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I’m not really a reader, but…..

One of the things that is great about not being in college anymore is that I actually have leisure time. I come home from work and then I can do pretty much whatever I want…with the exception of going to the grocery store when there’s nothing in the refrigerator. I don’t always want to go to the store, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do if you want to eat.

When I’m not at the grocery store, I spend a lot of time painting, and recently I have spent time (even during my lunch hour) reading.

I’ve always wanted to be a reader, but I’ve never had a really good attention span. That makes reading for pages and pages and pages kind of difficult.

I recently finished the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie (shout out to Layne and Lara for recommending it!), and now I’m on to My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. I’m seriously obsessed with this book.

It was recommended to me by another friend a couple weeks ago. A few days later I checked it out from the library (that’s a crazy story in and of itself–library cards aren’t as easy to come by as they make it seem…) and then a week later I was about half way through the 369-page book.

Those of you who are on the “serious-to-professional reading level” may not be impressed by this, but seriously y’all this is a super accomplishment for me…and also a testament to how amazing this book is.

It’s about a young Jewish boy who has the gift of drawing. His life is very tumultuous considering his father makes reference to his art being from “sitra achra” (evil or the “Other Side”) and his mother has a nervous breakdown after her brother dies. For some reason Asher can’t help drawing. Sometimes he looks up and realizes that he was drawing in a textbook and doesn’t remember doing it. We aren’t talking the typical doodling either. His work was straight up amazing apparently.

I can’t say that I can identify with Asher 100% because for one thing, I know I’m no prodigy. I also have been very fortunate to be surrounded by people who support me.

There was passage that was particularly striking to me though:

“That was the night I began to realize that something was happening to my eyes. I looked at my father and saw lines and planes I had never seen before. I could feel with my eyes…I could feel lines and points and planes. I could feel texture and color…I felt myself flooded with the shapes and textures of the world around me.” (pg 108)

I wish I could feel things the way Asher does here. I have no doubt that there are really some people who have senses like that. In some small part, I am able to identify because when you study something for so long it becomes part of you. After I did all those portraits for my show, I noticed that I am very sensitive to people’s noses now. I find myself looking very seriously at them. You’re thinking I’m strange. But I’m really not. A nose is a very important part of making a person look the way they do. If one tiny thing is off, the person no longer looks like themselves. In this way, I am forever changed. When I look at people, I trace their noses with my eyes and try to notice every angle and nuance about it. That is how I know “that something was happening to my eyes.”

I highly recommend My Name is Asher Lev to artists and even non-artists. It’s a very powerful book that has probably earned a spot in my all-time favorites. I just hope that the second half is as good as the first…..

What books are you reading? Any suggestions for what to read next?

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