I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous read...moreSuch a beautiful book.
I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous read then, and is a gorgeous one now. The story is a beautiful myth, an exploration of Buddhism and Hinduism that was written before either one was thoroughly understood by the West.
The introduction and the analysis offered at the beginning of the book both enhance the reading of the actual story, and reading Joseph Campbell I can even further understand the text itself. I think this is the sort of book that the more one reads it, the later in life one reads it, the more thoroughly it can be understood and appreciated.
I can't recommend this book enough, but I do know why not everyone would enjoy it.(less)
Can't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter ever...moreCan't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter everyone's update feeds with my occasional forays into these topics.
Zealot by Reza Aslan got ridiculously popular in a short period of time. I was reading arguments on the internet about its history and sources, hearing occasionally it being touted on popular television shows. It changed lives, or people claimed it did. They used it as an argument for the oft-repeated centurion hypothesis of paternity and other such poorly researched finds. It was inevitable I eventually read it, and lo and behold, the library just happened to have a copy sitting right there.
All in all, I actually enjoyed Zealot. I didn't find it as well researched as much of Bart D. Ehrman's works, nor as in depth. I nearly stopped reading when he argued that authorship wasn't necessarily worth questioning as people often wrote under other's names to imply they were further espousing their ideas (false) and that there was no definitive concept of history at the time (also false.) The idea that a lot of what was written would be known to be historically inaccurate and was meant as metaphor - that could gain better ground. The other two points though... we really need to excise them from our minds. They are patently untrue, and history just doesn't work that way.
Zealot shines not in its early bits, but far far later when his arguments come in about Jesus, his relation to Rome and Paul and James and their arguments for what early Christendom should mean. The book truly shone in the Pauline arguments and James refutation of them. The book would be good reading for anyone interested in Christianity, or simply Christian's themselves. It offers at once a more literal and metaphorical view of what was done, and a more concise view of what Jesus said and meant at the time in which he lived. Bart D. Ehrman's works are a better source of textual criticism, but Zealot was a better way to get a true feel for the history of the times and just how much the Jews went through during the Roman occupation.
The two authors, and their respective works, complement one another wonderfully and together offer a more comprehensive understanding of a vast and heated topic.(less)
I think I got more out of this book by reading the extensive notes and introductions than by reading the book itself. The book was so full of allusion...moreI think I got more out of this book by reading the extensive notes and introductions than by reading the book itself. The book was so full of allusions to political situations, changes in speech and text depending upon what was being mentioned, legitimate philosophical meanderings and religious commentary. Well, it was a piece of work.
I think it would be an easier read a second time around, bearing in mind all I learned from the first poke through it. It's one of those books you know you should read and contemplate, but doing so alone is a bit difficult. A bit like listening to a lecture and having your mind blown away - listen again, and you can begin to pick at the subtleties.
I do agree that the most fascinating bit about Utopia is the fact that there would be no way to enforce it had the structure not already been in place. Yes, it sounds great from the outset, but knowing freedom and having experienced this level of it (impinged upon as it may be these days) we'd not take too kindly to having it all stripped away. It truly is No Place as much as it may be a Good One (which can be thoroughly argued, seeing how flawed the system in place is.)
The commentary is great, the concepts novel at the time and still rather fresh now. Not to mention the dystopia genre does hinge upon this singular text, written and published so many years ago.(less)
I was intrigued by this book originally when reading some criticism and praise of it. As a satire, the book sounded like an interesting attack on just...moreI was intrigued by this book originally when reading some criticism and praise of it. As a satire, the book sounded like an interesting attack on just about all of the Shakespeare arguments as well as our tendency as a culture to try to overanalyze things. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, the book didn't quite come off like that to me.
Is Shakespeare Dead didn't just come off as a misinformed argument in favor of Baconian authorship, but it also came off as just... a rushed and jumbled essay that never found its footing. By the time Mark Twain began to employ his comedic touch the exhaustive arguments and analyses had already soured me to the piece itself. It was just confusing and strange from beginning to end. I feel like I missed something somewhere along the line, but if I did, then a great many readers did over the years as well.
I'm open to arguments, though I am a Stratford supporter overall. This just wasn't even an argument as much as it was a flailing Mark Twain who couldn't make up his mind as to what narrative voice would best support the piece going forward.(less)
Steven M. Wise lays out the case for increased rights for animals from a scientific standpoint. Bit by bit he examines the cognitive abil...moreAmazing book.
Steven M. Wise lays out the case for increased rights for animals from a scientific standpoint. Bit by bit he examines the cognitive ability of various animals (honeybees, dogs, great apes, birds, and cetaceans) in a rather rigorous and thorough way. He doesn't shy away from controversy (though he failed to bring up some of the questionable claims involving Koko) where it arises (especially in the case of the care of dolphins) and meets a lot of the questions that would be raised head-on.
While Steven M. Wise makes an excellent case for animal rights, he also acknowledges the trouble it will take to put those rights in place. He acknowledges and even postulates why people find it hard to grant rights to animals, and compares it rather compellingly to the trouble America had in granting both slaves and women increased rights in their respective times of emancipation.
Fascinating read, highly recommended to anyone and everyone who has ever loved a pet.(less)
It's more of a treatise than an actual book, and it is an incredibly quick read. It can be taken as a more mod...moreI actually thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It's more of a treatise than an actual book, and it is an incredibly quick read. It can be taken as a more modern view of On Bullshit, and owes a lot to the previous book (as it says) but it easily stands on its own as well. If you're looking for an interesting psychological study of manipulation, here it is. If you're looking for something a lot deeper and involved? Well, you'll have to look elsewhere.
