Book Quotes #4: The Sun Is Also A Star

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It took me quite a while to finish this book. It’s a YA genre and perhaps not the kind that has hard core reality stuff in it. But it has some very amazing lines. Also, I liked how the author chose to move between the first person perspective of each character, with each chapter telling the story from the character’s view.

Here are some of my favorites lines from The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon.

On Randomness:

No one wants to believe that life is random.

On Feeling:

If snow falls in a city and no one is around to feel it, is it still cold?

On Choices:

I’m happy to have choices. They’re mine to make.

On Falling in Love:

I want to do the easy thing, not the right thing. I want to fall in love, with an emphasis on the falling part. No obstacles in the way, please. No one needs to get bruised up falling in love. I just want to fall the way everybody else gets to.

On Fear:

What if this thing between us was only meant to last the day? What if we are each other’s in-between people, a way station on the road to someplace else? What if we are just a digression in someone else’s history?

On Stars:

I remind myself that stars are more than just poetic. If you need to, you can navigate your way by them.

3 Reasons To Read Fiction Even As An Adult

I was a finance major in my final year of undergraduate education. We were learning Financial Markets and Institutions, famously known among students as FMI, during the Fall semester. Our course instructor strongly urged us to use our imagination and logic while dealing with the numerous cases we were up during class discussions and assignments. He said, as I still remember clearly, ‘You might not be able to be so creative in the next semester. It will be more of financial applications and numericals then. I’m not saying you can’t be creative, it’s just that it’s very difficult for anyone to challenge William Sharpe’s ratio. You can, but to be able to do that you must first learn to use your imagination in the current class.’

That’s what I’d like to call the different between fiction and non-fiction reading.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of my friends and family discover their joy of reading, which is fantastic. More books and ideas to share everywhere. But I’ve also seen a pattern that would certainly make Neil Gaiman, a champion of reading for pleasure and libraries, worry. A lot of adults read a lot of non-fiction (which is great), but they somehow end up turning a blind eye to fiction. Fiction as the word suggests is a lie, it’s untrue; why should anyone waste their time reading it? Why don’t we read more of creativity hacks and technology instead?

I’m definitely not against non fiction reading. It’s necessary. It gives us ideas and perspective we wouldn’t find elsewhere. And with information widely available, cost of printing going down, it has never been a better time to be alive to read.

#1 Fiction is not a trap
I’ve met friends and family who often tell me that fiction is a trap. It has to do with the fact that it is untrue, I presume. I don’t usually end up defending fiction and at times I do feel guilty about it. But it also gives me a chance to ask ‘Why do you feel that way?’ The answers mostly reveal being stuck with a particular genre for a long time. I believe it’s like myopia to the eyes. I’m myopic and without my prescription glasses everything is blurry. If I never wore glasses, I’d perhaps end up thinking the world is exactly as it seems to my eyes: blurry. But of course it is not.

#2 Fiction helps you question
If non fiction hands you knowledge, fiction helps you question. And questioning is just as important as gathering knowledge. Why did Harry choose to fight Voldemort? Why did Parijat wrote what she wrote?

#3 Fiction eases the burden of reality
In line with #2.
It can be extremely difficult to put ourselves into the feet of real people. Even in case of non fiction storytelling, it is at times difficult to narrow down the circumstances people go through. All the while comparison is usually tricky, because everyone is different and circumstances alter cases. But the case is different for fiction. It’s not real, and in this lies a subtle freedom. We can compare, question and demand alternatives that perhaps would have been very difficult otherwise. It’s easier to question fiction, and in return to question reality. And this is how we learn things do not have to be the way they are.

I think what my finance instructor meant when he said use your imagination this semester was that I wasn’t working with just facts, I was working with scenarios and cases where people acted, and thus, anything was possible as long as it made sense (of course financial rules applied). The next semester was equally challenging and interesting, but I realized he was right, I couldn’t use my mind more freely. There were equations I could not challenge, not yet. But the previous semester’s imaginative working helped in a lot of cases, especially in interpretation questions.

Fiction and non fiction reading as some say might go hand-in-hand. One answers, another questions, then a few more answers, a few more questions. Like an eternal dance of light and darkness, that continues to challenge and nourish our intellectual life.

I am extremely lucky to have discovered the joy of reading as a young child. Peter Rabbit was my favorite because there was a long long line of generation in it. It is rare to find a book that mentions Great great great great grand father. The book was bright yellow and it was very attractive. We were made to memorize poems in our Nepali literature class, that I still treasure. The lines might have become blurry in my memory but the learnings are still omnipresent.

