Shardik is the story of a young man (Kelderek) who comes across a great bear (short-nosed bear, perhaps?) that he believes to be The Power of God incarnate: the divine Shardik. His conviction drives the plot, along with the resulting corruption and disillusionment. Richard Adams illustrates beautifully how religion can be both inspiring and perverted, used for ill gains and for better things. He examines the danger and power of tradition and how love can be both good and bad. Paradoxes are rampant, but in the end fascinating.
The book took me a while to get through. It dragged in places, and the world that Richard Adams created was confusing at times. In particular, I struggled with the proper names and the place names. Adams' lacked the linguistic ability of say, J.R.R. Tolkien or Anthony Burgess. All the same, the book was good and the questions it raised fascinating to me. (less)
Classic book written in the same vein as Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media. This book is a must for anyone wishing to understanding what modern s...moreClassic book written in the same vein as Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media. This book is a must for anyone wishing to understanding what modern society has become. While other books of Neil Postman go deeper into his perspective and philosophy this is a good one for people new to his writing.
For more of his thoughts on the philosophy of technology, i.e. what technology means and how it changes us read Technopoly. For more of his understanding of education... well, you have your pick, really.
Excellent book by an excellent author. Only becomes more relevant as time goes on.(less)
My dear friend Condor recommended this book to me, though it was already on my 'to-read' pile from years ago. With the recent recommendation I knew I had to get about to reading it... and I was rather glad I did. Funny, irreverent, and with an eye towards the historical in a way similar to Unholy Knight this book was quite good. It really grasped the political situation of the time, and although a great deal of the book was drawn from rumors (the Buddhist and Hindu more than the rest) it was still very fun.
I think there is much to be gotten from this book from people who enjoy the study of early Christianity and the like, though as Christopher Moore said, unfortunately that's the crowd least likely to read the book. All in all, however, this was just a quite fun experience. I'm glad I'm starting to clear out my to-read pile!(less)
Overall I enjoy C.S. Lewis' writing, in spite of how overtly religious it very often is. I enjoy the way that he crafts worlds, the attention he pays...moreOverall I enjoy C.S. Lewis' writing, in spite of how overtly religious it very often is. I enjoy the way that he crafts worlds, the attention he pays to varying characters and their motivation. All in all I find his worldview to be a fascinating one, the decisions he makes as an author interesting. That he is a classic author, one well worth reading, should go without saying. Everyone gets their repute for a reason, and it behooves people to read those that others hold in such high esteem.
Till We Have Faces was recommended to me, what feels like ages ago, but in reality was probably only half a decade or more ago. The person who recommended it to me, an old teacher, is someone to this day I still hold in high esteem. She was right to recommend it to me, and I regret not reading it sooner. I'd like to get more on track with my reading...
This book was fascinating, an interesting attempt to make the myth of Psyche and Cupid more understandable, more believable. I think that C.S. Lewis succeeded in explaining the motivations of different characters, make the story make more sense and interpret it well in a more modern way. I think his characters were compelling, his idea of the problem of faith fascinating.
I can't give the book higher accolades than that because I need to think on the ending, need to ponder over it a while and let it sit with me. Interesting? Yes. Is it possible to overcome the parts of us we'd rather pretend don't exist? Maybe.
All in all, well worth reading and discussing.(less)
I don't believe anyone should go through life without at least giving this book a browse, or becoming slightly familiar with the works of Joseph Campb...moreI don't believe anyone should go through life without at least giving this book a browse, or becoming slightly familiar with the works of Joseph Campbell. The Hero With a Thousand Faces isn't so much about what it's like being human, as what it means to be human. His works inform not only the way we think, but the way that we live and understand our lives.
The Hero With a Thousand Faces along with The Power of Myth are the two most easily accessible books of Joseph Campbell. The latter is an interview that examines the most basic aspects of his theories of the monomyth and the psychological reasons we tell stories and rely upon them. This book, however, delves rather a lot deeper into these concepts.
