Recently I have been chatting with my friends about books: the ones we read and loved in our childhood and those of contemporary literature. Quite logically, our common interests manifested immediately, especially for the classics. We had been all engrossing in Dumas, Conan Doyle, Woodhouse, Verne, London, Marquez and, of course, Tolstoy, Bulkakov, Bunin, Ilf and Petrov, the Strugatsky brothers…
Since young years the books have been among the dearest friends. They helped to learn about the world and understand relationships. We began to identify ourselves with the “right” heroes and, unconsciously or consciously, determined the principles of our further lives through them.
I often hurried home from school to revert to an interesting book that I hadn’t finished reading. In summer, there was no better entertainment in the countryside than lying in the shade with one of my favourite novels and savouring its plot and language for hours, not forgetting to taste red currants from a nearby bush. The words I read spawned images, sounds and aromas in my imagination. Once having watched the screen version of a book, I was often disappointed by the “incompleteness” of the picture, as our fantasy is the best director in the world!
Today, e-books have complemented the paper ones, but for me personally, nothing compares with the enjoyment of holding a real book and leafing through its pages, rather than swiping the glowing screen. Electronic reading, in my opinion, is more focused on finding and obtaining the necessary information and not getting acute pleasure of the word. Well, after all, it’s a matter of taste and habit, of course!
So, it was an occasion for me to ponder on the books that I could include in my personal list of important and fostering, and that’s what I’ve got:
Yes, once again about fairy tales (following up my article On fairy tales and storytellers). These are the very first stories that we hear from our parents. There was a period in my childhood when I refused to fall asleep until my father started telling me a completely new tale that I had not yet heard. And my dad, of course, always took up the challenge! Later, already having mastered reading myself, I covered, I think, a complete selection of Perrault, Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Russian folk tales. We had, I recall, even an entire book of rather frightening Japanese tales – I read it only once.
It is from fairy tales that we learn that Good conquers Evil, even if it’s machiavellian and invincible. Fairy tales support most religious maxims and set moral guidelines. They offer a simple and fascinating modality of transferring the experience of many generations. Finally, all children without exception love fairy tales.
«Greek Myths and legends» by Nikolai Kun can also be considered as a fairy tale: it is a wonderful book that tells all conceivable stories nurturing European literature (and beyond), and, if you ask me, is compulsory for any person of culture.
If you haven’t discovered this novel yet, please do treat yourself and read it. The author is an American writer and philosopher of Russian origin Ayn Rand (Alisa Rosenbaum), the founder of the philosophy of rational individualism.
On the back cover of the edition I purchased, it was mentioned that according to public opinion polls conducted in 1991 by the Library of Congress and the club “Book of the Month Club” in America, “Atlas shrugged” is the second book after the Bible that led to changes in the life of American readers.
Ayn Rand took 12 years to complete the novel, and the key chapter, the speech of John Galt, she had been writing for 2 years.
This is a hymn to modern Atlantis: to people, who sustain the main driving forces of mankind. An ode to those who create, build and produce. The main thesis of Rand is that if you don’t choose your own path and don’t act in accordance with your talent and vocation, it will lead to losses for you personally, and for society as a whole.
I’ve got the first strong impression by this author from the novel “The Fountainhead”, which I read earlier. She herself considered “Atlas shrugged” as the principal work of her life, where she crystallized all the main postulates of her life philosophy.
A mistake in the formula of the world?
I came across this book at a special moment in my life: it lent me a helping hand to find answers to the questions that disturbed me a lot. It is structured in the form of dialogues of two authors: journalist Vitaly Volkov and psychologist Benjamin Shulman. In their conversations they discuss key worldview issues and specific problems, personal and family, that are familiar to each of us.
In my opinion, it is impossible to remain the same person upon reading this book. It touches upon the interaction of scientific and spiritual approaches to life and offers a very interesting and deep outlook on eternal questions. Me personally sometimes had to make considerable pauses while reading for better “digesting”. However, the concept fit so perfectly into my vision of the world that reconciled me with matters, difficult to grasp by reason.
We are certainly living amazing times when all sorts of information became available. Almost any book can wind up on your desk within a few days, and its electronic version, even faster, – on your tablet. Any knowledge and experience are now within relative reach, should you ever wish to receive it. My father often told me: “A book is the best gift” and now I’ve learned from my own experience that this is true.
Read in Russian: Такие нужные книги