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.