I tend to buy a lot of books—splurging at used book sales and book stores wherever I may find them. Amazon’s tempting too but I feel like since I can’t physically see the books, it’s a little less exciting. I’ve also noticed that I can’t study in library cubicles next to book shelves (at least in the non-science libraries) because I tend to become so fascinated with whatever’s there. The more boring the work, the more fascinating any books on the shelves seem. I remember trying to understand some German literature books—but looking back I think I was more focused on the beautiful sans-serif typefaces used on the spines and covers than figuring out the English translation of the German words. Regardless, being around books in any location is definitely up there as one of my favourite things to do—ever.
I say this today because I sit here with a variety of books on my desk as they taunt me—challenging me to decipher them. Since now, during the summer, I have what people call “free time.”
I bought a few (dozen) books at a random book sale held at my university a month and half ago. They’ve been piling up. I couldn’t resist. And the books were way too good to be true—with $5 or less for a book. It was there that I discovered Guy Delisle (http://www.guydelisle.com/). I am currently reading his book: Jerusalem. His perspective is one of an outsider since he identifies neither with Judaism or Islam, but he illustrates his experience living Jerusalem for one year with his girlfriend, a doctor who works for Doctors Without Borders, and her children. So far, the book seems pretty interesting and holds no particular bias. I love the way his illustrations are so simple, yet they represent so much more through minute details like facial features and shadows.
Another book I am halfway through is Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad—I find it very intriguing. However, I want to read more biographies after this one. Sounds silly, but I feel the best way to get a foundational understanding of the Prophets (may peace be upon them all) is to read my younger brother’s Islamic children’s books. Serves as a great reminder about important stories I have unfortunately forgotten about from my days of elementary school growing up.
Going back to the topic of books—not the Islamic-children-book kinds—I have realized how hard it is for me to simply stay in one place for a long period of time with just a book in front of me. And I have to admit, I can’t put my phone away for more than half an hour. God forbid, I get a phone call or a text. I’m seriously not joking though. I wish I could place my phone away and focus on the pages for at least 20-30 minutes at a time. SubhanAllah the anxiety that technology brings with it—I wish I had the same kind of attachment to other things that actually mattered more.
I wonder: if I am like this right now, how will people in the coming future be? Everything is marketed as being “faster” and “more efficient” for it to be good enough. Apple, as an example amongst the many, keeps bringing new products into the market, selling them purely on the basis that they are faster than the rest—which makes consumers believe that they must be better. And if you think about it, we type on keyboards instead of writing with pens to work “faster” and buy pre-cut vegetables for our salads to avoid “wasting time.” But what are we working so fast for? Do the means justify the ends? I feel like this “now culture” is making it challenging to do something as simple as reading a book. Reading a book. I remember when my ten-year-old self used to read books every single night before going to bed.
Ah—I refuse to let this happen. I hope I will read my innumerable amount of saved up summer books and will not let this time-obsessed culture consume me.
Sometimes, it’s healthy to step away and realize that the best of things happen outside boundaries of minutes and seconds. Humans are inevitably part of the natural world—our physical being as biodegradable as the next ant or banana peel. We cannot expect ourselves to become robots, dependant on binaries and numerical restrictions. Live and let go. Slow down—I promise it won’t hurt.