The beliefs of Joseph Campbell and the work that he has done now permeate our everyday lives and Western culture. We learn about The Hero's Journey in our classes, and we watch for it in our films, books, and videogames. It even gets referenced in cartoons now. To read this book is to better understand now just our stories, but our own lives.
I can't recommend this book enough, and I can't accurately describe just what Campbell's works mean to me as a person. I can only say read it. I can only hope it changes your life and informs your perspective like it did my own.(less)
I've been meaning to read this book for years - since 2008, apparently. I picked this one up last year, and finally got around to reading it. Four yea...moreI've been meaning to read this book for years - since 2008, apparently. I picked this one up last year, and finally got around to reading it. Four years to read a book - quite a while, innit?
Anyroad, I'm not entirely certainw hat I thought I'd be getting into. My impressions of the book were largely gleaned from disillusioned Harry Potter fans (How could Radcliffe do this??) and confused media reviews about a play with bestiality at its center. Well, the script was nothing like that.
The play was more heavily psychologically bound. The protagonist of the play is a psychiatrist who specializes in child psychology. He describes his career as having reached a menopausal point - he's begun questioning whether or not he's doing the children he treats much good.
If you take away the pain in someone's life, aren't you taking away what is most personal, most intimate to them? If you take away the pain, are you taking away the passion? Is Alan, who views his God Equus as bound up in all horses, better off for being able to interact with his God? There are a number of deep questions bound up in this play, and the minimal descriptions afforded with it are quite evocative.
I greatly wish to see this play performed live now, and more, I greatly wish to discuss it with others who have had the pleasure of reading it. To say this piece moved me would be a bit of an understatement. This is just the sort of theater that I most enjoy.(less)
In this one act play Cormac McCarthy offers two different views of human existence and why one must suffer. The tone of the play is extremely dark, ho...moreIn this one act play Cormac McCarthy offers two different views of human existence and why one must suffer. The tone of the play is extremely dark, however it is not a difficult read. As always, his writing ebbs and flows like the tide and he draws you in in a way that is ever startling. At times this book may make you recoil, but always, you want to go deeper and deeper into it. The book is nearly mesmerizing, but that is what I have come to expect from McCarthy's text.
The play takes place in a single setting - a derelict apartment, where Black - an ex-convict, ex-addict sits talking to White - a Professor whom he saved from jumping into the oncoming path of the The Sunset Limited subway train. Black has an optimistic view of life, he has faith - though not the extremist fundamentalist kind. He is a warm soul who wants to help the others that no one wishes to help. Conversely, White's view of the world is something dark and painful. He sees no future for himself.
The two talk about their opposing views of life and the tension is palpable. Just in reading the text you are forced to view the two perspectives fairly and in turn. The book ends on a strange note, a lingering note, that will leave it seared onto your mind. Is it really the ending? Is this really it?
The best books are ones that make you think, and this certainly makes one think. This certainly makes one question. Cormac McCarthy, as always, delivers and delivers with devilish force. A five star text if I have ever read one.(less)
This book concerns itself with in depth analysis of the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to cognitive ethology as it relates to the question...moreThis book concerns itself with in depth analysis of the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to cognitive ethology as it relates to the question of animal cognition. My only complaint with it is the decision of how the first two chapters were ordered. I felt that a better understanding of the first chapter was afforded by the definitions laid out in the second chapter. However, being a college student I was not necessarily the intended audience of the text who would most likely not be in need of the definitions in the second chapter and would merely find them redundant.
This book was extremely intensive, without alienating someone who was willing to put in some mental effort to understand what was being said. I would recommend this to anyone who was about to embark upon field research regarding animal cognition and/or someone who was seriously curious as to learning where this field could potentially be heading.(less)
Although I do not necessarily agree with all that Dennett stated in this book, I have to say that he stated it exceptionally well. This was an accessi...moreAlthough I do not necessarily agree with all that Dennett stated in this book, I have to say that he stated it exceptionally well. This was an accessible, high level philosophical book detailing the conception of animal minds vs. human minds. Each philosophical concept he put forward he carefully defined and explained with often amusing examples.
