Last week, I received a request (via comment box, yes) asking me to list down some of my personal book recommendations that I think everyone should read. I haven’t been much into reading lately since I’m still oscillating between the demands of grad school and the large pile of work that needs to be done in time. Right now, I’m currently reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground – a very difficult novel, something that requires a higher sensibility, of which I cannot fully give this time around. So my reading pace lately is slow and halting, but only because I want to experience what Dostoyevsky probably wanted me to experience as well – to eclipse into “the underground” and to look into myself, in a very existentialist manner. A little bit scary, but most of the time enlightening.
Truth to be told, I have so much books to recommend! But I’ll try to limit the list to a three, a list that constitutes some of my personal favorites. Of course, I threw in some of the reasons why.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Even William Faulkner said this novel was the best book ever written ever. If I have to think about my most favorite novel then I wouldn’t have any second thought of choosing this one. You probably have read hundreds of reviews about this novel but what I like best about it is that it is both an “external and internal narrative”. A lot of people find this book too difficult to read. Much of this “inaccessibility” is because the prose requires a lot of thinking while reading it.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Lately, I’m too engrossed with the sixties culture and I was recently introduced to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I’ve never read a prose anything like this one – it’s erratic and very beat; it’s the rhythm of everyday life pulsating through you. Which is a good thing by the way. I found it hard to get through the book on the outset; I wasn’t used to this kind of prose style as I spent much of my time reading the sophisticated and refined prose styles of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Yates, Vladimir Nabokov, etc. Kerouac’s prose was something new for me but once I got the hang of it, it was liberating. He was a prolific speed freak in his words but on an everyday basis, aren’t we all?
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
This is not your average romance novel although the subject is very much cliched in both in literature and film: a marriage gone sour. But Richard Yates has a different approach to presenting this subject and this is why I consider his Revolutionary Road the quintessential marriage novel. Yates is very subtle when it comes to dealing with emotions. This is not an ordinary, murky romance novel – this is life.