Wednesday 25th January 2012by Rabea Hofmann
I am reading All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland. After my writing year 2011, I am getting back into the habit of reading a lot, and I notice how much I have missed it. I used to–and still do–get so lost in books that I ended up not sleeping and being more dead than alive for school or work the next morning. I never regret it. One of the guidelines of my life is ‘set priorities’, and reading a book that emotionally feeds me is worth more than a few hours of sleep. And those who know me will testify to the fact that I love sleeping.
Back to the book. It is quite a comical story about a family whose members have fallen apart years ago and whose lives have crashed into chaos. HIV, robbery, selling an unborn child, a letter from Prince William to Lady Di, a mad chase for a woman named Shw (yes, really) and chaotic love triangles are only some of the complications this family faces. Through it all runs a thread of love that, while thin and worn, still keeps them together somehow.
I must admit that it was hard for this book to intrigue me. I’m reading it on recommendation from a colleague and I’m not usually into comedy. However, Douglas Coupland succeeds in weaving the comical aspects into other threads that are emotional and even philosophical, and all of this without slipping into preaching. This book is one of the few that has made me laugh out loud while reading it. It’s made me teary-eyed, too.
And it makes me think. I love it when books make me think–in fact, I consider a book which doesn’t make me think a waste of time. The underlying theme, to me, seems to be something as cliché as ‘love conquers all’, while steering clear of actually being cliché. While I have never been much of a family person, this book makes me think of my own family, the things that went wrong, the things that went right, and that the former is worth fixing because of the latter. I love my family, and this book reminds me not to give it up easily.
I set new priorites yesterday to give my writing the time it deserves to have in my daily life. Douglas Coupland makes me want to set new priorities today in order to give my family, too, the time it deserves.
In my mind, books are so much more than words on paper. The best of books can impact your life to the point where they save it. Less dramatically, they can steer it into a new direction, make you happy or sad, open your mind further, and make you think. Make you set new priorities.
All Families are Psychotic did that, and it is a book that was well worth the time I spent reading it. Apart from that, though, it is also entertaining to read, and I recommend it.