The ideas that he came up with himself (i.e. The Tower of Generate and Test, mamataxis, etc.) were novel and interesting without being too difficult to grasp. I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Although the book was dense in its content, it never strayed too far from what is easily grasped with a bit of mental effort. I'd recommend this alongside Species of Mind which addresses several small flaws in some conclusions that he draws.(less)
From the Teeth of Angels is about Wyatt and Arlen, these two people whose life converge in a rather strange way. Wyatt has leukemia, and he knows that...moreFrom the Teeth of Angels is about Wyatt and Arlen, these two people whose life converge in a rather strange way. Wyatt has leukemia, and he knows that he is close to death. Arlen is a retired movie star living in Vienna. Wyatt has been dragged into a rather strange chain of events wherein Death is virtually stalking him and several of his acquaintances. Given the option to learn or survive, he chooses to learn - he's got nothing else to lose.
While From the Teeth of Angels was not quite as profound as some of Carroll's other books (i.e. The Wooden Sea, White Apples, or The Ghost in Love) in terms of its philosophy, it still was rather good. The letters, in particular, were a treat and the structure of the story was rather enjoyable.
Carroll knows how to turn a pretty phrase. I'm quite happy that I took the time to read this. He always makes me think.(less)
I was resistant to this book from the beginning. The introduction, forward, etc. contained far too much spiritual guidance. If there is a God, I someh...moreI was resistant to this book from the beginning. The introduction, forward, etc. contained far too much spiritual guidance. If there is a God, I somehow doubt he is sitting up there and saying to himself "I want you, Fox, to continue writing about zombies." Just a broad thought there, but oh well. The spiritual new agey feel of it got me to refer to it forever as "The Woo Woo Book". Still: I gave it three stars, and was tempted to give it more.
The book, for the most part, is quite good. While the practices were something I initially resisted, I did find that the more I did them the more 'creative' I felt. It did spur some surprising revelations in me, it did get me to start questioning some of my habits and become more proactive. It did, and this is the kicker, make me think. I couldn't really ask more of the book, as all of this and more was what it promised it would do.
So, three stars for this. The final two were not granted it due precisely to the annoying and heavyhanded new age spirituality, which really wasn't -that- overwhelming in it. The practical aspects of the book itself deserve five stars. I would recommend this to anyone working through a creative block, but with strict instructions to mock the annoying bits, or at least snicker at them. This book is good at making you face up to your own bad habits.(less)
Bart Ehrman is at it again. While in his previous book, Misquoting Jesus, he kept the focus primarily upon the actual art of textual criticism, Jesus,...moreBart Ehrman is at it again. While in his previous book, Misquoting Jesus, he kept the focus primarily upon the actual art of textual criticism, Jesus, Interrupted, goes further into the historical context under which the Bible was developed.
The information within the book will not come as a surprise to anyone interested within the historical aspects of the Bible itself, nor those who have read his New Testament textbook, but to those who have only a devotional interest in the Bible it should be a shock. The Bible, not the inspired word of God? Say it ain't so!
The tone of the book, as most of Ehrman's work is, remains respectful and gentle. Never does he condemn those who hold the faith, in fact he goes out of his way to point out how much he respects them. This book would go a long way towards resolving the differences between those who hold the faith and those who don't. It's a brilliant piece of work, seeking only to foster an understanding of what's already been written and the situation under which the ideas came alive.(less)
Not putting this on my 2011 reading list, even though that's when I was reading it.
While the topic interests me, the book itself failed to hold my int...moreNot putting this on my 2011 reading list, even though that's when I was reading it.
While the topic interests me, the book itself failed to hold my interest through the whole of it. Overall, I just didn't like the tone of it. The information overlapped (understandably) with his other books. I got bored with it, and felt it too repetitive by around the 100 page mark. Wanted to finish it, but then decided it just wasn't worth it. I wasn't enjoying it, so why should I keep working at it?
