Books that fascinated writers

Popular ‘By the Book’ feature in The New York Times enthralls readers and creates much of the anticipation to see which writers will be the subject of the feature and yearn to read them possibly to invest  their money where it lends the purest pleasure and satisfaction for reading the best. An anthology of opinions about literature and their life by authors – is all in this book titled ‘By the Book – Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review’.
The main idea is to know what others, writers themselves read to inspire and change our perspectives and kindle that exalted chat rather the forgotten watercooler chat and ultimately be informed of what possibly we can read that might interest us.  Give a chance for serendipity through this inquisitive conversation,

I’ve given a selected list of authors and the books that fascinated them, perhaps a journal to revert for good reading suggestions:

Reading List

WRITER/OTHERS Book COMMENT
David Sedaris Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
– Barbara Demick
a real eye opener
Lena Dunham The Private Diaries of Catherine Deneuve
elegant and superb
Drew Gilpin Faust Thinking: Fast and Slow
-Daniel Kahneman
Being Wrong
– Kathryn Schulz
my night stand book now
Advocates doubt as skill and praises error as foundation of wisdom
Elizabeth Gilbert Wolf Hall
– Hilary Mantel
dazzles and not sure how she put this magnificent one
Richard Ford A writer at War
– Vasily Grossman
Riveting and immensely humane
Ira Glass The Big Short
– Michael Lewis
scene after scene about mortgage crisis with a great climax
Junot Diaz Behind the Beautiful Forever’s
– Katherine Boo
4 years reporting on Mumbai slum garbage collectors
Michael Chabon A journey to the End of the Millennium
– A.B. Yehoshua
best book on Judaism
Jeffry Eugenides The Love of Good Woman
– Alice Munro
story telling and characterization overwhelm their attention
JK Rowling Team of Rivals
– Doris Kearns Goodwin
truly great book and put it down with glazed eyes
P.J. O’Rourke Jane Eyre
– Charlotte Bronte
The secret of happy marriage is to have a burning house fall on you
Lee Child The Lost
– Daniel Mendelsohn
a book of the decade – awful breathtaking tragic suspense
Francine Prose One Hundred Years of Solitude
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez
convinced me to drop put of Harvard
Jared Diamond The Measure of a Nation
– Friedman
compares five individual and national security: health, safety, education, democracy and equality
Sheryl Sandberg Discover Your Strengths
– Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton
Conscious Business:How to build value through Values
– Fred Kaufman
Best business books – developing talent at Facebook
Caroline Kennedy The Cistercian World: Monastic Writings of the 12th Century
self-help book recommended by author
Anna Quindlen Middlemarch
– Eliot
A perfection
Hilary Mantel Religion and Decline of Magic
– Keith Thomas
Complete works of Shakespeare
a monumental book with a living treasure in each page
Jeannette Walls Peter the Great
– Robert Massie
kicked off my obsession of Russian history
Dan Brown The Firm a great thriller must also contain at its core a thought-provoking ethical debate or moral dilemma
Curtis Sittenfeld Far from the Tree
how as a society we define disability and react to differences – tap reservoirs of patience unknown to us
Jonathan Lethem Wisdom of Insecurity
– Alan Watt
The help I need now
Richard Dawkins A.C. Grayling, Jared Diamond, Matt Ridley, Lawrence Krauss, Martin Rees, Jerry Coyne, John Brockman

Advice to Young Scientist and Avoid Boring People
– Peter Medawar & James Watson

all share honest commitment to real world truth
Malcom Gladwell Janet Malcom & Michael Lewis even while sketching a scenery, you know something wonderful and thrilling is about to happen
bringing social science and business principles is easy, doing that and telling a compelling story is next to impossible
Amy Tan Jing Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase) The unexpurgated edition is instructional – it’s a book of manners for the debauched
Michael Connelly The Giving Tree
– Shel Silverstein
everybody should read before they die

What would you recommend President Obama to read?

Author Book COMMENT
David Sedaris Is there No place on Earth for Me?
-Susan Sheehan
about a young schizophrenic
Lena Dunham The Guide to getting it On something to offer for everyone
Neil Gaiman American Gods down to earth
Elizabeth Gilbert My Life
– Bill Clinton
Study guide on how win next term
Colin Powell The Best and the Brightest
– David Halberstam
People – it’s all about people and not plans that fail
Sylvia Nasar Grand Pursuit  
JK Rowling Justice
– Michael Sandel
This is for Cameroon
Dan Savage End This Depression Now
– Paul Krugman
one book he should read now
James Patterson Two Cheers for Democracy
– E.M. Forster
Bossy Pants
– Tina Fey
help him surround people who think they know everything about everything
Andrew Solomon Random Family
–Adrian Nicole
masterpiece of relentless close-up journalism – on trajectory of poverty and its corrosive compulsions
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Proof that Cosmos pervades, 7 Stages and the Cyclic nature

