We were watching Jimmy Kimmel Show as they did a street interview asking people what the last book they had read was. Not one could think of the last time they read a book. Not one.
This absence of reading is inconceivable to me. Reading brings me joy, and there is rarely, if ever, a day that I do not read for at least fifteen minutes, and many days, over two hours. My prolific reading is not just because I have more free time—it has been a lifelong habit.
Lately, I’ve been reading to enlarge my physical essence of sensuality. In my daily quest for wholeness, I periodically read to enhance one of the four aspects of my being: sensuality (physical), curiosity (mental), communion (emotional), and freedom (spiritual). This sounds clinical, but it has enhanced my joy, fulfillment, meaning, imagination, personal myth, and fantasy life.
After a little over two months in 2023, I have read:
“Couples” by John Updike: The book was fascinating, and it was my first time reading him. His writing style is unique, and a bit of patience provides an enriching experience. It is a raw and surprising look at the hedonism and swinging of several couples in New England during the Kennedy era. I found it thought-provoking.
“Taste” by Stanley Tucci: If you like his CNN “Searching for Italy” show, you will love this book filled with personal insight and background. He is a person who is in love with the sensuality of food and drink. I found it delightful.
“Camp Wannhumpa: Beginnings” by Stephanie Stevens: This book somehow came up on an Amazon recommendation. On a whim, I ordered a Kindle sample needing something light and fun after the multi-layered 400+ pages of “Couples.” It had me hooked, and I purchased the entire book. It was a pleasant surprise and an easy read. A blissfully erotic romp (not for the prudish) that thoughtfully touches on equality in the 19th century and philosophy, myth, and religion. Guilty pleasure. Sensuality times a million!
“The Flowering Wand: Rewilding the Sacred Masculine” by Sophie Strand: I was not sure about this book at the outset. A book about masculine sexuality by a woman—but the ideas proved fascinating. She posits transforming our phallus from a dividing sword into a flowering wand. Instead of ascribing to a militant, highly censored, and repressed religious view of our phallus, she suggests “rewilding” our masculinity into a fertile and sensual enhancer of life. The scene where Dionysus buries Jesus with him (thus rewilding Jesus so that instead of abandoning the earth by resurrection back to heaven, he joins us back on the earth to replenish it) is one of the most imaginative and thought-provoking passages I have ever read. Fascinating.
“Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King: I again needed an escapist book after the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual gymnastics of “Flowering Wand.” My first time reading this book, and it was fun. I admit I am one of Mr. King’s “constant readers” and proud of it. He is a gifted writer and storyteller. Eerie.
“Daniel Martin” by John Fowles: I am now immersed in this extraordinary book. “The Magus” by Fowles is one of my top five books of all time, and I have tried to begin this book several times but was never able to progress very far. A religious publishing executive friend once proudly told me that if a book did not grab him in the first few pages, he would not publish it. As I have been reading Pultizer prize-winning books over the past several years, I realize that if I held to his mantra, I would have missed reading some of the most outstanding books of my life. “Daniel Martin” is such a book. I am now 30% into it, and my patience has been rewarded. For complex and essential ideas to be fully expressed (in our 140-character Twitter world), it takes time and multi-layered character development to tell a worthy story. I am now riveted and realize this book will go down as one of the most influential books of my life. Insightful.
What was the last book you read?