Julie, Julia, and Patrick: The Challenge of Books

Have you ever seen Julie and Julia? Are you mildly concerned that a dude is talking about this movie? Well, if you are, get over it, and if you have, you may or may not have liked it. It’s a good movie to watch, and the book is on my shelf waiting for my reading. It’s not exactly something everyone’s going to like, but being a blogger, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I get excited when I see I have a comment like the protagonist. I’d love to somehow have this turn into a career or a book like any consistent blogger does.

If you haven’t seen it, though, let me give you a rundown: basically, this woman lives in Queens and works in what sounds like a customer service job for some company in Manhattan. She starts cooking out of Julia Childs cookbook Mastering The Art of French Cooking to do something she enjoys, and writes about her experiences online. Out of this, she makes a challenge for herself to do all 524 recipes in a year. This leads to all kinds of experiences, including interviews and a book deal.

There’s one thing about the blog that we find toward the end of the movie: Julia Childs hates the blog. Apparently, she sees the whole thing as some kind of stunt and doesn’t appreciate what it’s done for Julie.

What’s this got to do with books? Well, it’s like this: sometimes this thing I’m doing here looks like a challenge, like some kind of game to me (I do have a whole page called “The Game Plan”). Sometimes I think, “Am I just looking to show off how many books I’ve read, show how smart I am?” The whole situation can make me look rather pretentious sometimes.

Hear me on this: knowledge isn’t a race, no matter how much I want to believe it is sometimes. Even if you don’t start educating yourself until you’re 80, it’s never too late, and their’s no reason to hurry. I can honestly say I’ve read more books than some people will ever be interested in reading, and while I want everyone to love reading, I understand that not everyone will. The prospect of one day reading Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason doesn’t excite everyone, and I’m coming to terms with this. It’s not required of everyone, and it shouldn’t be.

However, there is a challenge to reading. Some of the books I own are thick, and the writing and subjects are dense. I haven’t read them yet because, to some extent, they are daunting. One day, I’m going to man up and tackle them, but right now isn’t the time. When you do finish a book like that, one you thought was way over your head, there’s a sense of accomplishment in just having read it. I remember the first academic text I ever read: The Universe Next Door by James Sire. Definitely more of an introductory work, I was only 18 at the time, and there were lots of new terms concepts I never even knew existed (though I knew what nihilism was because of a Rancid song). Anyway, when I was done, I felt awesome, like I just climbed a mountain or something.

Reading is a challenge, and so is learning. That’s why it takes so long. Grasping true knowledge isn’t a race, it’s a slow, slow climb up a steep rock face that threatens us, intimidates us into thinking we’re not worthy. When we get our gear on and tackle the mountain, and we get to the summit, we SHOULD feel like we accomplished something, because we did! We just beat the tar out of that book, and we actually understood it!

So, next time you finish a book, one that’s called you a sissy before, feel good that you did! It’s a true accomplishment!


One thought on “Julie, Julia, and Patrick: The Challenge of Books

  1. I have “Ulysses” sitting on my bookshelf staring at me. One day I will read it, and one day I will conquer it. But it has not happened yet, and it probably will not happen for a very long time. I will take your encouragement with me when I try, though.

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