New York: HarperCollins, 2010.
Why we Need Love
Why we Fight
Why our Decisions don't Matter
Have you ever copied out an excerpt from a book you are reading, something too good to lose track of, something you know you are going to quote later or which makes you feel happy or intelligent just by reading it? I have. In fact, I've been following the age old tradition of compiling my own personal commonplace book for nearly twenty years now. Flipping through the excerpts I've collected reminds me of the brilliance and humour and wisdom I've encountered in my reading, and it also reminds me of the person I was when I found a particular quote meaningful. It is a startlingly effective method of time travel ;)
Simon van Booy, a marvellous writer in his own right, has collected three books of excerpts, done in a proper commonplace book method, by theme. The three books, all bound very similarly, are small enough to slip into a pocket and take a random dip into on your travels. Being Simon van Booy, the contents of these books are not always predictable or familiar; I found some authors and some pieces new to me that I want to explore further. The selected authors are an interesting mix; not limited to one era or one gender or one school of thought, the variety of the selections makes for a more illuminating reading experience.
What is the purpose of such books in an internet world in which we can google any topic + quotes and come up with a string of related pithy sayings? Well, these books contain longer selections, not just brief quotes, and are chosen by someone for whom they have significance and represent some of the best things he believes he has to share on the topic. Knowing that they have meaning to someone else, especially someone whose work I've read and find amazing, made these books intriguing for me. I read, pondered, agreed with some thoughts and disagreed with others, and thought that overall, these books made for a nice slow informative exploration of three different themes.
If you like bits of books excerpted and shared as if another reader is pointing them out to you saying, look here, this part is good, well then I think you will enjoy this set of three books which are easy to hold and easy to peruse.