Tolstoy: Essential Read For This Era

Leo Tolstoy, a name synonymous with the greatness of Russian literature or literature for that argument. Leo Tolstoy is one of the world’s famous and admired writers till date, I do think he is one of the greatest novelists who ever lived. Tolstoy’s philosophy(“Tolstovstvo”) inspired great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela and much more. Not only great leaders, his writing is the main reason that we talk about Russian Literature in such high prestige these days.Tolstoy was a layman’s writer, he used daily life mundane events and characters to forensics issues such as war, religion, feminism, cruelty, and many other topics. He was convinced that philosophical principles could only be understood in their concrete expression in history.

There is kind of strange physiological delight in reading Tolstoy’s work. It is like whole other world with characthers that transcends the fictional boundary. His words are simple but strangely magical that generate the world which is full of stimulas and fells. The candourness of his thoughts take us into the parallel world, which is quite similar to this world but, you view it more fully and with more clarity. Marcel Proust considered Tolstoy to be the almighty lord of his works, controlling all their actions and thoughts. If so it is a generous lord, who is great because he gives freedom to his heroes, and they, on entering our memory, become more alive than the living.

Sometimes it seems that Tolstoy was born to overturn the rules of literature and to laugh at its pretensions to be a textbook of life. The fundamental aim of Tolstoy’s nature was a search for truth, for the meaning of life, for the ultimate aims of art, for family happiness, for God.This was his main inspiration for writing, He did not regard himself as a professional writer. He was more of a man fighting his own contradicting thoughts. His mind and body raged with such unchecked passions that it was not possible to make ends meet.He hated “progress” and the age of progress and he hailed freedom for women in a world of stern social convention.

If you think that you should read Leo Tolstoy’s work only because he is classic writer or he is famous, it is really not that….Lets face it, we live in a society, where individualism is just a word, you are not entitled to have an opinion. It is considered rude to be opinionated. The unjust laws have sold the concept of “Free Speech” but they have caged our thougths. We are born as Tabula Rasa(blank canvas) and painted by tainted hands to be caged in our thoughts. Leo Tolstoy is escapism from this cage. Leo Tolstoy is Skepticism, Hedonidism, Orignality, Fearless thoughts, Individualism which in my opinion we all have lost in this centuary in the facade of perfect society and free speech. He is prickly face, the unkemp beard and the childlike search for a magical figure in the forest that held the key to universal happiness. Tolstoy work shows you what real goodness, simplicity and truth means.

So read Tolstoy and let him be the lamp to take your mind out of dark caged thoughts and to the light of the free thinking so that you can use minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.


The 4-Hour Workweek: Timothy’s Design of New Rich.

Have you heard people saying, “My life was dead, so I switched to this”. We search for changes that make our lives happening Or you scream “Come On Life happen to me”. In the continuous quest for balancing work and life, We take expert advice, not leaving any bestseller Time management and business books unread, try to design our life according to that but for few weeks or days, we fail to adapt them. Here comes the book with an exquisite Design of Work and Life. A Design that you would follow for your entire life because this was what you always wanted to know. How they do so? And you will definitely say was it is so easy. Amongst the must read list for entrepreneurs “The 4-Hour Workweek” has placed itself in the most lavish and comfortable couch. In the book, Timothy Ferris breaks through existing myths and proposes unique ways to replace them. End of Time Management -Time is not proportional to the money we make, Retirement to mini-retirement , On Fear-Setting, On overcoming boredom, The low -Information Diet, Outsourcing, “The 4-Hour Workweek” have much to offer than you could have wished to ask someone living the way you always dreamt of living.

Timothy separates the New Rich from the Deferrers.According to his design, Who are the NR( New Rich )?

The employee who rearranges his schedule and negotiates a remote work agreement to achieve 90% of the results in the one-tenth of the time, which frees him to practice cross-country skiing and take road trips with his family two weeks per month.

As Kathy Sierra calls “just-in-time” information instead of “just-in-case” information. The concept of The Low Information Diet emphasis on Practice the art of not finishing, if something is not worth it, leave it before your neurons die. More is not better, and stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it. Develop the habit of not finishing that which is boring or if a boss isn’t demanding it. Now, this goes with this review also, better stop it now if you don’t consider the idea of ‘New Rich’ :P.

