My vote goes to Crime and Punishment. The main reason is the simplicity and beauty of the plot. We have a central character—he commits a crime in the heat of passion, and then he spends the rest of the novel contemplating the ramifications of his action. During that time, the novel covers the fundamental topics of life: justice, mortality, good, evil, etc.
The Brothers Karamazov is complex in structure. It’s narrates the history of an entire family as opposed to one person. So it’s easy to become lost during the story, trying to remember what happened to which character. You almost need an Excel spreadsheet to follow along. It has some nice moments, for sure (The Grand Inquisitor” chapter being the most famous). But the reader has to work for these gems.
In my opinion, less is more. So if you have to chose one of Dostoevsky’s novels to begin with, make it Crime and Punishment. You’ll find it straightforward and beautifully written.
See Related Article: Short Story Review: “The Lake” by Ray Bradbury
I was driving today when I heard the song “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” Like so many romantic songs, the idea is nice. We feel a tingle. We reflect on romantic love. We reminisce on the feminine.
And yet, the opposite is true.
There ain’t no sunshine when a man is gone. Why is that? Because patriarchal headship is the foundation of FAMILY. It’s the buttress of HUMANITY. The husband is a promontory cliff, protecting his family from the vicissitudes of life.
So when a father absent, we find darkness. The energy of woman has nothing to cling to. So her life is a struggle, always in search of a masculine counterpart. And only this headship can lead her into a light.
There ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone.
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Christopher Hitchens had a wonderful excerpt about killing one’s younger self. Hitchens talked about how he was a Marxist as a young man. However, as he grew older, he came to realize the foolishness of his early beliefs. Instead of clinging to a lie, he discarded the previous idea so that he could grow as an intellectual.
Most people undergo a similar transformation. At some point, they realize that their ideologies were naive. The healthy response is to shrug it off with a laugh: to file it away as a youthful indiscretion. And yet, some people are unable to do so. They cling to a previous illusion, unable to break free. They become like the prisoners in Plato’s cave…chained to the wall of ignorance.
One such example is love. Most people grow up with an idealism that’s been cemented in a thousand Peter Cetera songs: “I am a man that will fight for your honor….”. They daydream about a future that’s been molded by these romantic fantasies. And then when they turn 40, this dream is usually unfulfilled. They feel like a failure. Rather than analyze the previous position, they become bitter about the prize they never received. They hate men, they hate women, etc.
Invariably, they fail to realize something – their initial position was based upon a lie. Their was no grand Wizard of Oz; there was only a charlatan behind a curtain. Their future happiness depends on the acceptance of that fact.
The human existence is like that of snake. We have to continually to shed our skin in order to grown.
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P.T. Barnum is a popular name in American lore. But like so many historical figures, very little is known about him. The Art of Getting Money (1880) provides a nice glimpse into the man. It’s filled with philosophical quips and general advice – I highly recommend it.
Some of my favorite lines were the following.
“Young men starting in life should avoid running into debt. There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt. It is a slavish position to get ill…Debt robs a man of his self-respect, and makes him almost despise himself.”
“The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his tastes.”
“The foundation of success in life is good health: that is the substratum fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick.”
As you can see, Barnum gives common sense advice. And let’s face it…the world needs more common sense. The book is perfect for young adults. The style is direct and engaging, giving sold advice to the emerging man (or woman).
I find that financial books are helpful in the general sense: i.e. Rich Dad, Poor Dad; The Millionaire Next Door, etc. They keep our mind focused on the attributes of wealth. Specific information is omitted, since the “nuts and bolts” of any industry come with experience and are varied. Therefore, the information remains on the surface for a logical reason.
That being said, it still helps to read the words of wise men. When trying to improve at something, we should listen to those that have experience in such matters. P.T. Barnum fits the bill with regards to wealth – his strategies are common sense tidbits and very important reminders.
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I’m a little late to the party on this one. Several years ago, John Mayer and Katy Perry were the hot couple. They appeared on TV shows together and love was in the air. But like so many Hollywood romances, the relationship came crashing to the ground. Why the demise? Who really knows…perhaps they’re not even sure.
At any rate, the apex of this relationship was a video called “Who You Love”.
The premise of the video is that love is blind. This theme is reinforced by various couples riding on top of a horseback: we see people of different ethnicity and social class, furthering the point that love emanates from within.
The video is a hypocrisy, of course. John Mayer received a lot of criticism for saying in Rolling Stone that he would not date black women. And Katy Perry is falling in love with John Mayer…a multi-millionaire rock star (note that she’s not dating a Mexican security guard or a Jamaican plumber).
In short, both John Mayer and Katy Perry have a prejudice when it comes to mating; however, they encourage people to overlook prejudice when it comes to dating.
In other words, do as I say and not as I do – otherwise known as hypocrisy.
Judge people by their actions…not the pretty lies they spin. Hollywood stars do what they want as they want, yet they moralize to the general public.
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Periodically, I have to write same post – your personal victories come first.
Why do I say that?
Because in the United States, we’re invaded by a media circus. The Kavanaugh drama is just our newest example…we’ve seen this before. The media, salivating like an Ethiopian hyena and ready to strike. They spin sophistry and promote degeneracy. They drag America into a sick and never-ending cesspool.
The sicker you get, the stronger they become.
You gotta be happy. If you don’t shine, nobody else will feel your light. So you have to rise above. This means getting your house in order. Make sure the kids are fed, the bankroll is growing, and your spouse is happy. Everything begins at the dinner table.
Take a look in the mirror. Make sure you love what you see. Make you sure you dedicate every day to excelling at GOALS.
Your personal victories come first.
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This September, I’ve read the following books:
Going forward, my goal is to read at least one autobiography a month. As an English major, I read a lot of fiction. It expanded my creativity but destroyed my reason. I saw the world as a fictional play. And I was ignorant about the events in life – the people that created the world around me. So I’m looking to destroy my previous illusions.
Secondary sources are usually biased. We hear things about people that are, by and large, a load of bullshit. Therefore, it’s important to separate fact and fiction. Reading autobiographies is a great way to decipher the timeline of history for oneself.
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