I’d been looking forward to both of these books for awhile. The Giver is one I wish I’d read as a young adult, but never did. I still wish that, but better late than never, right? And Seven Brief Lessons on Physics initially hooked me with the beautiful cover and tiny size. But let’s take this one at a time…
I first read The Giver by Lois Lowry, a long awaited check off my must-read-eventually list. But I think I made a mistake before even picking it up. A few years ago I saw the movie (2014), and I wish I hadn’t done that. As I was reading I was picturing the movie set, the actors, and turning over in my head the differences between the movie and the book. It ruined some of the magic. At least it’d been quite awhile since I’d seen the movie so it wasn’t fresh in my mind, but it was present enough to color my first impression. So if you haven’t read this one yet, definitely don’t watch the movie first.
That being said, I enjoyed Jonas’s story, the intrigue and themes of the world Lowry created, the beautiful balance between what you know and what you don’t know, and the timeless qualities of the world that creates a picture of the future no matter the time and place you’re reading from. It said so much about what it is to be innocent, to lose that innocence, and the essence of what it means to truly live. To me it seemed to put a lense up to the meaning of our humanity. It’s definitely a book I’d like to re-read in the future, probably with my daughters someday. I think it’s a story with messages to be heard anew with each reading, and I look forward to picking it back up someday.
“Nature is our home, and in nature we are at home.
This strange, multicolored, and astonishing world that we explore—where space is granular, time does not exist and things are nowhere—is not something that estranges us from our true selves, for this is only what our natural curiosity reveals to us about the place of our dwelling. About the stuff of which we ourselves are made. We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering or when we are experiencing intense joy, we are being nothing other than what we can’t help but be: a part of our world.”
– Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
by Carlo Rovelli
And second, I read Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. I picked this one up for my husband actually a few years ago. It’s a compilation of seven essays Rovelli wrote, originally in Italian, that attempt to bring some of the world’s most complicated scientific theories to a level you and I can understand and learn from in a way that teaches us something more about what it means to be human and living among these laws of nature.
Side note: the book’s website is beautiful and fun just like the dust jacket.
Before reading it I’d heard from a few people that it was hard to follow and seemed to bring more confusion than clarity. But frankly, I think hearing those perspectives before reading it benefited my experience. I read each lesson under the assumption that I’d not be able to really understand most of the science. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn’t. But not working too hard to piece together the science made me really appreciate the larger message; how these theories of physics say so much about our humanity, how we fit into nature’s path, our curiosities, how much we’re capable of, and how much more there is to learn. I also read most of the book in one sitting which I think helps since as you progress lesson to lesson Rovelli refers back to previous theories.
But ultimately I LOVED this book. I didn’t think I would. It surprised me. But I think it was just what I was in the mood for… a step back for a look at who we are outside of the daily, for lack of a better word, bullshit. I could have highlighted nearly half the book. I found his writing poetic and the messages enlightened, intelligent, and hopeful (themes that seem to be lacking as of late). So if you haven’t read this one yet, pick it up! It’s 80 pages that will teach you some fantastic, mysterious, amazing things about the world we live in and who we are.