A doze of Dostoyevsky for today?

notesfromundergroundThis morning I woke up feeling a little different and decided to give up mid-way what I was reading till last night – The Honorable Schoolboy by John le Carre. Instead, just before leaving for work, I quickly grabbed Dostoyevsky’s Notes for the Underground. This book has been lying on my shelf since a week and everytime I opened something else, I could hear Dostoyevsky calling out to me to read him first. I kept ignoring it long enough but this morning something changed.

So, when I finally got on the train and sat, I scrambled for a seat so as not to waste any more time and quickly took the book out of my bag. It started as follows:

“I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don’t consult a doctor for it and never have, though I respect medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine anyway. (I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am.) No, I refuse to treat it out of spite. You probably will not understand that. Well, but I understand it. Of course I can’t explain to you just whom I am annoying in this case by my spite. I am perfectly well aware that I cannot “get even” with the doctors by not consulting them. I know better than anyone that I thereby injure only myself and no one else. But still, if I don’t treat it, its is out of spite. My liver is bad, well then– let it get even worse!”

Those of you who have ever read Dostoyevsky probably know the kind of excitement one feels when embarking upon a journey where he is the guide. For those who haven’t read him, do so before you die. Everything else can wait.

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My Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2013

It has been a month into 2013 already but this year, I have set a target of reading at least 26 books in the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2013 and of hopefully surpassing this number by a good amount. It is Week 6 and I am about to finish my 3rd book of 2013 already:

127 Hours

127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

Before this, I have already finished reading the following:

1. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (Read)
2. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog (Read)

I know it looks like I am reading mostly mountaineering/adventure/survival books starting of 2013 but I have developed a real liking for this genre.

But if you thought I was stuck with still the same genre, here are also 3 more half-read books that I am still going to continue reading in parallel with my other book depending on my interest level, so it is not that I read only 1 book in 2 weeks:
 
3. The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
4. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
5. The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto “Che” Guevara
 
And, the next few books in my Reading List are:
 
6. Alive: Sixteen Men, Seventy-two Days, and Insurmountable Odds–the Classic Adventure of Survival in the Andes by Piers Paul Read
7. No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 by Graham Bowley
 
So, that takes care of 8 of my target of 26+ books in 2013. Any other recommendations?
 

The Quotable Sherlock Homes

sherlock holmes

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.”
-The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.”
-A Scandal in Bohemia

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
-A Scandal in Bohemia

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
-The Bascombe Valley Mystery

“Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”
-The Adventure of the The Abbey Grange

“What one man can invent another can discover.”
-The Adventure of the Dancing Men

“You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”
-The Man with the Twisted Lip

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
-The Sign of Four

Books can be Dangerous!

books2If you are a backward thinking, feudal, fanatic, unenlightened, unscientific, uneducated, dimwitted, numbskull, blockheaded, ignoramus, fundamentalist, oppressive, tyrant, or a bully, then you should indeed be afraid of books.

Because, books can provoke, enlighten, educate, emancipate, illuminate, inspire, break barriers, and liberate minds from the clutches of traditions and beliefs and challenge conventionally accepted ideas and morals and replace them with skepticism, criticism and an awakening of souls.

One book can ignite a fire in the minds of millions that can change the world. Gandhi, Churchil, Washington, Bhagat Singh, Thomas Paine, Jefferson, etc., were all inspired by books. Even the most hated political figure of all times, Adolf Hitler, writes in his book, Mein Kanpf, that he used to skip dinner so he could buy a book to read.

Books are Man’s greatest achievement ever. Bigger than airplanes, computers, steam engines, nuclear energy, mobile phones, rockets and construction.

Over centuries, oppressive, tyrannical societies have tried endlessly to ban and burn books, authors and readers. Because they understood the immense power of ideas that such tiny leaves with dots of inks held. And yet, books have been every society’s biggest treasure.

And so, even today, literature festivals, something that millions should cherish and be proud of, are being threatened. And why? The reasons haven’t changed. Some people think some books can threaten their strongly held beliefs. They are scared of what a book might contain.

Of course, most of those who are opposing the lit fest have themselves never read the book being targeted (it being quite another matter that the book really has nothing to do with the fest). In fact, I will go a step further and say that it is quite probable that those who are causing an uproar, have never read ANY books at all. And if that much does not satisfy you, let me even say that they CANNOT read any books at all.

And yet, a handful of such uneducated dimwits and numbskulls want to decide which books the rest of the nation should read or rather, should not read. In this digital age where there is no way left to ban ideas, all I can say to them is, “Well, Thanks for playing!”

Books, not which afford us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institution – such call I good books.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Book Review – The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

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Last night, I decided to read ’The Importance of Being Ernest’ by Oscar Wilde. It is a humorous short story described as a drama setting. The main protagonist is Jack Worthing, someone who needs to be well behaved due to him being the guardian of an 18 year old girl, but on the other hand, has a fun loving side to him, which he can only fulfil using an alternative identity of “Ernest” in another part in the country.

Being a comedy, the story is set in a world where some people follow a flawed logic, for instance, Jack’s friend Algy says to him, “..girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don’t think it right..” and on another occasion, Gwendolen, who is Jack’s darling says, “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.”

In such an illogical and humorous world, the alternative identity of ’Ernest’ cause great troubles for Jack and his friend Algy and they constantly try and work their ways out of it, when a clever twist of the plot towards the end unveils a decades old mystery.

Though the book is a pleasant read and may not appeal very much to an experienced reader, owing to the fact that the plot has been exploited hundreds of times in other writings and cinema, I still suggest one reads this simply to enjoy the writing of the literary genius of Oscar Wilde. This is a very easy to read book and the humorous dialogs by each character are really a treat and some of these even made me laugh out loud.

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