Written by Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning is “a classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust”. I still can’t believe that I laid my hands on such a remarkable and fantastic work. It is the kind of book that possesses the power to turn one’s life around. It would pick your broken pieces and give you the psychological tools to get the pieces back in place and redeem your life all at once. I feel like I read it in one breath. And now that it’s over I feel like I’m earnestly and almost thirstily breathing an air better than the one before I beheld the book. One filled with freshness and hope. It would make you appreciate your life and be thankful for the problems you have encountered, however brutal they once felt like. I highly recommend it to all the readers and non-readers as well. Good news for non-readers is that it is a quick read and would leave a chip on the back of your head, that would give a direction to your life.
Countless works have been produced in order to help us find the purpose of our lives and lead a life of meaning and example. But, only a few such as this have had the power to reach deep into one’s soul and impacting us in ways we had been promised. It is a book of modest volume and can be easily read in one sitting. However the impression it would leave on you would undoubtedly last a lifetime. Life is a one time opportunity, yet many of us give up when the times are tough. This book would, in many ways, make your problems seem too trivial to put your life at halt for. It would introduce your own strengths to you. Trust me when I say that it is one of it’s kind in survival literature.
Victor E. Frankl was a professor at Vienna Medical School where he taught neurology and psychiatry until his death in 1997. He remains a much revered hero of many. And the book having sold more than 12 million copies, speaks for itself. It more or less, reminded me of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. What is common to both is their way of getting the readers emotionally involved and leaving us with the feeling that we have personally experienced some of their grief and hence we understand what they are speaking of. Along with the numerous accounts of the horrors faced by the author, there also are lessons of life spoken with such passion and positiveness in the face of unimaginable adversities, that leave the reader with nothing but respect and admiration for the survivor. One of the biggest lessons here is to deal with every situation with the best of your faculties, for we can’t control the situations but our attitudes. In Frankl’s words “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
The book is divided into two parts. The first part comprises of an autobiographical story where Frankl gives accounts of his depressing and painful life at different Nazi concentration camps during World War II, including at Auschwitz. While the prisoners were treated like animals with no identity, many of them couldn’t stand the physical and emotional torture. Yet there were many, who kept the virtues of humanity flaming within and denied to become what was expected of them. They chose to stick to their lives as respectable humans with empathy and zeal. Frankl has presented many such instances where he empathizes with others and happily puts in little possible efforts from his side so as to help his fellow inmates. In the second part of the book he introduces to the readers the concept of Logotherapy and then onward we are introduced to numerous other technical terms and application of the therapy in different spheres of life.
Having a Psychologist in the family, I have come across some beautiful and astounding techniques of Psychotherapy. So, perhaps that was the reason I saw Logotherapy in a clearer light and absolutely loved the vivid descriptions of real life implications. However, it is absolutely fine if you don’t want to bother yourself with the statistics, therapeutic descriptions or findings included in the later part of the book.
If I am asked to give out my favorite parts, I would end up writing down the whole book here. For each page had something brilliant to offer. Laced with helplessness was a shimmer of hope, which kept Frankl going. At a point of time, a thought transfixed him. That love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. And he concluded that “The salvation of man is through love and in love.” While his life was falling apart he created his wife’s image in his mind with much acuteness and clung to it as if his life depended upon it. It was a beautiful and touching part.
There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is meaning in one’s life. There is much wisdom in the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Another part that left me awed was the story of Death in Teheran, and the way the Author compared it to the ill fate that his inmates faced later.
A rich and mighty Persian once walked in his garden with one of his servants. The servant cried that he had just encountered Death, who had threatened him. He begged his master to give him his fastest horse so that he could make haste and flee to Teheran, which he could reach that same evening. The master consented and the servant galloped off on the horse. On returning to his house the master himself met Death, and questioned him, “Why did you terrify and threaten my servant?” “I did not threaten him; I only showed surprise in still finding him here when I planned to meet him tonight in Teheran,” said Death.
