Around the world in a lifetime of reading…


Long ago, while browsing through books in a library, a thought crossed my mind – why don’t I pick up books from various authors around the world and start reading them one by one, like a lifelong project… Well, like other millions of thoughts, I didn’t act on it and completely forgot about it.

However, in recent past, I have given a boost to reading good literature on a continuous basis. Without realizing, I have read selected works of Albert Camus (Algerian), Franz Kafka (Czech Republic), Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy (both Russian), Herman Melville, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner (All American), Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir (both French), Bertrand Russell, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell (All English), Jorge Luis Borges (Argentine), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombian), J M Coetzee (South African) and so on.. Off course, I have read works of Indian greats such as Jawaharlal Nehru, R K Narayan, Prem Chand, Saadat Hasan Manto, Khushwant Singh among others…

As I analyze It does seem to me that somewhere in my sub conscious, the particular thought remained registered. I would confess that I started with existentialism literature and alongside I picked up books of different writing styles (Borges, Garcia, Woolf, Coetzee, Kerouac etc. to name a few), all without intention. Not to forget, a great course I completed in summer 2013 on the Coursera platform – “a fiction of relationship” offered by Dr Arnold Weinstein of Brown University, which required reading 5-10 books as a part of curriculum. I am pretty glad that I completed the course and got to read wonderful books as a result.

All in all, I am pleased that I did follow up on what seems like a great idea to understand the myriad worlds that are so different from where I was born and earning and breaking my bread. The reading is the best I can do in lieu of travelling the world and get to experience things in real life. and when I do land up in few of these places mentioned above, I hope I would appreciate the culture a bit better.

I plan to now consciously go for great authors from various parts of the world and read to my content (or rather continent :)). At the same time, I plan to also read multiple works of these authors mentioned above, as some of them have written a number of masterpieces.

To achieve my objective seriously, internet has been of great help – I am trying to follow the 2 lists mentioned below to complete my objective;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_100_Best_Books_of_All_Time

http://web.stanford.edu/~bkunde/best/bl-crank.htm

I regret that I wasn’t a literature student as a part of my formal education – However, I plan to make up for it by being a life long student of good literature, wherever it originates from.

I would close by mentioning few wonderful piece of prose from a  book I read recently, “Love in the time of cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book has a generous helping of some simple, yet meaningful piece of prose and I did made a note of these clever gems whenever I came across one. Here are some top ones:

“…But when a woman decides to sleep with a man, there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral consideration she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about…”

“…She knew that he loved her above all else, more than anything in the world, but only for his own sake…”

“…She discovered with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them…”

“….Always remember that the most important thing in a good marriage is not happiness, but stability…”

“…With her Florentino Ariza learned what he had already experienced many times without realizing it: that one can be in love with several people at the same time, feel the same sorrow with each, and not betray any of them. Alone in the midst of the crowd on the pier, he said to himself in a flash of anger: ‘My heart has more rooms than a whorehouse…”

“…I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of Him…”

“…She searched the truth with an anguish almost as great as her terrible fear of finding it…”

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