NR, stop working way too hard on their weaknesses. It will only land you a mile apart. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair to stand aloof. So if you are struggling hard to overcome your flaws, think of embracing it. Are you lazy? And you often love to play Bruno Mars –

Are you lazy? And you often love to play Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song. The most comforting lines for you in the book would be “Less in not lazy”. Being selective- doing less– is the path of the productivity. If replacing yourself wouldn’t make much difference. Do it. Save yourself for the most important tasks and let others hustle for you while you enjoy cross-country skiing. The Idea of outsourcing life and building a system to replace yourself works wonders, read to learn and know how they do it.

If you are an employee still you can be an NR, you can design your life to be your boss. NR is not what only bosses can be. Timothy discusses several tricks and hacks to make it happen for employees. One is – Distinguish the most important things and do it and apologise if you have to for doing it. Sounds disgusting but is Smart. ‘Beg for forgiveness: don’t ask for permission’. How cool. I tried it and it worked. Challenge

Challenge yourself to do what you fear to do. It is something which we always wanted to do. If something resists us we must assist ourselves to make it happen. Have you heard, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have? Next time don’t shy away to go uneasy on conversations. There are endless hacks to try and amaze the outcomes. It is fun believe me.

One of my best pick from the book is “The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is- here’s the clincher-boredom. No one like boredom, so why not to make our lives bit lavish and add some adventure to it, if we can. Let’s escape the ordinary. And it doesn’t need any science, It doesn’t have to be our retirement to travel the world, It requires lesser cash than we think. All it needs is Timothy’s Design of New Rich.



13 Reasons Why : A Mirror Everyone Should See

We live in a society where it is too important for us to be on the right side of the things. We have to be morally correct. But the main twist is, we have to be right in the eyes of society and we have to morally correct to the society, does not matter what lies we tell ourselves. You are immoral if you question anything or talk about anything that goes against the fact that “Society and morals we believe are the ultimate truth” and they are not up for questioning and not even worth a debate, that what they tell us. “Either you are a Prude or you are Slut…It’s a Trap” as Allison said in “The Breakfast Club”. As a little child, we have been told there are topics, you are not supposed to talk about. They are immoral. They are only immoral because they show us the dark devilish face of the society and all the mirage and facade of “We Are Happy and Perfect World” seems to get blurred by this talks. You can’t just ignore the topic and think that it does not exist.”13 Reasons Why” is a novel which digs deep into these topics which are there. Rape, Suicide, Rumours, Emotional torture, Narcissistic behaviour, Mental illness, Sexual Assault, Depression, Schizophrenia, Bullying, Misogyny, Judging, Anxiety, Grief, Bipolar Personality Disorder or you name anything that can person goes through for worst, This book contains it all.

Now you might be thinking then why we you should read this book? It sounds horrible and dark then why? Why should I read something this immoral and dark? Well, read this review fully and then again ask yourself this question. Have you ever hurt someone? You just said: “obviously not” in your head, didn’t you? We as Humans have a tendency to feel that we are always right. Clay Jenson felt the same when he returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. That’s all the summary you need to know.

There are certain things, things that they don’t teach at the school, things that we never learn by experience. Things that can make all the difference between life and death. It’s always the little things. The little things that all add up and build up over time and before you know it, there’s an avalanche. The snowball effect. Rumours, lies, secrets and even every little decision ever made all have repercussions. People are fighting battles that we have no idea about and being thoughtless about your words and actions just makes their burden heavier. And sometimes, it’s not about what you did do, but about what you didn’t do. Hope can be a fragile thread to cling to at times and even the smallest act of kindness has got the power to prevent someone from coming undone.

This is a book with a message, one that everyone needs to hear and comprehend. It is the voice of the voiceless. If we talk about writing in this book, this book is completely raw written and that makes it more powerful and painful and that is the whole point of this book to show how really painful these things really are and what they put a person through that they commit suicide. The narration is quite tricky in this as there is dual narration as Clay is the main narrator but the story is mainly told by Hannah through tapes. It gets confusing at times but you will get used to it until Chapter 2. If we talk about the message in this book, there are many messages but the central message can be described by these quote from this book: “And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything… affects everything”.

“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.” As these quotes describe we sometimes not have a tiny idea that what we do to the person without even noticing. It’s not just that they are sensitive. Sometimes you just kill a person without even knowing because we never really think about other’s perception of our actions towards them and this whole world have made us so egoist and self-centered that we never ask them and pretend we are right and that push them to the suicide. It has to get better, the way we treat each other. It has to get better the way we handle friendships and judge people. It just has to get better. We all think that we are kind and we don’t need a book to teach us to be kind. But this book will teach us to be considerate about other people emotions and how our ignorance and stubbornness can sometimes break a person. This book will make you think about everything. It’s a must read. It left me frustrated and feeling helpless. It’s not that I didn’t know what I was signing up for because I did, I just didn’t realise it would affect me in such a way. But, it’s still something that everybody needs to read and think over.

