I think you should be reading Simon Van Booy because he is fabulous, both off and on the page. I had the pleasure to read his first book last spring, and then meet him a few weeks later during BookExpo America week in New York. In person, he is sweet, smart, considerate, and a real gentleman. On the page, he’s even more dreamy than his photo.
Whenever I read a book by Simon Van Booy, I turn into my 20-year-old love-sick, dreamy, hopeful, former English major self. I don’t see the side of myself much these days, being an old, numb and jaded hag of 40, broken down by a genetic condition that causes multiple chronic illnesses. If that wasn’t enough to steal my soul, I’m also struggling with my unemployment and the dysfunctional family demons that continue to haunt me, long after I’ve moved out of the ghetto. After I read a Simon Van Booy book, I feel a little more alive, shiny and loving, if that makes sense to you. Simon has this rare gift of talking about life and love that very few authors have ever shown to me. And, if Van Booy’s words can move me as much as they do, being in the state of pain and negativity that I am these days, then certainly you normal, well-adjusted book nerds out there are going to go absolutely nuts over him. I believe with all my heart that anyone in need of a few moments of joy must read his books. The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter were two of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
Simon Van Booy has 3 new books out, Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter, Why We Need Love, and Why We Fight. These books, edited as a trilogy, explore the three important questions that smart women and men have been trying to answer for years. Van Booy has edited these collected works and does a brilliant job of introducing the topic of each work:
I believe that philosophy is a subject we have a natural gift for, but a subject often regarded as one with no practical value – and closed to anyone outside the walls of universities. I am committed to the idea that these central questions of life are part of our everyday lives – that we all possess the skill and agility to tackle them, and that by pondering them, we can experience more fulfillment in our relationships, in our work, and in how we view ourselves.
One celebrated aspect of literature is that unlike the ambitious exactitude of science, literature is often ambiguous - meaning that two people might have very different ideas about what a play, poem, or book is about. While at first this implied vagueness might seem detrimental to literature, it’s one of its sustaining virtues, and allows people from different cultures, and even different time periods, to learn something about their own lives from a single story.
Why We Need Love not only shows you how people have viewed love over time, but it will illuminate (or perhaps darken) your own beliefs about love, by using works about evolution, loneliness, erotic love, and maternal and brotherly love. In this collection, you’ll find the inspiring works of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, John Donne, William Blake, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, O. Henry, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, E. E. Cummings, Anais Nin, Marc Chagall, J. Krishnamurti, and others. As I suspected, this was my favorite book of the trilogy, being a secret romantic and all.
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
Sensuality often makes love grow too quickly, so that the root remains weak and is easy to pull out.
Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter totally inspires philosophical debate. These collected works talk about fate, God, and how we will all find death in the end. Each one has some reason on why our decisions, in the end, don’t matter, and how that might be a good thing. Let me try to push this book on you in s simple, pop culture way–If you loved the tv show Lost, (which of course, I did) then you’ll love this book. In this book, you will find works from Homer, Sophocles, Horac, Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Voltaire, Blake, Dickinson, Twain, Rilke, Camus, Kerouac, Sarte, Borges, Beckett, and others. I really enjoyed this book, almost as much as I did Why We Need Love.
… a man can do as he will, but will as he will.
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
Why We Fight is a thought-provoking look at the reasons why we fight (and don’t fight), by looking at biology, evolution, religion, and the environment. It is amazing to me that words written thousands of years ago still ring true today. In this book you will find the works of Sophocles, Tacitus, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, William Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Walt Whitman, Friedrich Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, James Tissot, James Joyce, General George Paton, and others. Another great philosophical book, but perhaps my least favorite of the trilogy, which came as a surprise to me.
You shall not treat the people with arrogance, nor shall you roam the earth proudly. GOD does not like the arrogant showoffs.
No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.
I can’t say that all three of Van Booy’s books were easy to read. But I feel you can certainly handle them. These books weren’t difficult by no means, but I did have a bit of trouble with Konrad Lorenz’s On Aggression. What I can say is this–isn’t anything worth reading supposed to be not easy to read? Shouldn’t a person take a few moments to think about what they are reading, rather than just breezing through it. Aren’t all of the important things in life a bit hard to understand, like love and war? I promise you, your mind will thank you if you decide to read any Simon Van Booy book. Don’t you owe your mind a good book every once in awhile?
Simon Van Booy was born in London and grew up in rural Wales and Oxford. After playing football in Kentucky, he lived in Paris and Athens. In 2002 he was awarded an MFA and won the H.R. Hays Poetry Prize. He is the author of The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, which in 2009 won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is the author if a children’s book, Pobble’s Way, and the editor of three philosophy books entitled, Why We Fight, Why We Need Love, and Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, and on NPR.
He lives in New York City where he teaches at the School of Visual Arts and is involved in the Rutgers Early College Humanities program for young adults living in under-served communities. His work has been translated into ten languages.
His debut novel, which I can not WAIT to read, Everything Beautiful Began After, will be released in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom on July 5, 2011.
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Visit Indiebound to purchase a copy of Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter, Why We Need Love, Why We Fight, Pobble’s Way, The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter today.