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Reading The Masters…And Trying Not to Get too Jealous Along the Way

Cover of ShogunFor the last month, I’ve been reading and obsessing over the book Shogun by James Clavell. In case you didn’t know, this book is good. Really, really good. I absolutely love the clash of cultures and the fish-out-of-water perspective. Through the eyes of protagonist John Blackthorne, we fall in love with the imperial Japanese culture based on the twin foundations of honor and death. The Japanese believe that life is death and embrace the suicide of suppoko with great dignity and composure, often even with pride.

Clavell has brought his world to life and filled it with vibrant characters like Mariko, Yabu, and Toronaga. The Japanese culture is so exotic and insensible to Blackthorne when he first encounters it, but slowly he begins to understand and respect their ways. We readers travel with him, learning to watch rocks grow and drink cha from an empty cup.

This book has been a joy to read, but I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy as much as I try to squelch it. Here is a master wordsmith. A man who dominates his art. Chapter after chapter reminds me of where I want to be and how far I still must travel. I feel this way when I read George R. R. Martin and Orson Scott Card. These authors exist on an entirely different level of brilliance and talent.

I’d like to climb up those steps one day, but not today. Today I read their words. I tumble headfirst into their stories. I learn. Grow. And exalt in the joy of reading.

Are you reading anything good?