4 Timeless Exploratory Books On My Bookshelf
From the end of August until mid-September, I have hosted three sessions for our community book club and chat with fellow explorers from the 21st Century Explorers Community. In addition, I share four books that I have enjoyed reading and inspire me in my exploration as a flâneur. Read on below some annotated reading and thoughts per book.
François Rabelais was a major French Renaissance/modern European writer, doctor and Renaissance humanist.
In a nutshell
A timeless novel and literature. Gargantua is a mythical character from 16th-century French literature that François Rabelais created. Gargantua is a truculent giant whose name has come to refer to his enormous and insatiable appetite.
The family of giants, humour and adventure, foody, appetite and epicurism, the burlesque and the grotesque, Renaissance, a blend between dreams and reality. Storytelling and making portray. Prose and Old French.
Foodie – I like to visit street food and restaurants, cook and enjoy meals from diverse cultures. Learn more in this post.
One quote from the book
Gargantua made an important speech to the defeated, the troupe, that his opponent, Picrochole, left shamefully. As a humanist sovereign concerned with the long-term preservation of peace, Gargantua gave a speech with seriousness to the defeated and showed his moral greatness and humanism as he avoided the defeated’s humiliation.
“This is the true nature of gratitude. Time gnaws and diminishes all things, but it increases and adds to our good deeds: anytime we have extended a generous hand to a rational human being, that goodness keeps growing and glowing in the man’s heart, forever remembered, constantly contemplated.” in Chapter 50. Gargantua’s Speech To The Vanquished, Book One
Do a portrait (in any form) of anyone in your life/in a meeting with you that you care about/value/cherish. Who they are? What are their strengths, superpowers and uniqueness? Then, consider drawing, creating an haïku, poetry or some punchline, and sharing your production within a learning circle.
Gao Xingjian is a Chinese-born novelist, playwriter, critic, and painter. He left China for France in 1987 and became French ten years later. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000 with this book.
In a nutshell
In 1983, the author was diagnosed with lung cancer and thought he would face death. A second examination revealed he had nothing. In China, he experienced a repressive cultural environment and faced the threat of a spell in prison. That’s why Gao leapt by leaving Beijing and going through an epic voyage of discovery of 15 000 kilometers into the mountains and ancient forests of Sichuan in South China. The book is the narration of his travel. A novel that is bold flowing and that goes deep into the human soul with directedness, candour, imagination.
In a Chinese explorer’s soul, heart and eyes. Travelling through lyrical words of the author in China’s countryside. Wandering through a spiritual experience. Storytelling your journey with depth and lightness, wisdom and modesty.
One travel in Europe at a time, I have nurtured my love for discovering unknown territories and countries, people, photography, self-discovery and self-knowledge. My curiosity for Asia, especially China, Japan and South Asia, has resurfaced over 2021, focusing on Asia futures, past and present.
Quotes from the book
“Reality exists only through experience, and it must be personal experience. However, once related, even personal experience becomes a narrative.”
“At that time the individual did not exist. There was not an awareness of a distinction between “I” and “you”. The birth of I derived from fear of death, and only afterwards an entity which was not I came to constitute you. At that time people did not have an awareness of fearing oneself, knowledge of the self came from an other and was affirmed by possessing and being possessed, and by conquering and being conquered.
He, the third person who is not directly relevant to I and you, was gradually differentiated. After this the I also discovered that he was to be found in large numbers everywhere and was a separate existence from oneself, and it was only then that the consciousness of you and I became secondary. In the individual’s struggle for survival amongst others, the self was gradually forgotten and gradually churned like a grain of sand into the chaos of the boundless universe.”
Share what you would do with your remote/distributed team if/when you finally all meet in person – in each of your countries/cities/homes. What adventure/experiences would you all share?
In the Savage Country
Shannon Burke is an American novelist and screenwriter.
In a nutshell
A terrific adventure set in the American West of the 1820s narrated in a historical novel. A tale of friendships that goes on a trapping expedition. The book is also a love story between the young trapper William Wyeth and Alene, a strong widow.
Expedition into the Old American History and countryside. The adventure reveals the nature of individuals’ men, bravery, loyalty, and friendship—Western fiction beyond frontiers.
Fascinated by social dynamics, American history and cultures. I also dream of travelling in the American countryside one day.
Quote from the book
“That morning the three of us started up into the high mountains and within a few hours were in dense alpine forests dotted with cold blue lakes and bounded by steeply sloping rock walls. We made camp at the prettiest of the high mountain lakes and stayed up in those mountains for two weeks, during which time we hunted and fished and explored the surrounding peaks.
Ferris sketched the land and the trees and the flowers and I scribbled out my impressions from the spring season, taking much care to note my emotions in a way that only a young man can feel is necessary.
And though it was unlikely that there would be any chance to send it, I scribbled out a long letter to Alene, telling her of our take for the first half of the season and of Layton’s glorious feud with Pike, which I was sure would interest her, and made vague references to the initial discord in the brigade that seemed to have faded, though not vanished entirely.
It was strange to write her from that wild and distant place. I knew that my real life and my future were with her, and that she was the single most important person in my life, yet I had not thought of her much over the previous months, and it was only late at night when I felt close to her, or that my mind returned to our life together. I am not saying my heart was not hers, but only noting a curious fact.
When you are on a trapping brigade, engaged in constant struggle with constant danger, it is hard to imagine any other life, and it is easy to forget the civilized world and your connection to it.”
As you cannot travel abroad due to the pandemic, which alternatives ways – on the ground or online – have you discovered, brought back and enjoyed so far – to travel over the next months/years?
Susan Cain is the Quiet Schools Network and the Quiet Leadership Institute’s co-founder, public speaker, and American writer.
In a nutshell
It is a book full of research, observations, and true stories of introverts and how they work, learn, recharge, see themselves and how society sees them.
Non-fiction. Tons of research. Stories from real people. Actionable insights on balancing introvert and extrovert sides.
The book helps me to understand one dimension of myself, strength and nature. I see myself as an ambivert through social gatherings and 1-1 meetings, whether online or offline, in live or asynchronous conversation.
Quotes from the book
“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear.
Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”
“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.”
“A Manifesto for Introverts
1. There’s a word for ‘people who are in their heads too much’: thinkers.
2. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
3. The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
4. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend extrovert. There will always be time to be quiet later.
5. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters.
6. One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
7. It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
8. ‘Quiet leadership’ is not an oxymoron.
9. Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
10. ‘In a gentle way, you can shake the world.’ ~ Mahatma Gandhi”
If you are in a F2F or remote meeting with your team, network or community members, consider taking ten minutes to be quiet – host and guests included – to reflect and use brainwriting/drawing on this question:
What is the legacy of our gathering/network/organisation/community?
Use a timer and have a timekeeper. Bring a pen, post-it, or a small piece of paper to write down or draw your deep thoughts and insights with the participants and the host when time is up. Then, the host can invite each person to share their ideas or build on each other’s ideas to co-create the small gems of the present and future legacy as people wire together waves after waves of conversation, collaboration and cooperation.
It was delightful to host and ignite conversations and connections one week, book and activity at a time with fellow explorers from different parts of the world over three grandiose live sessions.
Heartfelt thank you, Klara Loots, Anne Marie Rattray, Jenny Gordon, Trish Wilson and John Granholm, for being part of our continuous great weekly chats and contributing on a variety of topics and activities related to storytelling and portraying, mapping and travelling, leadership and connectedness, self-knowledge and the present and future of our community to name a few.