Your Next Read, According to Me!

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.

The Old Fyodor

I just read an excerpt from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes From the Underground from where I read one of the most interesting quote this week:

“Now you, for instance, want to cure men of their old habits and reform their will in accordance with science and  common sense.  But how do you know, not only that is possible, but also that it is desirable, to reform that way?  And what leads you to the conclusion that it is so necessary to reform man’s desires?”

– Notes From the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

And I come to ask myself, Why did Fyodor Dostoyevsky believe that people will act in opposition to their own interest? I think that it is inevitable for men to stay logical and empirical all the time.  There will come a time when men would have to submit to the desires of their wills and impulses.  And even instincts too.  Because if a Man will adhere only to the objective truths and universal principles that would make him a rationalist, positivist, liberal or socialist, then he is not a human being – he is a creature devoid of human capacity for subjectivity: he is an automaton.

And so Dostoyevsky is right when he said that “the whole work of man seems really to consist in nothing but proving to to himself continually that he is a man and not an organ stop.”

Tomorrow, I will read Nietzsche.  Just excerpts from three of his famous work, “The Birth of Tragedy,” “The Will to Power” and “The Antichrist.”  Controversial guy.

On the lighter note, follow @dostoyevsky and @nietszche on Twitter.