Veiled Pulse of Time by William Bryant – this book talks about biographical cycles and times and why I picked it, is to get some insights into astrological manifestations. I was more delighted to know how various cosmic rhythms and cycles affect our bodies, time and ultimately our biography. Gist of the reading is as follows:

Human and Cosmic Breathing

It’s always recognized by ancients of the encircling dance of planets and stars to rhythmic pulse of a dynamic and meaningful cosmos. This formidable insight confirmed the earlier belief that the cosmos made humankind in its image. In other words cosmic rhythms regulate everything from passage of world ages and the ebb and flow of civilizations to the biological cycles of the individual. It is a magnificent conception – unity in diversity. The ancients were aware of numerical correspondence between breathing and cosmic cycles. Our heart beats 72 times per minute and we breathe 18 times in a minute. Let’s take a look at cosmic numbers. Do note that a star rising in a particular spot on the horizon at 6 am on 23rd Jan 1972 will not be at the same spot on 6 am, 23rd Jan 1973 and so on. The star together with the celestial sphere, appears to creep westward year after year, century after century, until nearly after 25920 years, it returns to its first position. This cycle is known to ancients as the “Sacred Year” or “Great Year”, means that the zodiac drifts one degree (or gains one day) every 72 years. Dividing the Great Year into 12, we get the “Great Months” i.e. 2160 years, known as Zodiac Epoch which coincides with rise and fall of civilizations. There are 3 aspects to note here

  1. Breathing Cycle = 18
  2. Pulse Rate = 72
  3. Precessional Rhythm = 25920
  4. Cultural Epoch = 2160

A few simple computations reveals startling correspondences between them

ABOUT Detail FACT
Breathing Given our breathing rate is 18/minute, per day will be 18*24*60 = 25,920 times / day
Life Prototypical human life span = 72 years
Heart Pulse rate = 72 beats / minute, whereas Precessional movement of vernal sun = 1 degree / 72 years
Saturn Saturn’s orbit around the sun is ~ 30 years, in a “great month” (2160 years), it’s movement around sun =
(It  is also numerically linked to human respiration, life span, the Great Month and Great Year)
72 orbits
Jupiter For every “Great Year”, Jupiter orbits sun 2160 times
  Jupiter’s cycle in hours is reasonably close to heart beats per day = 103,680
  1 year in Jupiter equals heartbeats per hour =  4320 days

As we juggle all computations around astronomical facts, we can find innumerable permutations but the fact is as we delve more into these correspondences, we unearth the connections between geometry, temple building, cosmology, astronomy, meteorology, numerology and biography (individual’s life). All these facts points to incontrovertible connection between physical cycles and cosmos and our spiritual and mental development is also linked similarly.

Study of time is crucial as linear time stars operating the moment we are born, whereas the cyclic and rhythmic time is the harmonizer, meditator and coordinator of our physical and spiritual functions, enables the eternal to live in the deep recess to grow in the passing time of mortal world getting the imprints of all experiences as we interact with the world. Rhythmic time governs positions and placement of events and not what we do and how we react. Yet each experience is a seed planted in the continuum of rhythmic time to germinate in the right season. Because we retain our past, no experience is futile, infertile, or lost. Out of sight or out of mind, our life experience continues to live within us where it is dealt with by the juices of our physic digestion and spiritual metabolism. Thus, those things left undone, the missed opportunities, errors, and misjudgments, continue to prepare future stages for their correction, completion and redemption. Likewise, our suffering and setbacks serve to release new forces in the psyche which, when the time is ripe, “lead us to fortune”. The laws of rhythm decree that all things must take their course. This all alludes law of karma, nevertheless, its understanding clears human frailty and console ourselves on missed opportunities under due diligence.

The Sacred Seven

Stage SIGNIFICANE
0 to 7: Trailing clouds of glory Too much intellectual force/abuse at the expense of progress at tender age mires the nervous system and can cause mental and physic issues during prime time. It is a sacrosanct stage best left untouched by all education except by refreshing play world of stories, games, fantasy and imitation.
7 to 14: from Light tio Shadow As there’s tremendous physical growth, feelings take hold. Puberty arises and leads to more self-identity
14 to 21: Flush of independence With the competitive demands made by education, career and family groups, the individual stands at the cusp of independence and starts to contemplate the meaning of their existence and are ready for action and relationship
21 to 28: The chase of experience I like this poetic reflection: in verbatim here:
The voice of conscience , though stronger that it was in adolescence, is often smothered by the roar of action. On the other hand, the awakening sense of social responsibility drives many a flushed knight full tilt at the dragons of injustice and hypocrisy. These radical lances, however, are seldom tempered by perspective and wisdom
28 to 35: Adjusting the course Time of disorientation, stress or even dramatic change. Marriage obeys the law of life which states that a relationship which cannot transform itself destroys itself. Sometimes a stagnant marriage produces “Stale mates” than “soul mates”
35 to 42: under self-power Time to break free from straitjackets. Crisis and misfortunes arrive to tame illusions and self-inflation left by successes. They may enter in the form of marital conflict, illness, accidents or blighted hopes / missed opportunities. This period throws light to antagonism between instincts and desires of our lower life and our ideal or higher self, a deepening perception stirs new doubts and hopes in the soul
42 to 49: under dark wood Apart from menopause and mano-pause, this period is tainted with depressions, irritability, impotence, insomnia, hypochondria but it has its goodness – a time of psychological death and rebirth. Instead of a negative look to ‘dreadful drift to grave’ combined with fear of oblivion, loss of creative hope, unwelcome invitation to senility – we should  recover sense of purpose
49 to 56: a second wind In spite of all inner wear and tear, time not to lose pessimism and move forward
56 to 63: Reaping the harvest Time to withdraw from many of the temptations and superfluities of the external world further personalizes our existence. Aging represents a process of physical decrease and spiritual increase
63 to 70: Drawing the threads This marks a certain cyclic conclusion, a release from the remorseless drive of destiny as the will’s flame begin to withdraw to interiors to prepare for the approaching expansion across great divide. These years can offer as a blessing, a grace, the opportunity to complete the tapestry of destiny and pass the contributions to those who follow

