At the January 17 meeting of the St. James-Assiniboia Library book club, Stephen Galloway’s The Confabulist was up for discussion.
Throughout the book, the concept of reality is constantly called into question, and this resulted in a wonderful, lively debate regarding all the nuances implicit in the term. How much of reality is up for negotiation? Do we all experience the same reality, or does it depend entirely upon an individual’s perception of the world around them? If two people experience the same event, but perceive it differently, whose reality is “correct”?
Big questions for a Tuesday night, let me tell you!
Despite our best efforts, we never quite managed to pin down what reality is or is not, but there are no shortage of books in the Winnipeg Public Library catalogue that explore this same question. Some are “New Age” guides to finding your true self, others focus on the physics of it all, virtual and alternate realities are rampant (not to mention reality TV), and even the act of reading is considered a way of altering reality!
Here are just a few titles to start you on the road to reality:
You are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters by Deepak Chopra literally means what it says–each of us is a co-creator of reality extending to the vastest reaches of time and space. This seemingly impossible proposition follows from the current state of science, where outside the public eye, some key mysteries cannot be solved even though they are the very issues that define reality itself.
White space by Ilsa Bick involves a seventeen-year-old girl jumping between the lines of books and into the white space where realities are created and destroyed–but who may herself be nothing more than a character written into being from an alternative universe.
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True by Richard Dawkins exemplifies how magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the Gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back–earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality–science.
Symmetry is the unsung great idea behind all the big physics of the past one hundred years – and what lies ahead. In the superbly illustrated book The Universe in the Rearview Mirror: How Hidden Symmetries Shape Reality Dave Goldberg makes mind-bending science not just comprehensible but exhilarating. Fasten your seat belt. Objects may indeed be closer than they appear.
In a near-future world, a scientist develops artiticial intelligences called proxies who mingle with humans in the virtual world of Zendegi, created by Greg Egan. After a journalist finds out he might not live long enough to raise his son, he becomes obsessed with finding a way to make a proxy of himself to take care of his son.
Nearly every night on every major network, “unscripted” (but carefully crafted) “reality” TV shows routinely glorify retrograde stereotypes that most people would assume got left behind 35 years ago. In Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV media critic Jennifer L. Pozner aims a critical, analytical lens at a trend most people dismiss as harmless fluff.
Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business by Chris Ducker is a step-by-step guide every entrepreneur needs to build his or her business with the asset of working with virtual employees. Focusing on business growth, Ducker explains every detail you need to grasp, from figuring out which jobs you should outsource to finding, hiring, training, motivating, and managing virtual assistants.
Keep it real, my friend. Happy reading!