Franz Kafka once wrote: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
In my podcast episode “Ice and Axes – What Makes a Favorite?”, I gave Kafka’s words some lengthy thought and concluded they make a lot of sense. I’ve since abandoned having “favorites” and resolved to evaluate books in this new light. When I read now, I see if a book a) gives me a new idea, b) causes me think about an old idea in a new way, or c) changes my life in some other way. This is how I personally define an “axe” book.
The books below comprise a partial list of my fictional “axes.” Some of them are carryovers from my old favorites list, while others – not quite fitting the “favorite” label – have still impacted me.
My “Axe” Novels – a non-exhaustive list in no precise order:
- Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
- Eugene Onegin – Alexander Pushkin
- The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
- The Alice books – Lewis Carroll
- The Sherlock Holmes series – Arthur Conan Doyle
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
- The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
- Till We Have Faces – C. S. Lewis
- Magellania – Jules Verne
- Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde