Book Recommendations

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

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Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

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When Strangers Meet: How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You

 

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Kio Stark, When Strangers Meet: How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You

A short, interesting book about why you should talk to strangers.

When you interact with a stranger, you’re not in your own head, you’re not on autopilot from here to there. You are present in the moment. And to be present is to feel alive.

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

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“a civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless”

“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread. It will be a great day for America, incidentally, when we begin to eat bread again, instead of the blasphemous and tasteless foam rubber that we have substituted for it. And I am not being frivolous here, either. Something very sinister happens to the people of a country when they begin to distrust their own reactions as deeply as they do here, and become as joyless as they have become. It is this individual uncertainty on the part of white American men and women, this inability to renew themselves at the fountain of their own lives, that makes the discussion, let alone elucidation, of any conundrum—that is, any reality—so supremely difficult. The person who distrusts himself has no touchstone for reality—for this touchstone can be only oneself”

 
And thoughts on life and death:

 
“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns, and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death – ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.”

Yasnaya Polyana: War & Peace

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If you have read War and Peace, you must have wondered what was the environment when Tolstoy wrote this piece of timeless literature?  Here is that beautiful environment  Leo Tolstoy grew up and lived to produce  War & Peace . Enjoy a drone view  of Yasnaya Polyana, the estate of Leo Tolstoy. See the museum of Yasnaya Polyana. I hope this wonderful beauty that surrounded him when he penned this timeless classic book will help you appreciate even more.

 

 

Reading World Literature

 

world-literature

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.

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.

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.