The lama jibbed at the open door of a crowded third-class carriage. ‘Were it not better to walk?’ said he weakly.
A burly Sikh artisan thrust forth his bearded head. ‘Is he afraid? Do not be afraid. I remember the time when I was afraid of the te-rain. Enter! This thing is the work of the Government.’
-Rudyard Kipling, Kim
A few months ago I wrote a post about ten of my favourite books. All of these were nonfiction books. While I read fiction books far less frequently, I thought I would share a few of my favourites here.
I love this book. It is easy in this day and age to dismiss Kipling as the colonialist author of The White Man’s Burden. I am not a Kipling scholar, but I think that would be a mistake. Not only is Kim a compelling and well-written story, I think it shows a deep sympathy and respect for India. This is one of only a few books that I have read multiple times, and each time I have found it to be a charming adventure.
“These be the sort” — she took a fine judicial tone, and stuffed her mouth with paan — “These be the sort to oversee justice. They know the land and the customs of the land. The others, all new from Europe, suckled by white women and learning our tongues from books, are worse than the pestilence. They do harm to kings.”
I read this book shortly after it came out. Written by an Afghan author and with much of it set in Afghanistan, I was very curious. The book did not disappoint and has since received a lot of deserved praise. The story itself is well-written, though heartbreaking. Yet despite being sad and sometimes shocking, it also has parts that are achingly beautiful and ends on a hopeful note.
“I think that everything he did, feeding the poor, giving money to friends in need, it was all a way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.”
Originally written in Swedish, this novel explores the Christian faith from a Lutheran perspective. The novel is made up of three short stories set in Sweden over three generations. I found this book to be challenging and refreshing in equal measure.
“It is one thing to choose Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior, to give him one’s heart and commit oneself to him, and that he now accepts one into his little flock; it is a very different thing to believe on him as a Redeemer of sinners, of whom one is chief. One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one’s heart to him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks his walking cane through it, and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with him.”
Recommended by a good friend, I read this book while in university. It is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. It is not a light read by any means, but I found it to be a book that made me think as well as being entertaining.
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?
This is a book with more plot twists than I could count which made for a very interesting read. In addition to being a thrilling story, the book also leaves the reader with much to think about.
“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front–“
Other Side of the Mountains is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk