On Books and Hope

Being stuck home offers little advantages. Yet to the avid reader I am, the last weeks have been a treat. I had surgery on my knee on Thursday following three weeks of rather static life. Now, I have seven more days of recovery before seeing the surgeon again.
The books pile up on my nightstand. I catch up with some I should have read a long time ago and discover recently published ones.
Few books have stayed with me long after the last page is turned as Blindness has. I am now reading its sequel Seeing. Nobody has written about the political behavior as Jose Saramago has. I’m not finished yet so I don’t know if the novel will disturb me as much as Blindness but I already admire the unique voice Saramago brings to his writing.
In a totally different genre, Ken Follett is a great companion to anyone stuck in bed or in an armchair. I’m now reading A Dangerous Fortune and I’m already far from home in the London of the early 19th century.
And then I read Caribou Island from David Vann. The book is beautifully written and the descriptions of Alaska took my breath away but I searched for warmth thorough the novel. I kept wishing for one character to bring some hope but they all plunge deeper into despair. Nothing seems possible for them to regain some footage. It is as if Alaska was swallowing them whole. As if they had no will to fight against human misery.
I read more books for children and young adults since I write for young readers and I realize that in each of them, hope is a key element.
Even in difficult books such as Looking for Alaska, Speak, or The Adoration of Jenna Fox, stories that deal with death, rape, or the challenges of modern medicine, I never felt desperately lonely. Writers for young people know how to make sure the readers will feel part of humanity even in difficult times.
So, in order to provide entertainment and hope, I’ve kept a secret weapon on my nightstand. When pain shots through my knee and I doubt that I will get better, I have exactly what I need.
Life, Keith Richards’ autobiography, is not well written, but his life adventures offer a solid dose of humor and open the doors on the amazing lives of one of my favorite bands.
Besides, Keith Richards’ vivid reminiscences of his narcotic world may help me to skip an extra pain killer.

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