I'm certain that for people not already as well read up on the topic (I've taken a few Bible courses in college, read it about it fairly frequently, etc.) it would be a good book/reference book. It just wasn't my cup of tea. I will keep reading Ehrman, though.(less)
"If you know the theory, you can use it. If you don't, you can't."
Those are the words that generally sum up my response to this book. The Bowen Theory...more"If you know the theory, you can use it. If you don't, you can't."
Those are the words that generally sum up my response to this book. The Bowen Theory is a theory of familial interactions, or more, just relationship interactions in general. If one person is affected by anxiety, the rest of the group reacts to it. The book is concise, succinct, and in general quite easy for the layperson to understand. I found it remarkable how many of the points I was able to relate to my own experiences in life.
Generally, I would recommend that people read this and take away what they care to. If they disagree, then they disagree, but at least they gave it a chance. I believe, in reading this, that I learned a good deal about human interaction and ways to improve my own actions and reactions to society around me.
To be painfully honest, I was actually expecting more from this book. While the premise, that Mary bore twins rather than a single figure Jesus Christ...moreTo be painfully honest, I was actually expecting more from this book. While the premise, that Mary bore twins rather than a single figure Jesus Christ, is interesting, the book itself falls rather flat. Pullman plays with the biblical account of the life of Jesus, and through it, brings forth a variety of philosophical questions.
I think my main trouble with this book is the manner in which it is written. Pullman simultaneously weaves a tale in biblical style while also adding his own particular flare to it - the result is a rather clumsy sounding narrative that regretfully changes in odd ways from chapter to chapter.. the voice of the story is never quite pinpointed.
All in all, this was not a painful book to read, but it nearly was. I respect what he attempted with it, and found Jesus' monologue in the garden quite good in particular, but not enough for it to warrant a three star rating.
I remember when this book was being hugely hyped and wanting to read it... Then the film came out and I still didn't get around to reading it... Then...moreI remember when this book was being hugely hyped and wanting to read it... Then the film came out and I still didn't get around to reading it... Then I read Finding Everett Ruess which referenced this book heavily... and still didn't read it. Well, I finally got around to reading it.
I felt that this book was a great deal like Finding Everett Ruess though I liked the latter a bit better. Jon Krakauer did an excellent job of researching the life of the elusive "Alex Supertramp" and trying to understand why he was the way he was and why he did what he did. The rating I gave this book, please understand, is for the book itself and not for Alex. Gosh, it isn't hard to believe that someone can be that careless with those who love them but it still is startling to see.
This book is a good, short read. If you want a longer read of this nature please do read about Everett. It's every bit as fascinating, and has a far greater mystery at its core.(less)
I purchased this book years ago and never quite finished reading it. I'm glad I picked it up once more, and was surprised exactly how in-depth the boo...moreI purchased this book years ago and never quite finished reading it. I'm glad I picked it up once more, and was surprised exactly how in-depth the book proved to be. The first chapter, which was heavily into music theory, was difficult to get through. The neuroscience was well-defined, as were the musical terms, and each chapter broke down rather well the topic at hand.
This book was written for the layperson, but didn't sacrifice how detailed the science was as a result of such.
My favorite aspect of the book was the final chapter, which dealt with the evolutionary purpose of music. Both views were examined, though the author favored Darwin's conclusion in regards to it. Each theory was backed up with notes, details, and acknowledgement of contradictory views.
This book was interesting, but a difficult read for me. The language, while beautiful, is often rather archaic. Souls of Black Folk is one of the firs...moreThis book was interesting, but a difficult read for me. The language, while beautiful, is often rather archaic. Souls of Black Folk is one of the first sociological studies done on the "Negro situation" in the United States - and being written in the time directly after the Civil War (i.e. Reconstruction period) it is contemporaneous to one of the most difficult periods to be black in the United States. All that being said, the book was pretty fascinating.
