Great Reads

Great Reads

11/22/63
Stephen King

(2011 / USA)
“Kennedy entered, waving to the standing audience, an elderly gentleman in an Alpine hat and lederhosen struck up ‘Hail to the Chief ‘ on an accordion bigger than he was. The president did a double take, then lifted both hands in an amiable holy shit gesture. For the first time I saw him as I had come to see Oswald—as an actual man. In the double take and the gesture that followed it, I saw something even more beautiful than a sense of humor: an appreciation for life’s essential absurdity.”

1Q84
Haruki Murakami

(2009 / Japan)
“Wasn’t it better if they kept this desire to see each other hidden within them, and never actually got together? That way, there would always be hope in their hearts. That hope would be a small, yet vital flame that warmed them to their core – a tiny flame to cup one’s hands around and protect from the wind, a flame that the violent winds of reality might easily extinguish.”

THE ACTIVE SIDE OF INFINITY
Carlos Castaneda

(1998 / USA)
“Ordinarily, events that change our path are impersonal affairs, and yet extremely personal. My teacher, don Juan Matsus, said this is guiding me as his apprentice to collect what I considered to be the memorable events of my life…. Don Juan described the total goal of the shamanistic knowledge that he handled as the preparation for facing the definitive journey: the journey that every human being has to take at the end of his life. He said that what modern man referred to vaguely as life after death was, for those shamans, a concrete region filled to capacity with practical affairs of a different order than the practical affairs of daily life, yet bearing a similar functional practicality. Don Juan considered that to collect the memorable in their lives was, for shamans, the preparation for their entrance into that concrete region, which they called the active side of infinity.”

AFTER DARK | Afutā Dāku
Haruki Murakami

(2004 / Japan)
“Memory is so crazy! It’s like we’ve got these drawers crammed with tons of useless stuff. Meanwhile, all the really important things we just keep forgetting, one after the other.”

ALL YOU NEED IS EARS
George Martin & Jeremy Hornsby

(1979 / UK)
“George, I don’t know if you’d be interested, but there’s a chap who’s come in with a tape of a group he runs. They haven’t got a recording contract, and I wonder if you’d like to see him and listen to what he’s got?”
“Certainly,” I said, “I’m willing to listen to anything. Ask him to come and see me.”
“O.K., I will. His name’s Brian Epstein …”

THE ART OF HAPPINESS
The Dalai Lama & Howard C. Cutler

(1998 / USA)
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

BEACH MUSIC
Pat Conroy

(1995 / USA)
“We surf-fished in the breakers catching spottail bass and flounder for dinner. I discovered that summer that I loved to cook and feed my friends, and I enjoyed the sound of their praise as they purred with pleasure at the meals I fixed over glowing iron and fire. I had the run of my grandparents’ garden and I would put ears of sweet corn in aluminum foil after washing them in seawater and slathering them with butter and salt and pepper. Beneath the stars we would eat the beefsteak tomatoes okra and the field peas flavored with salt pork and jalapeno peppers. I would walk through the disciplined rows that brimmed with purple eggplants and watermelons and cucumbers, gathering vegetables. My grandfather, Silas, told us that summer that low country earth was so fertile you could drop a dime into it and grow a money tree.”

THE BLUE-EYED SALARYMAN
Niall Murtagh

(2005 / UK)
“After a few stops, I squeeze off the train, up the stairs, out into the morning sunlight. I stop and wait at the traffic lights even though there are no cars coming, because there’s a crowd of people around me, watching what I do, approving or disapproving without saying anything or doing anything. In another time and place I wouldn’t care whether they approve or not and I’d already be on the other side of the street, but this is different and I’d prefer their silent approval because these people are probably my future colleagues and they’ll remember a foreigner who ignores the traffic rules right in front of them. Someone who doesn’t obey the traffic rules probably won’t obey other rules either. The lights change and I follow the crowd. The crowd goes down the first side street, past the 7-Eleven shop, the flashy pachinko hall, the cram school and the huge Mitsubishi sign, towards the white steel gates of the company, everyone wearing the same salaryman white shirt and grey suit, carrying the same salaryman briefcase, and I’m thinking about ants. I walk through the gate to become a salaryman.”

THE BROOKLYN FOLLIES
Paul Auster

(2004 / USA)
“When you’ve lived as long as I have, you tend to think you’ve heard everything, that there’s nothing left that can shock you anymore. You grow a little complacent about your so-called knowledge of the world, and then, every once in a while, something comes along that jolts you out of your smug cocoon of superiority, that reminds you all over again that you don’t understand the first thing about life.”

