Goodreadings: The Book of Tea

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So, before we kick off: yes. I’ve called my weekly snippets in which I discuss and review books Goodreadings. You know. Because of the thing. I actually managed to get some reading done this week, and I’m glad to say I’ve enjoyed every page of it. So it seems this new approach is already working!

The first book I’ve finished since making this pledge of actually writing about it, to see if that might encourage me to read more without getting lost in the gamification of satisfying infographics is a doozy. The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura was published in 1906. And it’s an absolute treasure.

It’s very small, and thin. Only 109 pages. That’s not the reason I finished it first, though.

I finished it first because it’s the first book I picked up after writing my Goodreads Resolution blog. Got back into it immediately. Quoted it all day long. Was astonished by its Uncle Iroh-level of wisdom. Honestly want to read it again sometime.

When I got it for Christmas last year, I thought it’d be a cute little book about tea. I love tea; I assumed that’s why I got it. But no: it’s not just about tea. Don’t worry, it’s about tea, too! But it’s also about the cornerstones of civilization, the nature of true and simple beauty and (f course) the folly of the Western Man. A wise and still super sharp diss toward Western culture and its inability to appreciate beauty and contentment.

[Man] entered the realm of of art when he perceived the subtle use of the useless.

The book is divided up into chapters, which each discuss a different subject. Initially, these mostly concern the history of tea, the various traditions regarding the tea ceremony and tearoom, and Teaism. The philosophy behind these traditions is discussed as well, which makes reading it feel like being let into the secrets as to what life is truly about. I also really appreciated the attention to the ‘why’ of many of these traditions and philosophies. And though it was written so long ago, I feel like much of these wisdoms (and also its criticisms of Western culture and its attitude toward the East) still hold up.

The fact that the notions of Teaism are applied to wider subjects such as how to appreciate art also really charmed me. I never knew. I just really enjoyed this, is what I’m saying. And I’d definitely recommend it, especially when you, like me, generally read longer novels and such. One chapter before bed, to give the brain a pleasant stretch, along with a nice warm cup of tea, that’s just what Whatsannew ordered!