While going through the photographs which had been taken at a different camp, the author stumbled across the images of partially charred bodies of his friends who had then thought that they were traveling to freedom, the night they were loaded into a truck and taken to another camp. But actually were locked in huts and set on fire. Frankl reflected upon the fact that how fickle human decisions can bring major impacts upon the destiny. How fate had toyed with him and the remaining prisoners who got to live.
In the whole story, there are umpteen accounts of death. Somewhere, someone is dying every once in a while. And yet, the essence of LIFE has been so well propagated through it. In the later part of the book where Logotherapy has been discussed, many other aspects have been brought to light. The meaning of life, love and suffering could not have been explained any better, in such short an excerpt.
And ah, what profound ending.
“So, let us be alert-alert in a twofold sense:
Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of.
And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.”
If you are a fan of Classics but not strong enough to ignore the new arrivals altogether, I think it is wise to set some ground rules so that your mind is spared the homicidal battles within. After finishing a new favorite, go back to an old one. Alternate your precious time equally between the two. Life is too short to miss out on all the great works that have been produced. You may thank me later nerds 😉
A week back, with the release of the movie starring Tom Hanks and Irrfan Khan I was taken aback by the fact that I had not read the book Inferno by Dan Brown. Needless to say that in readers community it is considered a deplorable crime to watch the movie first, keeping the book to be attended later. But then mixed feelings of regret and relief donned on me when I found Dante’s Inferno in the book shelf at home. Without any further adieu I hopped on the bed with a mug of hot chocolate and wrapped in my cozy blanket started devouring this epic work by Dante Alighieri written in the 14th Century. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighiery, ‘INFERNO’ – A verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum. If you are a lover of poetry, you can’t ignore a work of such rare perfection. It is a book of modest volume, but I suggest that you read it for as long as you can. Absorb each dialogue with sincere admiration and a hawk’s eye. That is where the fun lies. Devour the fine details with the best of your faculties.
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem that was presumably written in the period 1308-1320. While Dante was in exile he wrote three volumes of it, Inferno, Purgutario and Paradiso. Inferno is the narration of the journey that Dante undertakes down the hell. Guided by the Roman poet Virgil, he fearlessly embarks through numerous circles of hell, 9 to be exact. Each circle represents a sin, and the damned souls are trapped there for eternity. The three beasts he encounters represent three kinds of sinners, the self-indulgent, the malicious and the violent. The circles or sins are of lust, anger, gluttony, avarice, violence, fraud, treachery, those who ignored the existence of Christ and those who confused others about the idea of Christ. As Dante passes each circle he meets people known to him as well as strangers. The dialogues they exchange are insightful I must say. Each sin that has been described is exceptionally realistic and is explained to Dante either by Virgil or the sinners themselves.
The beauty of this book is that it is a dual language edition and comes with explanatory notes at the back. Don’t go on if you are not getting the plot. Read once, twice, thrice, as many times as you feel like. Take it slow and read with patience. If you feel like you are not just ready, drop it for a while. This is not another easy going novel you can take with you to read by the beach while your friends are howling around. It is the kind that you read in the silent confines of your room. Give it time and exclusive attention. Give it love, and it will reflect the same.
I’m screaming it loud and clear. VISUALIZE everything you read. Every single dialogue. That is one rule you have to strictly stick by.
Come, have a good look at hell.
And yeah, don’t get all serious while reading it. I personally couldn’t help smirking every now and then. It is a blend of both horror and humor, so of course both are meant to be felt. There are times you will have a sinking feeling for yourself, but then you may have some fun imagining people you don’t like, damned to hell. Dante is brilliantly imaginative in devising ways for torturing his enemies. You may have your own opinions during the journey, which may make you question the perfection of Dante’s work, but it is absolutely fine. The uneasiness and restlessness that comes with it is absolutely worth it. This book is outrageously diplomatic, philosophical and political at the same time. Dante has sent to hell real people. Daring, eh? One thing that took me by surprise is finding his beloved teacher Brunetto Latini in hell, convicted of sodomy( canto XV ). Seems like God( as per Dante’s assumptions) wasn’t that open minded regarding sex during the 14th century. Homosexuality? Nu-uh.
