Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alan, Pico, Rohinton, Jane, Fyodor and Ninotchka...Here's hoping the names ring a bell.

My post recommending (actually, pathetically begging) readers to please pick up a copy of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King generated three reactions. The first one essentially asked to borrow a copy of the book (yes of course, Jerome, but fall in line), the other two hemmed and hawed and in general asked for a summary of the book and wanted to know what other books I would recommend as must read.

I’m sorry but I will not do a summary of The Once and Future King – it is best read on one’s own; it is an experience that can not be replicated vicariously. Besides, who doesn’t know the story of King Arthur? But I am happy to oblige the second request mainly because I have about 20 minutes to write a blog today and writing about books (though not necessarily about what the books say) is something I can do with my eyes closed. So, what other books do I recommend as must read, aside from T. H. White’s The Once And Future King?

There’s Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams. This is a book about physics, philosophy, and life written in such beautiful prose one can’t help but put it down every after few pages as one truly needs to take a deep breath and ponder on the wisdom and profundity of what is written. Very few books have that effect on me – most actually get me racing to the last page. This is one book one wishes would go on and on and not end.

Pico Ayer’s travel books are my next picks – any one of them. They are about the places that he has visited, yes. But more than just being about travel, the books are actually essays and reflections on life, culture, politics, and even religion. Pico writes in a style that is best described as journalism done in a leisurely manner so his essays are easy to read.

Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance would be on my top 5 list anytime. This is one book that truly made me understand India. Sure, it broke my heart. Yeah, it resembled a soap opera that twisted and turned many different ways until it came to its tragic end. But through it all, the book never, not even for a moment, made me doubt that the things that happened in the book was not possible or feasible. Even at its darkest chapter the book spoke truth with a capital T. Such is the gift of this Indian writer.

Of the classics, two stand out in the library at home. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I have this insane propensity to want “get to the source” of things – even genres and such. This is my personal opinion, and I may be wrong, but I think that Pride and Prejudice is a much more fulfilling version of any romantic novel written. On the other hand, The Brothers Karamazov is really a psychological thriller. So if you are into Sheldon, Grisham and their ilk, be aware that there are classics that did better versions of the genre.

To wrap up, I would recommend, any day, any time, any place… Ninotcha Rosca’s State of War and not just because I am Filipino, but because I think she is a damn good writer.

4 comments:

jtagregado said...

i would prefer einstein's dreams to the start of war. di ko trip yung kay ninotcha rosca kasi mala politcs ata sya (yung i-niscan ko yung book nya) tipong mga marcos and stuff...

la lang. di lang talaga ako interested sa mga ganung books *sigh

jtagregado said...

pero baka gusto mo ipahiram narin hehe just incase mali ang akala ko and ma enjoy ko nga yung book :D

BongA said...

Talagang political ang book. hahaha. And you are right, it is about the marcos time.

Neva said...

I think Empire of Memory by Eric Gamalinda (Filipino rin) kicks State of War out of the water anyday. It's suppsoed to be a "fictional" account of the Marcos era.