I am reading Orhan Pamuk’s The New Life.
This is an early novel by the Nobel Prize winning author having been published in 1997. The central idea of the novel is the narrator reading a book that changes in his entire life. “I felt my body sever itself and pull away from the chair where I sat reading the book that lay before me on the table. But even though I felt my dissociating, my entire being remained so concertedly at the table that the book worked its influence not only on my soul but on every aspect of my identity.”
The New Life raises the question of the place and impact of books on the life’s of others. There was a time when books did change lives. They were more than mere vehicles for entertainment or diversion. With out transition into the World Wide Web, chatroom, online dating, blogs, and countless websites, our ability to sit in a chair and read a book for hours and days has begun to slip away. The width of our attention span, our ability to focus, the endurance to concentrate on the nuance found in one voice flowing from the words found in a book.
There is a personal, psychological price to be paid for our diminished desire to embrace “new words on each new page” page after page. Our consciousness is shaped and transformed not by an never ending stream of information, half-baked theories and superficial insights, but by finding ourselves inside a book that offers a new life, a strange guide to another path of living, opening doors and window, pulling the reader into a new universe. What I look for in a book is an examination of life, but the executive summary. But I am realistic to understand that even the executive summary of such an examination test the outer limits of attention for many. A good book is about a journey, and a great book won’t let you go until the journey is finished, and when you emerge, something inside as changed.