How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh

“You have feet, and if you don’t make use of them it’s a loss and a waste. Someone is telling you now so that in the future you cannot say: “No one told me that it was important to enjoy using my feet.”

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 120 pages.
Read on August 4, 2019.

I received this lovely and quaint gift from a wonderful friend for my birthday and it was the perfect read for a short airplane flight. I have read Thich Nhat Hanh before with his novel, The Heart of Buddha’s Teachings after wanting to get a basic understanding of Buddhism.

This book is part of a small series of books on mindfulness called the Mindfulness Essentials Series. Each book tackles different ways to be mindful and this one focuses on walking. It emphasises gratitude with movement and allowing ourselves to be present in the movement.

“When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There’s nothing else to it.”

The above quote pretty much sums up the book in its simplest form. Thich Nhat Hanh has a distinct and concise way of writing that lends well to his teachings. I do feel that it would have almost been better to read all the books in the series in order to get the full impact of the message that Thich Nhat Hanh is trying to get across. However, I think these books are meant to be used as daily reminders that are portable and can be picked up whenever you need to find a mindful place or remind yourself of the importance of mindfulness in your daily life.

If I were to personally take up this book again or recommend it to someone I would start and read the whole series, which I believe is about 5 books. Overall, it’s a short and easy reminder on how to be grateful for what you have and how to make the most of life regardless of your religious beliefs.

 

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”

2/5 stars.
ebook, 283 pages.
Read from July 12, 2019 to Aug 1, 2019.

I was so excited to read this book as I love Neil Gaiman and had heard so many wonderful things about Terry Pratchett.

Aziraphale is an angel and Crowley is a demon. This unlikely pair is under orders to help bring about the end of times as predicated in the only accurate prophecy book called The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, a witch who exploded at the stake during the witch trials. The two of them have become fond of Earth and the humans on it but are being forced to carry out their duties from their direct superiors. Crowley seems to have misplaced the Anti-Christ, an 11-year old boy who is ironically named Adam, so Aziraphale joins up with him to help stop the impending end of the world.

The plot sounds so promising and is full of interesting apocalypse characters such as the four horsemen of the apocalypse, witches, and more. I’m not sure if it was my state of mind when I started this book or if this book just wasn’t for me as I found the plot disjointed and hard to follow. The characters of Crowley and Aziraphale are solid throughout the book but as soon as a chapter takes a different narrative direction with another character I found that I lost interest in the whole plot. For example, Adam and the Thems, I had so much trouble following these chapters and I found their conversations uninteresting and tedious. I also got lost in Anathema, Shadwell and Newt’s presence in the plot and found I wasn’t much interested when their chapters came along too. The four horsemen of the apocalypse were pretty great though.

Overall, the story and the characters just didn’t come together as they should have for me and it felt obvious that this book was a joint effort between two authors. Not that the book or the story is without merit, even if the writing didn’t seem smooth or concise to me, it has a wonderful English flair and style and I was still intrigued by the story and at least some of the characters. I’m still interested in reading more by Terry Pratchett despite this being the first taste I’ve had of his writing. My love for Neil Gaiman also remains unchanged.

I may add this book to a re-read list and give it another chance later on but for now, it is not a book I would recommend.

The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

“How long lived our memory of you when you are gone? Because in the end, that is the only measure. In the end, when life’s last flickers fade, all that remains is memory. Richness, in the final measure, is not weighed in gold coins, but in the number of people you have touched, the tears of those who mourn your passing, and the fond remembrances of those who continue to celebrate your life.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 384 pages.
Read from July 6, 2019 to July 11, 2019.

I have been looking forward to this book for a long time. While I have enjoyed the new journey that Drizzt took with some new and old characters, I really missed the Companions of the Hall. This is book 24 (I think? According to Goodreads anyway) of The Legend of Drizzt series that is now 30+ books in length. I actually never imagined I get this far when I picked up the series more than ten years ago.

Cattibrie, Bruenor, Regis, and Wulfgar have been reunited in death and have been given a choice, a gift from the goddess Melikki, to help their friend Drizzt in his time of need. They are to be reincarnated and will meet on a set date and location in which their assistance to their friend will be needed and revealed. The story follows their rebirth from children, who still retain their previous memories and adult mind, through their growth and struggle in being reborn. Wulfgar is uncertain he wants to be reincarnated, even for the sake of Drizzt, while Bruenor gets to see the follow-through of some his most important decisions as King in his past life and struggles to come to terms with the person that he is now. Regis is determined to be more valuable to his friends in this life by becoming stronger and more courageous. Cattibrie knows her path and is determined to learn as much magic as she can in order to be reunited with her beloved Drizzt. There are, however, no guarantees in this rebirth. The Companions have one chance and if they die in this life there is no coming back.

What an adventure this book was! It is unlike any of the other books in the Legend of Drizzt series. For one, it’s one of the few books in the series that requires knowledge and context from other books in the existing series.  Most of the books in the series can be picked up without having read many of the books in the series but I feel like this one is an exception and without the background knowledge of the characters and their previous lives this plot would be very confusing. Secondly, Drizzt is barely heard from in this book as the narrative switches between his companions only.

Kudos to Salvatore for finding a clever and innovative way to bring back his much-loved characters. I’m not sure if this was his plan all along, regardless, it worked out well and this book is very well-executed. Looking forward to the remainder of the series now that Drizzt has his companions at his side again.