Franz Kafka from National Library Israel

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:


  1. I was intrigued by the "Classics | History | Axes| arrangement...Very interesting idea to have an axial category!

    1. Thanks! :) It's a little quirky, but I liked Kafka's idea so much, I thought I'd just go with it.

  2. Til We Have Faces is on my list for someday. The Idiot is one Dostoevsky I haven't heard of -- I have read only _Crime & Punishment_/_The Brothers Karamazov_/_Notes from Underground_. _Notes_ is the one I remember best probably because I have read it more recently than the others.

    Is there any chance you will revisit the ones that don't have reviews? I would be interested to see what you think.

    1. Oooh, I'm happy for you you haven't read those two yet - the first time is quite an experience! Let me know what you think when you do...

      I should update this page; I actually did a podcast review on the Alice books last year:

      I also plan to re-read Jane Eyre and Sherlock Holmes soon, then I'll review them properly!


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