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2010 Favourites: Books

December 17, 2010

Henry Miller – Sexus

I read this upon recommendation from a friend as this was/is his favourite Henry Miller book. I loved Sexus. It was interesting, provocative, thought provoking, unapologetic and, be forewarned: extremely graphic. That said, I never felt like the lurid sex was without reason – however what the exact reason was proved difficult, and fun for me to try, to pinpoint. Is it because the protagonist (Miller himself – apparently all his books are at least semi-autobiographical) sees life as an empty pursuit (akin to Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being), and having such superfluous sex a way of creating satire? Or is it because he is living life maximally?

My friend who recommended this has grand ideas about the need to work tirelessly for a living and how negative this is if this is a joyless effort. After reading Sexus, I can see where he gets some of these ideas from, and have started to agree.

This book took me a long time to read because there are lot of soliloquy’s and digressions, especially about art and writing (both of which I know little about). It was all worth it though – any book can make you fold over the top of the page and highlight sections with pen is worth the pursuit.

Milan Kundera – Immortality

I also really loved this one. I typically disagree with the ideas Kundera puts forward in his books – apparently borrowing from Nietzsche (who I know little about beyond the basics) he believes life to be empty, frivolous and meaningless (see above) and Immortality reinforces that idea in a more specific way, this time focusing on the images and ego (like the ego I talked about here) and their role and importance in our lives.

Personally, I believe life is lived on different echelons – the nature of which are not necessarily better or worse but rather more right for a person at that time – which no one person can definitively decide for another, ever. I agree with Kundera in that a lot of people (myself included) are focused on image, ego, and the way that we are perceived (or, the way are perceiving ourself to be perceived) – but I already talked about that.

Is life a meaningless pursuit, whatever way you choose to live it? Probably, but “meaning” is so relative. Who or what are we comparing ourselves to? What would be a satisfactory answer to the “meaning” of life? In the end, its all going to be self fulfilling prophecy, anyways. If you believe life to be meaningless, it is. Full of meaning, it is. No one can tell you any different.

My mom once said something very interesting about Nietzsche — he came to spiritual realizations without spirituality, and, it made him insane. I am definitely not informed enough to agree with that (she is), but, its a thinker.

Steig Larson – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

After all that I wanted something fun and easy to read. Miller and Kundera were simply not compelling to pick up and read. Although I was thankful for their stories laden with philosophy that made them (personally) readable at all, the stories were never who-dunnit enough to be page turners.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was perfect for that. Thoughts here.

Currently I am reading Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami which sounds more epic than it is. It’s a bit too young-adult for my liking but also, a fun page turner.

Update: Thanks, largehearted boy! He (presumably a he) added me in his `best of 2010 book list` aggregate.

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