Is this cheating as Metamorphosis is a really short book? It might be but, it’s okay J I am still happy I read it. I really enjoyed this novella and honestly it was a sad read. I have at times struggled with finding the time to read but, I have been really good for the past two weeks. I think it’s because I enjoy it so much. Although, I must admit that I have ignored some of my personal responsibilities to read which I need to be better about.
Book Name: Metamorphosis
Author: Franz Kafka
Rating: 4.5 / 5
This book is sad. I don’t get emotional about reading but, this book made me sad in more than one way. First, Gregor Samsa (the main character) in the novella is so relatable. He works hard to provide for his family. He has a vision in his head that he’s going to tell off his employer once he is financially stable and quit his job. Everything he does is to take care of his family. I relate to that in so many ways. I am the oldest in my family and in my short life – I have made sacrifices that most people probably do not have to make till later in their life. Gregor one day turns into a bug / cockroach which ends up changing his entire life and his relationship with his family. His family cannot bear to look at him and he becomes dispensable very quickly. His presence is mostly felt because his income isn’t coming in. This made me think of much labor is tied to a person’s identity. What are we without our work? What are we without labor defining us? Before, Gregor was a “travelling salesman” and a son who provided for his family but, after his transformation – he becomes nothing. His family slowly starts to resent him and even plans to get rid of him. In the end, Gregor passes away as a bug and his family moves on. His sister, the baby of the family, starts sprouting into a woman showing the end of one life and a beginning of another.
Overall, I really felt for Gregor. I think we all know how it feels to be excluded from a group at some point in our life. It also shows how his life plans ended before he could do anything about it. I imagine we all want to live our life a certain way and cannot do it because of limitations we put on ourselves.
Have you read the Metamorphosis? If so, what did you think about it?
Yesterday, I finished my first book of 2019. I want to read 24 books this year and wanted to stay on track as much as I can at the beginning of the year. I don’t want to make it a chore as I really do love to read. I do want to make it a habit so, I have been reading for about 30 – 45 minutes each day. It’s one of the most peaceful / enjoyable part of my day J Reading was really helpful for my mental health last year so, this year – I hope to incorporate it to my daily habits. One thing I did notice last year is that it’s easy to read something and then forget about it right after you finish it so, I plan on writing a brief summary of what I read just as a reminder to myself. I won’t discuss the plot in the summaries to not ruin it for others J I will just cover the general theme / idea.
Book Name: Good of Small Things
Author: Arundhati Roy
Rating: 3.5 / 5
This is a fiction book written by Arundhati Roy. She’s an Indian author which made me interested in the book in the first place. I have really been trying to read more from writers with diverse backgrounds. My favorite author is also Rabindranath Tagore (who is also from India). Arundhati has a poetic way of writing her novel. I really enjoyed the novel being written in a perspective of children (twins) and the same twins when they are older. The book covers a variety of topic that are specific to India / other countries surrounding India: caste system, sociopolitical hierarchy based out of caste system (especially with some people being considered “untouchable”) and uprise of Maoist based regime (the communist party of India and some other countries surrounding India). It also covers other universal topics: forbidden love, a failed marriage, interracial / multicultural relationship, and twins.
The part of the novel that really stuck with me was how a woman leaves a home to escape abuse from her father and ends up in another abusive relationship. Cycle of life, I suppose. The same woman then struggles with going back home as well as falls in love with an “untouchable”. Her needs are considered taboo while her brother’s similar needs are valid and accepted part of life. The difference between the two genders are made very clear in the book and seems to fit the cultural setting of India. She feels liberated by sex and enjoys it but, since the person she is engaging in sex with is an “untouchable” – the matter becomes more taboo than it already is (a divorcee from an upper class background with kids in a sexual relationship with an “untouchable”).
Similarly, the dynamic between the twins is complex from the beginning. Through their narration, they keep referring them themselves as a part of a “whole”. They’re not “Us” or “Each Other” – they just are. They were together even before birth. The twins are separated and grow into adulthood separately. They are reunited in the end while the novel unfolds and towards the end the twins engage in sex. It was the strange part of the novel for me but, I figured the author was trying to bring home the concept of their “oneness” which she refers to multiple times within the book. It also felt “appropriate” because they do not talk to each other until this moment.
This act of another “forbidden love” brings them together while they narrate their mother’s own forbidden love. They cannot be together or be accepted by larger society so, both their mother and the twins are limited to enjoying / celebrating the “small things” hence, the title of the book “God of Small Things”.
Have you read this book? If so, share your thoughts below.
If not, what books do you plan on reading in 2019?
Lately, I have been reading more. This year, I have read 14 books and they have all changed my viewpoint / thinking in one way or another. Reading really makes us realize that we aren’t alone and our pain is mostly universal. I recently read a book that changed my thinking profoundly. The book is called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.
Viktor Frankel was an Australian neurologist / psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. He survived three Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz. The struggles in his life are obviously hard to compare. When he was released from the camp, he found out his entire family including his wife was killed in concentration camps. Being passionate about neurology, he writes honestly about his thought process and mindset surviving one of the most horrific times in history.
The book is a gem and it will take forever to summarize the message it conveys but, I have summarized what I have learned and what resonated with me.
- You cannot control what happens to you but, you can control your response: You cannot control what happens in life and the injustices you will endure. Maybe you will be a victim of a horrific crime such as Mr. Frankl himself or face other tragedies in life like death of a loved one, a broken heart, failure in a job, an accident, and many others. These tragedies can make us extremely bitter and broken or they can be used as transformative tools to make us better human beings. We can use our pain in a way that allows us to be successful and happy. Sometimes the most horrific things we go through sets up us to be who we didn’t think we were capable of being and in turn makes us more understanding, empathetic and overall better human beings.
- Suffering is a necessary part of life: Suffering exists with life. We cannot avoid suffering and happiness cannot be attained without suffering. Suffering here does not mean self-inflicted pain (he strongly encourages you to avoid suffering if possible) but, when you do suffer – it is actually a good thing. A blessing in disguise of some sort. He says that a person isn’t supposed to be “free from suffering” rather, he should suffer for a meaningful or a freely chosen goal. Only then, can he truly be happy. This pursuit of “meaning” leads us to happiness.
- Serving others leads you to find yourself: Transcendence of self is the only way to reach enlightenment. You can meditate and be spiritual as long as you want but, if you do not dedicate your life in pursuit of making it better for someone else – enlightenment is hard to obtain. Be selfless and enlightenment will find you. I agree with this partially but, I think self-love and self-care goes hand in hand. We cannot serve others if we’re not happy in the first place.
These are just small things I learned from the book. The book is profound and I encourage everyone to read it.
If you have read it – what were the lessons you learned from it?