Swans Commentary » swans.com July 30, 2012  



Special Summer Issue: Books, Music, Films


Choices For The Summer Lolling


by Raju Peddada



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(Swans - July 30, 2012)   "Daddy, what is good taste? Is it something you can buy at the store?" (Mani, my younger boy at six in the summer of 2011). "Daddy, daddy, why do you always read books that have Nobel or Pulitzer Prize stickers on them?" (Butch, my nine-year-old boy in the spring 2012).

I laid it out for them this way: "Boys, the choices we make really make us. In other words, what we choose is what our friends and family, everybody would know us by. And, since we live for about eighty years, we have to choose carefully and wisely and not waste our life with bad choices."




•   Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust

All six complete books in two Random House editions. This collection will make you languorous, yet alert; with contemplation in the sun, it will mitigate your hyperventilation, and also your Web surfing and texting! Personal growth is guaranteed, once Proust is done with you. Actually a memoir, but published as novels.


•   The Red and The Black (1830), by Stendhal

If you are a melancholic romanticist, you can dissolve in this 19th century romance classic in your hammock. Get yourself a Heritage slip-cased Edition from 1943, worth its weight in gold, yet will cost less than $10.00. Please see my essay on this work: "A Repository of Magnificence" in two parts, published right here, on Swans Commentary (March 28 and April 11, 2011).


•   American Veda (2010), by Philip Goldberg (Harmony Books)

Newsweek religious editor Lisa Miller's prescient article on how most Americans independently follow the Vedic teachings on universal truths, diversity, and tolerance is further elaborated in Goldberg's book.


•   Annals And Histories (~ 111AD), by Tacitus (Everyman's Library, 2009)

The benchmark for historiographical precedents, first century Roman goings-on with the counsels, senate, and the day-to-day affairs of the republic. Stendhal's bedside favorite -- need I say more?


•   Heinrich Himmler (2011), by Peter Longerich (Oxford University Press)

A must read for those of us who tend to forget. This is an in-depth biography of the most "ordinary" and unassuming killer in history. It is chilling. A beautiful 2011 publication by the Oxford University Press, which also published Longerich's Holocaust.


•   Istanbul: Memories And The City (2005), by Orhan Pamuk (Knopf)

A pure delight, explaining a city and the author. In one chapter, "Hunzun," which is Turkish for melancholy, Pamuk holds your hand and walks into the foggy-hazy streets of Istanbul as your guide. This writing is the stuff that wins Nobel Prizes. It is atmospheric, dripping with attachment and longing.




•   Ancient Landscapes (2011), by Michael Levy

The selection of ancient music (Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Jewish) is haunting to say the least. It can transport the listener, even if he only has the imagination of a reptile.


•   Living In The Past (1972), by Jethro Tull

The best rock music, like this album, was created between the 1950s and 1970s, anything made beyond that is facsimile.


•   Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787), by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (conducted by Bruno Walter)


•   Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (1824), by Ludwig van Beethoven


•   The Ultimate Puccini Collection (1998), a set of the operas of Giacomo Puccini

It's like having tiramisu! My favorite recording to date.


•   The Best of Billie Holiday (2002), sung by Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday is mellow and melancholic in this collection of jazz and blues songs. The best music for sex!




•   Greed (1924), by Erich von Stroheim

A silent classic based on the 1899 novel McTeague by Frank Norris.


•   The Apu Trilogy (1955-1959), by Satyajit Ray

A black and white classic with Indian culture plus filmmaking fundamentals.


•   Brazil (1985), by Terry Gilliam

A contemporary classic.


•   Storm Over Asia (1928), by Vsevolod Pudovkin

How many of you have heard of this foreign classic?


•   Porco Rosso (1992), by Hayao Miyazaki

A real artwork of animation, this film is completely hand drawn, frame by frame, and has a beautiful story, music, and settings. A viewer can lose himself in this fantasy.


Remember, our discernment defines us.


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About the Author

Raju Peddada is an industrial designer running an eponymous brand, purveyor of ultra luxury furnishings of his own design (see peddada.com). He is also a freelance correspondent/writer for several publications, specializing in commentary, essay, and opinions on architecture, design, photography, books, fashion, society, and culture. Peddada was born in Tallapudi, a small southern town in south India. He's lived in New Delhi and Bombay before migrating to the West Indies and eventually settling in Chicago, Illinois, where he worked in corporate America until he chose to set up his own designing firm. He lives with his family in Des Plaines.   (back)


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Published July 30, 2012