Category Archives: Reading Books

Roqué’s Sunday Book Review: Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch

July 4, 2021

Creativity / Reading Books / Roque Recommends

Director and auteur David Lynch is known for his iconic films and television shows such as Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks. Imagine my surprise when a wonderful friend of mine gifted me with a book written by him. Catching the Big Fish is a collection of thoughts and extended musings about Lynch’s personal philosophies that guide his life. The book’s subtitle “Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity” pretty much sums up the cornerstones of these writings, but the picture he lays out is much broader.

Broken up into small one to two-page sections, the book maps out a primer on how to live a life that includes an expansive awareness of self and the world and an attunement toward persistent ideation. Lynch wants his readers to think about how meditation can be a gateway into a landscape of creative ideas, and he makes a compelling, albeit gently conveyed, case for this. He does so by using his own life as an example from his early days as a painter in the fine arts and through experiences developing ideas for films like Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, and others. 

For filmmakers like myself, gaining insight into his creative life is one of the best parts of this book. His body of work stands tall among the best in the business.  For everyone else looking to nurture a contemplative life rich with artistic fulfillment, Lynch offers plenty to ponder.

Here are the polka dot pros:

  • Easy to read. The short sections of this book make it much more accessible in terms of digesting Lynch’s ideas in smaller chunks. Even at a length of 180 pages, I could easily imagine finishing this in one long and luxurious sitting.  Nonetheless, this book is best enjoyed without the pressure of rushing through it. I took my time over three days, and I’m glad I did. I was able to let his ideas sink in as I read along.
  • Gentle writing style. There is a casual ease to the tone of this book. You won’t find any moral grandstanding or ultimatums here. Reading this felt like a conversation a person would have while sitting around at a pond and fishing. It is idyllic and sweet.
  • Insightful about Lynch’s work. If you are attracted to this book because you are a fan of Lynch’s films, this book does not disappoint. While it is far from an exhaustive exposé on his creative output, the kernels of what he does provide are quirky and amusing, and he links everything to how his meditation practice plays a foundational role in all of it. 

Perhaps this book would be more interesting to people who have seen Lynch’s movies, but as a case study of the effects of meditation on creative work, this book hits that mark easily. 

It is also such a delightful and thoughtfully conceived little book and is certainly worth the leisurely time it takes to read it. 


Roqué’s Sunday Book Review: A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind

June 20, 2021

Culture and Society / Reading Books / Roque Recommends

I found this week’s selection in a lovely used bookstore, and it is one of the best purchases I have made recently. A Zen buddhist monk named Shoukei Matsumoto wrote it, and the book is entitled A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind. Before you run off screaming or rolling your eyes, I should preface this recommendation by saying that over the years I have become more and more enamored of Japanese culture—particularly the parts of it that deeply integrate Zen Buddhism. If this is a sensibility that you share with me, then you will thoroughly enjoy this book.

Originally published in 2011, the English version I found was released by Penguin Books in 2018. I have found that this book could have been written 50 years ago, and it could still be relevant to our modern lives today.   

So, what are the polka dot pros? 

  • Clear and gentle writing style.  Whoever wrote the English translation of this book must have taken a few notes from the sweet and magnetic Marie Kondo. There is a disarming and friendly voice that speaks through its pages.  The writing has a smooth flow that is not judgmental or pretentious in its tone.
  • Whimsical illustrations. As a visual artist, I can appreciate the extra effort it takes to add illustrations to a book. The drawings are adorable and effectively reinforce each kernel of wisdom that Matsumoto offers. 
  • Applicable to real daily life. There is nothing in this book that is impractical or obtuse.  Matsumoto explains how to carry out each practice and the underlying philosophy that is its cornerstone.

Of course, not everyone can live like a monk, and there are many people who would not want to. That is actually not the point of this book.  One of its basic tenets is that one’s home is an extension of one’s physical body. As such, one should take care of one’s home as one does with his or her body. It contends that one’s mental health and wellbeing have a lot to do with how a person manages her or his surroundings.  This book does not just show people how to clean a home. It presents a lifestyle that cultivates one’s values and priorities through daily practices and intentionality.

I, for one, loved everything about this book, and I have already started to implementing a few of its recommendations.  

Do I want to live like a monk? 


Do I want to mold a more calm and meaningful life for myself?


If someone offers you a piece of wisdom, it is often wise to take it.  

I am so glad that I bought this book.


Roqué’s Sunday Book Review: “See You in the Cosmos” by Jack Cheng

June 13, 2021

Reading Books / Roque Recommends

Today’s book recommendation is another local library find. More often than not, I like to wander all around a library to look at what’s on display in hopes that something catches my eye. Well, this book certainly did. I found it in the children’s section of the Woodbury library, and while it is specifically geared toward younger readers who are in middle school, it’s one of those books that can be read by people of any age.

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng is a book that explores the complexities of what it means to be a family and centers around a charismatic young boy who is traveling with his dog to participate in a rocket launching conference. If that premise alone does not attract your interest, then you may be better off taking a nap. This book is written from the perspective of this boy as a conversation with extraterrestrial beings from outer space. (Are you more interested now? No? Then go fluff your 500 thread count Egyptian cotton pillow, pronto!)

Here are the pros of this book in bedazzling polka dots:

Engaging, endearing, and thoughtful characters. It’s always good when the people you read about have integrity and the best intentions. There are a group of characters in this book who practically move mountains to make everything better for the rocket-launching kid. Not to give anything way, but there is something deeply troubling in his life that undermines his wellbeing and his lofty aspirations.

A unique and clever book format. I’ve read books whose chapters are actual diary entries or correspondence letters between characters. This book takes a similar, but quite modern, variation on this format. The chapters are recordings voiced by the boy that are logged in an iPod that he carries everywhere with him. As such, it reads in a way that a middle-school aged child would talk if he happened to be an ambitious and articulate young scientist who often fires on all cylinders. The book flows quickly in an organic and conversational way, ingeniously betraying every vulnerability that this child has.

Many layers and dimensions. It was a lovely surprise to understand that this book has depth and complexity, even though it is intended for young readers. The story confronts some heavy stuff and makes no assumptions that a young mind cannot handle heavier, weightier things. I admire that the author did not hold back and trusted that young readers could comprehend the twisted dynamics that bind people together (or tear them apart). Outside of this, the story is also a coming-of-age adventure, a quirky comedy, and a hero’s journey all balled-up into one. Any reader will get swept up into the swirling pace of its saga.

Okay, are there any cons?

Nope. None that I could think of. Does this make me a bad reviewer?


All I can say is that I genuinely enjoyed this book. It’s story is rich, and its characters are strong and compassionate. The writing kept me wanting to know what would happen next. I wanted this boy to be okay.

So, that’s that. If you are still not interested in this book, then, after your long and luxurious nap, step outside and look out into the night sky. The stars and hazy clusters that you see are not what they seem, despite the beauty that they present.

What you see in that night sky is what you’ll find in this book—something wholesome and worthwhile hidden in the distance of things, like the surprising (but often elusive) presence of tenderness and love where it cannot be seen.

It’s the kind of feeling I hope we all experience in our waking hours, soft Egyptian cotton be damned.