Monday, February 07, 2011

Speaking of Books

So I have this weird obsession with books, where I buy dozens of books without knowing much about them. I most definately judge a book by it's cover and tend to go towards the modern looks, the more abstract covers.

With that being said, I am a HUGE John Wyndham fan and have most of his books and I am currently searching for all of his short stories as well. His most intense read is The Chrysalids. I already spoke about this book in an article I posted on Facebook but I really wanted to share my love for this book with everyone through a different medium.

From the time i can remember, I always loved books. I remember when I was a kid I would go to the public library, grab a couple books or "hard comics", sit down on the dozens of pillow seats and just read all day. I had friends but none that could give me what a book could; freedom, solace, imagination, adventures.

But with my short attention-span I had rarely completed a book from start to finish. That all changed when my older sister introduced me to two books: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, and Hiroshima by John Hersey. Both books couldn't differ more one from the other.

This book is a descriptive retelling of what happened in Hiroshima the day the US dropped the atomic bomb. It is seen through the eyes of several key characters, all of them real figures in history. It is graphic, raw and genuine to the plith of the Japanese townfolks who were surprised by a big bright light followed by days of sickness, hair loss, and most shockingly skin deterioration.

We see what happens to them in the days that followed and it is hard to imagine a time when communication wasn't as widespread as it is now. The entire city believes it is the end of the world when in fact, it is the first Atomic Bomb to be dropped on a city. And the damage that it created, lasts even to this day.

It is the first non-fiction story that I had read and I reread it so many times, I could recount the story from start to finish. If you truly want to witness mankind at it's worst and it's best, then read this book. You will never see non-fiction the same again.

John Wyndham has a quality about his writing that no other storyteller has. He can make you believe whatever it is your reading and help you dive that much more into his imagination. This book really opened my eyes to the magic of reading. Nobody to tell you how characters truly look like, no watercolours to help accentuate the landscape, no music to creep up on you and indicate events to come.

The Chrysalids is a truly magical book and it's metaphors dig deep into our consciousness to explore acceptance/segregation, fear/hope, ignorance/knowledge, tolerance/hatred. It makes you think, explore, accept. You cannot truly be open-minded to the world around you if you haven't seen it through somebody else's eyes. Reading a book could do that for you. Oftentimes you are forced to look at a scene from a different angle, explore the territory from a different perspective, and accept the facts as if they were your own. What more can you gain from life, then life through the eyes of your opposite?

The Chrysalids does exactly that. Forces you to think as the outsiders think, understand their challenges and hurddles. You want them to strike, to seek revenge, and counsel their own. You want the "other" people to take over and claim their rights. And then at the end you sit down to actually think about what you read and realise: We are ALL "other" people. So what makes me better then you and you better then them? Nothing does. We are all unique. Different. And may we thank God for that!

Candles are out,
Eleven's Ink

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