Monday, November 24, 2008

recent books

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts - This is one of those books that is crammed full from page 1 to page 931 with stories and anecdotes that you'll remember the rest of your life, and each time you do you'll wonder what you did wrong to be so mundane in comparison. Not exactly high literature, but an amazing read. My only complaint is that the main character is not likable enough for you to become really emotionally invested in the story. He is only selfishly selfless; that is, he's a hero when it's the thing to do, and then it stops being the thing, and he doesn't look back. He merely loves to love.

The Age of Reason, by Jean-Paul Sarte - A very good book, but one that makes life seem depressing and hopeless. And I could not get over how full of crap the character is about his imaginary "freedom". I think I would have hated Sarte, along with every single character he wrote. This quote sums up the whole tone of the book: "Various tried and proved rules of conduct had already discreetly offered him their services: disillusioned epicureanism, smiling tolerance, resignation, flat seriousness, stoicism - all the aids whereby a man may savor, minute by minute, like a connoisseur, the failure of a life."

Thoughts in Solitude, by Thomas Merton - I was in a rush at the $1 shelf at Strand when this title caught my eye and I confused Thomas Merton for either of Robert C or Robert K Merton (the sociologist and economist, either of which would have been worth buying.) Turns out Thomas Merton was a Catholic monk. But I still enjoy ponderings in solitude, and if I ignore all the crazy aspects of the religious life, there's plenty of truth to the rest. It was worth the half hour it took to read.