Comic Book Guy loaned this to me after we got on to the subject of being two non-believers in the Bible-belt. Harris' book is a quick read, but it isComic Book Guy loaned this to me after we got on to the subject of being two non-believers in the Bible-belt. Harris' book is a quick read, but it is ineffective for both the Christian audience to which it is meant to sway as well as fellow Atheists/Agnostics. The conceit behind the book is that it is addressing the reader as if they were a God-fearing Christian. It then (roughly) picks apart their religion based on logic, fact, science, and at times, derision. In short, while it does defend Atheists by pointing out that there is a more evident link between those who have a religion and violence than between Atheists (so no, there's no evil) the book makes Atheists come off as a bunch of arrogant assholes. For every page that makes a good argument, there is another that pokes fun at people for believing in a higher power.
For the other audience, those who actually are Atheists/Agonstics, they most likely are picking it up looking for a solution, or at least some sort of postulation as to how we can move things forward to heal the divides and violence caused in the name of religions. Harris spends a few pages saying "we need to get together and talk it out" but then says the Muslims probably won't cooperate anyway. Really, it is a very pessimistic book.
The real failing, however, comes from certain debates, such as abortion. When there is no right or wrong answer, Harris can't let it go. There are times when you just plain have to let people believe what they want to (such as when a person has a soul/becomes sentient, etc) because science cannot yet give you the proof you need to argue your point. Instead of calling it even, Harris argues far too much on this point.
So, why four stars? It is a truly engaging book. As an agnostic, I enjoyed seeing another perspective, and reading from an educated, researched (if biased) Atheist who is frustrated by the influence of religion on the political climate of the U.S. However, it is an inflammatory text that I could only give to the most even-tempered of Christians- it is simply too harsh for most people (though perhaps, a wake-up call is what he was going for). ...more
Ever heard of NaNoWriMo? Chris Baty came up with the idea of writing a novel in a month with some friends- this quickly became "National Novel WritingEver heard of NaNoWriMo? Chris Baty came up with the idea of writing a novel in a month with some friends- this quickly became "National Novel Writing Month" (NaNoWriMo- celebrated every November.) Baty uses his experiences with with NaNoWriMo, or writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days for fun as a way to write. Serious writers may point out that it takes longer than a month to write. But for people who are hesitant, procrastinators, or just plain inspirationally crippled (like me) this can be a creative and fun way to write.
The book is an easy read, encouraging people to write now, as the book you write in the next decade would be vastly different than the one you would write now. It has a "button" drawn on one page, that when you "push" it, it chases away that most fearsome of creatures, your inner editor. It is an encouraging, but constructive book.
Will the book you write be any good? Based on Baty's advice, it'll be fueled by caffeine, eat up all of your spare time, and make you a social recluse. On the other hand, "The Great Gatsby" was around 50,000 words. Either way, if you do write 50,000 words in 30 days or three months, you'll have a working rough draft.
Note- If you do the NaNoWriMo challenge, you have a month to write, you can bring in no previously written material save for outlines/character sheets, and a week prior to research. You can Google "National Novel Writing Month" to learn more.
Another Note- So, is anyone up for some novel-writing madness? I bet I could come up with some damn funny badassery in 30 days....more
Jellicoe Road, this year's Printz winner, was definitely better than its predecessor, The White Darkness. The first chapter left me awestruck- it wasJellicoe Road, this year's Printz winner, was definitely better than its predecessor, The White Darkness. The first chapter left me awestruck- it was an incredible beginning. However, the next 100 pages are comprised of two stories that swirl around one main character who frankly, is less than likable in the beginning. After the 200 page mark, it is apparent that the structure emulates the main character's confusion- the reader is already beginning to piece together what the main character is beginning to suspect. It is tedious work, but the payoff is worth it- once the story picks up and the characters begin to interact, the story is quite enjoyable.
I took off one star for two reasons. One is due to editing. I felt that structurally, the reader could relate to the main story of Jellicoe Road, but the reader never really relates to the secondary story. With as many pages and development allocated by the writer, there should have been more development or in my opinion, less of the secondary story except in the development of the main story (I'm trying to write this without spoiling anything here). There are also some basic mistakes, as noted in other reviews- the ethnicity of one character contradicts itself, there are unexplained lapses in time during scenes, and so on.
