Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

It’s such sophisticated and symbolic writing. Jane Eyre is Bronte’s psychological and emotional vessel – molded and contoured through vivid descriptions of nature, gothic landscapes, obscure shadows, and alter egos. It is masterfully-adorned in unconventional romanticism and wisdom.

Straightforward, candid, and unreserved – Jane Eyre coalesces courage and impeccable writing to revise the narrative of the ‘invisible’ woman. The woman who is regarded for her words, her forthrightness, her conduct. The woman who is trained to expect less of society, of ambition, of unconditional love and affection, in relation to herself.

You can feel the artificiality that society places upon the shoulders of such silence and inhibition. This book somehow scales the tides of such suffocation and discrimination. It epitomizes the complex and androgynous spirit of a woman who’s not deprived of her own identity.

When a woman’s personal growth and self-discovery is not gauged by a misogynistic and patriarchal society. The woman in the attic, the merciless depictions of nature, the sequestered loneliness of Jane Eyre, and her devotion to her master.

All these illustrate the undying foundations of womanhood misconstrued as servitude and meekness. Bronte reclaims, at an impressively confounding pace, the ‘coming-of-age’ of women.

Feminism, equality, spirituality, freedom. Jane Eyre draws from many wells. It’s a product of Charlotte Bronte’s childhood, education, and society. The image she finally drew on 500 pages or so is a vivid and provocative one. You can read her “story” through the lens of many – Jane Eyre herself, Mr. Rochester, and Bertha. You can view one as one or one as many. You may perceive Jane Eyre’s devotion as a constraint; Mr. Rochester’s virtuosity as manipulation, Bertha’s terror as a form of subjugation, and so on. But there is more to the story than what has been written down. You, as a reader, have to find the creases that make the story complete.

Your final summit is to realize that fertilizing moment of self-discovery in the story. If you have to be told when it occurs, you can never know. If you know, you know it all too well and feel it even today.

James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain

There was a point in my life when I thought that past a certain age, I’d have it all figured out. At least the “big” stuff. The job, the personality, the social circle (or lack thereof), and the ambition.

Because then, once the dust settles, the blank canvas would have some boundaries, here and there strokes of color, the entirety of a portrait that not too long ago was poked and scrutinized by others. So that past a certain age, I have that portrait of myself, that totality of my being – you can call it my shadow, my shield, or my ghost.

It’s because of books like Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain that the colors that were once so vivid have now completely evaporated. Because the thing is that the moment I let a part of my being harden on that canvas, let those colors dry up forever, erasing it would be just as painful. And to believe that I can be just one thing, possess one definition, the light of my existence goes out.

Go Tell It On the Mountain is a book about self-discovery and individuality. In terms of length, it’s a short read. But in terms of depth, it’s quite intense.

James Baldwin reflects on the stubbornness of being oneself. The stirrings of a soul to live despite what one inherits in culture, in society, and in the world. It touches upon many topics – religion, race, and family.

The most vivid of all are the descriptions of people. Reading about the violence and misogyny in the name of dogmatic beliefs is difficult, I must point out. It’s terrifying because this is James Baldwin’s semi-autobiographical novel. And it highlights love, hate, loss, and gain. It reclaims suffering and heartbreak for those who are not equipped to face it.

The thing about James Baldwin is that he translates the untranslatable. His writing is swift, poetic, and emotionally penetrating. His vivid prose remembers the horrors of inequality and harrowing scales of organized religion. You read it once and it demands to be felt forever.

Frank Herbert’s Dune

To understand the myth of the hero, we must first assume that the hero is real. Then continue along that trajectory to assume that the humanity that presupposes the role of a hero is also real. The truth, from that point on, is governed by a set of rules, tests that dictate the social and political bind that ties the hands of those it governs.

The idea of the “greater good” is then used as a weapon to foreshadow the truth. Until that vicious cycle of heroic ideals is stripped bare and those governed play the part of heroes themselves.

