Reading was something that I did not take seriously until recently. Over the last couple of years I have begun to appreciate it a lot more. A big part of this was just finding books that I found to be enjoyable. It’s hard to like reading when books like Macbeth and The Iliad have been shoved down your throat for years. Not saying those books are bad, but it’s different when you aren’t reading a book for a grade. That being said, I am going to share some of my favorite books at the moment and why I enjoyed reading them.
South of the Border West of the Sun
I am going to get straight to the point, this book messed me up. The story follows a man named Hajime who is middle aged with a perfect family and successful job, yet he feels incomplete. When a friend from childhood, now a beautiful woman, arrives with a secret from which she is unable to escape, everything in Hajime’s life turns upside down. Going into it, I expected it to be a typical story on the complications of love, but it was something much more. Murakami is a remarkable contemporary writer that puts words to feelings that I could never vocalize before reading his work. It took me on a profound journey that shows how much emotional power we have over others, even if we don’t realize it. It left me in a state of cloudiness that had me questioning each character for a number of days after finishing.
“By taking my hand, she showed me what these things were. That within the real world, a place like this existed. In the space of those ten seconds I became a tiny bird, fluttering into the air, the wind rushing by. From high in the sky I could see a scene far away. It was so far off I couldn’t make it out clearly, yet something was there, and I knew that someday I would travel to that place.”
“I hurt myself deeply, though at the time I had no idea how deeply. I should have learned many things from that experience, but when I look back on it, all I gained was one single, undeniable fact. That ultimately I am a person who can do evil. I never consciously tried to hurt anyone, yet good intentions notwithstanding, when necessity demanded, I could become completely self-centered, even cruel. I was the kind of person who could, using some plausible excuse, inflict on a person I cared for a wound that would never heal.”
Love & Space Dust
Although this is just a poem book, I needed to include it. After years of reading Jones’ work online, I finally got around to purchasing my own copy of his most recent collection. Over the last couple of months I have had a hard time understanding and verbalizing the way that I feel. While reading through each page, I began to see how another person is able to express their feelings and emotions through words. Going through topics of love and existence, he was able to write exactly how I was feeling at the time. As simple as the concept is, it can be jarring when you find out that others feel the same pain you do. The short poems are enjoyable to read through on your commute to work or when you’re trapped in bed. Although some of them are cheesy, I still find joy in celebrating love and acknowledging sadness.
How to House-Plant
This guidebook to growing house-plants is a must for anyone looking into buying a new plant. It goes through water care, replanting, and everything else that one needs in order to have a successful plant. At the back of the book, there is an indoor plant encyclopedia that goes through the specific care for each species, which is super helpful. Whenever I have a question surrounding my own plant babies, I always find what I am looking for.
Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari
I feel like everyone should have to read this at some point in their life. Sapiens is a quick, non-stop rollercoaster ride that covers the first human appearance on the globe, the agricultural revolution, and the trials and tribulations of the modern age. Alongside this, he also included a projection for our future, and an examination of our roots surrounding evolution. Understanding where come from is vital when trying to understand where we are headed. Harari wrote a history novel that exists beyond the classroom and I couldn’t be more happy about it.
“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.”
“Domesticated chickens and cattle may well be an evolutionary success story, but they are also among the most miserable creatures that ever lived. The domestication of animals was founded on a series of brutal practices that only became crueler with the passing of the centuries.”
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
If you are a sucker for symbolism, this is the book for you. I read this book for my Southeast Asian Literature class and I fell in love. It is a political thriller that follows the life of a Pakistani immigrant who is finding his place in New York City post 9/11. Details of his work and love life highlights the apparent and hidden racism inside the United States. This novel is one of those stories that make you question a lot of things that are around you, and probably for a good reason.
“It seems an obvious thing to say, but you should not imagine that we Pakistanis are all potential terrorists, just as we should not imagine that you Americans are all undercover assassins.”
“As a society, you were unwilling to reflect upon the shared pain that united you with those who attacked you. You retreated into myths of your own difference, assumptions of your own superiority. And you acted out these beliefs on the stage of the world, so that the entire planet was rocked by the repercussions of your tantrums, not least my family, now facing war thousands of miles away.”
If you ever pick up any of these books, I hope they mean as much to you as they do to me. If not, then go you for expanding your vocabulary…. we all need it.