, it will drag us down. In contrast, if our chosen entertainment is uplifting, it will inspire us to be better people.

I feel I physically experienced this in strong contrasts while being sick and reading these books. When I was reading Pilgrim's Inn, I was in an happy peaceful state of mind, and felt inspired to be better in my daily life. When it was over, I was so happy for all the characters who had worked out their problems in noble and inspiring ways and had the ultra happy ending. I felt inspired.

In contrast, while reading The Choice, I was upset and irritated by the poor choices made by the characters and felt irritable as I thought about the negative fall out their choices would have on others that was glazed over and ignored in the book. My overall feeling during reading the book was irritation and depression. I was left with an empty pit in my stomach when the book was over and had to talk to someone about how awful I felt. For a bit, I was unable to do anything but stew about the annoying things the characters had done and how better choices could have been made in their situations.

In summary, if you haven't read the Choice, don't bother. If you have already and liked it and can't believe I hated it so, well don't take my recommendations on literature, we obviously have different taste! If you would like a lovely old fashioned story with real characters who are strongly developed and would like to be inspired by your book, check out Pilgrim's Inn. I think you'll really enjoy it.

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