The joy of reading, it’s not a big thing, but it’s fulfilling, it’s nourishing, it’s exactly how it is supposed to be- reading.


Do let me know what you thought about this article. It’s still nebulous in parts. The more I read, the more I discover, and thus, a longer path awaits to be seen. Till then, here’s my little part.

Why I Read

In 2017, I helped a colleague and friend finish his first ever novel – Catch 22, a novel I myself had never read. I constantly kept on pestering- what’s the update on the book? How many pages did you read today? Sometimes he told me how exciting it was to read that particular chapter. And it was amazing, but it wasn’t easy. After months, he finally finished the book and called it an achievement. I’m glad I played a small part by helping him start his reading journey, by recommending a book, which turned out to be a little difficult to be suggested as a starter. A good deed accomplished in the year gone by.

I discovered reading very early in life. My family is a collection of massive bookworms. My mother introduced me to Chinese literature and my father to Russian. They are both avid book readers and we all hope to set up our tiny little library someday. I love visiting bookstores as much as people love dropping by in cafes, and when I see children in book stores, it makes me extremely happy.

I vividly remember a day from my school library. Our librarian had awarded points to classes that borrowed the most number of books and pasted the results on the green notice board just outside the library. I might have been in grade 8 or 9. I checked to see where my class stood. And I stood there, heartbroken. The class that borrowed most of the books were grade 4 and 5. ┬áThe points got smaller and smaller as the grades increased in number. Don’t ask me what my class secured. I don’t remember to be honest. But it was low enough to make me sad. One plausible explanation might be the proximity of the famous/infamous grade 10 examination. As students approach higher grades much of their focus goes into studying course materials. This approach might not necessarily be wrong, but it reflects a behavior, a trend that as we get older, we may begin to read very little. Priorities bigger than grade 10 examinations are bound to pop up and catch us unguarded. This might of course not be true for everyone. But the important aspect here is that if given access and opportunity, children read and they discover the power of books. Why should it be any different for grown ups, especially when we have access to so much more?

The school library had always been my best resource place. I remember how poorly I read when I was in grade 11 and 12, when my new school barely had anything else but textbooks. It didn’t feel like I was losing anything then, but when I rediscovered another library in university, I realized how I missed the magic of books and how I wish I could go back and reutilize that lost time.

One of my favorite places in my university was the library. It was a beautiful place, had ample sunlight. But most importantly it was quiet and sadly very few student visited it, and perhaps ironically that was the reason I loved it. It was never crowded. This takes me back to my school and the terrifying statistics of borrowing books our school librarian had discovered and pasted on the green notice board.

But why read? Why waste that precious moment digging up words, instead of gold?

There internet is filled with wonderful reasons on why to read, from scientific to aesthetic. Here are mine.

A book is a conversation, a conversation that is well planned and prepared with determination and dedicated on the part of the writer. I think it’s a beautiful conversation. It’s not one way as you might think. A book is a two way conversation. It is like conversing with a friend, a connection that words fail to describe. It is a feeling, like that when you sit down with a friend, new or old, in a cafe with a latte and apple pie placed in front of you. It is a moment, one that is different with each friend. And you speak too, as you feel new and old emotions, discover and rediscover old and new ideas. Indeed, it is a two way conversation.

A book is also an escape, into the imaginable and the unfathomable. It is a reality and a lie. But it is beautiful just the same. It is time enclosed carefully into words by its creator. In other words, it is magic. There is no reason why you should deny yourself of this magic that is so readily available.

But a book is also labor put into time. It is difficult, demands patience and sometimes may leave you fuming at the end. A conversation with a friend might go any way. But you’d still go and meet a friend. Because that’s what we do! Yes, that’s what we do.

That’s exactly how a book is like, a friend.

In Neil Gaiman’s words, “You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.”

But if you haven’t started reading yet, do not worry and begin, or as JK Rowling says, “If you do not like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” And the only way to find it, is to find it!

It’s great to know that my friend who just began reading in 2017, with a lot of trouble, has now bought two new books. You just need a bit of the magic dust, and the rest as they say is history!

I hope you find yours very soon.

Happy World Book Day 2018!

Cheers!
Alfa

P.S. The image above is my little attempt at virtual drawing some time back, also from 2017.