I wanted to finish reading the last of Ayn Rand's fiction, which for me was her dystopian short novella Anthem. It reminded me a lot of Orwell's 1984: a collectivist all-powerful state controlling language and thoughts via nonstop propaganda. I liked how simply and effectively she was able to demonstrate her philosophy in such a short short. The plot and dramatizations were interesting and emotional too. In a sense, this book represents the horror that happens to society 100 years after Atlas Shrugged concludes when statist society has fully taken over.
Here were some of the main themes:
In my quest to read more classic literature, I decided to check out a classic Russian author whom I had never read before: Ivan Turgenev in his book Fathers and Sons. This was also the first time I was listening to an audiobook in a non-English language, as I wanted to "read" the original text.
I remember how depressing and dark Crime and Punishment was, and this book was a lot less dark and a lot more emotionally powerful, in my opinion. The subject matter -- family, philosophy, love -- was more commonplace, and yet (or because of that) the emotional content was extremely strong.
The book explored many themes, such as the relationships between generations, between social classes, respect for principles vs. science, the value of pride, and the power of love (from men to women and also from parents to children). Even though the main character really wanted to be one-sided and proud, he turned out to be more complex, subtle, and multifaceted than even he would have wanted, and that change was brought about by his relationships with his friends and elders.
The ending was sad and hopeful. I felt my throat knot up as I said good bye to the main character and realized how sad and how sweet life can be, all at the same time.
Below are some of the main themes and quotes I took away from the book:
A few years ago, I read Richard Feynman's Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and really liked it. So I knew I wanted to check out his follow-up book of stories, What Do You Care What Other People Think. The title is a big lesson that I think I could really internalize, so I was intrigued.
Like the previous book, I found this one filled with funny and thought-provoking stories from Feynman's "adventures." I really like how he writes about facts, direct observations, and doesn't do a lot of judging or philosophizing in the middle of the stories. He leaves it to the reader to decide for him or herself. There are parts of the book where he expresses his love of science and why he thinks it matters (like in the "The Value of Science"), but even in these he gives lots of stories and arguments that are persuasive and give the reader a really nice inside view into how he thinks.
I was intrigued by the stories of his childhood, how he got interested in science, and the role his dad played in inspiring his curiosity and getting him to keep asking tough and stupid questions that others were afraid to do and to seek to really understand what some word or concept really means with respect to the world directly around him. I liked when he described the real world and nature as so amazing and mysterious that there is no need to seek anything more amazing outside of the physical world.
I like how he enjoyed exploring the world, visiting parts of the city that are off the beaten path, talking directly to engineers and workers instead of managers, and preferring asking questions and solving problems over worrying about politics and bureaucracy.
Overall, I found his stories intriguing and the way he approached the world (and writing) has many elements I'd love to incorporate myself.