As we navigate through this current time, hopefully we are finding silver linings. They help to bring us hope and to find good during difficult times. Hopefully you are already finding some. I know i am!
For those of you that don’t know Pascal, I want to introduce you to a silver lining from one of the most difficult times in my life when my brother passed away in 2004 and left him behind. While Jimi was alive, we occasionally brought our kids together. Once Jimi passed, Pascal was raised full time by his mother, Bozena (who I adore as a sister) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We would see each other over the holidays and Pascal started spending every summer with our family. When he moved to college, he chose a school that was just 45 minutes away from us and we saw him every other weekend. Pascal is now 23, living in Paris.
Pascal has grown up with deep perspective and lives like an old soul. I see so much of Jimi in him and it is amazing how much they share the same passions. You will typically find Pascal with a couple of books, a journal to write his thoughts, listening to music, cooking or off on some sort of adventure. He has a passion for living and learning just like his dad did. And here he is with a special message to you from lockdown in Paris:
During these 15 years, Pascal has become my third child and a sibling and best friend to my kids who are 21 and 18. Whenever he is around there is so much laughter!!! Silver linings all around!
Enjoy his Brooks pantry challenge from Paris and music and book recommendations. You can find them all below.
Have a question for him or something to share? He would love to hear from you: [email protected]
I hope you all are continuing to stay safe and healthy!
I have loved hearing from so many of you! If you have questions for me or if there is anything we can do to support you please don’t hesitate to reach out. [email protected] or my cell 831-238-4828.
Brooks Book Club:
Jimi loved reading and so does his son, Pascal. Here, Pascal shares his favorite books (Click book titles to purchase on Amazon):
The Way of the World– Nicolas Bouvier An incredibly poetic travelogue of two Swiss artists who drove from Geneva to India during the 1950’s. Perfect for those craving the joys and hardships of traveling, who have looked for another Motorcycle Diaries and wish to partake in the speculation and visions of another world in another time.
Beloved – Toni Morrison A difficult but beautifully written story, chronicling the life of Sethe, a former slave, her daughter Denver, and the lost child that haunts their house. Throughout the broken timeline you’ll meet numerous characters, each once shaping the story into the remembrance of a tragic past. You’ll come out of this read deeply moved by the pain and wonder of life.
The Meursault Investigation – Kamel Daoud Genuinely one of the best books that I’ve read in years. Daoud retells Camus’ famed The Stranger, and flips the narrative from a newfound voice and perspective to produce an imaginative and powerful postcolonial work of art.
Eva Luna – Isabell Allende An arch fit for a hero, Eva Luna takes you through the epic story of her life, and her country. I found myself taken over by the beauty of its language, and completely invested in the future of this unnamed land: the best stories are the ones left to the imagination.
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami There is a reason why Haruki Murakami is featured twice on this list. With a crow that prophesies ancient tragedies, a man that talks to cats, and fish raining from the sky, this novel seems like a journey into my own half-awaken dreams. The magical elements of the book only add to the uncanny familiarity that makes his writing so iconic.
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami Don’t be alarmed by the size of this book, there is a lot going on underneath the surface of this quiet suburban couple’s life. This book is so rich with stories, you’ll find a literal deep and dark well in the middle of it all, a perfect place for you to settle in and observe. A contemplative novel you’ll never want to leave.
Exit West – Mosin Hamid Exit West takes places in a country with no name and follows love in a burgeoning civil war. We know the basics of this story, we have watched it unfold however many times on the news, and yet we haven’t seen the details of this story. Magical realism, to say the least.
The Lost Child – Carol Philipps What if the famed character Heathcliff, whose passion was reflected in the landscape of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, was a black man? Transposed to 1960s England, this multi-generational story of exile and “lost” children is cadenced with the tunes of this iconic and turbulent era. The mastery of Caryl Phillips’ language only adds to the gloomy atmosphere.
Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino Marco Polo travelled the world; and to the busy and aged emperor Khan, who owned so much of the lands Marco had crossed, these cities and lands would remain unseen to the sickly ruler. So he asks Marco to describe all that he had seen, all the cities that he had crossed in his travels with their strange lands and customs. Polo obliges, but with a twist. Absolutely one of my favorite books. Short read.
