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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

— John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

    We’re all bound to hear about Mr. Steinbeck and his famous and critically acclaimed novels at least once in our lives. Of Mice and Men figures among his most popular works of fiction and there’s no denying that the praise it has received over time is very well deserved. This story follows the search for labour of both George Milton and Lennie Small. While George is a small, but smart individual who’s patience is always tested by his huge, loyal, but simple-minded friend Lennie, George’s continued support and friendship puts him in a tight spot far more often than he would have wished for. It’s upon arriving at a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley that their luck had changed and a job for both of them was offered. However, things are not as simple as it seems since Lennie’s inability to control his inhuman strength and to adapt and comprehend people and his surrounding is liable to wreak havoc. Of Mice and Men is a relatively short story that contains countless themes ready to assault every reader’s conscience and leave them bewildered and saddened by the end of the story.
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Poor Folk by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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“And though I suffer for you, yet it eases my heart to suffer for you.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Poor Folk

    Crime and Punishment was an absolutely mesmerizing first experience of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s writing. Being able to read his very first novel, the one that brought him great fame, is an opportunity that I just couldn’t skip over. At 24 years old, he writes Poor Folk—tell me that’s not something to applaud about. This is an epistolary novel that portrays all the faces of human condition. Considered to be one of the most important pieces of literature set in the early beginnings of the Russian realism movement, this novel captures the emotional struggle of individuals who are confronted to poverty. From a desire for respect to a fight to live with dignity, Poor Folk is truly a unique work that is certain to impress readers. The influence of great authors also exude through Dostoyevsky’s writing; writers such as Gogol or Pushkin and many more. Poor Folk is the beginning of a young legend’s legacy.
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Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

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“Solitude is independence. It had been my wish and with the years I had attained it. It was cold. Oh, cold enough! But it was also still, wonderfully still and vast like the cold stillness of space in which the stars revolve.”

— Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

    It takes a troubled soul to concoct such a fine cocktail. Infinitely beautiful both in prose and execution, Steppenwolf digs deep within the reader’s minds and bodies to hold us captive by the bones. German author Hermann Hesse has made a name for himself by writing some of the most philosophically-driven fiction that resonates throughout the confines of literature. His creations have been translated in countless languages, spreading his reputation on a global scale over decades and within countless societies. While certainly controversial during his time, Steppenwolf slowly claimed its title of a masterpiece. This novel has gracefully went through the test of time and came out victorious with countless individuals having dissected the very foundation that holds this sublime piece of abstraction together. However, the author himself has said: ‘Of all my books “Steppenwolf” is the one that was more often and more violently misunderstood than any other’. What else are we to expect of a story that claws through the mind of a man? Growling viciously at the mundanity that composes the bourgeois life, Steppenwolf unveils the complexity of a man’s own conscience with great poise and a touch of madness.  Continue reading

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

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“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

— Lois Lowry, The Giver

    Imagine a society where everyone is treated equally. There are countless rules in place to keep the community in check and not a single one is meant to be broken or overlooked. This is a community secluded from the rest of the world so that conflict never arises. The system in which they live structure every single thing to their very details. Pleasure and pain are non-existant as they are the sources of many actions that one does not want to see. Children are carefully taken cared of, year after year, until the age of 12. Upon this milestone, they are each given a respective job that fits their abilities. Its only after an in-depth analysis and thorough examination that the Elders find the perfect job for these children. A life-long supervision of every single person does, after all, give them an exhaustive idea of what these kids should grow up to be. This is a society where choices are not within your grasps, where secrets do not exist and where the present is the only relevant time. The Giver presents the theoretical utopia where routine dominates the playgrounds, but something much more vicious hides within its cowls. Continue reading

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it..”

— Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Remember that book that comes to mind when you’re asked what you were forced to read during school? To Kill a Mockingbird would be mine. While required reading doing our education always seem horrible, the silver lining remains in everyone’s personal reading experience. It’s that ride that never seems to be identical from one person to another that makes every book a snowflake. As much as I’d love to keep the rant within me, I can’t help myself but to share a little story that has held me—and probably a hundred others—from being able to appreciate some of the most finest pieces of literature in the world at a younger age. Continue reading

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Dune by Frank Herbert

MY RATING: ★★★★★

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

As I finished reading this novel, I was wondering why I haven’t heard about DUNE before. Why hasn’t Dune invaded our popular culture like Star Wars, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings did? I did a few research and found out that Dune is the ancestor of Star Wars. So why haven’t Dune received as much recognition as Star Wars?  Written in 1965, it won the Hugo Award in 1966, an award for the best sci-fi/fantasy genre in the previous year. That’s a lot of recognition alright, but not in the public audience.

Set in the desert of Arrakis, Dune depicts the tale of betrayal and vengeance, in a feudal society where the Elites are ruling different planets. Duke Leto has been assigned the greater Order to rule Arrakis, creating conflicts with the house of Harkonnens who’s been eyeing the planet for so long.

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Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

    Do you know what makes a classic, a classic? Let me tell you. It’s in their ability to withstand the test of time. It’s in their power to convey life lessons through a couple of words. It’s in their nature to always surprise a reader who wishes to reread it. Le Petit Prince, with only 97 pages, is a book that defines classics. I was too young the first time I’ve heard about the Little Prince’s story. I had little recollection of his adventures and the words of wisdom he had told us. Reading this novel with the mindset of an adult in his early 20s definitely gives Le Petit Prince the opportunity to blow my mind. But how does he do it? Simple. He comes from a small little planet far, far away and lands on Earth with all his innocence and purity. He encounters a stranded pilot in the middle of the dessert and from that point on, the most amazing anecdotes are exchanged. Continue reading

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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“What’s it going to be then, eh?”

— Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

     This is hands-down one of my favorite reads of 2016. It blows my mind how much it’s innovative, thought-provoking and dreadfully disturbing. It blends good and evil as if they weren’t water and oil. It succeeds in delivering a criminal-ridden dystopia while exposing the very essence of morality. It contemplates a fascinating take on freedom while drenched in a dark, sinister and hopeless world. Insanely lyrical and compelling, A Clockwork Orange brings us the cruelly painful and vomit-inducing adventure of 15 year-old Alex. Accustomed to theft, murder and ultra-violence, our young protagonist is also familiar with a nad-sat language. This vocabulary that mastermind Anthony Burgess has created for his very novel doesn’t only provide a beautiful and singular experience for readers, but succeeds in creating a fun and insightful look at Alex’s character and his peculiar thoughts. Absolutely enigmatic, the novel doesn’t easy up on the disconcerting scenes or the bizarre language. But oddly enough, every single moment and word grows on you and makes this classic unforgettable. Continue reading

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

       We all know what’s the endgame here. Someone will commit a crime. Punishment will follow. Now, now. Don’t think it’s that simple. After all, we’re talking about Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is actually the first novel I’ve read from him; not surprising is it. I’m actually glad that I can finally scratch off one of the most quintessential novel every bookworm should read in their lifetime. Yet, I still wish I could get more out of it. I wish this novel would span over my whole life so that I could find entertainment every single day, and never worry about being bored. Crime and Punishment is a classic fiction novel that documents the psychology of a murderer, Rodion Raskolnikov. As he plunges into a delusional world filled with despair and torture, his conscious continues to hold a strong grip on his life. His only way out lies within Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute. What does the world have in store for Raskolnikov after committing the greatest crime of all? Continue reading

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

          They say there’s a book for every person. Well, I say that there’s also a book for every time of the year. I took these holidays to acquaint myself with a cult classic novel by the famous Charles Dickens. This novel has known so many references, it’s hard to not know the premise behind it or its heart-warming ending. However, being able to get my own hands-on impression of the novel was a real treat. I haven’t ever had the chance to read this novel and finally being able to do was a great pleasure. Nothing like a good classic novel checked off my list of novels to read. Sprinkled with our favorite Dickensian writing, A Christmas Carol follows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. Mean at heart and not giving two cents about Christmas, old man Scrooge works in the money-lending business and hates Christmas with a passion. Can’t forget to mention how he also loves to “Bah!Humbug!” whenever Christmas is mentioned. But Scrooge doesn’t know that he’s about to be visited by three kind spirits who will change him forever. Continue reading