OK, here goes in the order I read them:
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli: This is one book that took me a really long time to read — as I had resolved to read it a chapter at a time and only when commuting. The Prince is Machiavelli’s (in)famous ode to power — and the different ways to acquire it. Just lookup Machiavellian in some dictionary, and you’ll understand the reaction people had to this work.
You see, the most revolutionary thing Machiavelli said was that there is no place for ethics & morals in politics — and the world’s never come to grips with that even if we keep seeing countless examples of the same principle. I mostly agree with him; if power is your goal, following what he wrote is the best route.
The text is somewhat filled of contradictions — it is not a proper research text or such, just a desperate man trying to speak his mind. And he was desperate, read his biography if you can. I’ve never been a big history buff, as I can’t usually remember specifics of things. But this book is a must read — unless you are too quick to judge.
Girl With Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier: Simple, small and beautiful. Really amazing, if you are into this sort of thing. Loved the way most of the scenes were described — almost makes me feel like I was there.
Actually, there is not much of a story in the traditional sense, but just worth reading for the sheer wonder of the narrative. Or maybe its because I’ve just not read something like this before… Of course its fiction, but I’d rather like something like this to be fact.
As the Crow Flies by Jeffery Archer: Another Archer epic. No politics in this one (thank god). I really like Archer’s style of writing, but for me his books are more like one-off reads — not something I’ll be willing to read over and over again. I’ve not re-read a single book of his yet, but I can imagine that would be quite boring.
Allright, the story of this book follows the standard Archer vein — a kid (Charlie Trumper) starts off as a hawker (really), goes off to the military, fights a war, builds an empire, makes enemies in the process… You get the drift, there is nothing subtle here. Nevertheless, the story is really gripping — and I especially liked the way the narrative shifts in this one.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: As I said, I’d put off reading this one for a long time. But I finally got annoyed of people asking me what I thought of the book. You know, I’ve kind of built up a reputation recently of being well-read (don’t know where people get these ideas…).
Actually, there is nothing I can add about this one that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. I liked the book, and won’t say that it got undeserved fame. More like there are a lot of other books that deserve to be as famous, and the fact that one can never predict these things. It is definitely a quick read, and quite un-putdownable (is that a word?). Next up: read books by Umberto Eco and then actually compare this stuff, instead of just repeating what I’ve been hearing.
Actually, for me any book that gets non-readers to start reading is worth celebrating. Out of the millions that pick up this one just for the fad, many will keep reading other stuff too. Hear hear.
Next up: Hocus Pocus, It Could Happen to You (no idea what this one is gonna be like), Crime & Punishment.