Judge a Book by its Cover

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Besides writing I am much more hooked in reading. And having a degree in Literature gave me the opportunity to browse through virtually all sorts of literature and read countless books. Even now, despite outrageous demands from my job, I still make it certain to grab some time to indulge in reading every single day. In fact, I might forget to carry a phone with me but never a book wherever I go. That’s just me.

And talking about judging an actual book by its cover (yes, its cover alone without reading through the synopsis usually written at the back side of it) is one thing I actually  do.

As we’re all aware of, Twitter demands the news of the day be condensed into 140 characters. In order to squeeze in our pithy commentary, we crop and substitute, abbreviate and summarize. Yet Leo Tolstoy was able to use just three words to frame his 1,225-page novel ‘War and Peace’, while a book that continues to influence political discourse after more than half a century carries the four-character title of ‘1984’.

In the space of just a few words or even numbers, the titles of books can capture the mood, theme and style of the stories within. More than once, I have been persuaded to buy a book simply as a result of the poetry of its title.

The first time that I remember being won over in this way was when I saw ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ on a bookshelf. It seemed to me that the title was a profound and beautiful statement in itself. Happily, I enjoyed the book in its entirety and it provided a gateway for me into Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s body of work, including the other gorgeously-titled ‘Cien años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude)’

I consider a book title to be a window into its interior. It can be whimsical or terse, evocative or opaque. And sometimes, it is the simple rather than the prosaic, which best tells the story.

Titles are much more than just words — they shape our expectations, reflect a book’s character, and help cement a story in our memories.

Author John Irving spoke about the significance of titles when he discussed the order in which he crafts a novel: “Titles are important, I have them before I have books that belong to them. I have last chapters in my mind before I see first chapters, too. I usually begin with endings, with a sense of aftermath, of dust settling, of epilogue.”

However, titles were not as much of a driving force for writer Judy Blume, author of the memorably titled ‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret’, who said: “I always have trouble with titles for my books. I usually have no title until the editor has to present the book and calls me frantically, ‘Judy, we need a title’.”

More so, the power of a title becomes clear when considering the impact of an alternative title for a well-loved book. Some of the other titles under consideration by F Scott Fitzgerald for what was later to become ‘The Great Gatsby’ included ‘Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires’, ‘Trimalchio in West Egg’ and ‘Trimalchio’. Would the book, considered by some to be the great American novel, be as enduringly popular if it had been given its original name?

It is doubtful whether ‘Gone with the Wind’ would have captured quite as many hearts if Margaret Mitchell had stuck with her original title ‘Mules in Horses’ Harness’.

What is clear is that titles are much more than just words — they shape our expectations, reflect a book’s character, and help cement a story in our memories. At their best, they can capture the reader’s imagination, before they even open the first page.

How about you? What is your favorite book title? Here are some of my favorites:

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Where Angels Fear to Tread, E.M. Forster

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor

 

Photo credits: Google photos

CHANGE is neither a three nor a four letter word

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Change is an amazingly powerful and often times emotionally-charged word. Change can be a word that seems like such a great idea when directed toward someone else; i.e. how “they” can change in a way that will make your life better. At the other end of the spectrum, the word “change” can trigger fear and resistance in a split-second if someone says you need to do it. Or, it can be embraced and welcomed by choosing to move forward with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities change can bring to the quality of your life.

My whole life, I have been presented to a single element called change. Change occurs in many different forms and is carried out in many different ways. However, just recently, I have come to the realization that change can be the deepest of all subjects. I always assumed that change occurred when you moved to a new town or when you lost someone close to you. Those are elements to change, yes, but change doesn’t have to occur over a single dramatic event. It can just happen overnight when your brain determines it’s time to do something different.

For obvious reasons, people reject change. Especially people who are close to each other because they feel that this change is going to separate them and make them not as close as they used to be. They fight change until they force the person to change. It’s sad how this works, but in reality, it’s probably the single most reason why people change. The people we love, love us so much that they want us to remain the way we are forever. Forever is a long time and not one person can always stay the same. Sometimes if the people we love would just accept the change and go with it, they would understand where the change was originally coming from.

It’s dangerous to try to stop change and argue against it, especially if the person wants to change so much. The reason that somebody wants to change is usually not their choice, but a feeling that the person feels inside their head and heart. It’s almost like a celestial force is making you change and you have no say in the matter but you know you have to because your mental and physical attributes are commanding you to. Maybe the change isn’t the best change, but if you dig deeper, the person that you love and know isn’t really changing, they are just trying to find themselves and the one thing they need the most is the support of the people who they care about the most. When the people they care about the most dismiss their change as something unimportant and try to guard down everything by rules and regulations, the person they loved begins to change out of sadness that the one group of people he or she thought would understand, really has no clue. Maybe change isn’t always good or bad, as I was implying here earlier, but it could be looked at as something to help you grow. So just remember, if someone is changing, be there for them, offer your opinion but help them go through whatever they need to go through because they will do what they need to do regardless of the people that they really do love.