Dune is a science-fiction and universally-timeless novel about political philosophy, history, human rights, and prophecy. The story is a fertile soil possessing many roots. Perceptive realism, cosmic consciousness, the exploration of an individual’s instinctive, inherited state of mind, and of course, the deep connection of the mind with the body.

The writing and characterization of Dune can easily be translated into a vast cosmos of ancient, archetypical, and modern structures. You can extend your hands and grip in each character the mythical and psychological traits that makes humans seem immortal.

These foundations are familiar, debatable, and undeniably felt in both fact and fiction even today.

Whether you digest this story as art or literature is beside the point. Because when looking for proof that rebellion, in any kind of social construct, is inevitable and hope is merely an illusion, this book contemplates what’s beyond.

“Mankind has only one science… it’s the science of discontent.”

Dune is the first in a resounding series of sci-fi novels written by Frank Herbert. I am convinced that Dune can seductively wipe out the illusion of the hero.

In an interview, Herbert said that he wrote Dune “for readers who do not read science fiction.” He coalesces shades of religion, environmentalism, mythology, politics in an imaginative plot. The writing makes his characters futuristic as well as historical. A book that forces you to rely on your senses in order to be wholly read.

Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

After reading a book like Quiet, I wonder, how do you become who you are?

Becoming yourself is a process. It comprises of hours and hours spent in deep silence and contemplation; figuring out YOUR “being-ness” of becoming.

Every realization, every insight into oneself is like a thunderbolt – it evokes the most terrifying and beautiful truths and ties them together at the core. Perhaps this is one of the greatest and invariably the loneliest of journeys for a person.

So when you read a book like Quiet, you’re not only mapping your journey, you’re embracing it. Susan Cain delves into the meaning of introversion and how society has characterized it as an imperfection; a deficiency that needs to be cured.

The scales of the world are always in favor of extroversion. The world demands noise and quantifiable strengths. The louder that noise of the world gets, the more distant you become from your true nature.

Debunking the fairy tale of cliched “self-improvement” models, Susan Cain explores the emotional and creative value of being an introvert.

How solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

And practicing introspective thinking, empathy, and compassion is more conducive to creating an authentic self than illusive gregariousness.

The structure of the book is quite comprehensive and organized. Her ideas are backed by studies, statistics, facts, and most persuasively, famous people.

So it is an eye-opener for someone who regards others as being either introverted or extroverted to an extent that it subconsciously shapes one’s entire life and how they communicate with others.

From my personal reading experience, though the book fully embraces the introvert’s journey, it is strategically written to convince and engage the reader.

While this is in no way the book’s drawback, it is something that I find unpleasant, and oftentimes a bit dragging, in self-help books.

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Natsume Soseki’s Sanshiro

Books like Sanshiro make you reminisce about that one event in your life from when you started to understand yourself a bit more attentively. When you felt the heights of your reality falling right toward the depth of your identity. When you began to observe the beauty in truth rather than search for unrequited truth in beauty.

Soseki draws together the wakefulness of the protagonist’s young innocence with that of the chaotic and eager tide of city life. Perhaps “coming-of-age” novels like Sanshiro depict the loneliness of growing up in a strange place. Soseki also explores the ordinariness of existence. The anguish of bearing a simple life is enough when one is still looking at one’s feet before taking a step rather than looking up at the sky wondering how it came to be. It being the universe.

That’s not to say that Sanshiro is not a complex read. It is. But it’s complex in a way most books aren’t. It’s intelligent in a way certain thoughts are instinctual. There is no structure or tenet that makes Sanshiro an imaginative and masterful story. Soseki beautifully traces the ongoing celebration of living. The places mentioned in the story are the places you want to visit. The conversations of Sanshiro are conversations you want to remember.

Sanshiro discovers the timeless philosophies of Eastern culture – which is the characteristic takeaway of most Japanese literature. It radiates wisdom, freedom, love, friendship, and self-discovery in ways unimaginable in real life.