My recommended 5 books of 2018


Another year is coming to an end. Similar to last year (I hope to make it as a tradition), I've just reviewed my reading list, and here is my 5 recommended books of 2018. Would be glad to know yours (as a comment below or, maybe even better, in another post). 

1. Deep work - Cal Newport


The book in 3 sentences: by far the most important book about productivity I’ve ever read. 2 main and striking ideas stay with me after reading: (1) great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants, which means if you don’t produce, you won’t thrive, no matter how f*** talented you are or your think you are, and (2) the idle mind is the devil’s workshop, hence when you lose focus, your mind tends to fix on what could be wrong rather than what is right in your life. 
Warning: highly recommend to skim-read some parts of the book, as it's a bit longer than necessary in my opinion.
 

2. Trang Tử Nam hoa kinh - Thu Giang Nguyễn Duy Cần


The book in 3 sentences: I used to love "Tao te Ching - Lao Tzu" (Đạo đức kinh - Lão Tử) so much until I read this one. "Nam hoa kinh" is a bit clearer (which makes it more interesting, as after reading more than 10 times too many points in "Tao te ching" are still ambiguous to me), even though, it maintains strictly most of the “Dao” characteristics. Trang Tu's writing style is just phenomenal, he uses a lot of metaphors in a completely opposite way to challenge every single common norm or thought we have (excellent translated version from the very respectable Thu Giang Nguyen Duy Can as well).

3. Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis

The reader-nonreader different joys of life
The book in 3 sentences: an interesting story about a-not-completely-new topic: a friendship between a reader and a non-reader. The whole story is an excellent reminder to readers and writers: reading, and even writing, are not life. In Zorba, you will see the desire to live in every single second of the actual life, with hard work, wine and sex, while for the author (or the author’s character in the novel), all knowledge he’s got from books get him into the stage where he carefully considers every step he takes, and because of that he can never get that complete enjoyment of the act itself.  

Interesting quotes to ponder:  
God and Devil are the same
Có một thứ phép lạ xảy ra sếp ạ. Toàn bộ vụ việc đó, những thủ đoạn bẩn thỉu, trộm cắp, tàn sát của chúng tôi, tức là bọn phiến loạn chúng tôi ấy, toàn bộ vụ việc đó đã dẫn tới TỰ DO. Thay vì giáng sét xuống diệt sạch bọn cặn bã chúng tôi, thượng đế lại cho chúng tôi tự do (sorry too lazy to find out this one in English)
All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven’t the time to write, and all those who have the time don’t live them!

4. For whom the bell tolls - Ernest Hemingway


The book in 3 sentences: Story of a deadly mission in an imaginary war against fascism in Spain (the novel was written in 1939, which is one reason why people really admire Ernest Hemingway for his guess about the future), in which the so damn complicated series of thoughts of each soldier was excellently expressed. Don’t know why on the table with quite a few deeply psychologically classical novels such as "The Idiot", "Brother Karamazov" – Dostoyevsky, "Anna Karenina" - Tolstoy, I pick this one without hesitation, but the only thing I know for sure is: I was deeply emotionally affected by it. A part I remember the most: the way people (the revolutionaries, the communists) kill each of the fascists after taking control of the city, which was brilliantly described in its extreme violence, maybe even more than what the fascists could have done.

5. Cánh đồng bất tận - Nguyễn Ngọc Tư


The book in 3 sentences: I’ve heard about "chi Tu" from too many people in too many occasions, that I did not have to check reviews on Goodreads or do anything before picking up this book. Well, more than expected, it did satisfy me from the first till the last story. Similar to others, I'm in love with her witty, simple but sophisticated writing style, and these slighly sad stories (except from the final one - the actual "Canh dong bat tan" story, which I might have to write another post on this particular one only) bring much of thinking, sympathy to these lives and a sense of appreciation to my final days of 2018. 

Such a cunning smile from chi Tu


P.s.: Hope you find it's interesting enough to pick up the books :) Anyone wants kindle version just leaves a comment below.

And a final word: Should never read an interesting book only once :) 


A Dreamer

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