Jane Austen, Cervantes, and Upton Sinclair.
I picked these three books because they are validating and highly relatable for me.
1. Jane Austen, Emma
Austen validated my view on loving and relationships. Impulsive, ruthless “love” is not real love; it’s just what is shown in American TV shows and movies. It’s meant to increase our dopamine so that we want to watch all that trashy stuff as a way to escape from our reality.
Love is something that can only happen when two individuals are both healthy and wholesome, not just physically but psychologically. It’s when two humans have learnt to put down their ego and fully be there for each other. It is sustainable and calm like a friendship, and it is about being there for one another instead of relying on one another to feel better about oneself.
2. Cervantes, Don Quixote
First of all, Don Quixote is just the best novel I have ever written. Hilarious, amazingly crafted details, deep, satirical, rich, and complex. It has everything I need in a novel, from plot to character.
Second of all, Don Quixote is basically the perfect response and critique of modernity. The modern capitalist economy has turned so many of us into selfish creatures who refuse to care about anybody else. We are caught up in our own motives, own goals, and own minds, that we forget about our bodies and our physical reality to one another and the world at large.
Just read it.
3. Upton Sinclair, the Jungle
I’ve never read description so gruesome yet artful at the same time. Every word is well chosen, every detail carefully observed, and every line pokes at the heart of corrupt, toxic, and inhumane modern capitalism. Chicago and the United States in 1907. Humans have turned into mere instruments, atoms. Emotions and feelings no longer matter. It’s about the statistics and the metrics. It’s no longer about our happiness but our Domestic Gross Product. It’s no longer about if a product actually serves us but about at what quantity we are able to consume.
It’s a pretty bleak read, but we don’t have to buy into the negative parts of the modern capitalist economy. It’s all about shifting our mindset so that we can lead happy and healthy lives without converting to those who have miserably conformed.