Saturday, September 12, 2009
I'm not just a music freak. I can read too!
I'm kinda having writer's block now. Chewah! But I guess this can fill the gap since it has been a while since I post a new entry.
These are few of my favorite books. Missing: Hesse's Steppenwolf and I can't for the life of my figure out who I loaned that to. As well as Coupland's Life After God, which I have read a few times but like to keep handy in the car to read.
From top to bottom:
Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five
I know I'm probably not supposed to like the classic Vonnegut that everyone else likes but the book Slaughterhouse Five was there for me when I needed it and that's pretty much all you can ask of literature. Galapagos I think is Vonnegut at his best in a lot of ways but it's also Vonnegut at perhaps his least hopeful or at least it shows he thinks we'd be better of as simpler creatures. I was sad to hear of his death recently. :(
Virginia Woolf: To The Lighthouse
I love Virginia Woolf and this book is not only flawless but way ahead of it's time. Virginia is both why I love being a woman (because we're wildly creative in the tangential way men aren't) and hate being a women (because we're just not very rational).
Don Delillo: Mao II
I know a lot of people that I know love White Noise but Mao II is an excellent delve into mass media and culture as well as the parallels between the writer and the terrorist. I found it fascinating.
Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
I love so many things about Oscar Wilde and I suppose without him, we might never have had Morrissey if you think about it a certain way. I think his plays are of course hilarious but there's a darker side to Dorian Gray that he explores much more thoroughly than the mere inferences of many of his play characters. I can't wait for the motion picture to release. Yeay!
Graham Greene: The Power and the Glory
I don't know, there's something comforting and yet revealing and insightful in Greene. Haven't read this one in awhile and I feel it's about time I revisit it.
Paul Auster: City of Glass
I find Auster is really one of those who is wildly creative and adept at speaking to the reader. So that you feel you are almost part of the storyline which is intriguing. Even if it is complex enough to warrant taking notes on.
Haruki Marukami: Norwegian Wood
I've read several of Murakami's books but none really hit me like this one (Hard Boiled Wonderland is perhaps a close second). I think maybe because it involves music intertwined with the frailty of relationships and the lives particularly of the women the protagonist falls in love with. Oh yeah, some said that the title was adapt from The Beatles's song, Norwegian Wood.
Italo Calvino: Invisible Cities
This is the first book I read by Calvino, a collection of stories that really made me sense and dream more than any other short stories have. In the way that I wanted to just live in that place and nowhere else.
Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
I'm no stranger to Kundera and though I haven't quite read everything yet, every book I have read is profound in its own way and gets me to think about identity, gestures, and moments in a consideration and perspective I would never have before. The problem is, every time I read Kundera, I actually go through a major depression. Like just now.
John Berger: To The Wedding
Berger is an art critic as well so some of his descriptions are just very visually appealing. I've read G and King as well and enjoyed those but To The Wedding had that extra something that made me read it twice and cry both times.
Andrew Sean Greer: The Confessions of Max Tivoli
The story was kinda similar to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. When I first saw the trailer of Pitt's new movie, I thought it will be based on this story. I'm wrong. It wasn't. I discovered it a year or so ago and it was one of those books I read frantically as if I was incredibly scared I might die before finishing it. It is fantastic-about being born as an old man and aging in reverse and losing everyone around you as you slowly become so young you are an infant. It's also about the nature of changing relationships and, of course, despair.
Sarah Vowell: Assassination Vacation
I love Sarah. She's such a political geek but she equates a lot of the politics and feelings to music somehow in a way you don't see coming and she makes trekking across America to find various plaques on Lincoln seem like the most exciting thing on earth.
DBC Pierre: Vernon God Little
I still haven't read his new one as I've had trouble finding it. I thought this book was as creative as it was grim and I'm still not so sure about the ending (as in what end up actually happening). It was set in the death penalty capital of the world, Texas.
Flannery O'Connor (Stories)
I've been pressuring a certain friend of mine to read Flannery (sorry Aima) because I love her sometimes even more than Virgina Woolf, which I didn't even think was possible. Flannery is one of those short writers that is always profound and brilliant. She has endings that just make your jaw drop. Favorites: "Parker's Back" "The Lame Shall Enter First."
Jose Saramago: Blindness
Seeing (technically the sequel) is also brilliant but you just have to read this first. It's about the nature of seeing and the fabric that sight weaves into our reality and world. Any must for a photographer who is curious about how a society would react if they all went completely blind. And, of course, it's a character study into the darkness of man and all that. Seeing is more political and explores the idea of how far pretty much any government will go to oppress its own people in order to keep in power.
Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma
I've read every work of fiction Coupland has ever written. This one is a definite favorite-particularly for the ending which encourages you to get out in the world and actually change things at the expense of your livelihood and sanity-question everything and make the world a better place. A place you'd actually want to live in. I've read this book several times-have memorized passages of it-and tend to read it whenever I feel I am slipping into a very deep depression.
John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany
I read this book when I was in sekolah menengah and it was one of the first books that made me weep. It is so moving and I really cherish it as a complete work of fiction.
Jeffrey Eugenides: Middlesex
This book is epic in its coverage of the multi generational story of a family who came from Greece to Detroit. The main character is an inter sexual (khunsa - born with both organs) which goes undiscovered by his parents. He is raised as a girl even though he strongly feels male. It has al ot to do with psychology but it just also makes you feel with excellent writing. The Virgin Suicides misses the mark relative to this one. I'm not sure if he'll ever write anything as good.
Douglas Adams: Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Everyone needs a little lightness once in awhile and the kind Adams provides is guilt free because it is so intelligent and creative that you don't feel bad for laughing even if famine and global warming are making you feel like it's the end of the world.
Salman Rushdie: The Ground Beneath Her Feet
So the ending isn't as great as 90% of the rest of this but it is still a brilliant book filled with rich storytelling and connections to music. Any avid photographer will read it and fall in love with the protagonist Rai who takes photographs despite all danger and forsaking rational thought. And when I mean fall in love, I don't mean some flippant way. You wish he existed.
Last but not least...
The Riverside Shakespeare
It's funny because I never fully "got" Shakespeare when I was in high school and had to read play after play. I mean, I liked Romeo and Juliet (duh! Romeo was hot and obviously good at poetry!) and all that but I didn't really connect with it until I took Shakespeare in college. There are many brilliant plays that you don't fully sense until you really study them and analyze them at length but the one that is my favorite above all the others is King Lear and the ending always makes me weep like a little girl:
"Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life and thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more, Never never never never never."
Ya Allah, panjang pulak. Ops! Have a blessed less-10-days of Ramadhan. ;)