“Put me Underneath God’s sky and know me don’t just see me with your eyes Take away this mask of flesh and bone and see me for my soul alone”-Hannah Baker

Tuesdays With Morrie- Thesis You Would Love to have

“Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only beds.”These lines as the denouement of the book show heart out of Mitch Albom.Based on true story, this is a book with Mitch, as a young man who has just graduated from college.And his professor Morrie-A dancer, Swimmer and Social Psychology teacher, Who later, because of a disease called ALS, started degrading day by day. Mitch being lost in his life and making wrong interpretations about life, of being too busy with his work and looking for never existing happiness out of his work life. Once rediscovered his old professor, who helped him understand insights of life which Mitch was unable to do. And with his help, Mitch discovered the different meaning of existence.

The story shows how Morrie in his last days, taught his only student Mitch, about the meaning of life, taught from experience not books, no grades, oral exams each week on Tuesdays in his house.Every week they used to discuss one of the topics among love, family, ageing, forgiveness, and finally death.

Morrie had to offer all he had gained with experience to others, to Mitch.So he agreed to do the last thesis with Mitch result is this book by “Mitch Albom”, who delivered his professor’s ideas to millions. Each week consists of aphorisms and teachings on a certain topic of life, all together was able to deliver life’s greatest lesson to Mitch. All the changes that came to Morrie’s life with the growing disease. Things once casual was now changed to his inabilities. Joy and happiness in little things, once ignored. From always being independent to a state of unwilling dependence and finally enjoyment in dependency. Morrie told Mitch,”The young are not wise. They have little understanding about life”, was able to deliver insights of life to young Mitch.

We all have that one teacher like Morrie, who taught us some lessons other than the academic subject, to whom we credit our character and accomplishments we have today. Read the book to know life lessons Mitch got.Have you shared your life lessons, you learned from your mentor or teacher.Who is the professor Morrie in your life??

The Devils/Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky had worked for several years on a novel to be called “The Life of a Great Sinner.” Mistakenly translated in the past as “The Possessed,” the title refers to the infestation of foreign political and philosophical ideas that swept Russia in the second half of the 19th century.”The Possessed” is among the best, yet complex books ever written by Dostoevsky. It has a deep political embedding of Russian, merging it with pure realism, exposing nihilism, portraying existentialism, plus dark atrocities.”These demons, then, are ideas, that legion of -isms that came to Russia from the West: idealism, rationalism, empiricism, materialism, utilitarianism, positivism, socialism, anarchism, nihilism, and, underlying them all, atheism.” -Dostoevsky, taking as his starting point the political chaos around him at the time, constructs an elaborate morality tale in which the people of a provincial town turn against one another because they are convinced of the infallibility of their ideas.

“What I am writing now is a tendentious thing.” Dostoyevsky wrote to a friend in connection with his first outline for The Devils. “I feel like saying everything as passionately as possible. (Let the nihilists and the Westerners scream that I am reactionary!) To hell with them. I shall say everything to the last word.” As Dostoyevsky predicted, “The Devils”, or”The Possessed”, was indeed denounced by radical critics as the work of a reactionary renegade. But radicals aside, it enjoyed great success both for its literary power and for its explicit and provocative politics; and for its story of Russian terrorists plotting violence and destruction, only to murder one of their own numbers.(Stavrogin’s Confession from the Prologue of book).

The main beauty of this novel is its central theme revolved and capture around the problems in Russia in 19 century in most crystal way possible, the dispute between the older men of the ’40s and the younger men of the ’60s. Both of these groups are stereotypes, though salient types of the time. Men of the ’40s were superfluous men, aristocratic, highly educated Russians who desired change in their homeland, though were unable to influence change directly. They tended to live outside of Russia, particularly in Germany or France and pursued literary pursuits.Men of the ’60s, on the other hand, had tired of their elders’ talking and desired direct revolutionary action for political change.Fyodor pulled a miracle in narration in this work, Narrator is an observer of the action in the novel as well as a participant in much of the action. Strangely, though, the author shifts from the direct point of view of the narrator to a more omniscient, impersonal observer from time to time to describe the action, which the narrator does not directly observe. Presumably, our narrator found out about these episodes from some other source later. The novel itself is a retelling of the events of the town from the narrator’s point of view. He often inserts his own opinion of who is to blame for certain events and lets on that he knows what will happen in the future, often with significant foreshadow.

