Book Review: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy

“Death is finished,” he said to himself.  “It is no more!”

18386My Rating: *4 Stars*

I read this book few days back before going to sleep and I must say that this book made me think a lot.

The only reason I don’t pick up Russian books is because they are fully loaded with Russian names and in the end, I end up calling people whatever name I want to. So, the only name I remember is Ivan Ilych.(I know you don’t have to know this, but it literally sucks.)

So as the title suggests and you can totally make this out that it’s about death of a person named Ivan Ilych.

The theme of this book is Death and just so you know I love reading books that deals with death.

This book makes you think inward and ponder upon the subject of life and death, sure it does. When I started reading it, the tone of the writing was really cold and it does suit the setting that was of a funeral with some slap on the face humor which I wonder was there or it was just an effort made my Tolstoy to bring the readers out of the depressive setting that he created in his book.

Tolstoy did talk about morality and there were few situation where even I gave out a chuckle or two and then I thought how inappropriate it was. He starts with how when someone dies people for a very brief time show their sympathy, they feel a bit sad for the person who died, but they feel more happy for they didn’t, for they are alive and it’s not their time, yet.

I want to quote few lines from the funeral part of the story…

His acquaintance…

“Schwartz was waiting for him in the adjoining room with legs spread wide apart and both hands toying with his top-hat behind his back.  The mere sight of that playful, well-groomed, and elegant figure refreshed Peter Ivanovich.  He felt that Schwartz was above all these happenings and would not surrender to any depressing influences.”

Schwartz didn’t give a hoot. He was there just to mark his presence.


His wife…

“Oh, terribly!  He screamed unceasingly, not for minutes but for hours.  for the last three days he screamed incessantly.  It was unendurable.  I cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off.  Oh, what I have suffered!”

And then his wife said that she suffered. I ask from what? The screams of her husband that she couldn’t tolerate? OH MY GOD! Reading those lines made me feel worse.


His friend…

“The service began:  candles, groans, incense, tears, and sobs.  Peter Ivanovich stood looking gloomily down at his feet. He did not look once at the dead man, did not yield to any depressing influence, and was one of the first to leave the room…

…Peter Ivanovich found the fresh air particularly pleasant after the smell of incense, the dead body, and carbolic acid.”

He just wanted to get out of the awkward situation that he was in, the funeral. So, that at least he can feel happy about his life and that he was alive.


I suffered from all insensitivity these characters showed, made me think for once that how people really do that kind of shit all the time. Some of them feel sad when other people suffer but they feel more happy for themselves because they are all well and fine, then there are few people who don’t give a hoot about anyone, they only think about what they can get out of others suffering, how others suffering can benefit them. And some of them feel relieved that at least it’s all over so that they can move on in life.

Ivan was a nice man, he lived a well to do life, he owned a good house, had a good career, money, a good position in the society and a family. If you look at the surface he had it all. But one day when death announced itself to him, everything came crashing down.

“Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”

When pain and agony made him question his life, when he looked back in time, he realized he lost all the joy with time and he started questioning life. All that he had was what the society was expecting from him, not necessarily what he wanted out of life.

“False. Everything by which you have lived and live now is all a deception, a lie, concealing both life and death from you.”

“And in imagination he began to recall the best moments of his pleasant life.  But strange to say none of those best moments of his pleasant life now seemed at all what they had then seemed—none of them except the first recollections of childhood.  There, in childhood, there had been something really pleasant with which it would be possible to live if it could return.  But the child who had experienced that happiness existed no longer, it was like a reminiscence of somebody else.

 As soon as the period began which had produced the present Ivan Ilych, all that had then seemed joys now melted before his sight and turned into something trivial and often nasty.”

Alone while suffering and waiting for his death he questioned himself and his soul. He saw his life in a different light. He suffered his destruction all alone and died everyday a little thinking that no one really cared to understand his sufferings.

“It can’t be that life is so senseless and horrible. But if it really has been so horrible and senseless, why must I die and die in agony? There is something wrong!”

And then he died and we came to an end.