Chrono’s Cycle – 30 year Saturn Cycle

Period Book
0 to 30 : Formative Integrate and add to our uniqueness all the shaping and modulating forces of our heredity and environmental backgrounds
30 to 60 : Constructive Pursue our goals and work the inner and outer core. Gather vast amount of experiences and inject our virtues, gifts and striving into a world which, in turn, continually deepens and modifies our consciousness and self-understanding.
60 to rest : Reflective All our previous experiences are incorporated that outlives our death. Event though we appear inflexible and resistant to change, our inner content and psyche in sharp contrast to outer activity is much more contemplative and inward.

After researching world personalities like Churchill, Nehru, Lawrence of Arabia, Christian Mutts, Kennedy, Mao, Mary Ann Evans, Marilyn Monroe, Balzac, Emerson, Darwin, Marie Curie, Johannes Kepler, Newton, Martin Luther King, most of them conform to a synchrony with some are misalignments. These are indeed tragedies – a deformed destiny. The thirty year cycles are often the most dramatic of all the cycles. This means that our thirtieth and sixtieth years, along with forty-fifth, are likely to be scored by crucial incidents or a change of pace, direction, and emphasis.

Conflict, Constriction, Release, and Breakthrough

For many souls the years between 28 and 30 are intensified by stress, turmoil (even conflict), as well as a key event. It could be described as a period of psychic compression, a constriction prior to a burst of expansion; indeed , it is rather a concentrated transition in many lives. This is where the sever and 30 year cycles are meshed as both complete their respective tasks before opening an expansive surge of creativity. For many, the span between 21 and 28 is teeming with raw experiences. Naturally, all this has to be properly absorbed and digested. There is a subtle though sometimes disconcerting change in self-awareness around 28 which interacts with the completion of the major destiny cycle at 30. The build-up of psychic pressure is released at 30 and this often results in a breakthrough into another phase of biographical genesis and fresh opportunity. Again my take is the years may shift a few years back and forth and needn’t be that accurate depending on individual’s case.

Jupiter’s Cycle

The seven regulates the cyclic patterns of our inward descent through the psychological layers of the personality, but the 12-year cycle translates this changing self-awareness into the sequential steps of our life’s work, the psyche’s expression in the world. Best described as a vocational rhythm, the 12th years mark phases of scientific, artistic, or philosophical activity, the maturing of ideas, spans of personal relationship, and even the strokes of good fortune that punctuate our path through life. These are moments when something clicks, something meets us just at the right moment, or a new idea or plan suddenly falls into place.

Leo Tolstoy and years of creativity

Period/Output Years
Childhood 23-24
Family Happiness 30-year transition
War and Peace 35-41
Anna Karenina 45-48
The Kreutzer Sonata 60-61 1/2
Resurrection 60-71 1/2

‘Fate, Freedom and Destiny’ & ‘The Seasons of Immortality’ chapters have been given an erudite thought and eloquent rendition. The gist of the 2 chapters is summarized in final thoughts as follows:
Never easily forget that everything has its share of time, its seasons of becoming, from the humble worm to civilizations and solar systems. Whenever we are impatient, we should remember that destiny decrees times of increase and times of decrease, times of action and times of assimilation. Thus, this added dimension of awareness permits us to look beyond temporarily to the “forever”

‘Desiderata’ enters common lexicon?

As I was reading the latest archive of datascienceweekly, stumbled on this word ‘Desiderata’ listed on an article and intuited me that it may enter the general lexicon given its way of usage. This also piqued and kindled my know-word-history-lust and led me to this site. The word itself is in Latin which means ‘desired things or essential things’ that you yearn for. There’s an official site that hosts the poem – which to me seems too prose. Whatever the history of Desiderata, the Ehrmann’s prose is inspirational, and offers a simple positive credo for life. And I’ve decided to carry this poem verbatim.

DESIDERATA

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920