This year was a pretty good year for me with regard to reading books. I like to think that I love reading. But in the past I stayed way from it because I felt that it would eat into my work hours. I abandoned reading for so many years that I began doubt the veracity of my love. Anyway, in keeping with trying to live the life I love, I have gone back to some bedtime reading. I try to get my hands on books that I "should" have read when I was younger, just so that I don't go through life not knowing them. Also, trying to read about things that I am interested in. Here are a few thoughts about the books I read this year.
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
A magical story about achieving your personal legend. About not being afraid to embark on the journey towards achieving your dreams due to fear of failure. Speaks of how if you want something bad enough the universe works to make it happen. Its a story about the importance of the journey and not the destination.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach
It is an inspiring story about a bird that learns that his body is only limited in his thoughts. If you free your thoughts there is no limit. Also, perfection is not in speed or numbers because they are nothing but limits. Perfection is in being there.
What I talk about when I talk about running - Haruki Murakami
The writer talks about running as an exercise and a metaphor --- that's the way he puts it and that is exactly what the book is about. It is written by a Japanese novelist who is also a serious marathon runner. He talks about how he needs to run to survive and how it has made him the writer that he is today. Some of my favorite lines are
* Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional
* I'm struck by how when you are young you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you need to divide your time and energy. If you don't get that sort of system set by an early age, you'll lack focus and your life will be out of balance.
* It is precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling through this process, of really being alive - or atleast a partial sense of it.
*Quality of experience is not based on standards such as time or ranking but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.
I'd love to live the kind of life the writer lives - living and writing in Hawaii while training for marathons and triathlons. I have always been curious about why people run marathons. This book walked me through the experiences of a marathon runner and I got my answer.
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
The book revolves around the life of two people a woman Anna and a man Levin. Both very different in nature, one at first thriving in and then falling out of high society, and the other consumed with finding his purpose for life in the countryside. The drama surrounding the characters could almost distract, even dissuade the reader from the underlying wisdom that was infused into the thoughts and actions of the characters. I love the way Tolstoy incorporates philosophical discussions into the story, about almost every topic that is of any importance to the average person. He talks about work ethic, religion, politics, marriage, family, wealth, relationships, education, death, birth, betrayal, hatred, love, and everything conceivable. His descriptions of emotions and scenic beauty, both are mind-blowing and intense, making you feel and see like you are actually sensing them yourself.