Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami
Murakami’s novels for me, can be compared to the sort of popular music which people talk about everywhere, that I’m meek to admit that I’ve never listened to before. I had read his non-fiction book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And it was the same with this one. I love how his many years of writing novels have only made him more humble. In this book, he never presents himself as an authority on creative writing, as he merely shares his own opinions and experiences from his own journey.
Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes
Prior to picking up this one, I had read books by Dylan, and academic books on Dylan’s work, but never a full-scale biography. While Down the Highway is a fairly long read, I just couldn’t put it down. Dylan being Dylan, he’s one of the world’s most elusive and mysterious songwriters — and perhaps its greatest. Here, the author manages to painstakingly narrate his life and work, presenting a holistic picture of him as an individual. Before he went on to reinvent music with his poetic lyrics — multiple times that is — he was raised in a simple and unassuming family, told by his mother to “stop writing poems” and get a respectable job like everyone else.
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
John Taylor Gatto is widely known for criticizing the schooling system. Being a teacher himself, he has exposed the actual purpose of schooling, in that it is deliberately designed to build a society that is easily manageable, that is afraid to think beyond the confines of testing and grading. Gatto believes that there is genius in everyone, but that’s exactly what the school system aims to suppress. Because if everyone were as intelligent and self-reliant as they could be, the world would be a very different place than it is today — economies would likely collapse, and so will power systems.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
So, I re-read Meditations, again. I always find it interesting that Marcus Aurelius, who was the emperor of Rome — one of the world’s most powerful figures of his time, would write in his journal as reminders to himself to practice the teachings of Stoic philosophy. He had the power, and he could have easily been a tyrannical asshole or a sloth, but he instead chose to carry out his responsibilities as honorably as he could. And here we are centuries later, still cherishing the candid words that he had written to himself.
Slaughterhouse Five: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five is one of my favorite novels ever, so I was more than excited when I learned that this comic adaptation existed. The writing style stays true to Kurt Vonnegut’s black humor which we all love so much, and the artwork is fun to take in. Sure, it’s the same story, and the comic similarly starts with “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time” and ends with “Poo-tee-weet”. But it’s a unique experience that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Lucifer: Book One by Mike Carey
Being a spin-off to The Sandman comics, I naturally picked up Lucifer after I was done with the former. But honestly, I probably wouldn’t pick up Book Two of this series. While the story has an interesting premise, I feel that it’s just too confusing. It doesn’t do a good job at explaining its how’s and why’s — it seems like out of the blue, this item or that character is popping up, and suddenly Lucifer’s looking for a pack of cards or a gateway to somewhere. In contrast, The Sandman stories aren’t so linear either, but the author, Neil Gaiman, does so well in connecting the dots, and explaining the events that take place in the stories.