CHRONICLES ‘VOLUME ONE’
Bob Dylan

(2004 / USA)
“America was changing. I had a feeling of destiny and I was riding the changes. New York was as good a place to be as any. My consciousness was beginning to change, too, change and stretch. One thing for sure, if I wanted to compose folk songs I would need some kind of new template, some philosophical identity that wouldn’t burn out. It would have to come on its own from the outside. Without knowing it in so many words, it was beginning to happen.”

COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE | Shikisai o motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, kare no junrei no toshi
Haruki Murakami

(2013 / Japan … Bungeishunjū)
“One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.”

THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO | Le Comte de Monte-Cristo
Alexandre Dumas

(1844 / France)
“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”

CROSSING THE RUBICON
Michael C. Ruppert

(2004 / Canada)
“In reality, 9/11 and the resulting ‘war on terror’ are parts of a massive authoritarian response to an emerging economic crisis of unprecedented scale. Peak Oil—the beginning of the end for our industrial civilization—is driving the élites of American power to implement unthinkably draconian measures of repression, warfare and population control. Crossing the Rubicon is more than a story. It is a map of the perilous terrain through which, together and alone, we are all now making our way.”

THE EMPEROR’S GENERAL
James Webb

(2000 / USA)
“Captain Jay Marsh had never questioned where his ultimate loyalty lay. He had witnessed the bloody horror left behind by the retreating Japanese army during World War II’s final days. And he had abandoned his beautiful Filipina fiancée to see his duty through. But not even Marsh could guess the terrible personal price he would have to pay for his loyalty. He would follow General Douglas MacArthur to Tokyo itself. There he would become the brilliant, egocentric general’s confidant, translator, surrogate son … and spy.”

ELVIS
Albert Goldman

(1981 / USA)
“Elvis Presley built his own world…where the promise was that every fear, pain, doubt, and wish could be washed away with money, sex, drugs, and the bought approval of yes-men…”

THE FAR PAVILLIONS
M. M. Kaye

(1978 / UK)
“They rode out together from the shadows of the trees, leaving the Bala Hissar and the glowing torch of the burning Residency behind them, and spurred away across the flat lands towards the mountains … And it may even be that they found their Kingdom.”

THE FIXER
Bernard Malumud

(1966 / USA)
“A meshummed gives up one God for another. I don’t want either. We live in a world where the clock ticks fast while he’s on his timeless mountain staring in space. He doesn’t see us and he doesn’t care. Today I want my piece of bread, not in Paradise.”

THE FOOL’S PROGRESS
Edward Abbey

(1988 / USA)
“If I should object to force I will be arrested. If I object to arrest I will be clubbed. If I defend myself against clubbing I will be shot. These procedures are known as The Rule of Law.”

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS
Ernest Hemingway

(1940 / USA)
“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.”

FURY
Salman Rushdie

(2001 / UK)
“Life is fury, he’d thought. Fury — sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal — drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths. Out of furia comes creation, inspiration, originality, passion, but also violence, pain, pure unafraid destruction, the giving and receiving of blows from which we never recover. The Furies pursue us; Shiva dances his furious dance to create and also to destroy. But never mind about gods! Sara ranting at him represented the human spirit in its purest, least socialized form. This is what we are, what we civilize ourselves to disguise — the terrifying human animal in us, the exalted, transcendent, self-destructive, untramelled lord of creation.”

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO … Millennium I | Män som hatar kvinnor
Stieg Larsson

(2005 / Sweden)
“She had been sharing a house with him for a week, and he had not once flirted with her. He had worked with her, asked her opinion, slapped her on the knuckles figuratively speaking when she was on the wrong track, and acknowledged that she was right when she corrected him. Dammit, he had treated her like a human being.”

THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE … Millennium II | Flickan som lekte med elden
Stieg Larsson

(2006 / Sweden)
“All her life Salander had loved puzzles and riddles. When she was nine her mother gave her a Rubik’s cube. It had put her abilities to the test for barely forty frustrating minutes before she understood how it worked. After that she never had any difficulty solving the puzzle. She had never missed the daily newspapers’ intelligence tests; five strangely shaped figures and the puzzle was how the sixth one should look. To her, the answer was always obvious.”

THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS’ NEST … Millennium III | Luftslottet som sprängdes
Stieg Larsson

(2007 / Sweden)
“I don’t know how much you understand about what is happening outside your locked room, but strangely enough (despite your personality), you have a number of loyal idiots working on your behalf. I have already established an elite body called The Knights of the Idiotic Table. We will be holding an annual dinner at which we’ll have fun talking crap about you. (No, you’re not invited).”

THE GREAT SANTINI
Pat Conroy

(1976 / USA)
“Suddenly, Coach Spinks’s face mellowed. There was a dissociation of form and substance. His eyes glistened; his gaze became beatific. ‘Let us pray,’ he said and all the heads on the team dropped floorward as though they were puppets strung to the same wire. ‘O sweet Jesus, we come again to ask your blessings and your forgiveness for our many trespasses against you and our fellow neighbor. We are playin’ West Charleston High School tonight, Lord, but there’s no need to tell you that since you knew about it two or three million years before I did. We ask, good Jesus, not that we beat West Charleston High but that we do our best before our God, our family, and our country. We do ask, Lord, if you see it befitting, that we score a point or two more than West Charleston even though I know that Coach Warners is a God-fearin’ man and a deacon in the Baptist Church besides. But you know as well as I, Lord, he’s one of the mouthiest so-and-so’s that ever wore socks. I’m also aware, dear Jesus, that their players are all clean cut boys and also pleasant to your sight. We don’t want to ask for anything special, Lord, but help my rebounders get off their feet. Help Pinkie and Jim Don control their tempers. Give Philip and Art a little more temper. And get Ben to quit throwin’ those big city behind-the-back passes. And, Lord, please help this high school if I got to make any substitutions. My scrubs is good boys but they’ve been havin’ a devil of a time puttin’ that ball into the hole. The real thing I want to ask, Lord, is that all these boys make the first team in that great game of life. If they make mistakes, Lord, blow the whistle because you’re the great referee. Call time out and bring them to center court for another jump ball. Don’t let them go out of bounds, Lord. If they bust a play, make ’em run wind-sprints and figure eights but stay with ’em, Lord. Coach ’em all the way to the championship of life. A-men.’ ”

HARVEY PENICK’S LITTLE RED BOOK
Harvey Penick & Bud Shrake

(1992 / USA)
“Take dead aim.”

THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS | La Casa De Los Espiritus
Isabel Allende

(1982 / Chile)
“She was considered timid and morose. Only in the country, her skin tanned by the sun and her belly full of ripe fruit, running through the fields with Pedro Tercero, was she smiling and happy. Her mother said that that was the real Blanca, and that the other one, the one back in the city, was a Blanca in hibernation.”

THE HUMAN FACTOR
Graham Greene

(1978 / UK)
“Then he allowed himself to strike, like his childhood hero Allan Quatermain, off on that long slow underground stream which bore him on toward the interior of the dark continent where he hoped that he might find a permanent home, in a city where he could be accepted as a citizen, as a citizen without any pledge of faith, not the City of God or Marx, but the city called Peace of Mind.”

THE HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT OF THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED
Jonas Jonasson

(2009 / Sweden)
“There are only two things I can do better than most people. One of them is to make vodka from goats’ milk, and the other is to put together an atom bomb.”

JOURNEY TO IXTLAN
Carlos Castañeda

(1972 / USA)
“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.’ ”

JOURNEY WITHOUT MAPS
Graham Greene

(1936 / UK)
“I had been afraid of the primitive, had wanted it broken gently, but here it came on us in a breath, as we stumbled up through the dung and the cramped and stinking huts to our lampless sleeping place among the rats. It was the worst one need fear, and it was bearable because it was inescapable.”

THE KITE RUNNER
Khaled Hosseini

(2003 / USA)
“It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything all right. It didn’t make ANYTHING all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight. But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.”

KOKORO
Natsume Sōseki

(1914 / Japan)
“What this feeling produced was, quite simply, a keen awareness of the nature of human sin. That is what sent me back each month to K’s grave. It is also what lay behind the nursing of my dying mother-in-law, and what bade me treat my wife so tenderly. There were even times when I longed for some stranger to come along and flog me as I deserved. At some stage this feeling transformed into a conviction that it should be I who hurt myself. And then the thought struck me that I should not just hurt myself but kill myself. At all events, I resolved that I must live my life as if I were already dead.”

