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.

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.]

Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.”

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My Rating: *4.5 Stars*

Science Fiction, eh?

NO!

Then what?

More of Coming to Age and Dystopian novel.

Oh!

Btw more of a mixture of genres, Gothic romance, dystopia, coming to age, a tiny winy bit of SF.

Synopsis:

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well-tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.


You know what, we do have a movie! But wait, first read the review and decide for yourself do you want to read it first or watch it. If you’ll watch it first, you’ll not be able to enjoy the very essence of the book. Read it without any hint.


Book Review:

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”

Well, this book shattered me, no, no, broke my heart. You know, I don’t want to tell you anything about this book but I do want to say few things about it. I’ve very conflicting thoughts about how much I should disclose so that you can also enjoy the experience of reading this book followed by watching the movie.

You come across books that are perfect and I love coming across these books and Never Let Me Go is one of them. This book have a such a powerful narrative and the story flows. I like the kind of stories where people talk about their past, they talk about people from there past, I like the small details and memories. You know how when parents or grand parents tell us about their life and what they used to do and how were things back then, it’s always intriguing. Similarly this book have it all, such a good characterization, I liked knowing about their life in Hailsham. This book have this Gothic spell but that is not the only thing that I loved about this book.

Let me tell you what I loved…

The book revolves around the life of three friends Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. The narrator in this book is Kathy who is a care taker and as I said it is more of coming to age book, because Kathy in this book tells about their life growing up in Hailsham and how their life took turns and how it turned out.

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I don’t know how to describe the beauty of this book but few morning I woke up early just to read this book. When I read it, I didn’t know what was happening, I kept on reading and reading until I understood. This book moved me emotionally and then at one instance it shattered me. I felt so bad for all of them, specially Kath. Everything was so unsettling,  this book raise questions about ethics and morals.

You don’t realize what you are getting yourself into and in one moment everything is clear. His writing and structure of the book will make you want to read the book, but on the same front you’ll find it hard to decipher what he is trying to say and where the story is going and that is what I found unsettling.

I’m not gonna tell you what this book is about, read it, struggle and enjoy.

The book is haunting, sweet and sad at the same time…

Judy Bridgewater – Never Let Me Go(Tommy and Kath made me discover this song)

Darling,
Hold me,
Hold me,
Hold meeeeee,
And never (never),
Never (never),
Never (never),
Let me gooooo

Happy Reading!

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

“What you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.”

10746542My Rating: *5 Stars*

It was only when I finished reading the last few pages, I started recollecting all that I read…

Pretty chaotic, huh?(Ya, I’m just reminding myself.)

There was so much between those lines and this book touched me on so many different levels that I don’t know where to start. I have so many things to say.

No, I’m not gonna tell you anything about the plot, seriously no.

But again what a wonderful book it is, I’m impressed.

When I started reading this book, I was not very much into it but after reading 13 pages, I found myself glued to the pages.

You know how they say, when you remember a past event, you’re actually remembering the last time you remembered it.

We can never really forget memories, sometimes they are hidden beneath other memories, sometimes we don’t even know we have those memories until someone makes us remember them. Then there are memories which don’t hold any importance in our lives, but sometimes they uncover themselves and help us make sense out of thing.

Sometimes small things make us remember something from our past. It can be a voice, smell, some sound, a place, or even a touch, sometimes they bring back all the memories which we never knew we know, and sometimes these things make us remember important event of our lives– About someone we met years ago, or a place we traveled long back, it can be anything.

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“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”

 In this book, we have an unreliable narrator, Tony. Now you may ask, “why am I calling him unreliable?”, because this person is telling us about the events that happened in his past, he is remembering his past. But the thing is sometimes people tend to mold things, they mold their life stories according to what suits them, yes they do. And sometimes time sometimes time affects our memories, sometimes they fade away and sometimes we don’t remember the accurate account of an event. And memory is the hero.

“It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others.”

Tony is a pretentious, self-indulgent male, who always wanted things to turn the way he wanted them to be. But, as it always happen, they didn’t. His life didn’t turn out the way he wanted.

“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.”

The ending gave few details which were disturbing, now that I think of them. Sometimes, the book was depressing, sometimes I found the narrator annoying because he is self-centered and self-righteous.

I liked how events unfolded, I really liked looking back at time and how the writer tried to connect all the dots in the last passage, every word in his book counts. This book made me think forward and backward, just to make the sense out of the ending.

I totally recommend this book to everyone.

Happy Reading!

Book Review: In the Eye of the Storm(Storm and Silence #2) by Robert Thier

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Review: Storm and Silence(Storm and Silence #1)

Book: In the Eye of the Storm

Author: Robert Thier

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: ebook

Synopsis:

In the desert, an instant turns life into death and hate into love. In the desert, everything is different. Boundaries break down, and you find yourself doing things that you would never, ever have imagined.

Lilly Linton finds this out the hard way: in the shadow of the pyramids, she and her boss, cold, calculating Mr Ambrose, must face death and danger together. Is the desert’s heat enough to melt the cold heart of Britain’s richest financier?

Review:

*This copy is provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

My Rating: *5 Stars*

Yes! Giving it 5 Stars.

