Just read some reviews on this book. I didn't know Akunin also thought it was his best one. I made no mistake, as I was sure it's his best simply because it's the best book I've ever read.
I must admit I consider reading books a waste of time and strongly believe 99.9% of books should have never been written and their authors shouldn't bother thinking of writing anything ever again. It's a waste of time because I practically always have bad conscience when reading a book and I feel like a hostage taken by one selfish graphomaniac while I should be doing something really meaningful, like writing my own literature for people dying for hearing a word from me ;)
So when I'm reading a book I am in quest of answers to my questions, not an exciting plot or beautiful characters, most definitely not a reflection of life. For heaven's sake, I have eyes to see, I don't need someone else's eyes or ears. Tell me what I don't know! And answering my questions is what Akunin serves me best.
I didn't like the novel part of this book, its plot and its text-bookish characters, nothing of that touched me a second. But I do find this book an extremely valuable collection of lovingly nurtured thoughts and masterfully cooked conclusions on what's best in man, what drives him, makes him go on against all odds, fends him from giving in intimidated or from degenerating in search for comfortable routines.
What makes a man a man? Do you know? I have no idea honestly, I see many people, who have reached high, loosening up, giving up to temptations so pathetically easily, I hear lies and I see values being vandalised with no second thought. So no, I have no idea. And I am grateful to Akunin for filling this void and touching a string so dear to me.
One more thing I deeply appreciated about Akunin's Aristonomia: a surgeon-like merciless look upon Russia, a civilisation of suicidal mess. When the Russians, to an immense surprise to the rest of the world, decide to cut the shit and become normal people some day, I believe, Akunin's Aristonomia will be the first on the shelf 'All you need to know what Russia must not be'.