I’m not a big fan of the whole New Year’s resolution thing. I guess it’s a good excuse to sit and write down the goals that are not important enough to ever get accomplished. That’s why we care to have them, just to poke fun. That’s also why they are a major fail, for everyone. Another reason why I never thought resolutions mattered enough to me, because, well, I didn’t need to remind myself that I needed to lose a couple of pounds; or that I should think before I spend; or even beat my friend’s air-hockey score. I already knew all of these things. Resolutions are a great way for human beings to feel good about themselves, because if we at least try to have one or two, we have made an effort, and quite frankly, making an effort is good enough for us.
Two days before New Year’s Eve a friend posted a link on her Facebook about the ten best all-time books that will “sharpen” your mind. This intrigued me because, well, we as individuals always have this massive “How To” curiosity. Anything from how-to lose weight to how-to yoga your way out of an argument. We just love when people tell us how we can make our lives better; even if they are just B.S. We die for it. I remember speaking to a friend once about those ‘How-to raise children’ books when he said that if there was ONE that worked, there wouldn’t be so many of them. I guess he has made a good simple and easy point. Why do we need so many books that tell us the same thing over and over again? Like those popular “secret” books that unveil the covert to being the happiest, most successful free spirited individual in the world. It’s a genius marketing scheme, think about it. Anyway, I guess my point is that I fell for these ten books that will sharpen my mind. Whether it was a scheme or not, what-the-hell. There is no harm in that, right? At least reading anything in some way or another will sharpen my mind, for better or for worse, so regardless, I didn’t need to find a key to believe in this one. I clicked on the link. I was actually pretty surprised that they had a picture of the books instead of just going ahead and listing them. I guess my mind works that way; I mean the persuasive part of it. I need to link concepts to an image and right away I realized, without even reading what these books were about, this was going to be my New Year resolution. It was that simple; this resolution was not going to disappoint me.
There were no disappointments in my day today as I strolled around the book shelf of an old book store trying to kill time waiting for my four O’clock dinner with my friend. I had precisely about 30 minutes before I needed to head out to the restaurant. Luckily for me, the book store was near enough to give me an extra five minutes if I desperately needed it, knowing me, whenever I entered any book store it is like a child entering a candy store that they never wanted to step a foot out of. It is just as enjoyable. Everything from romance, religion, politics, fantasy, and science fiction I scan. It doesn’t matter the genre, or the book cover, that little title will sell me with the first few lines of description on the back to help me make a precise choice. I was searching for nothing in particular, and after about five minutes I realized this book store sucked. I had never entered one without leaving with a minimum purchase of five books, maximum of 20. Yes, twenty. Then, as I searched carefully, I found a “Writing” sign on the far back left of the book store, and I made my way there thinking, this is it. I’ll just stack up on a lot of “how to write” books. I mean, I did almost buy all the Nicholas Sparks books that he ever wrote; all 15 of them, just short of one. I found luck picking up “A writer’s workbook” filled with about 200 daily exercises that will keep me busy until summer-time. And hopefully by then my summer blogs will be more interesting. I picked this “encouraging book that every writer will find particularly useful” and I made my way to the cash until suddenly it hit me.
You know that New Year’s resolution that I was complaining about? The one that I didn’t believe in but then somehow got lured into? The same one I was a hypocrite about? Well, it hit me right there and then that I should search for my friends profile on my Facebook app on my IPhone, open the link, scroll down to the picture, and buy every book in that still image. Yup, that’s what I did. And it took me about 5 minutes to do that. It was that courageous 20 seconds that lit up in my mind that I figured I should get a head-start on my NY resolution. After all, it was just January 3rd. If I needed to have a resolution this year, I might as well go through with it. To my surprise, six books out of ten were available. And also to my surprise, the lady at the cash knew every book by heart before I struggled finishing pronouncing the names of each author. Oh, I struggled. What’s strange about all of this is that the simple fact that the cash register lady knew all the authors names right away, which sort of reassured me of the importance of them, and this “sharpen your mind” thing came alive. I mean, If she knew them, which meant that they were popular, or well-known, like a Shakespeare play, then these books will INDEED sharpen my mind. RIGHT? Or I don’t know, maybe not. Maybe she just scans these books so often that she memorized the authors’ names, but never read the books? But no, I am determined that she was familiar with the story of all ten books; her wrinkles reassured me of this. Mind you these books are 90 per-cent set in different centuries of the 21st, so this double tripled sealed the deal for me. She knew her books well.
I knew this was going to the best 47.56 dollars that I will spend in the third day of 2012. Whatever these books were about, I was excited enough to find out. Whether it took 8 months to finish or a year, it was sort of a journey I had already submitted myself to. A book each month for 10 months; if all things went according to plan, of course. I had always been spontaneous, like being “20 seconds” courageous. But instead of 20 seconds, my deep courage lasted more, like an hour or two until either I regretted it, or felt good about it. And I have never regretted a courageous act in my life. Well, maybe my impulse shopping I have regretted. But nothing more or less than that. Nothing as meaningful as this, and this was majorly meaningful to me. I finally picked up all six books, along with my writer’s workbook and the last 16th Nicholas Sparks novel to seal my collection, and I walked juggling all eight books that came in different hard and soft covers and sizes. I laid them out in front of the old lady and right before putting down my final book she asked:
“Are these books for a class?”
“No, this is my New Year resolution”
I guess from the look on her face I could only describe her reaction as being utterly and merely shocked. I mean, I don’t blame her. Which 23-year-old will pick up a George Eliot or a Leo Tolstoy or a Johann Von Thunen, or a Jane Austen, or a Nathaniel Hawthorne or a Gustave Flaubert or a Virginia Woolf or a Toni Morrison, or a J. M Coetzee, or a Mohsen Hamid book and make it their New Year resolution to finish reading all ten? Maybe a few, or a bunch, but definitely not many who were born a century or two after the release date of any of these books.
The other four I placed an order for.
Maybe I’m not the first in my century to read these books, that’s for sure, and maybe I’ll never get around to reading all ten books. Who knows? But I do know one thing, the response of the old lady at the cash reassured me that this was the best New Year resolution she’d ever come across.
And she was pretty ancient. She knew what she was talking about.