THE LAST BEST LEAGUE
Jim Collins

(2004 / USA)
“I saw a human story at every position. I wondered what it must feel like to be a twenty-year-old all-star on Cape Cod. To spend ten weeks around the sun and sand and blue water, standing out among the finest college players in the country. Or to be in that same bucolic landscape, but struggling, doubting yourself for the first time and suddenly questioning whether you had what it took to make it.”

LES MISÉRABLES
Victor Hugo

(1862 / France)
“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.”

THE LIVES OF JOHN LENNON
Albert Goldman

(1988 / USA)
“The real Lennon was not the public statements that he made. They were made because they were public statements, and he was looking to make a point. He couldn’t give a shit (about lying) because to a certain extent he had contempt for the media because they bought all the crap. He was there to manipulate the media. He enjoyed doing that. He understood how to use the media. You got to give him credit for that, and you got to give her credit. They would use the media, but it was not that they believed it, but that was the image they wanted to present.”

LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
Nelson Mandela

(1995 / South Africa)
“I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, ‘Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people.’ Instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.”

LOVE
Pablo Neruda

(1995 / USA)
“Today I stretched out next to a pure young woman as if at the shore of a white ocean, as if at the centre of a burning star of slow space. From her lengthily green gaze the light fell like dry water, in transparent and deep circles of fresh force. Her bosom like a two-flamed fire burned raised in two regions, and in a double river reached her large, clear feet. A climate of gold scarcely ripened the diurnal lengths of her body filing it with extended fruits and hidden fire.”

MILA 18
Leon Uris

(1961 / USA)
“Who is left in the ghetto is the one man in a thousand in any age, in any culture, who through some mysterious workings of force within his soul will stand in defiance against any master. He is that one human in a thousand whose indomitable spirit will not bow. He is the one man in a thousand whose indomitable spirit cannot bow. He is the one man in a thousand who will not walk quietly to Umschlagplatz. Watch out for him, Alfred Funk, we have pushed him to the wall.”

MOON PALACE
Paul Auster

(1989 / USA)
“The room was a machine that measured my condition: how much of me remained, how much of me was no longer there. I was both perpetrator and witness, both actor and audience in a theater of one. I could follow the progress of my own dismemberment. Piece by piece, I could watch myself disappear.”

A MOVEABLE FEAST
Ernest Hemingway

(1964 / USA)
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”

A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE
Eckhart Tolle

(2005 / USA)
“You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.”

NORWEGIAN WOOD | Noruwei no Mori
Haruki Murakami

(1987 / Japan)
“But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.”

MR NICE
Howard Marks

(1996 / UK)
“Expensive illogicalities and inefficiencies do not worry the monsters of American bureaucracy, and the taxpayers are enthusiastic and eager to spend fortunes in the name of fighting crime. Prison places cost the US taxpayer more than university places. The American belief that prisons are the best way to combat crime has led to an incarceration rate that is at least five times that of almost any industrialised nation. Overcrowding is endemic. Conditions are appalling, varying from windowless, sensory-deprived isolation to barren futile brutality.”

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA | El viejo y el mar
Ernest Hemingway

(1953 / USA & Cuba)
“He always thought of the sea as ‘la mar’ which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Sometimes those who love her say bad things of her but they are always said as though she were a woman. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats, bought when the shark livers had brought much money, spoke of her as ‘el mar’ which is masculine.They spoke of her as a contestant or a place or even an enemy. But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.”

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE | Cien años de soledad
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

(1967 / Columbia )
“He had not stopped desiring her for a single instant. He found her in the dark bedrooms of captured towns, especially in the most abject ones, and he would make her materialize in the smell of dry blood on the bandages of the wounded, in the instantaneous terror of the danger of death, at all times and in all places. He had fled from her in an attempt to wipe out her memory, not only through distance but by means of a muddled fury that his companions at arms took to be boldness, but the more her image wallowed in the dunghill of the war, the more the war resembled Amaranta. That was how he suffered in exile, looking for a way of killing her with his own death…”

THE PEOPLE’S ADVOCATE
Daniel Sheehan

(2013 / USA)
“The Iran-Contra affair was soon going to unravel in full public view. The question was, would anyone understand what it was truly all about? Or would it be just like the Watergate burglary – and the Kennedy assassination – just too complicated to ever really understand?”