Okay I don’t know if you read my review of Storm and Silence #1 or not. But let me tell you, I loved that book. I couldn’t put that book down, it kept me hooked up till the end. And yes the end did make me sad. Because I wanted to know, “What happens next?”.

Ya, that book left me wanting more. I’m totally in love with these two characters, Mr Ambrose and Lillian. Oh how much I adore them.

So when I started reading this book and continued with their story, it happened again. I fell in love with this book as well. Yes, I got the answer to my first question, “What happens next?”. But again this book left me wanting more. I’m kinda addicted. I seriously can’t wait to read more of this series.

I really liked the writing. The writing was very well done and the details were taken care of.

I just want more out of this story with a really good conclusion, and I’m eagerly waiting for the next installment!

Characters were real good, story was just amazing, writing was awesome and the book was full humor and sarcasm. Now what else do we need?

What is it in this book? Well, I would say, a whole lot of action, a little bit of romance and some really good adventure.

I loved “In the Eye of the Storm”.

I don’t know what else other people need. But I surely need another installment. There I said it!

7 Inspirational Books that You should Read: Do You Really Need Them? This Will Help You Decide!

quotescover-PNG-41 Yesterday I wrote an answer to a question on Quora.

Then today I thought why not write a post similar to it. So, here it is.

There are few inspiration novels that I love and today I’m sharing with you 7 books out of many wonderful books that I love and adore.

Few of them are just brilliant and are must read books and you I’m telling you that you really need to read them(well you can decide for yourself, I was just kidding).

I consider each one of them worthy of anyone’s time.


“The Giver” by Lois Lowry

“If everything’s the same, then there aren’t any choices! I want to wake up in the morning and decide things!”

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Why?The Giver had made me shed a tear more than a few times.

Think of life as black and white. The world of “sameness” and “uniformity”, where there is no love, no happiness, no sadness, no warmth, no color, no death, and no anger. This book depicts the world of dullness and monotony. Now think of a world where you assigned everything, maybe your future occupation, your life partner and whatever you can think of.

I’m not very crazy about the ending. But this book did teach me, that we need change in our world and not just the change but also the courage to make that change. This book tell you that you can do everything you set your mind to. It also make us realize that when we allow people to choose for themselves, you instill hope in them.

“Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach

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When I was in 10th standard my English teacher suggested this book to us students and she told, that one of the person she met read this book and, he told her that, this book changed him, changed the way he think and the way he lives his life.

So,that time I decided, that I should also read this book and in 2011, I actually gave this book a read, with one another book from Richard Bach called “Illusion”.

This book is a fable and a short read, BUT a good read indeed!

Yes, as few readers complained, there is nothing new in this book. All the same stuff about will power and self imagination of limitlessness. But you know, This fable had quite a different way of defining heaven..in “perfection”, in “realization of limitless self”. Listening to your heart, and that true determination and hard practice can give you mastery in whatever field you want, the sense of effortlessness..not only to produce the results each time but to understand & conquer the principles underlying the ways which produce these results.

“..Jonathan asked to Chiang,” Well, what happens from here? Where are we going? Is there no place as heaven?” and Chiang replied, ” No, Jon, there is no such place. Heaven is not a place, and it is not even time. Heaven is being perfect. You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour or at speed of light. Because any number is limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there, instantly…anywhere anytime anyplace.”

“The Time Keeper”by Mitch Albom

“It is never to late or too soon, it is when it is supposed to be.”

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why? Book Review

This book basically tells you that don’t take time for granted, don’t wish it away, don’t take it in your hands. Love it or hate it, time keeps moving forward.

 

 

 

“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

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Why?If you ask me to make a list of 10 must read book, this book will be on the top. When I read it this book gave me a Mind Orgasm.

After reading this book, now every time I take up anything that take up a whole lot of time. I always ask myself, “Will this be meaningful to me?” and if the answer is a big “No”. I don’t do it. Save a lot of time.

The writer show us the capacity of hope. This book for me is a perspective changer.

“Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

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Why?This book is more of a influential book but let me add it to this list because perhaps it was also inspirational for me.

You do need to read this book!

I call this book, “Outliers don’t exist” because Outliers may not be Outliers after all. You’ll get to know this after reading this book.

“Walden” by Henry David Thoreau

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

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Why?For me this book was inspiring. Since in 21st century people are living life in a rut. The opportunity to dig your way out of it and to get away so as to get in touch with nature, to discover, to really think about life sounds to me like a really good thing to do.

“Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand

“I love you so much that nothing can matter to me – not even you…Only my love- not your answer. Not even your indifference”

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Why?Whether you agree with this woman or not(please say you don’t). This book is certainly enticing and enchanting. I’m not really fan of this woman, but this is one of my favorite book and it is entertaining too.

“To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the “I”.”

This book is remarkable.

I liked Howard’s struggle to resist society’s way and remain true to himself . To maintain his individuality. And I liked how the book argues that individuals, not society, makes history.

It’s a tale of triumph and defeat.


So these are the 7 inspirational novels that I wanted to share with you. Some other day I’ll add more books to this list. Till then enjoy these!

Happy Reading!