“Death is finished, he said to himself. It is no more!”

And there it was “The Death of Ivan Ilych”.

It’s a short book but I believe one should read this book, it can be a heavy read for some people but worth reading. Once you’ll start reading it, I’m sure you won’t be able to put it down.

Short Story Review: The Flood by Émile Zola

“Everything was misty. It was the terrified end of a day melting into the night of death.”

the floodMy Rating : *4 Stars*

Depressing, quite depressing.

This story is based on the 1875 flood of the Garonne River in Toulouse, France and as it was reported nearly 3000 lives were lost. This event inspired Zola to write this short story, The Flood, which is set in the village of Saint-Jory.

It’s a story of a seventy-year-old farmer, Louis Roubien, who lives with his family: his brothers, grandchildren, sisters and his children.

Zola tells how Roubien family, after struggling for a very long period of time finally tastes prosperity and become one of the richest family(or maybe the only richest family) in the village. They own vast lands that they use for farming and cattle farms and how they have it all in abundance. When the story begins, it is shown that this is their best year.

To quote Roubien:”For fourteen years I battled with the earth for my daily bread. At last, prosperity smiled on we, and last month I was still the richest farmer in the parish. Our house seemed blessed, happiness resigned here. The sun was our brother, and I cannot recall a bad crop.”

Zola used powerful imagery to describe the beauty of the village, of setting sun and imagery which ensue peace.

“The sky was blue, an immense blue sheet of profound purity, in which the rays of the setting sun were like a golden dust. Never had I seen the village drowsing in so sweet a peace.”

But then the evening transcended to the blind wrath  of nature and it’s beauty turned itself into a devil that brought destruction and death for the villagers.

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Not a very accurate depiction.

And the events that followed it were quite disturbing for me. Death engulfed everyone one by one and throughout the night, they faced loss.

In the hour of darkness, Zola through his story portrays, fear and desperation to get out of the clench of death and how in the hours of destruction individuals show their heroism, and do everything to save their loved ones.

Louis lost his whole family by the break of dawn and he felt the pure loss as a single night took away everything from him: his family, his prosperity, and happiness. And he was so weak that he couldn’t do anything and there he was left all alone mourning his loss.

“Then nothing, nothing, a black pit, oblivion.”

I loved this story and totally worth reading.

You can download it, The Flood.

Alfred Sisley-328373

Book Review: The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

“You know how advice is – you only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyways.”

4796My Rating: *5 Stars*

I started reading this book yesterday and finished it a few hours back. It’s raining in here, a lot, I mean a lot and it’s cold. Now that rain stopped, strong winds are blowing and I can’t sleep because when I closed the windows, the wind started making spooky noises and now that when I opened them, the sound is so relaxing, you know the sound of wind blowing through palm trees.

So, again I don’t feel like sleeping and I’m constantly thinking about the book and this book gave me this unsettling feeling that won’t let me sleep. You know the feeling you get after you read a thought-provoking novel, yes that.

This book is beautiful, and that is some great writing right there. Steinbeck is what I would like to call a true literary genius. I haven’t read his other books and this is the first one, but already I’m his admirer. I think this is a finely crafted book.

As I read this book, I came across many little but profound messages, throughout the book, and they were easy to decipher and relate with, and strong enough to stir thoughts into the reader’s mind. Steinbeck, as it turns out, is not only a literature writer but also a philosopher and you can easily identify that while reading the book. This novel came out in the 1960s and before that he already got some of his best literary work published like “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden”, I haven’t read them but now after reading this book I’m surely gonna read them. But I’m gonna say that this story is wonderfully told and well structured, but for some unknown reason it is quite often overlooked and I think people should read it. One of my friend on Goodreads said that this book is quite different from his other books.

Now if we come to the story, the synopsis says, Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbeck’s last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children are hungry for the tantalizing material comforts he cannot provide. Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards.

You might have got some idea what this is about. This book, The Winter of Our Discontent, is based on the subject of morality, or more appropriately how morality plays its role in American society, it’s prevalence in 1960’s. It’s an exploration of morality in an individual, in a society. And I think, it still exists in today’s society.

