My Favorite Books
The Master and Margarita by
The Master and Margarita is a brilliant mixture of two modes of discourse that are thought to be antithetical; epic and novelistic. It is also a mixture of genres, time periods and textual strategies that combine a moving love story, scathing social satire and profound re-telling of the story of Christ and Pilate, leading the reader to examine the relative status of "great men" versus common people leading ordinary lives. It is virtually a sacred text for millions of Russians, and with good reason. There is nothing like it in world literature.
Huckleberry Finn by
The great American novel forces the reader to confront America's great tragedy and challenge � racism � as experienced by the simplest of narrators at the heart of our nation. Twain's language is truly brilliant, and the scene in which Huck realizes that he should choose to send his own soul to hell rather than surrender Jim to those who would enslave him � that is, that he should do what is right, rather than what is normal for his time and sanctioned by his authorities � is the most important scene in American literature.
Right Now I'm Reading
The Soong Dynasty
Any of Shakespeare's great plays (Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, etc.). No such list could possibly omit Shakespeare, for obvious reasons.
A fascinating story of modern Chinese history.
Homer, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Aleksander Pushkin, Fyodor Dosoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Mkhail Bulgakov, Isaac Babel, Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Nabokov, Yuri Trifonov, Tatyana Tolstaya, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammet, Kurt Vonnegut, J. K. Rowling. Why? Because they're very good writers.
Reading is Important
Reading is like acquiring SCUBA apparatus. It is possible to sit all day staring at the surface of the water, and to think that you see all of the sparkling beauty that exists before you. But when you have the right stuff, you have the opportunity to experience depths of marvelous reality that you had not previously suspected. It was there all along, and completely accessible to you � but you have to make the effort if you are going to see it.