The Ponder Effect | What are you reading, and how is it impacting you?
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What are you reading, and how is it impacting you?

We are constantly reading. Emails and texts, tweets and posts, articles in newspapers and magazines, books of fiction and nonfiction, poems and letters, too, maybe? Some of these things we can’t seem to avoid. Others are of our own choosing.

Now more than ever, we can bury our heads in our chosen sources, reading what we want to read, seeing what we want to see. This is dangerous. Also, now more than ever, we can claim we are too busy to read, avoiding history or literature that challenges us. This is also dangerous. Reading is one of the few things we can do alone that connects us. Turning our backs on it is to deny ourselves and one another a more nuanced, more profound, and ultimately more kind understanding of what it means to be human together.

What we read matters—a lot. Do you think about what you are reading? Do you recognize its beauty and its power?

I started a book that last night that absolutely terrifies me. A memoir titled, I Am, I Am, I Am, it exquisitely renders the author’s seventeen brushes with death. The first chapter taps every woman’s—and every father’s and husband’s—iciest fear. Just those six pages and I carry her story inside me, vivid and throat-blocking. What does it mean to me, now that it’s inside me?

Prior to that I read Paula McLain’s Love and Ruin about the gutting relationship between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, a war correspondent and author in her own right. It was a fantastic, illuminating read, and I hate to be finished with it. I miss being with them in Cuba: the sun, the love, the celebrity, the creativity, all of it searing all of us, character and reader alike.

There is so much to enjoy and so much to ponder in the written word. What are you reading, and how is it impacting you?

Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

5 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    June 3, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    I am reading three things currently. On audio Marianne Williamson’s A Return To Love, which reminds me to pray, to open my heart with love, and to continue to let go of the fear in order to live the life I want to live. On my kindle, This Messy Magnificent Life by Geneen Roth. This quote has stuck with me and inspires me to live a more authentic and zen life “Because now we are wandering in the desert again, but this time, it’s the wilderness of too much. Of feeling perpetually discontent and hungry for more, even when our bellies and our houses are stuffed.” And finally An Alchemy of herbs by Rosalee De La Foret, who makes herbal medicine a fine culinary art.

  • Anonymous

    June 3, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    I try to limit news stories and look at the internet and newspapers just long enough to be informed.I definitely don’t tweet,or send or read endless emails.When I get online,I feel that I end up wasting precious time.I am older now and am taking a certain new pleasure in reading what I want.
    I recently read a wonderful book about an expedition to the North Pole.The book was written in such a way that, as a reader,I felt that I was on the journey.It was very difficult what the explorers went through and I was struck by the fact that people in today’s world have an easier journey in a physical sense.We are not as hardy!
    In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides is a good read.
    I like all kinds of books,non fiction books are my favorite.
    It’s finally okay to put my feet up and read. I wish I had always kept a book going.I feel that I missed out on a lot.Can’t wait to read Love and Ruin.
    Let’s think about what we read.When time is gone,it’s gone!

  • Anonymous

    June 4, 2018 at 7:31 am

    I love having a good book to read and feel bereft when I have been between books for a couple of days and cannot find another “good read” to look forward to reading in bed at night. When I was sick for a few days a couple of weeks ago, I read Beneath a Scarlet Sky which was the perfect book to keep at bedside. Although a work of historical fiction, the story is based on the true account of the Resistance adventures of Pino Lella, a young man coming of age in WWII Italy. Pino’s story is a gripping and inspiring one, and the author, Mark Sullivan, is a great storyteller. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. A non-fiction book I read recently which I also found captivating as well as educational is The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America’s Enemies. The role of codebreaking in WWI and II and the history of U.S. intelligence agencies was fascinating as told through the story of a couple who were at the heart of it from the beginning. News of the World is another outstanding novel I read this year. The relationship of the two main characters and the poetic beauty of the author’s writing made me want to read it a second time.
    What would we do without good books. I am looking for my next book now and am grateful to you who have responded for these suggestions. I too read the news because as a citizen I believe it important, and I genuinely want and enjoy keeping up with what is going on in our country and our world. But I depend on literature, I need literature – fiction, non-fiction, and poetry –, for its truth, beauty, and humanity.

  • Anonymous

    June 5, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    There is something so rewarding about reading a glossy magazine on a porch in the summer. I picked up the latest issue of Architectural Digest and the tag line on the cover was “Welcome to the Weekend. Country Houses from Carmel to Nantucket”. While I like AD as a publication, this storyline just jumped out at me as so absurd for the vast majority of mankind. The number of people in this country who associate the weekend with a “country house” is incredibly small; like 1% of the 1%.

    The effect on me of many things I have read recently manifests itself as a growing and acute awareness of how wide the separation is in the U.S. of the haves and have-nots. If you are in the “have” category, it seems difficult to comprehend what it means to exist today as a have-not. I read an article recently on the loss of hope that is happening with females, especially mothers in low income families. Hopeless that their schools will educate their kids. Hopeless that jobs are available that provide a chance for pride and upward mobility. Hopeless that they can actually pull themselves out of their current state. Hopeless that the American system actually works for them. This is an incredibly dangerous trend when our moms (who have traditionally been the bedrock of stability) become hopeless. Without hopeful moms, we raise a generation of hopeless. Without hope, people don’t care about the consequences of their actions and the cycle worsens.

    So much of the course of our lives is simply based on the country in which we are born and who our parents are. It is possible to pull yourself out of a different cycle but it is very difficult and extremely rare. When the fabric of your community and your family is even semi-shredded, climbing out is so hard. Drive 45 miles away from your city to any small town and look around. You will see houses in the country but not “country houses”. Towns cannot exist on a service economy of fast food, auto repair, and healthcare. These economies are consumptive only. Consumers serving consumers but no makers. Pride in work comes from building and creating, as well as serving. Throw in a healthcare system that fed us pain killers legally for a decade through the model in front of everyone’s eyes and the problem gets compounded for generations. I don’t blame the haves for their status but I do feel this separation occurring.

    These things I read are impacting me.

  • Anonymous

    June 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I am reading We Were The Lucky Ones about a family living in Poland when Germany invades their country and slowly destroys their lives. It is a fictionalized version of what happened to the author’s family. It is a heavy read and sometimes I wish I could just stop and start a beach book. The suspense of knowing that terrible things are going to happen to some members of this wonderful family is exhausting because we all know the atrocities suffered by thousands and thousands of Jews during this time. At the same time I am so glad I am reading this book. In this cushy life of mine it is good to remember how easy it is to get swept up in a mob mentality. And how gut wrenchingly horrible people can be to those they perceive as inferior or even different. It reminds me of how strong and brave the British were as they were bombed over and over again. And most of all I am once again reminded of how much we owe to the young men, some, really young, who ran forward on the beaches of Normandy even though they knew they were running to their death in hopes that those behind could reach the top. I am reminded of how much we owe the pilots who were outnumbered and not as well equipped but attacked anyway. I think of all of our families who did without and were rationed to support the war effort. Yes, I/we could be living in a whole different culture, living a whole different life if it weren’t for those who chose to stand up for a race of people who were stripped of possessions, dignity and hope. I am so grareful to be able to say “Thank You!”