Books on the Nightstand
BOOKS ON THE NIGHTSTAND:
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
I have finally finished this classic, but I feel I must write a blurb in honor of its greatness: Crime and Punishment has kicked Call It Sleep to the number two position in my all-time-favorite-book category. I cannot tell you why, but Raskolnikov, the murderous protagonist who set out to prove his theory that certain people can get away with crimes--as long as they are not the 'lowly' ones, touched my heart in a unique way. I don't admire his actions, yet I can understand why he felt that he had to commit murder: he was either going to go crazy thinking about committing murder or he was going to go crazy from the guilt of having committed murder. Either way, he stood to lose. In great Dostoevsky fashion, the reader is drawn into his world--albeit repulsed and disgusted with his choices--but there is sympathy; again, the work of a great writer. Crime and Punishment has not only knocked Call It Sleep off the summit, it has also helped me decide once and for all that I do love Dostoevsky's work more than Tolstoy's work. If you are a lover of fiction and have never read Dostoevsky's work, start with The Brother's Karamazov to get a sense of the literary themes he explores with great magic. Then, take a shot at Crime and Punishment. I guarantee--you will be pleased.
I promised myself I would read this classic as soon as I finished Crime and Punishment. The time has arrived. I am about thirty pages in and, from what I’ve read so far, I’m loving it; very entertaining, witty, odd, and unique. I can only hope the book’s momentum keeps building so the ending is as great as the beginning.
ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER; ESSAYS AND APHORISMS
I am currently contemplating issues of mortality and human kindness as research for a short story I have outlined in my head. I find Schopenhauer’s writing to be a great catalyst for such mental inquiries. Schopenhauer is, to me, the mystic's philosopher.
THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD: First Complete Translation (Translated by Gyurme Dorje; Edited by Graham Coleman with Thupten Jinpa)
After realizing the Truth of the Self within, I think it is only natural that one would want to explore how we came to have birth in this human body, and how our soul makes the transition from death to rebirth (if rebirth is necessary for the fulfillment of enlightenment to occur). I am interested in the space between death and rebirth. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is an important book and should be on every spiritual aspirants bookshelf (or, better yet, on their nightstand). This 'first complete translation' is a boon, to say the least. I've spent countless days reading and contemplating its pages. I would venture to say the Tibetan Book of the Dead is as important as the Bible, The New Testament, the Kuran, and the Torah. It's one thing to contemplate our origin and the reason for being born; it is equally as important and enlightening to contemplate where we are going, and to help steer our souls in the direction we wish to go after death.
A POWER government cannot suppress (Howard Zinn)
Howard Zinn should be required reading for all American citizens-- especially with the way today’s administration bypasses the wants and needs of democratically elected officials (i.e. Congress) to meet their own needs. Yes, we as adult citizens have a right to vote, and we do wish that our elected officials will carry out our will while voting on the House and Senate floor; but there is only so much that elected officials can do—especially, as stated above, when the leader of our democratic society decides do his own will, rather than the will of the people. In reading Howard Zinn’s work, we realize that we, the people of the United States of America, do hold a power that even George W. Bush’s administration could never suppress: we have the power of unity, the power of numbers, and the power of the knowledge that this great country deserves to be represented by someone who loves and promises to uphold the dignity of the democratic society. I am currently exploring my options as an American citizen; learning what rights I have and what I can do to make sure that the will of the people is being done. This is why A POWER government cannot suppress sits on my nightstand, waiting patiently to be devoured.
A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY (Kurt Vonnegut)
Pairing Vonnegut with Zinn is like putting ice cream on birthday cake: you just can’t have one without the other; different genres and approaches to the same problem. The great factual historian meets the sarcastic cynic and everyone’s happy. Well, at least I am. I grew up reading Vonnegut when he was still a ‘Jr.’; I wouldn't be the person I am today if I had never read Vonnegut's work, that's for sure. His writing is whimsical, cynical, and necessary. A Man Without a Country is supposed to be his best work in years. Here’s a quote from the book we are now discussing:
“Do you think Arabs are dumb? They gave us our numbers. Try doing long division with Roman Numerals.”
THE FOUR AGREEMENTS (Don Miquel Ruiz)
When you are sick of trying to please everyone else, and finally come to the realization that living a spiritual life doesn’t mean being a doormat for everyone who comes knockin’, it’s time to read this book. I know it will be on my night stand for a long time: I know I will need a refresher course every now and then.
What's on your nightstand?
tags: Jaibhakti, Bhakti Brophy, Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, Schopenhauer, Howard Zinn, A POWER Government Cannot Suppress, Tibetan Book of the Dead, Kurt Vonnegut, The Four Agreements, A Man Without a Country, Voltaire, Candide,