“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”
― Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
I haven’t read the same fiction book twice (at least I don’t remember doing that in the past ten years). But I had to make an exception for the book ‘The Sense of An Ending’. by Julian Barnes. This book deserves to be on everyone’s reading list. Why?
Firstly, the book traces the life of a character right from school till his old age. It explores the entire range of emotions that an adult of any age group would have felt. It can easily draw any reader into its world because of the characters who narrates the story.
Secondly, the book forces you to reflect on your own life and the way you narrate your own story. This is so important if you are striving to improve yourself. The way you frame your deeds till this point in life affects the way you craft your life in future. If you have a story of hope, then you will probably, make use of it to improve your future. On the other hand, if you assume that you’re already a loser, there might be little incentive for you to aim higher.
Thirdly, the book provides you a very interesting perspective on history. This could be particularly useful if you believe that Akbar is a great king or Aurangzeb was a kind man. History can’t be understood through written evidence or even monuments. One of the lines from the book has stayed with me (It will probably impress you as well if you read this in the context of the book).
“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”
Lastly, the book keeps you hooked till the last page. Very few manage to keep the suspense alive till they end. I loved this bit about the book. Even if the narrator’s story becomes a tad bit boring, you are eager to find the answer to a pressing question in the book. (I shall not reveal this question here. It would probably spoil your entire reading experience).
The book is not going to help you figure out the answers to the big questions of life. But it will surely egg you to ask questions in the first place. Because, not asking difficult questions is as problematic as accepting the wrong answers.