The novel is set in a small town of Skvoreshniki, and is narrated by Govorov; who is both a respected member of the society plus a journalist, and follows to tell the story as it is written from the Biography of Stepan Trofimovitch, who is an ardent thinker, poet, and philosopher. From his narration, we are introduced to the relationship between Stephan and Varvara Petrovna, and it leads us to the development of Nikolay stravrogin Vsyevolodovitch, who is the central character in the book, and who further is home schooled by Stepan until he reaches the age of joining the army.

As it is with Dostoevsky novels, the Possessed seeks to explore existentialism; the human condition as to why we live, and the ideals that guide us. It further brings out the concept of redemption that perturbs the human conscience after committing an evil deed. The author analyses the self, and whether we have a prime idea for our existence.The analogy of demons in the novel Possessed/ the Devils by Fyodor Dostoevsky is used to show how certain ideas influence individuals and led them to alienation of the spirit from the body like Hegel states in his philosophy of freedom, God, and the State.Like the actions of Nikolay will show us that sometimes a particular way of thinking can ruin us: it can make us nihilists with no cause in life; therefore we commit actions beyond us.Whereas the demons also symbolise freedom as you will see from the character, Pyotr or Peter.Every character in the novel is possessed by demons/idea, and the author through Stepan Trofimovitch reads the Bible where Christ casts out demons from a possessed man and throws them into the pigs, which run down the cliff and drown in the sea. This analogy is used to show that in the end, when the possessed man’s idea comes to fruition, it eventually leads to his demise, for nearly all the characters in the novel die one way or the other driven by a madden idea about their existence. This brings out the theme of existentialism in the novel.

The idea/demons affect all the characters in the novel, leading to many deaths. It seems that the characters in Possessed suffer, as they try to unravel why it is they are alive. This is sonorous to us human beings, as we try every day to discover why we alive, and not just end it all and commit suicide. Fyodor Dostoevsky has captured the essence of existentialism in this deep political book, which is a pleasure to read and ponder on.

Spoiler Alert: The end is Short But Tragic.

The Great Wall of China and Other Short Stories

If you have read all the major works of Kafka, you should totally consider reading:’The Great Wall of China and Other Stories’ by Franz Kafka.Only a small number of Kafka’s stories were published during his lifetime, and these are published in Penguin as Metamorphosis and Other Stories. He asked his friend, Max Brod, to see that all the writings he left should be destroyed.Kafka left his work, both published and unpublished, to his a friend and literary executor Max Brod with explicit instructions that it should be destroyed on Kafka’s death; Kafka wrote: “Dearest Max, my last request:” Everything I leave behind me … in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and other’s), sketches, and so on, is to be burned unread”.Brod ignored this request and published the novels and collected works between 1925 and 1935, beginning with the three unfinished novels, The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927).

Other lesser known and incomplete shorter works appeared posthumously in a more
sporadic fashion and a representative selection of them are collected in this book.This book contains the major short works left by Kafka, and it presents them for the first time in the order of their composition. The sequence and dating of the works are particularly important, because of the very close links between his life and his writing. So it may be useful to mention here some of the relevant myths considered about Kafka without even considering circumstances:

  • Kafka was the archetypal genius neglected in his lifetime
  • Kafka was lonely.
  • Kafka was stuck in a dead-end job, struggling to find time to write.
  • Kafka was tormented by the fear of sex.Kafka was unbending honest about himself to the women in his life –too honest.
  • Kafka had a terrible, domineering father who had no understanding of his son’s needs.
  • Kafka’s style is mysterious and opaque.
  • Kafka takes us into bizarre worlds.

Although of course, these cannot by themselves supply an interpretation of the stories. Kafka’s work is full of autobiographical material, but equally, it is more than just a kind of veiled autobiography. He did indeed say that some of his pieces were “really no more than jottings or doodling of an entirely private nature”, but his chief aim in turning his life into literature was to go beyond the merely personal, to bring out the fundamental – mythical – patterns of human existence, and so to ‘raise the world into the pure, the true, the immutable’ (diary of 25 September 1917).Every story in this volume is allegorical, disturbing and possessing a dream-like clarity, these writings are quintessential Kafka.