Love in a Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fitting for our time and beautiful in its scope, Love in a Time of Cholera is a dense, though worthwhile read brought to us by a master of words and emotions. Excellent for those wishing to escape the confines of quarantine and land upon the coast of Colombia.
The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac My favorite Kerouac book. Full of beatniks exploring their version of buddhism and trying their best to attain enlightenment by writing mad poetry, hiking across rural stretches of the Pacific Northwest, singing till the early morning, and doing any and all they thought was good for them. Perfect for those who enjoy the sight of dust on their boots.
The Plague – Albert Camus Written during the Nazi occupation of France, Camus writes of a plague that strikes his native Algiers. It is an invisible menace, a fear that stalks the streets and hangs over the people living in a time whose momentum seems to have stopped. Long thought of as a metaphor for the occupation, it is a timeless and topical tale of people trying to cope and do their best in a time where everyone fears and has no idea for the future. Camus finds hope in the actions of people, and chooses not to despair.
No-No Boy – John Okada A story exploring the nature of alienation and the possibility for redemption in post-war Seattle. Heartbreaking as much as it is inspiring, Okada offers a character who is forced to reckon with a shattered identity. It is a story exploring guilt and shame, and brings forward an otherwise unspoken of experience. One of my favorites.
China Men – Maxine Hong Kingston An incredible assemblage of short stories that are as disjointed as they are unified in their coverage of experiences had by many generations of Chinese-Americans. Kingston wishes to give light to their trials and imagines them in the most beautiful and original language. Highly recommended.
A Young Doctors Notebook – Mikhail Bulgakov One of the few books that I have ever laughed out loud when reading. Charmingly written by one of the best Soviet Writers, Bulgakov looks to his formative early years as a country doctor for inspiration and comic relief.
The Spider’s House – Paul Bowles Both haunting and somehow bleak in style, Bowles delivers a story that is vibrant in its depiction of a Morocco that has since disappeared. To read this is to smell the dust. Semi-autobiographical in its account, it follows a person caught between two cultures during a nationalist revolution in Fez. Remains my favorite of all of Bowles’ works.
The Shadow of the Sun – Ryszard Kapuscinski One of my favorite reporters. His dispatches take you across the Sahara with nomads, hitchhiking with caravans, and to the heart of human affairs, all the while remaining respectful of the different cultures in time. Witness the end of colonization in Africa from the ground of those forging their own destiny.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe – Charles Yu Imagine our age’s Kurt Vonnegut, but with a jargon that is actually informed by astro-physics. Lawyer by trade and writer by passion, Yu writes an incredible story that breaks all the tropes of science and modern fiction while exploring the nature of loss. Perfect for those wishing for a breath of fresh air and a good laugh.
Children of the Alley – Naguib Mahfouz Absolutely incredible! It is the percolation of stories that come from the life and strife of this street in Cairo. It is nameless, multigenerational and shrouded in mysticism. It is considered a masterpiece of Egyptian literature.
The Dispossessed – Ursula Leguin I had never been a fan of science fiction until I read Leguin. The Dispossessed offers a strange vision of two opposing societies, separated by space. One is poised in abundance, the other in scarcity. She never looked farther than our own cultures for inspiration, and, as such, much will ring true by the facts she lays out. Imaginative and grounded.
The Good Lord Bird – James McBride What if Old John Brown, the infamous abolitionist, was absolutely, endearingly, nuts? Follow Henry, a freed teenage slave, as the old man himself takes him on a journey through the Eastern United States, while mistaking our young hero for a girl. Always proud of its completely imaginative and satirical rewriting of abolitionist history, this book made me burst out laughing more times than I can count.
Once and Forever – Kenji Miyazawa Best kept on your bedside table, for late night storytelling amongst young ones and grownups alike, this collection of Japanese folktales transported me into a world that is no more. Perhaps you’ll be dreaming of the deers’ dance too? Needless to say, I loved venturing down the rabbit hole.
The Vegetarian – Han Kang As a quiet married woman slowly thinks herself transforming into a plant, so does she unsettle the anguish lying in the hearts of those around her. Told from three different perspectives, this poetic disruption of normality takes on epic proportions. Although the story can be somewhat shocking at times, it is beautifully balanced by a poetic and freeing language. I definitely recommend this short read.