Sunday, 6 February 2005

Books and More Books

I went to the Borders bookshop on Oxford Street yesterday as there were a few books I wanted to buy. Of course, as I usually do in such a situation, I bought about twice as many books as I originally wanted to. That is the problem of being free to browse in a large store, you always end up seeing stuff you hadn't planned to buy but really want to. Out of my impulsive buys, there was a manga book, Chobits, volume 1, and The Prophet from Kahlil Gibran. The only common thing between those two books is that they are both very quick to read and very enjoyable, for different reasons.

Chobits is a story that could be summarised as a broke teenager finds a girl android with unusual abilities in a rubbish bin and revives her. The story sounds a bit cheesy at first but develops in an interesting way. Of course, this first volume finishes just at a point where some of the aspects of the story unfold in an unexpected way and you close it with the urge to open volume 2, which of course I don't have. Nor did the Borders store incidentally so I'll have to go shopping online.

The Prophet, on the other hand, is one of the most moving books I have ever read, one of the best advocates of tolerance and open-mindedness (I'm not sure this word exists but you get my meaning). It takes the form of the answers a prophet called Al-Mustafa gives to the questions of the people of a city called Orphalese, on the day he leaves that city. Using this simple setup, Kahlil Gibran discusses many philosophical subjects from Love to Death, via Knowledge, Time, Good and Evil, Pleasure and Religion. In fact, I had read this book before but it is one of those works I could read again and again. Its strength is in being concise, simple and very easy to understand while dealing with the most complex questions. A couple of hours is enough to read the 124 pages of this small volume but years are needed to fully understand all the implications and meanings of it, if at all possible.

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