(1) Ulysses by James Joyce. — Yes, yes, I know. I’ve become a cliche’: the English graduate reading and re-reading Ulysses so I can sit around and talk about it with all my fellow literary snobs. [Most of you probably know that I even went the extra mile of including James Joyce as a character in one of my plays.] But, whatever. I love what I love, and I love this book. And besides that, when I was packing my bags for South Korea I tried to include enough reading material to last me a year. Ulysses was an obvious choice. It takes some time.
(2) Silence by Shusaku Endo. — I believe it was Salman Rushdie who once made the ironic observation that every atheist is obsessed with God. This has certainly been true in my experience, and I believe the opposite is true as well: every serious believer deals with crippling doubts. This is the theme of Shusaku Endo’s Silence, a novel recommended to me by my dear old friend Giuliano. Set in 17th century Japan, it tells the story of a Portugese priest who questions his faith after he witnesses the violent persecution and death inflicted upon the Japanese Christians. Why, he wonders, does God remain silent in the face of such incredible suffering? Quote: “I knew well, of course, that the greatest sin against God was despair; but the silence of God was something I could not fathom.” A great Easter read for believers and skeptics alike.
(3) Human Action: A Treatise on Economics by Ludwig von Mises. — After two years of reading the daily articles at mises.org I decided the time was right to break down and read the great man’s magnum opus. Living in Europe at the beginning of WWII, Mises was a free market economist with Nazis to his left and Communists to his right. Human Action was essentially his way of saying, “None of the above, thanks.” It’s a little wordy at times, but only because he was so thorough in his approach. Pick up a print version here or download the free audio version here.
Now, I know what you’re wondering. You’re wondering, “J, did you honestly drag all these books halfway around the world with you?” Yes I did. All these and more, actually. I basically brought a small library with me. It was hell to lug it around the airport, but I knew I might be without television and internet for a while so I came prepared.
Anyway, this is what I’m reading these days. How about you?