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2 Books A Week

For as long as I can remember, Ive read, at the very least, one book a week. The volume of these books increased gradually as I aged, and by the time I had surrendered myself to the onslaught of puberty, the tomes I devoured regularly exceeded 250 pages in length. Naturally, I was praised by my teachers, parents and adults in general for the beneficiality of my reading habits. Far from stunting me socially, the cumulative effect of imbibing all of those words on such a consistent basis was ostentatious. My vocabulary was expanded at an accelerated rate, and I eagerly and easily absorbed unknown words into my lexicon. Conversation is a natural extension of writing, and I excelled at that as well. Debates were a fun source of intellectual amusement, and provided that no participant, myself and my legendary temper included, took no offense, served as an exemplary form of mental training. We learned to view abstract, incorporeal subjects that defied simple explanation as concrete, three dimensional constructs, enabling us to quickly scan all sides of an issue, before levying back a counterargument with virtuosic rapidity. My friends and I, which spanned several cliques and diametrically opposed social groups, possessed the countenance of young men at an age when we were awkwardly straddling the line between childhood and adolescence. I attribute all of this to literature of any and every genre.

This past week Ive personally killed 5 books. 2 were by a new author Ive discovered, one Jack Donovan. He writes about tribal masculinity and the need for modern men to embrace their inner savage, the one continually suppressed by our matriarchal, misandrist society. While I must admit I find some of his ideas and practices a tad extreme, particularly the blood rites, on the whole I eagerly assimilated his information and passion into my head. I then devoured a slim, nondescript volume on small stakes poker games by Jonathan Little. As these are the games I play in regularly, Im always looking for an extra edge, no matter how seemingly insignificant. At the table, as in life, you never know when some esoteric piece of knowledge that appeared at first to be irrelevant will descend from the heavens and illuminate the way to enlightenment. Or in this case a little over $250. As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I take poker very seriously. Its provided me an incredibly generous side income since I discovered my local card room, and Im always on the prowl for a new weapon to add to my arsenal. This book delivers said weaponry by the truckload. Highly reccommended. The fourth book was a general treatise on the history of mathematics. While I found it a bit dry, it solidified and strengthened many of my initial contentions regarding the world's oldest science. My Father always told me growing up that math was the universal language, and that mastery, or at the very least competency, with it would guarantee monetary reward. Oh how right he was. Intuitively, I was drawn to math because of its similarities with poetry. A philosopher once wrote that a mathematician must have the soul of a poet, and I can personally attest to the truth inherent to that phrase. In math, everything rhymes, even more so than English. It's a wonderful subject, and one that I'll thoroughly enjoy until my heavenly departure, even if books on it occasionally bore me into near catatonia. The last book I read was also short at about 200 pages. It was an account of Jack Dempsey's life. The Manassa Mauler, as he was known, was born in Colorado, and held a series of manual labor jobs before becoming a successful boxer. He came from nothing, ultimately ascending to the top of the pugilistic world, through naught but strength of body and an indominable will. I'll save the details of his memorable tenure on this planet for the interested, as if I gave them away Id essentially be betraying the book, even though much of the information is freely disseminated already among the public domain. Still, it was $5.99. Buy it.

I know that the tone of this post was rather odd. Honestly, it's late on a Saturday night, meaning that my entrance into the world is just beginning, before I inevitably crawl back into my bed come the break of dawn, so I wrote this without much forethought. The inspiration came from a snippet of trivia I read about Dr. Ben Carson, renown neurosurgeon and former candidate for the Republican nomination for POTUS. His Mother, observing both his failing academic performance and combatative attitude, drastically reduced his allotted TV time and closely monitored his activities with the neighborhood boys. Instead, she required both him and his brother to read a minimum of 2 books a week, then submit a written report elaborating on what they had just read. This simple, if laborious, practice took a young man who appeared to be destined for a life of mediocrity at best, and incarceration at worst, to the height of the medical profession and made him a prospective occupant of the highest office in the world. This is the power of reading. Drawing on my own life, even when I lost interest in academia my sophomore year of high school in favor of girls, guitar and depression, I still continued my own self study. I read voraciously about any subject matter. Everything held its appeal, and the written word cast its sway over me, a spell that still hasnt been broken. I pray it never will be either. Ive always written, having sold lyrics and witnessed my poetry and essays gracing the pages of several local magazines. In college I rotted, ditching every class, including English, ironically, to sit in the cafeteria and read. If I learned anything during that dull, uninspiring drag through "higher education", it was that I love short stories. Junot Diaz, Ray Bradbury, Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski and Kurt Vonnegut instructed me in the art of writing more than any teacher ever could, save Ms. Lyerla or Mr. Lee. Reading and writing are symbiotic, they feed off of each other. Similar to a supersetting workout where you blast a set of antagonistic muscles, they may appear opposite, but working one will not only strengthen the other, but make you more efficient as a whole. Stephen King, in the seminal "On Writing", was asked how to become a talented, well renown writer. His response was succinct and effective; "Read 4 hours a day and then write 4 hours a day. Can't do that? You'll never be a writer." Straight from the master. Ray Bradbury, when presented with the same inquiry, replied, "Write 1000 words a day and in 3 years youll be a writer." Consistency, as always, is not only the key, but the entire path as well. This a habit Ive taken up some months ago, and although Ive faltered along the way, as a whole my mind, particularly my elucidation, feels like it's on steroids. Read. Write. Then do them both again. Forever. Similar to doing your pushups and squats, you have nothing lose except unnecessary sluggishness, and youll be all the better for it.

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