It was poet Balachandran Chullikkad who once said that ‘great art is that forces you to go back to it again and again.’ With my personal experience I can’t completely agree with it. I can watch ‘Pirates of the Caribbean (1st part) n number of times but I cant force myself through ‘Barry Lyndon’ again. But it doesn’t mean that the former is greater than the latter. I have once blogged about movies that I watch repeatedly. Here I will talk about those books which I have find myself reading again and again- often randomly, in bits and pieces, just to get the feel of it.
This French satire by Voltaire makes fun of everything under the sun- religion, theologians, governments, armies, philosophies, and philosophers, blind optimism. He also pokes fun at the popular adventure and romance cliches. Obviously what makes this book endearing to me is its humor and wit- that too humor and wit with a purpose.
9-The catcher in the rye
Personally I don’t think it is a great book. But its strong point is its characters. The protagonist has an unique voice- something hundreds of writers and readers have tried to mimic since reading this book.
8-Poetry by Satchithanandan
Okay, I cheated. It is not a single book per se. And though some translations are available in English, as always, nothing beats reading poetry in the original language, which here in this case, is Malayalam. He can write a poem about virtually anything under the sun. And the great thing is, as far as laws are concerned, he can make and break them.
The book by Daniel Goleman has found its share of critics. It has been criticised for a thousand things like lack of scientific rigorousness, intellectual dishonesty, subversive business interests etc. But this is something to which I sometimes go back to for inspiration. Because Norman Vincent Peals doesn’t work for me any more.
This novel was a part of my growing up and it is something that I absorbed in some strange way. Its readiness to question the basic of human concepts, the daringness to trample upon all those repeated but hollow value judgements and ability to put everything to scrutiny in the pure light of experience and existence- it still gets me.
5-Beyond good and evil
If it has to be single book by Neitzche to pinpoint, it will has to be this one. The thing about Nietzche is that it is difficult to accept many of his conclusions, or rather statements, but you still admire his conviction and wit. Even if you don’t accept his ideas, you still enjoy his aphorisms or rather ramblings. As a philosopher with sound ideas and logical deductions to reach there, I admire Schopenhaeur much more. But just for reading pleasure, it has to be Nietzche any given day.
I have many friends who absolutely hate this book. For them, Mario Puzo is the specialist on mafia, the writer of ‘The Godfather.’ But for me, it was a misfortune that Godfather was such a big success because we lost a writer who could really write about the urban alienation and human selfishness in a brutally honest manner.
3-Plays by Sartre
Yeah, I agree that his novels are a bore and his ‘being and nothingness’ I was never able to complete. But his dramas, they are the perfect balance of theme and plot. Be it ‘Crime Passionale’ or ‘Men without shadows’ or ‘No exit,’ they all have enamored me with their ability to transcend beyond simply telling a story well. He would have made a decent scriptwriter.
2-Vaikkom Mohammed Basheer- the complete works
He is a giant of malayalam literature. To borrow his own words- most of his stories are ripped off from life. So there may be blood oozing on the edges. And his ammunition is slangy common man’s malayalam, with perfunctionary grammar, mixed up nouns and verbs that a primary school kid possess. He has a natural disdain for decorations of language. But that only accentuates the intensity of the day to day experiences that he tries to convey.
1-Notes from underground
It is difficult to really fit in this book- It presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, unnamed narrator. What makes this book so endearing to me is the way Dostoevsky hits the bulls eye with so much accurate observations about human nature- man’s tendency to be nonconforming despite all the technological advances and sociopolitical changes. It gives some very profound lessons relevant in any age in a very non political way.