Literary Probation / by Didier Young


In a world where oversharing is caring, when does one know where to draw the line on good and bad recommendations? Everyone has become hyper-opiniated and we are constantly bombarded with recommendations for a new book new music, new products and the newest Scandinavian lifestyle ethos.

A recent conversation with one of my peers, Mr Jordan Turner, took a quick literary detour. Literally. We started talking about one book which in turn led to a recollection of our achievements in reading some of the most acclaimed books of our generation, Kim Kardashian’s Selfish book excluded, and we began mentioning some authors from our respective countries. After encouraging him to read André Alexis’ Fifteen dogs, Jordan decided to put me on a literary probation. What does that mean you may ask?


Literary is an adjective concerned with the writing and content of literature while a probation is a period of grace where a known offender might be given a second chance under supervision. When put together, they formed an amalgam that was pleasing to the ear and encompassed the whole sentiment that Jordan was trying to convey. Much like a writer submitting a sample of their body of work while interviewing for a job, I was passing him a page out of my book for him to read and decide if we were compatible in literary terms. Those two simple words that we mashed up together inspired this blog post.

First of all, they are a fantastic reminder of the power of words. Words convey more meaning and direction that most people give them credit for and are not simply to be used while writing our Instagram captions or replying to work emails. There is a reason why it is more romantic to send a well versed letter than to confess your love for someone over the phone. Reading enhances our vocabulary and grammar but it also enriches our imagination and lives. We always make up excuses to justify the lack of reading we undertake and we do not allow ourselves to be fully immersed in a sea of words. Go pick up a book and let your imagination run wild.

The second lesson to be taken from today’s story is, be selective. We all have different weights that we put on the scales of Good and Bad and it is no different when it comes to books. Good writers might compel you with their skills at handling their respective languages and tour de phrases or they might enthral you with a story that is weaved to trap you within its web of words. Find the style of writing you love and the genre you prefer. It is okay if a biography of the Queen Mother isn't your cup of tea and if you’d rather read a spy novel à la James Bond. Read something that inspires you and grows your love of reading.


To conclude this post, we shall circle back to Jordan. Did he enjoy the book? Did we start our own transcontinental book club and kept on discussing the complexities of the emotions to be read over our shared love of coffee? The answers to those questions are not provided today. I shall end with this cliffhanger in the hope that, just like any great book, it leaves you with something to think about after you’re done reading this piece.