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“Collective madness is called sanity”

So it was essay deadline time. And having run out of books to read as procrastination, I naturally turned to the trusty internet. A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the impact of technology – and in particular, the internet –on literature. Despite knowing this, however, I had never really delved into the particulars of book blogs…until now.

Google helpfully pointed me towards a site ranking the top 50 most popular blogs. At the top of the list was the blog of Paulo Coelho. Paulo Coelho is definitely a writer I had intended on devoting a little more time to, when I got around to it, and his blog reminded me of his gifts as a writer. I’d read his novel Veronika Decides to Die, which I thought was incredible (-if you get the chance, definitely give it a go!).

One post that particularly interested me was posted on 9th November, titled ‘What is Happiness?’ The theme echoed those of the novel I had read. Coelho answered the rhetorical question pretty philosophically, in a way that appealed to the struggles of the reader and causing no small amount of self-reflection:

“I don’t know if everyone is unhappy. I do know that people are always busy: working overtime, looking after the kids, the husband, the career, the university degree, what to do tomorrow, what they need to buy, whatever it is they need to have in order not to feel inferior, and so on… Most say: “I’m fine, I’ve managed to get all I ever wanted”… So the meaning of life is work, the family, children who grow up and leave you, a wife or husband who will become more like a friend than a true love-mate. And one day the work will come to an end. What will you do when that happens?”

This part in particular rang powerful for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of university life – the increasing workload, deadlines, student budgets, homesickness, and all the other parts that aren’t so rosy about university. What makes me happy? What makes you happy? It’s such an open-ended and unanswerable question. And his attempt to grapple with this fundamental part of every life demonstrates his use of a blog not as superficial self-interest but as a way to connect widely and deeply. I think back to the character of Veronika and it makes me reconsider her completely.

When I first started looking for blogs, I did so with slight prejudice. There is so much on the internet, it can be overwhelming and you often have filter through a lot to find your pot of gold. Coelho’s quote, “collective madness is called sanity” seems strangely relevant. However, overall I’ve learnt that book blogs – especially those by authors – are quite refreshing. They remind you that the writer is a living, breathing (questioning) being and it gives you the chance to read between the lines of their novels – into their actual lives, opinions, feelings, and moral motives. Blogs are an interactive method of writing allowing for a wide range of debate and comment. I for one can’t wait to discover more blogs like that of Paulo Coelho.

Tags: Author blogs, blog books, Blogs, literature on-line, Paul Coelho

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