What kind of books should we be reading? Kafka knows.

A Piece of Monologue’s wonderful post:

Franz Kafka: ‘A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us’

From a letter by Franz Kafka to his schoolmate Oskar Pollak, 27 January 1904 (translated by Richard and Clara Winston): ‘I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.’

For more gems like this and other interesting articles head over to the A Piece of Monologue blog


  1. Good offering. Writing is the most personal thing that people can share with one another. What you read stays with you longer than almost anything.


  2. […] few years ago a came across an extract on the internet from a letter that Franz Kafka is said to have written to his schoolmate Oskar […]

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