PITCHING IN THE PROMISED LAND
Aaron Pribble

(2011 / USA)
” ‘It’s yours, dude. Keep it.’ I pointed to him and the ball. He grew very excited and flashed a small grin, his eyes surging with emotion. His little friend ran over and tried to grab the ball, fussing over whose it would be, like any two kids faced with the prospects of splitting a new toy. Fish and I gestured that it was theirs to share and walked away. After several paces, just before dusk in a small Ramallah alley, I stopped and turned around. They were throwing the ball back and forth in the street, having a catch. Goose bumps shot down my arms, tingling the back of my neck. We had merely given one baseball to a couple kids, and maybe it was only symbolic, but the seed of baseball was planted in Palestine. Perhaps someday children would throw baseballs instead of rocks. We could hope.”

POLITE LIES
Kyoko Mori

(1997 / USA)
“This is the paradox of Japan: the discrepancy between what everyone knows about public places and what almost no one knows about private ones. This isn’t only about places or addresses. The difficulty I have in finding someone’s house in Japan reminds me of the difficulty I have navigating all of Japanese private life.”

THE POWER OF NOW
Eckhart Tolle

(1997 / Canada)
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”

THE PRINCE OF TIDES
Pat Conroy

(1986 / USA)
“It was growing dark on this long southern evening, and suddenly, at the exact point her finger had indicated, the moon lifted a forehead of stunning gold above the horizon, lifted straight out of filigreed, light-intoxicated clouds that lay on the skyline in attendant veils. Behind us, the sun was setting in a simultaneous congruent withdrawal and the river turned to flame in a quiet duel of gold….The new gold of moon astonishing and ascendant, he depleted gold of sunset extinguishing itself in the long westward slide, it was the old dance of days in the Carolina marshes, the breathtaking death of days before the eyes of children, until the sun vanished, its final signature a ribbon of bullion strung across the tops of water oaks.”

THE QUIET AMERICAN
Graham Greene

(1955 / UK)
“I can’t say what made me fall in love with Vietnam – that a woman’s voice can drug you; that everything is so intense. The colors, the taste, even the rain. Nothing like the filthy rain in London. They say whatever you’re looking for, you will find here. They say you come to Vietnam and you understand a lot in a few minutes, but the rest has got to be lived. The smell: that’s the first thing that hits you, promising everything in exchange for your soul. And the heat. Your shirt is straightaway a rag. You can hardly remember your name, or what you came to escape from. But at night, there’s a breeze. The river is beautiful. You could be forgiven for thinking there was no war; that the gunshots were fireworks; that only pleasure matters. A pipe of opium, or the touch of a girl who might tell you she loves you. And then, something happens, as you knew it would. And nothing can ever be the same again.”

SADAHARU OH… A ZEN WAY OF BASEBALL
Sadaharu Oh & David Falkner

(1984 / USA)
“No one can stop a home run. No one can understand what it really is, unless you have felt it in your own hands and body. As the ball makes its high, long arc beyond the playing field, the diamond and the stands suddenly belong to one man. In that brief, brief time, you are free of all demands and complications. I enjoy baseball more than anything and would like to be involved with it forever, but the reality is your survival is not determined by your fondness for the game, it is determined by how well you compete.”

THE SAMURAI’S GARDEN
Gail Tsukiyama

(1994 / USA)
“It is not an act of bravery to try to save your own village. It is an instinct to protect what you possess. Bravery is when you step in to help when you have nothing to lose.”

THE SCIENCE OF HITTING
Ted Williams

(1971 / USA)
“In my twenty-two years of professional baseball, I went to bat almost 8,000 times, and every trip to the plate was an adventure, one that I could remember and store up as information. I honestly believe I can recall everything there was to know about my first 300 home runs—who the pitcher was, the count, the pitch itself, where the ball landed. I didn’t have to keep a written book on pitchers—I lived a book on pitchers.”

SHANTARAM
Gregory David Roberts

(2003 / Australia)
“A man has to find a good woman, and when he finds her he has to win her love. Then he has to earn her respect, then he has to cherish her trust, and then he has to, like, go on doing that for as long as they live. Until they both die. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the most important thing in the world. That’s what a man is, Yaar. A man is truly a man when he wins the love of a good woman, earns her respect, and keeps her trust. Until you do that, you’re not a man.”

