This week, in between my current project of reading two long books at the same time, I took a break and read two short books. I didn’t plan to do that, it just happened. I also didn’t sign up for a ‘reading non-fiction in November’ challenge, but both short books were non-fiction. I guess I just needed some delightful balance in my reading life this month.
Both short books were very interesting to read. The first one was Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals, by Ken Follett. It was, simply put, a love letter to the magnificent cathedral of Notre-Dame, started shortly after he heard about the fire that shocked the world. Having done extensive research on cathedrals for his book, Pillars of the Earth, and having spent much time in Notre-Dame, he was deeply shocked and saddened when he learned of the fire. It wasn’t too long before reporters started calling him, wanting his expert advice and viewpoint on the possible fire damage. Another call he received was from his publisher telling him that given his knowledge and background in the constructions of cathedrals, he must write a book in response to this tragedy. This little book was what he produced from the notes he started immediately.
The wonderful cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the greatest achievements of European civilization, was on fire. The sight dazed and disturbed us profoundly. I was on the edge of tears. Something priceless was dying in front of our eyes. The feeling was bewildering, as if the earth was shaking.”
The second short book I read last week was The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, by Margareta Magnusson. It was actually a re-read for me because I’d listened to the audiobook a few years ago, and decided to re-read it because I’m currently working on a major decluttering/downsizing project here at home. I hoped it would give me some ideas and motivation to really let go of a lot of things, and it did. It’s a common sense book, and is just straightforward in explaining the ideas and philosophy of “death cleaning.” I’m glad I re-read it.
So I am enjoying my November reading, both the long books and the short ones. I hope you are enjoying your current reading, as well.