Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Books: March 2013

...once again, just book.  I got started on the next LotR, which I'll hopefully finish in April, so in March I only had time for technically one book.

image via Amazon
In general, all of the male main characters in John Green's books have a real thirst to leave their mark on this world, and, in general, all of the female main characters subscribe to the "do no harm" philosophy of being a good person- except maybe Alaska.  She's kind of self-absorbed and doesn't seem to care what sort of damage she does to other people (although her personal history explains and almost forgives this).  I tend to identify with the boys in these books more so than the girls- and that's largely because, aside from Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars, they are the protagonists from whose point of view the story is being told.

I really, really identify with Colin.  And it's going to make me sound horribly stuck-up to explain why, but I'll venture it anyway.

Colin is a child prodigy.  (Here we go.)  He explains several times throughout the book that a prodigy and a genius are two very different things- a prodigy is someone who is very good at learning things taught to him by other people, where as a genius discovers new things entirely that can then be taught to other people.  Prodigies tend to peak early in life, intellectually, because once you've graduated college at 14 or whatever, there's not much left to learn in the academic sense, and when thrown into the real world with no real ability to innovate or discover what has heretofore been sort of can't.  Colin doesn't graduate school ridiculously early or anything, but he is certainly a prodigy, learning several languages before middle school and memorizing a large amount of the digits of pi with the help of a ridiculous mnemonic device because he's really good at learning.  Now that he's graduated high school, he's thirsty to leave his mark on the world- to do something important, not just because he wants the fame and glory of being remembered, but because he wants to prove to himself that he hasn't peaked, his life isn't over, he can still achieve something great with his life and therefore be worth something.

I'm not claiming to be a prodigy, not really, as I'm nowhere near that smart, but I do identify with the feeling that, while you used to be very bright and very "promising", you've now reached a point where you have to prove that you earned those accolades, and you don't feel like you ever will.  It's out of your reach.  You're not a genius, you're just an average- even below-average- cubicle hamster running on a wheel that takes you nowhere but exhausts you all the same.

Colin does eventually reach a sense of enlightenment, where he realizes that one doesn't need a Nobel Prize to have lived a meaningful life, and along the way he learns a thing or two about relationships, other human beings, and the real, squishy definition of a "good person."  I'm still working on reaching that enlightenment, myself.

What book(s) did you read this month?

Much love,
The Geeks

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