I loved the character of Ethan and all the other characters were also easy to understand. From the beginning itself you can find Ethan as a content person, he did lost his family property(because of a bad business decision, not made by him) and didn’t get to enjoy all taste of money that he could. But in his heart, he was always a content person, a happy person. Always did good and did everything to make his family secure(that is enough to ask). Throughout the book he also talked about many intelligent books and you can see that he is a smart person and can do a lot more and deserve more and that he can be more than a grocery clerk.

But as it turns out when we live in a society many things go into our heads, we want all the luxury and money our neighbors are enjoying or society is enjoying, people can’t keep their heads high up for the simple reason, that they think they are not worthy enough because of the lack of wealth or a respected job.

His family’s discontentment became his discontentment. As a provider, he wanted to provide them everything. Society and friends told him that he could be much more than he is. People told him, if he wants to be successful he have to break some rules to turn it all up for himself, and that sometimes we have to lose our morals to get what we want.

All this discontentment made him do something for himself and his family, day by day little events changed him, he came up with plans(that you would be reading) and you’ll see how everything he planned for fitted altogether. The book has this gray shady setting and sometimes it’s unsettling.

And you can see all this in our society, that a job these days is not just a simple job, it is much more, there is a huge competition, people make other people fall just to go one step ahead and people want to make it big. And no one can disagree with it, it’s everywhere.

Okay, I really want you to read it because this is something worth reading. There are some really good underlying messages and I think you should read it because I can go on and on.

Happy Reading!

[Written on 21st August 2016 at 3:20 A.M.]

Music Nook: Can’t Hide(feat. Ashe) by Whethan

Yesterday I came across this song, it got this good vibe and good voice, so I thought, why not share. And yes this song is new, a recent upload. The whistle though…okay go listen.

Peace of mind

Don’t waste your time with looking back

They’re broken pieces of past

Come here and makes some love

that make some love that…

Lasts, lasts, lasts

You can’t hide


Can’t Hide!
Download… http://goo.gl/4LLIy2
Listen on Spotify… http://goo.gl/DJ4y7Z

Whethan
https://soundcloud.com/wheathin
https://www.facebook.com/whethanmusic
https://twitter.com/whethanmusic
https://www.instagram.com/whethanmusic/

Ashe
https://www.facebook.com/ashemusicoff…
https://twitter.com/ashemusic
https://soundcloud.com/ashe

Is it Ever Too Late to Start Reading Books

People often ask this question that, “Is it too late to start reading books?”, some of them don’t know where to start and some of them drop the idea of reading even before start doing it.

Of course, it’s never too late, how can it be.

spell and bound bookstore,New Delhi

Picture Clicked at Spell and Bound Bookstore, New Delhi

If you want to start reading then don’t just think about it but start doing it.

Reading is good and reading good stuff is even better.

To start with you can make an account on Goodreads so as to discover good books and to keep track of all that you have read and all that you want to read.

Also, don’t just read about everything and anything available out there. What I mean is try not to read trash because there is a whole of trashy stuff out there. It won’t help you. Read good stuff and do a productive reading.

Start with reading something that interests you and then discover new books that you may want to read.

While reading books:

  • If the book that you are reading doesn’t interest you then just leave it and move to another one. There are so many good books out there, don’t just hang around with one book.

 

  • Also read kind of books that will have some impact on you, books that will give you a sense of realization, an epiphany.

 

  • Find your purpose for reading.

 

  • And rather than speed-reading do an effective reading. Try to understand what you are reading rather than how much you are reading. Quantity doesn’t matter.

 

  • And actively remember what you are reading. I adhere to it while reading non-fiction. I always ask myself while reading what all I want to remember out of it. I’m talking about the key points.

 

  • One additional step you can add to your new reading habit is writing down your takeaways.

One should never ask if it’s too late because it’s never too late, at least when it comes to reading and learning new stuff.

