reading · reading projects

Books of Life. Contents

Literature, more than any other thing in the world, was my sense-building tool, my way of maturing.

Still, it is strange (and a bit terrifying) how disconnected from myself I feel when I’m not reading for longer periods of time. It seems hard to remember my point of view, my thoughts and convictions.. it gets even harder to recollect why they are what they are, how they came to be, what was the process. My ground seems lost at such times. I’m left floating in the air like a faint cloud, dispersing slowly but steadily. That’s how it feels again, now.

Since the thought of living without being in touch with myself does not thrill me at all, I have to do something to stop this dispersion, have to gather myself back together… Which means I have to go back, revisit, reconnect with the books that had some particular significance in shaping my mind and in developing the sense of who I am.

In a way, all the books I have read in my life so far (or, at least, a great majority of them) played some part in the process of creating my identity. Many of them were important and beloved, but I absolutely cannot reread them all. After a couple of hours of hard thinking, the decision fell upon these titles:

  • childhood
    1. Pippi Longstocking. Astrid Lindgren
    2. Eagles Fly Early. Branko Ćopić
    3. Pero Kvržica’s Gang. Mato Lovrak
    4. The Sandman. E.T.A. Hoffmann
    5. Little Women. Louisa May Alcott
  • early youth
    1. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austin
    2. The Old Man and the Sea. Ernest Hemingway
    3. Picture of Dorian Grey. Oscar Wilde
    4. King Lear. William Shakespeare
    5. Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë
  • adolescence
    1. The Red and the Black. Stendhal
    2. The Outsider. Albert Camus
    3. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel García Márquez
    4. Forsyte Saga. John Galsworthy
    5. History of Philosophy. Boris Kalin
  • university
    1. Iliad. Homer
    2. The Name of the Rose. Umberto Eco
    3. To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf
    4. Lanark. Alasdair Gray
    5. New York Trilogy. Paul Auster
  • past seven years
    1. Reading Lolita in Tehran. Azar Nafisi
    2. Parade’s End. Ford Madox Ford
    3. The Visit of the Royal Physician. Per Olov Enquist
    4. Moominpappa at Sea. Tove Jansson
    5. Last Unicorn. Peter Beagle



6 thoughts on “Books of Life. Contents

    1. I find that many people think so..
      How I see and feel it, memories cannot be spoiled – if once I had fun reading a book and it meant something, made some kind of mark on me, it will stay even if rereading it I discover that it is not as good as it was.
      That is, even if I discover that I can’t even finish a book I once loved, the knowledge that it was important at its time will not let the love go away..
      Reading them again, belongs to now, to the present (and maybe to the future) but, what was read stays in past.

  1. I like this idea but fear that some of the books may not live up to how I remember them, whereas some most definitely would though. It’s a balancing act between enjoying past reads and discovering such new gems in this vast sea of words. It really is a bit rubbish being mortal.

    1. Yes.. as I wrote to Alex, many people fear rereading will corrupt the memory of a beloved book..
      I think the memory will still be the same even if, upon rereading, the book proves horrible. Nothing can change the fact that once it had an impact, that it was great, that it felt right… Nothing can change how I felt. It’s impossible. It’s past.
      Another thing is, I would not want to rob myself of having those books again, now.. of making them active in present time (not only in the form of memory)..

      Also, I don’t like the thought of reading a book just once… if a book is a good one.. although sometimes this applies when it is a bad one as well..
      And, as we all know, books that are considered literature must be read many times in order to grasp the riches they hold between their covers.

      But, the argument about so many new books is a valid one.. We are all acrobats! May the force help us to balance well. :)

  2. Speaking of the Force, I have never wanted to read a Star Wars book, perhaps that will be a new first for this year too.

    Rereading will allow us to be more objective and will remind us of and probably enhance the good points as well, I think I treasure my memories too much when really all books are in flux thanks to our constant learning and reading of powerful books.

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