The advertising world is extremely hectic. Besides working out and traveling, one activity in particular helps me relax and disconnect from the influx of briefs and deadlines: reading.
Here are some of my all-time favorite books, ranging from philosophical novels and fiction, to poetry.
by Gregory David Roberts
The best books are those that transport you into their own universe – taking your mind and attention to a far away land, and this all-time favorite is definitely one of them! Although it is quite huge (933 pages), it’s certainly a book you will find hard to put down.
Shantaram, or “man of peace”, is the story of Lin, a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escaped prison and flew to India. The novel depicts his life in Bombay, where he chose to hide out in the slums and works as a gunrunner, drug dealer, doctor, and more.
You may call it a fiction novel, an auto-biography, a love story, a philosophy, or simply a beautiful description of India and its people. That’s what’s most fascinating about the book; it contains whatever you’re in the mood for, and we each can relate to it in a different way. If you ask me what it’s about, I would say everything; it contains all of life’s lessons, but it is mostly about love and forgiveness and one man’s searing search for redemption.
If you’re a fan of quotes and love collecting them like I do, grab a brand new notepad, because you’ll be writing tons of them!
Here are a few of my favorites:
– “There is no act of faith more beautiful than the generosity of the very poor.”
– “Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”
– “It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.”
For those of you who aren’t into reading, Shantaram is being adapted into a movie by Warner Brothers, produced by Johnny Depp, and will be released in December 2015.
by Ayn Rand
An even longer book (1088 pages), Atlas Shrugged is an interesting yet complicated story that I enjoyed quite a bit. It depicts the railroad industry in the United States in the 1950s, at a time of industrial crisis and capitalism. Atlas is a Titan in Greek mythology who holds the world on his shoulders. Atlas shrugged, means that he shook the weight of the world off his shoulders.
In this book, her last, Rand explores the consequences of a strike by intellectuals refusing to supply their inventions, art, scientific research or ideas to the rest of the world in the main purpose of fighting against society’s power-suckers and abusers who think they can own and rule the world.Featuring elements of mystery, romance, and science fiction, this philosophical revolution novel is ”not about the murder of man’s body, but about the murder — and rebirth — of man’s spirit”. The story shows that it is the mind that is the root of all human knowledge and values — and its absence is the root of all evil.
What’s interesting about this book is the fact that it is still relevant today: We have creators, thinkers, and we have users/exploiters. The creative minds move our culture forward, while others hold it back to their own benefit.
It will take you a while to get into the story, but once it starts (after the first section), it is really worth it because it will undeniably force you to think.
– “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”
– “No one’s happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy.”
– “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
On a lighter note, The Kite Runner is a normal-sized, beautifully written, touching yet heartbreaking story of friendship between a wealthy kid, Amir and the son of his father’s servant, Hassan in Kabul. The story also depicts Afghanistan from the fall of the monarchy through Soviet intervention all the way through the rise of the Taliban.
Amir and Hassan spend their childhood flying kites in the city of Kabul. One day, Amir witnesses an act of torture and rape inflicted upon Hassan by one of the wealthy boys. Scared and afraid of losing his father’s affection, he sleeps on the incident and starts avoiding any contact with Hassan. His guilt grows by the day and he starts to believe that life would be easier if Hassan was not around. So he accuses him of theft, which causes Hassan and his father Ali to leave. Amir then lives in the shadow of the guilt of his cowardice.
All in all, this book is an emotional experience that’s sure to leave a powerful impact.
– “I want to tear myself from this place, from this reality, rise up like a cloud and float away, melt into this humid summer night and dissolve somewhere far, over the hills. But I am here, my legs blocks of concrete, my lungs empty of air, my throat burning. There will be no floating away.”
– “That’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”
– “Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything”
The Rumi Daybook
365 Poems and teachings from the beloved Sufi master
How astonishing that some words written more than 700 years ago can still speak your mind and enter your heart with such ease.
My personal favorite poet and thinker, Rumi, transcends all borders, religions and times. His words are shared all over the world, by different generations. If you’re a fan of Sufism, poetry, or simply enjoy the beauty of words, you will love this inspiring and spiritually satisfying selection of poems and thoughts covering many different topics ranging from love and religion, to self-development, friendship and so much more.
This masterpiece is a must-have in every library, and every home.
A book to live by and love by.
– My only answer
“Whatever mistakes I may make, You are enough as my balance.
Even if my life is ruined, You are enough as my goal.
I know that when I’m ready to leave this world, they will ask,
“What have you done?” As my answer, “You” will be enough.
– Lasting Kindness
“Go and be kind for Time is aware of kindness,
and He will not take kindness away from the kind.
Material things outlast everyone and will outlast you, too,
but better for you is that kindness will outlast you.”
– The key is in your hand
“Look at humanity, how lacking in light people are,
how they perish out of desire for perishable things.
Because of pride they keep separate from god,
dead to the spirit, living a lie.
Isn’t it amazing how their spirits are imprisoned,
while all the while they hold the key in their hands!”