Dante doesn’t cease to amaze the reader, despite the aforementioned scene or a couple others that may make us raise brows. But come on, it was written 7 centuries back. We can be sensible enough to ignore the difference in mindsets and enjoy the book as a literary blessing for once, right?
In case it makes you feel any better, in canto XX the fortune tellers were damned(*chuckles* which serves them so damn right) and were condemned to walk with their heads turned backwards, restricting them from knowing what lies ahead, since this is precisely what they had done all their life, creating fear of the unknown in the minds of people.
It is the kind of book that gives you a bad hangover. The kind that nerds would kill to experience. Can’t wait to lay my hands on the other two volumes. Take my word for it folks, at one point in life you will be ready for this book. And when you are, it will be one hell of a read.
Today I’m going to share a secret to attain happiness and a certain sense of satisfaction for the fellow insatiable readers. If you are addicted to books and no matter how many new ones you taste the craving doesn’t go away, try something old. Something that once swept you off your feet. Constantly torn between whether to watch cartoons or read something substantial, I somehow ended up doing the prior for days on end. I’ve gone through writers block countless times but never knew readers block could happen too. Just like visiting old friends gives you solace, rereading books you once admired brings you unmatchable warmth and comfort.
So, now that I’ve developed a taste for thrillers I decided to revisit my old friend ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown. It’s been years since I read it and watched the movie. It is a good thing that I didn’t have a blog then, for I’ll get to review it now. Most of you must be aware of the controversies that have followed the publication of this work, and since I respect the opinion of other readers, I expect the same in return. Don’t get carried away by your religious beliefs and devotion whatsoever. Remember that it is only a work of fiction and is expected to be read with an open mind.
While many people have rebuked it saying that it poses a threat to Christianity, I believe that it is nothing but a gripping work of fiction. And the credit goes to the author for artistically blurring the line between fiction and reality. Being in the best sellers list for so long and also having a blockbuster movie made after it, I feel that the open minded people outnumber the conservative mass who are blinded towards anything but religion.
If you choose to read it, you’ll probably agree to the fact that it is a compelling page turner. I won’t deny that I found it a bit cheesy at times, but apart from a few turn-offs it is a good read. It is not a complex work that would set your intellectual faculties on test, but a simple enough story of adventure which you can effortlessly breeze past without being disappointed. One can recommend it to any age group, that is perhaps the beauty of it.
I’m glad that I had picked it up when I was a teen and this one being the first I read of its kind I instantly fell in love with it. The story is fast paced and can be summarized as a race between two parties( good and the evil) to reach a secret that has been guarded by a sacred society since ancient times. The protagonists are Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. Robert is a Harvard professor who is on a visit to Paris on business, and is urgently summoned for the investigation of the mysterious murder of an elderly curator of the Louvre at the middle of a night. Sophie Neveu is a cryptologist who comes to the rescue and together they solve bizarre riddles while fleeing from the police as well as the other party. Knowing that all the guardians of a secret society have been mysteriously murdered, will they be able to retrieve the explosive truth generations have protected and passed on? Or will the truth be lost forever?
Go on. Find out.
Looking for an intellectual work of fiction to titillate your brain? Well, here is the answer. Reading this gripping thriller felt so much like watching a blockbuster movie. It is a page turner and will keep you glued to it until you find out what Mr. Brown has decided to be the ultimate fate of the story. Needless to speak of the matchless ability of the author to send your heart racing and quickening your pulses he has lived up to the sky high expectations as of me and millions of other readers. The Da Vinci Code made me fall in love with his work and each of those which follow make me admire him more and more.
I think he deserves the title of Master of intellectual thrillers. If you are bored of reading feel-good fiction (most of whose endings are predictable) I’ll suggest you go get a taste of thrillers. Just like a lioness becomes an unstoppable predator after blood touches her tongue, I bet you can’t stop after getting a taste of The Da Vinci Code or the other intriguing works of the author.
It’s probably going to drive me crazy if I don’t add spoilers and comment on the characters. Still I leave the story for you to uncover. Umm, there is no harm in giving a summary right? No spoilers ahead. Just an outline, I promise.
