The Book: On the Taboo against Knowing who you are by Alan Wilson Watts: This book breaks the notion of separation between man and nature and offers a new meaning of personal identity. The understanding that we are connected to everything else there is, opens up a huge possibility of how one operates in this physical world. This book can be quite a life changing one for those who really want to know the deeper meaning of life and one’s role in the world.
Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera: It is a collection of seven stories about mind games, emotional traps, erotic impulses, love and passion. They are profound, thought-provoking and reflective. How wrong human communication can get, how twisted the mind can be, how fascinating can be the explorations of lust, Kundera takes a closer look at the human mind with a dash of philosophy and humour.
Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl: In this book Austrian psychiatrist and a holocaust survivor Dr Victor Frankl gives a glimpse of the unspeakable horrors of his years as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps. There was death looming over all the time, yet they lived through the pain. Majority didn’t but many did. That a few many did, that itself gives an enormous assurance in the human capabilities.
And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs: This is a shocking, hard-boiled, true-life crime novel written in 1945, much before the writers became famous for their books or the Beat Generation. This is about the killing of their friend David Kammerer by another friend Lucien Carr in 1944.
Lucien stabbed David to death in a drunken fight then dumped his body into the Hudson River. In alternating chapters Burroughs writes as Will Dennison and Kerouac as Mike Ryko in first person and piece together a tale of their boho lives in New York which ends with a shocking murder. The movement between chapters work very well telling the story of one summer from their lives.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse: One of the biggest learnings that stayed with me since I read Siddhartha some 15 years back was “Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free.” The protagonist of this story is not the Buddha but a boy whose thirst for finding the truth could not be quenched by the wealth, beauty and power that life offered him.
Even after meeting Buddha he realised, what the Buddha experienced under the Bodhi tree, Enlightenment, was not something that even Buddha’s teaching can give him. Siddhartha, thus, even leaves the Buddha to seek Enlightenment on his own. Philosophical dialogues hovering around the ideas of Buddhism and Hinduism make this novel a treat.