There are books called World Literature. These books go beyond their time, place, culture, and language. They carry a message. Their plot and principle characters are unique. They are written by visionaries and carry a great deal of background and historic context. There is beauty, art, and possibility in them. They are relevance in every age and season. When you read and understand them, you learn new things each time you go back and read them. They inspire and jolt our imagination.
World Literature books are usually not easy to read. They are even more difficult to read, when the original language written is not your native language. Here are some of my favorite World Literature books and tips of how to read them.
- War & Peace by The Russian Novelist Leo Tolstoy
- Great Work by the Persian Poet and mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
- The Divine Comedy by the Italian Poet Durante degli Alighieri
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by the Colombian Novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Things Fall Apart by Nigerian Novelist Chinua Achebe
- Nectar in a Sieve by the Indian Novelist Kamala Markandaya (Kamala P. Taylor)
Before you read these great books, I would like to suggest that you first read the bellow three books. It will really make a huge difference.
- How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
- How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
- How to Read a Poem: by Edward Hirsch
To make the reading even more beneficial and understanding, add this to your toolkit:
- Read the autobiography of the Author in Wikipedia
- Understand what was happening when the author wrote the book (Wars, famine etc.)
- Understand the characters, and geography of the author
- Who is the audience of the author? Aristocrats, common folks, colonialists, enemies.
- What was the intention of the author to have an effect on? Social change, love, spirituality, human nature, etc
Take notes: It is very important to take notes, write down what you understand, highlight profound quotes and paragraphs, underline what is unknown or foreign words. When you finish the book, write down one page containing summary of what you think you understood from the book.
Re-Read: Read second time, and third time.
Watch YouTube lectures: Watch lectures about the books and the authors by classicists: It is important you do this last. Because you want to understand the book and learn without someone influencing your thoughts and take-away.
Make a time for them: Make a daily habit of taking specific chunk of time to read it. It is very important that there is no big time gap in the reading of the book. You want to read daily so you remember what presided the chapter you are on.