The book sounds promising for cryptography enthusiasts. Not that it is a manual of tricks for solving crypto problems, it is the story of an undefeatable and matchless code-breaking machine called the TRANSLTR. Resting in the den of National Security Agency, the beast that had the impression of being invincible, is caught dead by a mysterious code.
I love the stories where a woman is the hero. Susan Fletcher is no less than a hero for fighting to save her country, herself and the love of her life all at the same time. Constrained by time, Miss Fletcher and her love David race against the odds, miles apart from each other for serving to the bigger purpose of national security. Will they accomplish the mission? Will they ever get to see each other again? In the chaos of power, lies, intelligence and rivalry, will love survive? Go on. Find out 😉
And yeah, I’m finally trying my hand at photography. Don’t hesitate to drop feedback and suggestions if any.
If you have read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ it is probably easy to convince you of the power and wisdom this book beholds by merely saying that Hosseini has maintained his standards.
I was in high school when I read The Kite Runner for the very first time, and even though it is exceptionally brilliant it somehow tore me from within. Those disturbing scenes used to play in my mind over and over again whether I wanted them to or not. Hosseini has a knack for flawless story-telling and also magically climbing under the skin of the readers, gripping their heart in a tight fist and refusing to let go. A Thousand Splendid Suns speaks volumes about the plight of Afghanistan women. Despite of all those tears I shed leafing through the prior two works of Hosseini, I don’t mind re-reading them for the sake of reliving that pain. It’s that kind of pain which makes you feel human. The later will take you on an equally strong whirlwind of emotions.
And The Mountains Echoed is another heart wrenching tale by the author, which holds in one story the life of many. This book has given voice to a father, mother, stepmother, daughter, son, chauffeur, a war victim, brother, friend and more. Keep your eyes wide open to absorb the details. And the heart open to the emotions it will be flooded with. Countless emotions. Of family and friendship. Love and betrayal. Humanity and power. Vengeance and forgiveness.
It is a story that spans through generations and underlines the fact that each and every choice we make resonates throughout our lives and those of every other person we become associated with.
Pari and Abdullah are the first two characters that fate plays an ugly game with. I sincerely mouthed a prayer when they were separated. God forbid any such thing happens to so little and naïve a girl, living with the feeling of an uncertain hollowness throughout her life only to find that she is related to a person by blood when the clock of life is ticking away. Time can be a cruel thing, isn’t it? When the moment you have been waiting for finally arrives, it teases you with a glimpse and fades away in no time, intensifying the pain borne through years.
The few yet heartwarming references of their childhood are enough to moisten the eyes of the reader. Having lost their mother, and father forever busy making ends meet, they had none but each other. However their elders decided to make their life take another course. Two little people made of blood and flesh being treated as puppets. The girl eventually forgetting and moving on. Abdullah preserving all those precious few memories through years on end, waking up each day with the hope to be reunited with his little sister, Pari.
“I found a sad little fairy
Beneath the shade of a paper tree.
I know a sad little fairy
Who was blown away by the wind one night.”
The mentions of the magic that Urdu poetry carries draws me closer to the Afghan culture. I crave to know more of the place to which Rumi belongs. The place that has witnessed millions of survival stories. Of betrayal, death, hatred, violence, loss and with a few drizzles of life, love, beauty and hope. The stories that will make your heart clench and your mind numb.
I’m leaving it for the readers to explore about Mr Suleiman Wahdati, Mrs Nila Wahdati and Nabi. Each of these characters has lived life with their voice stifled and feelings unspoken. Life is nothing but a fair game. Everyone gets their share of rewards and punishments.
Zoom out from Afghanistan and zoom in at Tinos,Greece. Thalia and her mother Madaline come to visit Markos Varvaris and his mother Odelia( Odie) and what follows is a newly defined life for each of them. Each of these characters have their own story to tell. I loved the scene where Thalia teaches Markos how to build a camera and Morkos starts seeing her in another light. Preserving the picture he first clicked from the camera throughout his life clearly reflects his love for Thalia. Their relationship proves that we don’t become brother and sister by birth, but by accepting each others flaws with earnest. And blood does not make you family, your devotion and loyalty does.
This book is a crisscross of stories. Read it with patience and empathy. And yeah, better keep the tissues handy.
Traveling the world with a frantic zeal,
she was naive of the hoarding smoke and dust
enveloping her innocent skin
with an ugly mask of a vying dark horse.
As the smoke clouded her cognition,
and dust coated her inner voice
she felt like losing the virtues and morals
that had shaped her into a noble human
slowly and quietly fading away.
As the realization kicked in
and she felt like she had lost her real self
somewhere on the way,
a small voice spoke from the back of her head
reminding her that her prized assets
were hidden beneath the layer
of accumulated filthiness.
The filth was anger, jealousy, hatred
and the greed to conquer the world,
which at first seemed requisite fuel
to ignite her passion and resolve.
What she never knew is
she would be sacrificing herself
in the journey of winning
everything else in the world.
Perhaps what she considered fuels
were in fact depleting her of vigor and grandeur.
Been proven by history time and again
empathy, humility, love and elation
are the finest driving forces of success
and embodiment of a life of perfection.
Having learned her mistakes
and earnestly deciding to shed the mask off
as she let the wisdom sink in,
she dived deep into the sea of redemption.
They said she could never create music
for she wasn’t gifted with hands.
But they were deluded
for they only saw that she was physically impaired,
and not the burning passion within that flamed her desires.
‘My body is simply a machine that takes my commands’ she said
pacing frantically through the lush green grass.
‘I give the orders, not take them’
cried her chirpy heart.
And she hopped over the piano,
creating sensational music
and uproar among the men she belied.
Despite the odds she lived her dreams
and left on the pages of history a substantial benchmark
to remind the world not to give up on their dreams even in the darkest hour.
“I am”. These are undoubtedly the two most powerful words. For what words follow them define you as a person. They become your reality. They become the mirror that reflects up to what depths you have discovered yourself.
I’m glad that all the bloggers out there are answering this million dollar question in their most creative and unique ways. Well I was going to settle with a line( like we’ve been asked), however I don’t think I’ll be doing justice to myself if I keep the poem unheard.
I am the girl next door with that peaceful look
resembling a sea so calm.
Battling countless raging storms within
floating on surface with grace and charm.
I am a constantly traveling soul with books worldwide
with a gloriously messed up brain.
Willing to devour every second of this precious life,
my forever wandering heart I can barely contain.
I am the moon that shines oh so bright
yet quite lonely in the dark
while the stars tease from miles away
dancing on clouds like upbeat glowworms.
I am my favorite architect
for I build myself each day.
Feeding on knowledge and wisdom
keeping my conscience from darkness away.
I am my worst enemy. Savage. Poison.
That deliberately ruins some of my days.
Giving in to anger and frustration
taking it out on myself in the worst possible ways.
I am that fiercely independent person,
who needs no companion or savior to survive.
Yet who laughs, wails, loves and hates with no regrets
watchfully keeping every emotion alive.
In the world where ruthless assassins await
to tame the souls as they please.
I refuse to give up my freedom of choice
and enjoy the adventure called life while mystic moments I seize.
While appearing for a job for the very first time, a couple of months back during our pre-placement training and mock interviews we were constantly given certain guidelines so as to frame a perfect answer to the question- “Tell me something about yourself.”
We were asked to start with our academic background and recent achievements, followed by family background, accolades and some other details. Even though I never objected to the format laid by them, I was constantly torn between being my real self( who is more of a dreamer than a realist) and someone who would nail the interview( by hiding all those things about myself which I was actually proud of). It felt gross when the trainers kept repeating the line that in order to bag a job you need to “sell yourself”. But isn’t that what we are used to doing ever since childhood? Trying to please our parents, teachers, friends and even strangers in the society.
During all this time while we are trying to please others by being not ourselves, but someone they would adore, we forget who we really are. We pretend to be someone else for so long that the skin we have climbed into sticks permanently and refuses to be removed. While making sure that others feel comfortable around us, we stray away from our own company.