SIDDHARTHA
Herman Hesse

(1922 / Germany)
“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”

SLAUGTERHOUSE-FIVE,
OR THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE:
A Duty Dance with Dance
Kurt Vonnegut

(1969 / USA)
“Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”

A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR
Mark Helprin

(1991 / USA)
“Why do you think great leaders and great orations are coincident with wars, revolutions, and the founding or ending of governments and states? Common interests then are so clear that speeches are effortlessly drawn, but at present neither the facts nor the consequences are sufficiently clear to make oratory legitimate. This is the kind of war that will wind on and make fools of its partisans and opponents both.”

SOUTH OF BROAD
Pat Conroy

(2009 / USA)
“What’s important is that a story changes every time you say it out loud. When you put it on paper, it can never change. But the more times you tell it, the more changes will occur. A story is a living thing; it moves and shifts.”

SPRING SNOW | Haru no Yuki
Yukio Mishima

(1969 / Japan)
“Dreams, memories, the sacred, they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp. Once we are even marginally separated from what we can touch, the object is sanctified; it acquires the beauty of the unattainable, the quality of the miraculous. Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch. How strange man is! His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.”

SPUTNIK SWEETHEART | Supūtoniku no Koibito
Haruki Murakami

(1999 / Japan … Kodansha)
“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us – that’s snatched right out of our hands – even if we are left completely changed people with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness.”

STANDING UP TO THE MADNESS
Amy Goodman & David Goodman

(2008 / USA)
“Under George W. Bush, political appointees at NASA had figured out a novel way to resolve the discrepancy between the administration’s rhetoric and scientific reality: They would just erase our planet. The reason was the science about our planet – namely, the alarming and incontrovertible evidence of global warming – conflicted with the fantasy being spun by President Bush and his oil industry backers that climate change wasn’t really happening.”

IN SUNLIGHT AND IN SHADOW
Mark Helprin

(2012 / USA)
” ‘That is,’ Harry said, ‘because the world has never seen – in initiative, imagination, courage, and steadfastness – anything like the American fighting man. Not the Germans, the non-Germans, the semi-German Viennese, the British, the Scots, the Welsh, the Cornish, the Danish, or the Nepalese. You may in the future condemn us for it. You may continue to think that we are savage, disproportionate, and uncivilized. But we saved you the last time. And it is we, I guarantee you, will will liberate Paris and drive into Berlin. We don’t like it. We don’t like fighting and dying. But … when it comes time for that, we are facile princeps, and will always be. We were born for it. The terrain of the New World educated us in it. That in America every man is a king assures us of it.’ ”

TALES OF POWER
Carlos Castañeda

(1974 / USA)
“You have little time left, and none of it for crap. A fine state. I would say that the best of us always comes out when we are against the wall, when we feel the sword dangling overhead. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

THE THINKING TOMATO & THE SEVEN P’S
Jim Martin

(2010 / USA)
“Throughout his journey he encounters numerous obstacles, each with an exit door. Some of the obstacles he can squeeze around or scale, but others are like an enormous wall that he must chip apart, bit by bit. But something happens along the way; he discovers that the removal of the obstacle is almost as compelling as the vision itself. He is filled not only with a passion for reaching his vision but a passion for embracing every obstacle, every challenge.”

THUNDER FROM THE EAST
Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn

(2000 / USA)
“I was standing under a tree to keep out of the drizzle, and the motorcyclists did not see me at first. But now the cries faded as the mob became aware of the presence of a foreigner. Black Shirt frowned, switched hands and thrust the severed head toward me, he too shouting Allahu akbar. The head was raised high, and my eyes locked on the bloody tissue, jagged and ragged, where the neck ended.”

THE TRANSLATOR
Nina Schuyler

(2013 / USA)
“Standing in the kitchen munching on pickled cucumbers, watching a stray dog pee in his yard, Jiro hears something crash into the garage door. The entire house trembles as if it is about to fall off its foundation.”

WASHINGTON
Meg Greenfield

(2002 / USA)
“There is such a thing as tempting the gods. Talking too much, too soon and with too much self-satisfaction has always seemed to me a sure way to court disaster. The forces of retribution are always listening. They never sleep.”

THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE | Nejimaki Dori Chronicle
Haruki Murakami

(1994 / Japan)
“Hatred is like a long, dark shadow. Not even the person it falls upon knows where it comes from, in most cases. It is like a two-edged sword. When you cut the other person, you cut yourself. The more violently you hack at the other person, the more violently you hack at yourself. It can often be fatal. But it is not easy to dispose of. Please be careful, Mr.Okada. It is very dangerous. Once it has taken root in your heart, hatred is the most difficult thing in the world to shake off.”