The Noonday Demon: An Anatomy of Depression by Andrew Solomon
The Noonday Demon is a huge book on depression, literally and figuratively. The author shares in intimate detail about his struggles with depression, as he also attempts to explain depression from various perspectives, such as history, biology, and social culture. He also examines the medications and treatments available today, and discusses how there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody. But most of all, he gives hope, that one can enjoy life and reach great heights, not in spite of depression, but because of it.
Bhagavad Gita, translated by Stephen Mitchell
The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient poem about a warrior, Arjuna who is caught in a moral dilemma, as he broods on whether it is morally right to murder a fellow human being in a war. The poem follows his conversations with the deity Krishna, who teaches him about the nature of life. Arjuna learns to simply do what he personally feels is right, and to let go of events and consequences that are not in his control.
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes
I enjoyed Ranulph Fiennes’s biography of Ernest Shackleton, so it was interesting to read about Fiennes himself, who in his own right, is widely renowned as the world’s greatest living explorer. He details his bone-chilling experiences in traveling the most dangerous places around the world and taking on the most impossible challenges — like running 7 marathons in 7 continents in 7 days, discovering the Qur’anic lost city of Iram, and being the first person to summit Mount Everest and crossing both polar ice caps. His story is definitely a testament to what humans beings are capable of achieving.
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker
Recently I watched the documentary Bowling for Columbine, which discusses the Columbine shooting and the culture of fear at large. I also read an essay that musician Marilyn Manson had written about the massacre, in which he said, “Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised.” Wanting to know more about this topic, this was the book I went to. It’s pretty interesting when you realize that our society today is generally not as violent as we were in ancient times — yet, we have become more anxious than we ever were, due to how the media capitalizes on our fears.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Since its publication, The Dark Knight Returns has easily been revered as one of the greatest comic books ever written. The story follows a now middle-aged Bruce Wayne, who had given up his mantle as Batman after his sidekick Jason Todd, or Robin, was killed. Sickened by the moral decay that he sees in present-day Gotham, he is forced out of retirement to fight crime again — even if that means not being on the same side as the law.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
I can finally say that I’ve read this comic book — it was the first in its genre to win the Pulitzer, for God’s sake. Here, the author shares about his father’s experience of surviving Hitler’s reign, as well as the Auschwitz concentration camp. He uses animals to illustrate this history, with mice as Jews, and cats as the Nazis. Yet the humanity within its characters are unmistakable, as we observe the traumas that the author’s father had to experience, and the strain that these traumas had on the relationship between him and the author, who was born after the war.
The Sandman Vol. 1 & 2 by Neil Gaiman
Coincidentally, I felt interested to begin reading The Sandman just when the Netflix adaption was getting released. Of course, it’s a huge-ass series, and being only two volumes in, I’m far from able to have a substantial idea on what it’s about. Judging from what I’ve read so far though, it’s an incredibly well-written experience. It has made me reflect on just how small a fragment our life is, and how much about the world that we really don’t know about.