Posted on May 17 2018
Welcome to BooksActually's series of promotions, centring about the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. Each week, we will upload reviews for 2 recommended reading titles targeting a specific personality type.
This week, our focus is on the INTJ type (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). INTJs unite two seemingly disparate characters – while imaginative, thoughtful and intellectually curious, they are defined as much by their decisiveness, willpower hard-headedness. Skilled strategists, they manoeuver constantly through life, using logic and constant reflection.
This week, we are recommending two titles with confident, motivated voices. Both are ambitious works that explore the intricate structures of power and society, at their highest level.
Book I: Middlesex
Jeffery Eugenides’ Middlesex won a Pultizer Prize. Seeing the tremendous ambition of its size and scope makes the reasons for this clear – Middlesex can rightfully be called an epic of Modern America. Middlesex is built around three generations of an immigrant Greek-American family, tracing the genetic and social conditions that culminated in the recent birth of Calliope/Cal, a hermaphrodite. The title of Middlesex hints at its overarching concern – beyond simple intersexuality, Middlesex explores situations of transition and simultaneity. Is a character male, female, or both at the same time?
How does a time of war become a time of peace? How is familiarity created in a foreign land? Do morality and corruption thrive off each other? What do you call a sibling who becomes a spouse? Middlesex sits upon the boundaries of our language and cognition, presenting a comically horrifying peek into reality’s insistent chaos.
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”
“So do boys and men announce their intentions. They cover you like a sarcophagus lid. And call it love.”
“Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness", "joy", or "regret". Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that is oversimplifies feeling. I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions.”
Book II: 1984
There is no need to comment any further on Orwell’s celebrated work of dystopian fiction. This is a society where thought is a crime, where every action of the individual is endlessly scrutinized, where truth and history are subjects of the state, where hate and love and the entirely gamut of human emotion is distorted and manipulated for the ghoulish ends of maintaining absolute power.
From the huddled masses, a singular voice emerges as a point of clarity. Winston Smith believes in objective truth. He grows increasingly disillusioned with his job – where he edits historical records to suit the present government’s favored version of ‘truth’. He finally strikes out as a lonely revolutionary, linked tenuously to a murky body of resistance forces, while indulging in a forbidden affair.
Through Winston’s thoughts, the reader navigates 1984’s hellish landscape. His goals are at once noble and dignified, at once laughable and pathetic. Marked by Orwell’s powerful writing, the efforts of Winston Smith hurtle to an end both gut-wrenching and inevitable.
“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself."
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”