Mental Yoga Sunday :: 5 Favorite Long Form Reads This Week 3.19.17





"Christopher Knight was only 20 years old when he walked away from society, not to be seen again for more than a quarter of a century. He had been working for less than a year installing home and vehicle alarm systems near Boston, Massachusetts, when abruptly, without giving notice to his boss, he quit his job. He never even returned his tools. He cashed his final pay cheque and left town.

Knight did not tell anyone where he was going. “I had no one to tell,” he says. “I didn’t have any friends. I had no interest in my co-workers.” He drove down the east coast of America, eating fast food and staying in cheap motels – “the cheapest I could find”. He travelled for days, alone, until he found himself deep into Florida, sticking mostly to major roads, watching the world go by.

Eventually, he turned around and headed north. He listened to the radio. Ronald Reagan was president; the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had just occurred. Driving through Georgia and the Carolinas and Virginia, blessed with invincibility of youth, buzzed by “the pleasure of driving”, he sensed an idea growing into a realization, then solidifying into resolve.

All his life, he had been comfortable being alone. Interacting with others was so often frustrating. Every meeting with another person seemed like a collision.

He drove north to Maine, where he had grown up. There aren’t many roads in the centre of the state, and he chose the one that went right by his family’s house. “I think it was just to have one last look around, to say goodbye,” he said. He didn’t stop. The last time he saw his family home was through the windscreen of his car.

He kept going, “up and up and up”. Soon he reached the shore of Moosehead Lake, the largest in Maine, and the point where the state begins to get truly remote. “I drove until I was nearly out of gas. I took a small road. Then a small road off that small road. Then a trail off that.” He went as far into the wilderness as his vehicle could take him."

If you like to read, enjoy helping others and think you are capable of naming the un-Google-able title of the books people love but can't quite remember...then boy o' boy is Stump the Bookseller the website for you to kill an entire Sunday reading. This website has existed in some form or another for the better part of two decades. It is part puzzle, part public service. Mystified readers desperately post descriptive, dream-like entries of long lost books they once treasured with the hope someone like you will come along and miraculously remember and reveal the book. I must admit, it's a bit addictive once you start reading through it.  Here are a couple recent posts:

A SHY GIRL AT SUMMER CAMPI am looking for a book I read somewhere around 5th grade.  The year was 1977-78ish.  Everyone was reading Judy Blume.  The book I’m looking for was about a girl who went to summer camp.  I think the girl was overweight.  My recollection is that the girl was shy for some reason, or maybe that’s how I saw myself.  Maybe the girl just wasn’t happy with the way she looked.  Perhaps Judy Blume or another author popular at the same time?

UNFORTUNATE MONSTERS IN A FLOOD? (Solved!) - I was born in 1978 and remember a picture book full of bizarre creatures whose anatomy blended real-world objects, e.g. a monster with a “bird feeder mouth” into which rain was falling and on which birds were perched, and a forlorn-looking monster with a faucet for a nose or mouth, sitting on a rock. I think water was a theme in all the illustrations, and my brother seems to remember that the book was about “fantasy creatures that missed Noah’s Ark”. (I’ve ruled out “The Lost Zoo” by Cullen.) I recall the art style being painterly and/or airbrushed, with colorful graded shading that gave the creatures great depth. The facial features were detailed, not unlike what you see in a Google Images search for “antique sea monsters”.



How do Scandinavians deal with long, dark winters? And what might this teach us about the relationship between our moods and sunlight?

"The inhabitants of Rjukan in southern Norway have a complex relationship with the sun. “More than other places I’ve lived, they like to talk about the sun: when it’s coming back, if it’s a long time since they’ve seen the sun,” says artist Martin Andersen. “They’re a little obsessed with it.” Possibly, he speculates, it’s because for approximately half the year, you can see the sunlight shining high up on the north wall of the valley: “It is very close, but you can’t touch it,” he says. As autumn wears on, the light moves higher up the wall each day, like a calendar marking off the dates to the winter solstice. And then as January, February and March progress, the sunlight slowly starts to inch its way back down again."



The secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death. She is venerated around the world. She has outlasted 12 US presidents. She stands for stability and order. But her kingdom is in turmoil, and her subjects are in denial that her reign will ever end. That’s why the palace has a plan.

"Her eyes will be closed and Charles will be king. His siblings will kiss his hands. The first official to deal with the news will be Sir Christopher Geidt, the Queen’s private secretary, a former diplomat who was given a second knighthood in 2014, in part for planning her succession.

Geidt will contact the prime minister. The last time a British monarch died, 65 years ago, the demise of George VI was conveyed in a code word, “Hyde Park Corner”, to Buckingham Palace, to prevent switchboard operators from finding out. For Elizabeth II, the plan for what happens next is known as “London Bridge.” The prime minister will be woken, if she is not already awake, and civil servants will say “London Bridge is down” on secure lines."



As video games get better and job prospects worse, more young men are dropping out of the job market to spend their time in an alternate reality.

"Today’s games seem to be displacing careers, friendships and families, and thus stopping young people (particularly men) from starting real, adult lives.

Over the last 15 years there has been a steady and disconcerting leak of young people away from the labour force in America. Between 2000 and 2015, the employment rate for men in their 20s without a college education dropped ten percentage points, from 82% to 72%. In 2015, remarkably, 22% of men in this group – a cohort of people in the most consequential years of their working lives – reported to surveyors that they had not worked at all in the prior 12 months. That was in 2015: when the unemployment rate nationwide fell to 5%, and the American economy added 2.7m new jobs. Back in 2000, less than 10% of such men were in similar circumstances."

Mental Yoga Sunday :: 5 Favorite Long Form Reads This Week 3.12.17 ~ Fin.