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As Franz Kafka said:
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.“
I wish I can spend my life reading books and immersing myself in them. I could definitely spend my life focused on collecting them and expanding my personal library—a dream that was opened to me by L.M years ago and he said all we needed was a little push for that (and back then I was feeling competitive, I wanted to rival his personal library). However, my money from my graduation gift could only last for so long (and Mother Hen is a bit stingy about giving money). So I’ll just be patient and wait for them to come.
The feeling of getting a new book for me is without doubt one of the best feelings in the world. You are no longer yourself at that moment, when you open a book and bit by bit get to know it. You become immersed—you’re transformed and taken and become whatever the words make of you. You give over your mind to what the tell you and they change you, to awake you and turn you. And every once in a while, you encounter a book– a kind of book that Franz Kafka is talking about– and this just fuels the drive to scour bookstores and bargain book shops for something new.
These are the books that made it to my “must-read” book list (all descriptions are from Barnes & Noble.com):
- The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (which I plan on buying when I have the chance) – This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.
- Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk – Buster “Rant” Casey just may be the most efficient serial killer of our time. A high school rebel, Rant Casey escapes from his small town home for the big city where he becomes the leader of an urban demolition derby called Party Crashing. Rant Casey will die a spectacular highway death, after which his friends gather the testimony needed to build an oral history of his short, violent life. With hilarity, horror, and blazing insight, Rant is a mind-bending vision of the future, as only Chuck Palahniuk could ever imagine.
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman. A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
- The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – Rand’s hero is Howard Roark, a brilliant young architect who won’t compromise his integrity, especially in the unconventional buildings he designs. Roark is engaged in ideological warfare with a society that despises him, an architectural community that doesn’t understand him, and a woman who loves him but wants to destroy him. His struggle raises questions about society’s attitude toward revolutionaries. Since this book’s publication in 1943, Rand’s controversial ideas have made her one of the best-selling authors of all time.
- Franny and Zooey by J.D Salinger – The author writes: FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955, and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I’m doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I’ll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I’m very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I’ve been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill.
- A Game of Thrones (Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin ( A MUST hopefully I could by it along with Perks) – Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.
- A Clash of Kings (Book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R Martin (a MUST too– easily the next buy after I buy Book 1) – A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and warfare. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.
*Okay, I don’t want to go beyond describing the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books because I have a tendency to be spoiled and being spoiled of the plot ruins the whole experience of it. HAHA!
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – “Who is John Galt?” is the immortal question posed at the beginning of Ayn Rand’s masterpiece. The answer is the astonishing story of a man who said he would stop the motor of the world—and did. As passionate as it is profound, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential novels of our time. In it, Rand dramatizes the main tenets of Objectivism, her philosophy of rational selfishness. She explores the ramifications of her radical thinking in a world that penalizes human intelligence and integrity. Part mystery, part thriller, part philosophical inquiry, part volatile love affair, Atlas Shrugged is the book that confirmed Ayn Rand as one of the most popular novelist and most respected thinkers of the 20th century.
- Diary of Anais Nin, 1931-1934, Vol. 1 by Anais Nin – This celebrated volume begins when Nin is about to publish her first book and ends when she leaves Paris for New York. Edited and with a Preface by Gunther tuhlmann; Index.
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.