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Currently reading.

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Currently reading.

Ender's Shadow.jpg

how strongly i recommend it: 7/10

Review coming soon.

 
Surely You're Joking.jpg

how strongly i recommend it: 8/10

Review coming soon.

 

how strongly i recommend it: 7/10

I first became infatuated with Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and while The Book of Laughter and Forgetting doesn't disappoint, I found it harder to comprehend as Kundera explores his central themes of laughter and forgetting within the context of love, sex, music, poetry and politics. Without a grounded understanding of the latter—of the history and politics that surrounded Kundera's upbringing—many of his words may flutter away, however poetically, like lost leaves in the wind without a branch or trunk to anchor them.

Seven narratives or vignettes compose the book—each reads like a daydream. With the exception of one narrative, the remaining stories are unified not by time, place nor characters but by an iteration of thoughts and cross-connections. Each vignette provides a glimpse into a particular Czech person's life, and becomes the stage for Kundera to examine, observe, analyze and reflect on the human condition.

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how strongly i recommend it: 7/10

Review coming soon.

 

how strongly i recommend it: 8/10

Carl Sagan once wrote, “The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.” Robert Wright serves both in his book by narrowing the gap between the two, drawing connections between how recent findings in evolutionary and cognitive psychology might substantiate some of our more subjective, spiritual experiences.

I’m a big believer in evolution and philosophy as a basis for understanding ourselves and the world in which we live. This is likely why this book resonates so much. Wright’s underlying thesis is that our biology, as programmed by natural selection, is built around the singular goal of passing down and ensuring the survival of our genes, which often comes into conflict with finding contentment and satisfaction. If we programmed A.I with this singular goal, we’d all be doomed. And in some ways, Wright argues, we are, unless we get our shit together and start meditating.

This is an illuminating and digestible read for the curious and skeptical, for seekers of truth.

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how strongly i recommend it: 8/10

Review coming soon.

 

how strongly i recommend it: 6/10

A sweet, feel-good novel about a curmudgeon with a big heart. Backman’s prose and writing style caught me off guard at first—he has a tendency towards short, fragmented sentences and simple language, reading a bit like how someone might speak. But the style ends up blending nicely with the characters and story itself.

It’s a simple story with simple characters, but the author successfully builds depth in the color of emotions and compassion I felt as a reader towards this man called Ove, his quirky, rambunctious neighbors and his judgmental, feral cat.

This is the kind of book to sit with at the end of a long, mentally draining day—simple words composing a simple story about a simple man living a simple life. It’s a wonderful reminder of what it means to be human and how a fulfilling life is as much about who you’re surrounded by as it is about the actions you take. But one should never, ever judge a book by its cover.

 

how strongly i recommend it: 6/10

I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into with this one; it ended up being a fun, enjoyable read. But unless you’re really into mythology, comics, and in particular, Norse mythology (of the Thor-Odin-Loki variety), I don’t think you’d be missing out by not reading this book.

This is a collection of Norse myths, some related to the one before, some not, starting with the creation of the worlds, the Gods and various other ungodly creatures, and ending with the final battle of Ragnarok, doomsday of the Gods. (Many myths have been forever lost, hence the disconnect between some stories.)

What I liked most is the relatability, timelessness, humor (that may be Gaiman’s touch) and creativity encompassed in these tales, written and told eons ago to people who ardently believed them to be the highest truths. It is clear to me how mythology has its place in our world today—for they are the first stories ever told by mankind, and are the foundation for which we continue to tell stories today.


how strongly i recommend it: 8/10

Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha is sort of the book responsible for the evolution of Buddhism in the West. Hesse pulls elements from the Eastern philosophy and tradition (without the usual religious undertones) and introduces them as an alternative to the growing skepticism and resentment towards dogmatic religion in Europe and the Americas, which was manifesting itself in the form of manipulative rationality and materialism. Hesse, in this bildungsroman, presents a similar (but not identical) story paralleling Siddhartha Gautama’s journey towards enlightenment—and in it, contains a renewed approach to living, thinking and being that balances experience with intellect, spirit with science, heart with mind.

The story is short, at parts dense, with a generous sprinkle of insightful golden nuggets throughout. It’s a book worthy of multiple reads, each time a revealing of new truths. It seems to be the foundational book from which all modern books related to Buddhism, spirituality, mindfulness and meditation stem.


how strongly i recommend it: 9/10

This was my first full-length Haruki Murakami novel, and it won’t be my last. Kafka On The Shore is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Few authors can pull off the kind of magical realism found in this story—from talking cats, to sardines pouring from the sky, to spirits traversing various planes of existence—whilst exploring the depths of the conscious and subconscious minds (blurring the line between which is which), questioning the nature of reality and the linear passage of time.

Through parallel, alternating stories of the cerebral Kafka, who runs away from home to escape an awful oedipal prophecy, and the delightful Nakata, an aging and illiterate simpleton “suffering” from a wartime affliction, Murakami artfully weaves together an enchanting story of love, murder and potentially incestuous relationships. I found myself “simultaneously wanting to turn the pages faster and faster to find out what happens and to slow down to savor the depth and beauty of Murakami’s prose.” This book reads like a dream.