For Example :This book begins with’The Village Schoolmaster’, It stands out as one of Kafka’s funniest stories, a hilarious exercise in futility which characteristically ends in dismal failure for all involved.The story doesn’t concern the giant mole itself – which is said to be “a couple of yards” long, but whose existence has never been confirmed. Instead, it focuses on an academic quarrel which arises over the quality of reporting on the alleged mole. The narrator, however, has never seen the mole. He merely heard about the “little treatise” that the village schoolmaster wrote about the sighting. (In fact, it is not even clear whether the schoolmaster personally saw the mole, or only documented accounts of it from the villagers. In surprisingly postmodern fashion, there is no objective basis whatsoever to the story: the whole thing seems to be based on hearsay.

This book contain the stories like The Great Wall of China, Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor, Investigations of a Dog and his great sequences of aphorisms, with fables and parables on subjects ranging from the legend of Prometheus to the Tower of Babel, The Knock at Manor Gate and many others and all of them will give you taste of Kafka’s wits and dream-like reality.This volume also contains , “The Collected Aphorisms” in which 109 of the aphorism like

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

and 108 others collected in one chapter.You will certainly enjoy this read if you have read major Kafka’s work already.

Kafka-The Magician Of The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka is undoubtedly one of the most impactful authors of the 20th century. Kafka’s place in the literary pantheon has been assured till date, most pleasingly expressed by George Steiner’s suggestion that he is the only author to whom it may be said that he made his own a letter of the alphabet – K. His writings were so unique that his style got a special tag which is known as “Kafkaesque”.The term ‘Kafkaesque’ as a style is seen by many as a synonym for “Surreal”. His stories are strikingly strange, which symbolise and signify absurdity of life. He delves deep into the psychological layers of the character and characterises the bizarre side of one’s imagination & thinking. He enjoyed playing with metaphors and his expression was metaphorical in articulation. Though his points were simple and straight but it was complex and critical to deciphering.

Sometimes we’re embarrassed or simply we don’t know how to explain it, but the feeling that you’re about to fall asleep isn’t so much marked by a sense of ‘drifting’, as it is in the abstract thought process.When you are lying there, sometimes you out of nowhere become aware of a bizarre cognition involuntarily, a sort-of pre-sleep dream. For many of us, it will come as a comfort, a reassurance that sleep’s soft embrace is imminent. But for Franz Kafka, it was an inspiration to write.In his diaries, he wrote:” “…again it was the power of my dreams, shining forth into wakefulness even before I fall asleep, which did not let me sleep.” Kafka’s insomnia was the main reason of hypnagogic hallucination, a vivid visual hallucination experienced just before the sleep onset.

He said of the experience, “.. how easily everything can be said as if a great fire had been prepared for all these things in which the strangest thoughts emerge and again disappear.”Of his own role in the process, he remarked, “all I possess are certain powers which, at a depth almost inaccessible at normal conditions, shape themselves into
literature.”Feeling more creative and inspired in the middle of the night than in the morning is something I’m sure many can relate to.”Kafka himself affirmed that writing in a sleep-deprived state provides access to otherwise inaccessible thoughts.”

Kafka is best known for his short story novel ‘The Metamorphosis'(German: Die
Verwandlung), which is regarded as the one of the best work in all literary fiction.It was published in 1915 in the small german magazine.Sleep and lack thereof is, of course, a central theme in Kafka’s best-known work, ‘The Metamorphosis’, and plays on protagonist Gregor’s mind. It seems there was a strong dose of autobiography at play.It told the story of Gregor Samsa, a salesman who wakes up one morning to find that he has turned into an enormous bug.The main theme or idea behind writing about an insect was that he imagined his body moving around in the world while his true writing self-remained behind in the form of a beautiful beetle, which was in regard to the time when he held on his idealism with regard to the writing process.

Though this image changed drastically when he published,’The Judgement'(The most autobiographical story ever in my opinion) Kafka wrote in his diary that when writing flowed smoothly, that is the true way to write, with “A complete opening out of the body and soul” in his words.But when Kafka read the story later, he was disappointed.As
if, he thought he had let out the story in a perfect form but later he realised that it was covered with “filth and slime”.

He said writing, when it springs from within, is like giving birth, and the child is covered in mucus. The insect, Kafka’s metaphor for his writing self-removed from the everyday world, was no longer a beautiful thing, but a repulsive and filthy one. This is exactly the image he gave us in ‘The Metamorphosis’.

Franz Kafka imagined strange fictional space in which his characters attempt to make sense of a frightening world. Kafka’s writing style seems straightforward, but it depicts and describes the multitude philosophy and irrationality of life.It’s not easy to decipher or understand Kafka’s stories in single read sometimes, it needs to be re -read to decipher the deeper meaning hidden in a wonderful choice of metaphors and combinations of ironic statements.This is why you should totally add Franz Kafka’s works to your read list.