This is my first installment of Books I Read. For the past month, I have not had the intense urges to write that I usually do. Instead, I have been reading more. I do notice that reading minimizes my want to write, which is the reason that I don’t read full books when I’m writing books. Here are the books that I read this month along with some brief notes on each.
The Independent Mind by Osho
This is the first book by Osho that I have read. Osho is a thought and meditation leader. The book is a series of chapters about the thought-less state of humans and the way that we can become aware of thoughts that we have not independently come to. He is critical of religions, because they tell us how to think and impose a morality onto us that we may not question. Regarding the externality of thought, he says “You may have many thoughts in your mind, so just watch them a little. If you watch, you will find that they have come from somewhere and have accumulated inside you.” According to Osho, we have welcomed alien thoughts into our minds, and have been taught to have blind faith. We are told that questioning the modes that society and religions is wrong. “And the outcome of all of this is that mankind has constantly become more and more dependent.”
After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
This is the first work by Murakami that I have read. It is a collection of short stories that all happening during the time of the 1995 Kobe earthquake. The quake is referenced in each story, sometimes prominently and sometimes very quickly and quietly. Each story is bizarre and alluring in its own right, with eerie images and unresolved endings. It’s a fast and unsettling read that made me go out and get two more books by him.
The Book of Women by Osho
After reading The Independent Mind, I wanted to read more by Osho. In The Book of Women, Osho talks about why men have torn women down for so long, why we need an equal world among the genders, and gives his thoughts on marriage. I was very happy to read his progressive version of relationships between men and women, which do not involve ownership and control. He also looks at the current Women’s Liberation movement, “The Liberation movement is something ugly – and I know the responsibility is on the male chauvinists. They have been doing so much harm to women down the ages that now the women want to take revenge. But whenever you start to take revenge you become destructive.” This book is an outstanding alternative to the common articles and media that we let influence the politics between men and women.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
I have previously read A Moveable Feast, but nothing else by Hemingway. The Old Man and the Sea’s ending scenes were written with a powerful mastery of the immensity of the ocean. It was a bit of a conflicted read for me given that I do not consume animal products and the story was about killing. There are moral ambiguities and reasonings within the text like the following: “You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?” I enjoyed the book for the friendship between Santiago, the fisherman, and the boy. The imagery was also vivid and well orchestrated.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
This is a fiction novel that won the Man Booker International Prize. The first third of the book is beautiful, terrifying, and mesmerizing. The main character goes vegetarian (though by the description of what she eats, it sounds like she abstains from all animal products), setting off a heavy campaign from her husband and family for her to start consuming meat again. There are many troubling passages in the book that feature uncomfortable topics. It plunged deeply into the structure of families, and the idea of inter-familial control. The end of the book is rather abstract and unresolved. It was an interesting concept that was drawn out in unsettling ways, and was more lifelike and less singular than I anticipated.