Finally, this is supposed to be an award-winning book, with an emphasis on literary achievement. While Jellicoe Road does not lack this, I personally see this book as having a rather limited teen audience. I work in a public library, and there is a certain type of teen who would be willing to put in the effort to navigate the complexities of this novel- a novel that is sometimes overly complex and at times somewhat inaccessible. I worked through the first third of the book because it was a Printz winner, and I felt an obligation to finish it. I wonder if teens would do the same- it's not difficult, but it can be a chore. And who wants to make their leisure reading a chore? (This isn't me advocating Twilight for the Printz award, but really, let's take into account the audience of a book, and not just what adults/professionals think). ...more
Oh, "The Rule of Four." It's been a while since I read this, but I thought about it again when I saw not one, but two copies at my local thrift storeOh, "The Rule of Four." It's been a while since I read this, but I thought about it again when I saw not one, but two copies at my local thrift store yesterday. It came out in 2004.
Yes, it's that awesome. This treasure was published on the heels of The DaVinci Code- it was rushed out, and the editing and extremely poor writing style reflect this. Take one member of academia (Tom, a college student!), add a mysterious tome (the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili- it's got codes!), and all of the other people who want to get their hands on this ancient text and have them travel to discover a secret historical mystery. It sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it?
The books would have been interesting if it hadn't been for the name-dropping (it's set in Princeton, and they don't let you forget it), the fact that they explain each and every historical and literary reference to the reader, and having to wade through the story with four characters who you never really like. Seriously, I'm guessing these characters are the two writers and their friends, which is a shame because all four are ridiculously pretentious.
Reading this book was a chore. There was potential, but not enough to excuse the terrible writing and blatant condescension towards the reader. ...more
Christ, the publisher's notes called this book "An Inferno of our time." So I was expecting much, much more. After 200+ pages of (well-written) gore aChrist, the publisher's notes called this book "An Inferno of our time." So I was expecting much, much more. After 200+ pages of (well-written) gore and some mildly interesting backstory, I decided it wasn't worth the overdue fines. So back to the library it went.
I may try to pick this up again, quite frankly, the interesting bits were overshadowed by the caricature of Marianne, the tediously mysterious, gypsy/hippie sculptor who may or may not be centuries old. Le yawn. ...more
I really enjoy Bebris' Pride and Prejudice "sequels" though as a warning for readers, they have a totally different feel than Austen's original work.I really enjoy Bebris' Pride and Prejudice "sequels" though as a warning for readers, they have a totally different feel than Austen's original work. However, the pacing of Matters at Mansfield made it difficult to get into a rather interesting premise- a rake familiar to Austen readers charms his way into the de Bourgh family, leading the Darcys onto a rather grisly murder investigation. As always, there was some really interesting insights into the cultural and social mores of the time, thanks to the author. Plus, some of the character developments were surprising, though most will prove a treat for P&P fans. However, the itself story starts out slowly and meanders to the point that you see the connection at the end, but it's more of a relief than a surprise. Plus, there's not enough interaction between Darcy and Elizabeth, and really, that's the best bit of the previous novels. ...more
Easily my favorite of the Inspector Morse series, we see more development of the Morse character as he delves into a murder linked to three women- oneEasily my favorite of the Inspector Morse series, we see more development of the Morse character as he delves into a murder linked to three women- one of which he finds himself very much attracted. There's not much in the way of guessing the end of the book in advance (or really, any of the books in this series) and do look elsewhere if you'd like a nice cozy mystery. These novels are a bit gritty, yet very intelligent- anything can pop up from English literature, history, the Classics, opera, and of course, crosswords.
I don't want to spoil anything here, but the book deviates from earlier titles in that Morse is more fallible than usual- something is happening to Morse, but the reader doesn't know what- this develops over the next few books. Fans of PBS' Mystery! adaptation can enjoy this series as well. The Inspector Morse series is certainly my favorite mystery series. ...more