April Book Review

By: Hermann Hesse

Quickly before I dash off to St. Louis for the robotics world championships, I thought I’d put together a book review. For a thin book. 

I read it some time ago and planned to do a book review of it all along, but I didn't feel ready to write it until now. There is something about the book, that simple story which at its heart explains Buddhism, that stays with you. Regardless of your own spiritual persuasions. 

We can all identify with the seeking the main character goes through. First pursuing fortune and pleasure only to learn that those offer little fulfillment or peace. Then struggling to quiet the ego in a simple life and finally, hardest of all, learning to let go of the struggle we all face of letting go of expectations for others. This is particularly poignant when you have kids because you want to guide them and show them the right way, but only they can find the path that’s right for them. 

Where the book truly excels is in the simple telling of a universal story. In some ways it is the story of the Buddha, but in other ways it is the story of each and every one of us as we traverse this shiny blue bauble out in the middle of a vast universe. 

The book also shows the intense seeking the author, Herman Hesse, went through in his life. A writer whose life was not without struggle and pain. He started writing at a time when romanticism was very much in vogue in Germany and Austria, he at first embraced that style and direction of thinking, wanting to find the harmony with nature and the balance in the natural world. World War II changed all that and he retreated deep within himself and away from the world for a long time. 

Siddhartha is a book that lets you step back, for a moment joining the author in his quest, and reflect.  At least that is what it did for me.