Out of the fourteen essays that comprise this book only one was fictional, and that one (The Coming of John) was a parable of being an educated black man in a small Southern town. W.E.B. DuBois himself was a highly educated Northerner, and one feels the alienation that he must have felt when seeing the "bone of [his] bone and flesh of [his] flesh" in the South. The inability to relate and frustration is a key part of the book, and the lamentation of the situation stings even now.
From a historical standpoint, the book is important and thus something that should be read. The book is not a pleasurable read, however, and is one that I had trouble getting through. I respect it, but I don't think I can honestly say that I liked it.(less)
What an entertaining book. While I don't agree with all of Marvin Harris' conclusions, I can say that the scientific way that he approaches problems t...moreWhat an entertaining book. While I don't agree with all of Marvin Harris' conclusions, I can say that the scientific way that he approaches problems typically viewed only in a just-so light was both informative and fascinating. His precise evaluation of each question was both thorough and scientific and offers much to anyone fascinated in anthropological (or even political) theory.
While the author is very much the product of the time in which the book was written (the 1970's) the methods that mark his conclusions are a very good introduction to a new way of thinking, and one not often enough used by many laypeople.(less)
This book took me what felt like forever and a day to finish.
I would have given this three stars, and happily, were it not for the format in which the...moreThis book took me what felt like forever and a day to finish.
I would have given this three stars, and happily, were it not for the format in which the book was published. The content of the book was, while at times outdated, enjoyable and thought-provoking. The subject of the book was also extremely interesting, and what drew me to it in the first place. While I was expecting an anthropological study of sadism, masochism, and lycanthropy (it was the thought of an anthropological study of lycanthropy that drew me to the book in the first place) what I got instead was really a study of violence in human society. Other reviewers have noted this, and though I was a bit disappointed, the content still made for an interesting enough read.
The format of the book was what killed it all for me. I can understand the author's wish to delve into more detail than the original essay went into (due to the fact the essay itself, a scant 53 pages, was originally a speech he delivered) but I felt that the manner in which he did this was poorly done. Robert Eisler would have done better to have put the content of the notes into the speech itself and thus create a full book with footnotes allowed for the linguistic oddities the notes seem to ramble on for ages. This would have made for easier reading, and altogether, a more comprehensive experience.
By placing the 200+ pages worth of notes at the back, the avid reader is stuck flipping between the essay and the notes far too many times. It disrupts the flow of the essay itself and is altogether quite a confusing experience. Some pages have 20+ notes on them, and the notes themselves take up over 30 pages at a time for the most part. While Robert Eisler's enthusiasm for his topic is admirable, a certain amount of synthesis would do this publication good.
To be clear: I don't regret reading this book. Although outdated in portions, and a difficult text to get through for the formatting, it is one that offers up some interesting insights into the field of comparative mythologies before Joseph Campbell arrived on the scene.. it also just raises up some interesting notions for any time period, and would serve a writer well for inspiration in general horror fiction if they are among the anthropologically inclined.(less)
I quite enjoyed this volume overall. The twisting of time in the tale of Lord Fanny was rather fascinating to me, and eventually began to make sense....moreI quite enjoyed this volume overall. The twisting of time in the tale of Lord Fanny was rather fascinating to me, and eventually began to make sense. It tied in beautifully with the tale of 'what turns someone evil' if you will. I found the attention paid to class issues rather interesting, as I've been reading rather extensively about the Mod movement and how it was essentially built out of class distinctions.
The Invisibles, as a whole, is proving to be a quite titillating read. I'd be interested in reading it through with the annotations from the early usenet groups, but at this point I feel that would be cheating a wee bit. I'd prefer to be surprised this time around, and in future rereads (which I feel may inevitably happen) see it with the fresh eyes of those who have obsessively read it.
I'd also be quite interested in seeing whether or not anyone has put together a reading list for the comics based upon all the books that Grant Morrison referenced in the letter columns and the intro portions of some issues. The Monster of Glamis reference alone makes me want to keep reading. :)(less)