Most people don’t read because they find reading intimidating or maybe they don’t really like silence and solitude that comes with this activity or maybe because they can’t read as faster as their peers(don’t compete, it is no competition).

Books will open a whole new world for you and then one day you will ask yourself, why didn’t I start reading books earlier.

Enjoy it and don’t just get lost. Form opinions and have fun.

You, Yes, You. The one reading this if you are a reader then tell me, “When did you start reading books?” For me, I started reading when I was 13.

Btw Happy Reading!

Why I Write

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”- Anaïs Nin

WP_20160807_13_26_09_Pro

  • I write because I read:

I’m not a good writer but who really cares. Writing is fun and everyone can’t be James Joyce or Oscar Wilde. But I do care about me being a good reader and I definitely like to form opinions about the text I read.

  • I write because I’m a bad story teller:

I’m not good at telling stories. I make them dry and brief, or for some reason uninteresting, I skip the little details. I’m working on it though. And I want people to know the story and love the story as much as I loved it.

  • I write because writing is only way I express better:

I already told you that I’m bad at story telling and on top of that I’m neither very talkative. So, for people like me writing can do wonders. I express better and I explain better and construct my thoughts and feeling better.

  • I write because I like to collect good memories:

I have pen down all my memories, I haven’t read them. But I know I can re-visit them anytime I want to. They are vivid, detailed and evocative. I love doing it, writing down the good memories because after a while memories just fade away.

  • I write because I want things to make sense:

Yes, I always want a paper and a pen to make sense out of things, that is how it works for me. Writing is the best way I share ideas and make people understand what I want them to understand. I always have many things going on inside my mind and because of that everything get mixed up. So, to make things clear I have to, necessarily pen them down. Because I know other person won’t understand and I won’t be satisfied with my explanations.

  • And I write because I want to release all my thoughts:

I have so many things to say but I often keep them in my mind. So, I write them down. And also I like my thoughts to have a voice.

Why do you write?

How Do I Choose Books to Read

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”- Francis Bacon

How do i choose books to read

I always take sometime before I decide if I want to read a book or not because“knowledge is power is time is money”(I deliberately made that mistake so refrain from correcting it.) I’m very choosy when it comes to books or anything for that matter. No place for trash.

Coming to the point.

How do I choose books?

  • Need & Content:

I choose books just because they can fulfill my needs because of their good content. So when I want learn something or I want to know about something, I choose a book which can provide me with most of the content so that I don’t have to sit with 5 different books to learn one thing because it  is such a hassle.

  • Writer:

If I love the writer, I choose his/her book if I don’t have many good options.

  • Influences:

I also choose books written by people who influenced my favorite writers. Most of them never disappointed me, just one time when I read Sartre, his book was depressive.

  • Books mentioned inside the books:

I also read the books that are mentioned in the book that I’m reading. It’s fun. I came across many good books, this way. It’s like writer recommending you books personally.

  • Current Read:

I also choose books similar to the book that I’m reading.

  • Genre:

Best books from my favorite Genre. That is easy.

  • Buddy Read:

Sometimes I also read totally random book but I mostly do it when I’m reading that book with someone else, so that if it is a total disappointment then we can rant about it or if it turns out to be a really good book then we can always say, ohh! we discovered this beauty and we read it together, it was awesome. 

  • Bookshops:

I love bookshops and I make a monthly trip to local bookstores to buy something fun, something I didn’t know about. I have favorite bookstores in different cities. So, whenever I go there, I do make a visit to these bookstores as well. Sometimes they turn out to be disappointment and sometimes I discover something good.

Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi_Their Vodka

Oxford Bookstore and Cafe, New Delhi

  • Goodreads:

I totally look up for recommendations there. I have found so many brilliant books there.

  • Recommendations:

I know few people who give top notch book recommendations. So, whenever they recommend me books then I always read them. No, point of doubt.

That’s how I choose books and I’m not gonna lie, I have also picked up books just because of an upcoming movie release and sometimes because of those OHHHHHHHHHH SO beautiful covers.

How do you choose book that you want to read? Do share with me.

Happy Reading!