Book #1 – East of Eden

east of edenEast of Eden by John Steinbeck
602 pages

Rating: * * * * * out of five stars.

This book was amazing. The ending gave me chills. It made me think a lot about what it means to be a good person and the expectations people put on others to always do the right thing. And how we have the power to decide between right and wrong, and make different choices that lead us down different paths. Lee was, by far, my favorite character. I’d like to sit with him and drink tea and discuss the concept of timshel – the Hebrew word for “thou mayest” – which was the central theme of East of Eden. Here’s a paragraph from the book:

“Don’t you see?” [Lee] cried. “The American Standard translation [of the Bible] orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

A small word can change the meaning of central themes in the Bible. I never actually thought about that until I read this passage, so it’s always exciting to examine and think about new topics. My brain likes the workout.

Overall, I would consider this one of my favorite books. I may write about it again later on. While I was reading A Clockwork Orange (which was the next book I read), I kept relating the two novels, as both are about choice and the freedom to choose.