Breaking up with Medi O. Crity

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“Good is the enemy of great.”-Jim Collins

From a personal standpoint, very often, as human beings, we are more prone to settle for a good standard instead of a great standard. Why? I believe because most often our focus is on immediate expectation, or fulfillment, rather than the future.

Perspective has a way of influencing our understanding of situations and, by extension, our choices.

There are several facts or truths that have come to be generally accepted and agreed to, but still do not affect people’s action.

  1. Smoking leads to cancer, still millions smoke and tobacco companies are thriving.
  2. Taking several cups of water early in the morning could prevent heart problems, diabetes and other, yet how many of us take water in the morning?

We can go on and on, but the fact of the matter is, it is one thing to accept an idea as true but a different thing to really live by it.

The pursuit of excellence in everything you do is infinitely better than settling for mediocrity.

It should seem obvious that the pursuit of excellence in everything you do would be the surest road to maximizing your potential, yet so few of us strive to do just that.

Rather than settle for average, why don’t I give it my all, try my very best, and never give up until the job is done? Why don’t I keep pushing for greater? Why is it so difficult to go the extra mile or put in the extra effort when doing so is the obvious difference between being merely average versus that of being head-and-shoulders above anything?

I believe that pursuing excellence rather than settling for mediocrity is what we’re called to do in life. It is your calling in your work, your career, your marriage, your friendship, and your life in general. We were created to produce excellence.

So press on, don’t ever stop giving it your best, and don’t let the jealous voices around you (or even the small voice inside your head) ever convince you that you aren’t made for greatness.

N.B. This was previously entitled “#Good vs Great” prior this reposting.

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com

Letting go of your dreams

Like most people, I often confuse myself between my wishes and my dreams — a wish is usually only a passing thought that most people never act on but a dream is something that captures your heart and spirit. It ignites your imagination and fills you with an unquenchable hope. It becomes something you can’t easily set aside.

Dreams consume your thinking and fuel your excitement and passion. It can happen in a single moment, or it can captivate your thoughts for years. Sometimes when the dream is really big, you embrace it, and somehow it feels like the dream embraces you.

Our dreams are often about experiencing a better life, about achieving greater things … they are pictures we have of the future that reveal a part of our lives that will be greater than the past.

But here’s an important point to consider – it takes courage to dream. Any time you dare to dream, there are risks involved. What if it never happens? What if it costs too much? What if people laugh at you?

Do you remember when you were a child and no dream seemed too big? Some of us thought we would walk on the moon; some dreamed of riding with Roy Rogers; others imagined stepping to the plate in a big-league game. Every one of us, when we were young, had a common trait – we were dreamers. The world hadn’t gotten to us yet to show us that we couldn’t possibly achieve what our hearts longed for. And we were yet still years from realizing that in some cases we weren’t built for achieving our dream.

Eventually we started to let our dreams die. People began to tell us that we couldn’t do the things we wanted. It was impossible. Responsible people don’t pursue their dreams. Settle down, get a job, be dependable. Take care of business, live the mundane, be content.

Is that it? Is that the way things work?

Dreams are worthy pursuits as long as they’re consistent with what matters most to us now. Our values evolve over time, and it’s OK to change our dreams to keep up with this evolution.

When you’re young, you want excitement and adventure. You want to prove yourself and make your loved ones proud. You dream big and work hard. As you age, you’ll probably desire more stability. You’ll seek quiet hours and relaxation. You’ll have a greater need for balance and have more concern for your health. You may also trade in some of your own ambition to support the success of your kids or family members.

These generalizations may not describe how your values will change. Change itself, however, is part of maturing. When you embrace it, you’ll open up to a world of new goals and possibilities.

So don’t be afraid to give up on old dreams to make room for new ones. You may not have the life you dreamed of as a child, but you might end up with one you can enjoy as an adult.

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com

Continue reading “Letting go of your dreams”

Thoughts and Quotes (#realityBites)

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“Reality bites. At times, it devours!”-Andrei

Life’s reality often awakens us from our pretensions, perceived notions or slumber. It pulls us back to our senses. And at times, in utter disregard, it could devour and overwhelm us out of our pretensions, perceived notions or deep slumber!

Always get on check with your reality. You don’t have to dwell on it if it’s too gloomy out there, just to see where you’re really at in order to figure out which way you should be going.

(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com