Am I an introvert? egotist? Nah, I am a person who refuses to be intimidated by the world. I don’t make friends easily because I believe that peer pressure can destroy you as a person. Constantly being surrounded by people who mock your imagination just doesn’t suit me. Even though I am polite to everyone in general, I hardly enjoy the small talk. At times I enjoy loud music and crowds where I can’t hear my raging thoughts. And at times I pine to stay in solitude, where I can have the company of just my thoughts. Yes, I find myself confused and lost at times but I love the chaos that I am.
I am a person who does not take much pleasure in going by the stereotyped rules and beliefs. Despite of being warned during the mock interview to stick to my technical strengths and speak nothing but of academia, I spoke of my love for poetry and shamelessly admitted the fact that I enjoy reading literature more than my core papers. Even though there was a slight fear of being rejected, there was a sense of satisfaction and self-respect. It might have been an incidence of meager importance then, but it ultimately helped me in understanding the purpose of life. It’s all about finding your true self and being that person whether the stereotyped society approves of it or not.
Now, this is how I would describe myself in one line-
“I am a wild and troubled soul with a messed up mind who refuses to be tamed by the world out there.”
My dad once told me on a fine summer day
that for excellence and prosperity there exists no easy way.
You have to take up the road less trailed
for through the worst of storms have the stupendous ships often sailed.
No doubt it would be quite intimidating at first
but definitely worth an attempt to quench that earnest thirst.
The thirst to attain excellence in your field of work,
removing from your life every minute trace of murk.
It’s time you pick those magic seeds of willpower and sow,
and as you water them each day, watch how into your dreams they grow.
While you are wandering if walking that extra mile counts,
you have no idea what crucial share in your success it amounts.
So tie your shoelaces tight and pull up your socks,
for moving majestic mountains you must start with the rocks.
Missing those carefree days of childhood? Missing those endless adventures and the inimitable fun? Well, you are just one decision away from reliving those moments. Whether or not you care, that overshadowed kid within you has secretly treasured all those priceless memories, hoping that some day you may want to go through those dusty files. Believe me my friend, there is no better time than NOW. Move out of the confines of those concrete walls of your office, and start walking down that memory lane. Go to a nearby kids park, get rid of your shoes, loosen your tie and just sit somewhere you can hear those innocent giggles and laughter. Hear those happy kids. Watch them run and fall and laugh. Far away from the humdrum of the world of adults, let the peace you feel around the kids seep in.
Well now that you might be wandering about the title of this post, I better get to the point about what exactly made me all nostalgic and reminisce my childhood days. I was visiting my sister’s place and she had these 7 books stacked together, resting peacefully on her table. We are often told not to judge a book by it’s cover but I won’t deny that I have a thing for colorful children’s books. When I asked her about them she told me that she bought them to gift to one of our cousins. And hence I was even more inclined to drink in their contents before it was time to part.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney has won millions of young and old hearts worldwide and after just 3 years of its publishing, it was recorded that it had 20 million online readers and had an average of 70,000 readers per day.
Having the similar habit myself, I could well relate to Greg. Unlike the present generation kids whose favorite play things are tablets and play stations, we the kids of 90’s were given drawing kits having crayons, sketch-pens, markers, color pencils, water-color tubes, glitters and so on. To create one’s own cartoon characters and getting them to talk through comic strips was a craze back then. As I leafed through the pages of these amazingly innocent and playful books, all my own childhood memories came flooding back.
Childhood is undoubtedly the best phase of one’s life. There is no such thing as pretending, manipulating, stressing out and faking smiles. Childhood friendships have a complete different meaning. Greg and Rowley fight at times, but patch up in quite funny yet touchy ways. I loved the way Greg has illustrated the life of every kid in general with the help of pictures that will make you laugh until your stomach hurts. It would definitely make you appreciate and applaud not just the creativity of the author but also the creativity that is undoubtedly every child’s forte.
Feel like going back in time and have some real fun? Well here you go:-
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel
Remember, you are never too old to pick a children’s book. Go ahead. Happy reading 🙂