Tag Archives: 2000 Books You Must Read

2000 Books You Must Read: 5. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro There are some books that get hidden. That are clouded and perhaps you do not hear many people speak of them. The Remains of the Day is one book that does not get spoken about as much as its movie counterpart. It is Ishiguro’s third published work and it is a delicately told tale from the point of view of Stevens – the English butler, told in his diary, as he works for Lord Darlington and his relationship with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton.

The book goes back and forth – past and present to give the reader the complete view. A lot of social conventions, graces, manners, are spoken of and also the hypocrisy surrounding all of them. The writing is simply beautiful and very elegant, despite bringing to fore the ugliness sometimes.

The Remains of the Day is one of my favourite books and I strongly recommend it.

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2000 Books You Must Read: 3. Justine by Lawrence Durrell

Everyone is mostly aware of his brother Gerald Durrell but for me Lawrence Durrell is way better than his brother when it comes to the skill of writing. His books touch the soul like no other, they literally wrench it with their descriptions of love and loss. Justine is the first in what is called The Alexandria Quartet. I do not know how to describe this book and I have read it almost seventeen times now, and every time I read it, it takes my breath away. The book is about four people (actually five, including the narrator) and their lives in war-time.

Justine by Lawrence Durrell

Justine is about emotions – raw and in your face, the ones that threaten to tear your life apart and yet you are attracted only to them. Self-destruction in poetry is what Justine is about. The sentences sing – it is that fabulous a book. The descriptions want you to get on to a flight to Alexandria and experience the chaos for yourself. Time is of great essence in these books. It plays the central role – defining characters and their perspectives. There is no way to define Justine and what it does to me. It touches me on so many levels and you will only know of it once you read it.

Here is something for you from the book:

“A city becomes a world when one loves one of its inhabitants.”

“We are all hunting for rational reasons for believing in the absurd.”

“Who invented the human heart, I wonder? Tell me, and then show me the place where he was hanged.”

“The loved object is simply one that has shared an experience at the same moment of time, narcissistically; and the desire to be near the beloved object is at first not due to the idea of possessing it, but simply to let the two experiences compare themselves, like reflections in different mirrors. All this may precede the first look, kiss, or touch; precede ambition, pride, or envy; precede the first declarations which mark the turning point—for from here love degenerates into habit, possession, and back to loneliness.”

“It is hard to fight with one’s heart’s desires; whatever it wishes to get, it purchases at the cost of the soul.”

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2000 Books You Must Read: 2. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

This is almost a rare gem. Why do I say that? Because I really believe that when it comes to language and writing style, very few books can surpass this one. “The Man Who Loved Children” by Christina Stead is one of those books which will haunt you long after you have finished reading it.

The book is about a large family – almost close to nine people (including the parents) and the parents living their lives through their children. Sam and Henny Pollit hate each other as a couple, and have too many children and too less money to take care of them. While Sam lives vicariously through his children and gets them to feed his ego, Henny watches silently, knowing that the end will be disastrous.

That in short is the plot of the book. What makes it so unique that I recommend it? The plot and the story and the characters crawl through the readers’ skin. It is darkness personified. You cannot help but think of it and at some point, it drove me crazy trying to figure the behaviour and actions of some characters. The degradation of a family is so stark and obvious that your heart goes out to them and yet you cannot do anything at all. It is a brilliant portrayal of a family that has lost its bearings and does not know what to do. The book may not be meant for all but do read it if a dark family story interests you.

Here are some quotes from it:

“Life is nothing but rags and tags and filthy rags at that. Why was I ever born?”

“ men call it the tyranny of tears, it is an iron tyranny- no man could be so cruel, so devishlish,as a woman with her weakness, recrimination, convenient ailments, nerves and tears. We men are all weak as water before the primitive devices of Eve. I was patient at first, many years. ‘ ”

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