The Canterbury Tales is one of those books often mentioned in any survey of classic literature, and certainly with good reason. The structure of the b...moreThe Canterbury Tales is one of those books often mentioned in any survey of classic literature, and certainly with good reason. The structure of the book itself (stories within stories) predates A Midsummer Night's Dream rather notably and Geoffrey Chaucer is with necessity a force of wit to be reckoned with.
Geoffrey Chaucer's writing still seems fresh, and more of the stories in this collection hold up to the passing of time rather than fall flat from it. The snippets of the original poetry included in quotes make me want to read it in the original, in spite of what difficulties there may be, and the notes in the back helped expediate understanding when the language did get confusing.
Chaucer's social commentary was hilarious, and his characters were all rather notable. His use of doggerel for humor was extremely effective, and his views towards women's rights remarkable for their time. Hell, The Wife of Bath's prologue regarding men is still rather remarkable to read.
All in all, an excellent collection and one I look forward to reading again.(less)
I won this book from a giveaway a while ago, and finally got around to reading it. This collection of short-stories was very well written, and quite c...moreI won this book from a giveaway a while ago, and finally got around to reading it. This collection of short-stories was very well written, and quite compelling. As the title implies, the book revolved around issues of the Jewish religion, history, and identity.
Not being Jewish myself, I was unfamiliar with some of the traditions that the book discussed. Nevertheless, some of the stories were rather universal and did speak to me. In particular, I enjoyed the story about the Author, the title story, and the story about the camp.
The stories were very well written, and I was torn between giving it three and four stars, but ultimately decided upon three as the book didn't quite strike me as amazing. I did enjoy it, it just wasn't precisely to my own taste. Others, I know, would quite love it.(less)
This is the sort of book that more people need to read. Timothy K. Beal is the reasonable sort of person who needs to speak out about Christianity.
The...moreThis is the sort of book that more people need to read. Timothy K. Beal is the reasonable sort of person who needs to speak out about Christianity.
The first two thirds of the book are divided into a brief history of Christianity itself, and more interestingly, a history of the Bible. Timothy K. Beal takes the time to dissuade any reader of the Dan Brown styled notions that things are cut and dry, and instead explains the lack of consistency throughout the Bibles many incarnations. This is fascinating stuff, and moreover, it is important stuff to know when people tend to be hardlining notions that The Bible Says X when it reality that may not be the case.
The final third of the book is spent discussing how one can move forward with the knowledge they have. Like Bert Ehrman or even Karen ArmstrongTimothy K. Beale takes the time to explain that turning anyone to atheism is not the message of his work. If it happens, it happens, but nothing is explicitly stated within his piece that says God is Dead. Rather, the book is a celebration on the lack of a univocal Bible and a reminder that one can peel back the layers of these books to make their own meaning.
This book is a throwback to the deeply intellectual religions that Karen Armstrong celebrated and Bert Ehrman spends so much time focusing on. These are the intellectuals who find that knowledge itself is a form of worship and questioning the very basis of life. Some things don't require clean-cut answers, and for may things answers do not exist.
Once more, Jon Ronson delivers a well-researched, entertaining look at the world around us. This time...moreI won this book through the first-reads program.
Once more, Jon Ronson delivers a well-researched, entertaining look at the world around us. This time around the topics range from Indigo Children, to celebrities accused of pedophilia. There are essays on alien encounters, as well as people driven to murder-suicide, and the disparity between those in the highest economic bracket and those in the lowest. It's truly an amazing mix.
I found the ending of the book a bit abrupt, but aside from that the book was marvelous. Jon Ronson is a journalist, and a master at his craft. He makes the reader think, and question, and that is the most anyone could ever ask.(less)
I received this book through the first-reads program.
This is not a book that I ever would have picked up to read. The premise is that a seventeen year...moreI received this book through the first-reads program.
This is not a book that I ever would have picked up to read. The premise is that a seventeen year old girl, living with her abusive parents in the backwoods of New Hampshire, is trying to live her life. The subject of abuse is extremely heavy, the subject of poverty is heavy as well. The book is dark - extremely dark. The book is also incredible.
The heavy topics are dealt with deftly and unflinchingly. The language of the book, both the broken speech of Marjorie's abusive family and the actual narration, is plain fantastic. I found myself unable to put the book down, in spite of how difficult some of it was to read.
If you've even a remote interest in this ook, read it. I would venture to say that this book could rival Jodi Picoult's popular novels. She writes about this sort of thing, right? I just have to say, I found this book fantastic and I normally don't read this sort of thing. That has to be some kind of grand recommendation.(less)
I previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to c...moreI previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to come across many of such tales in the reading of this book, and the tales worded as similarly as they were in the books I've read, but what can one truly expect? It makes sense for the tales to serve as summations of larger books, after all. At he very least I respect his retelling of Canute bringing his throne to the shore. Promoting the correct 'full' version of the tale and its moral (that the power of a king is limited by that of nature and god) is worth however many times it needs to be retold so people will stop using it to illustrate kingly arrogance. It's a disservice to Canute's memory.
Anyway, the book is divided by month, complete with the illustrations from the Julian calender and each illustration is explained within the chapter. The result is a very good look at the year 1,000 and how little it differs from where we are now. Human nature hasn't changed that much, and Robert Lacey is quite good at showing the human side of things. He acknowledges that the analogies are not perfect - in particular when it comes to medical acumen - but at the same time it's heartening to see just how lusty and ridiculous people were... and still are. The riddles were a particularly nice touch.
So, to sum it all up, this is a very good overview, though I wouldn't use it as a primary resource. I shall leave you with this riddle from over 1,000 years ago:
I am a strange creature, for I satisfy women... I grow very tall, erect in a bed, I'm hairy underneath. From time to time A beautiful girl, the brave daughter Of some fellow dares to hold me Grips my reddish skin, robs me of my head And puts me in the pantry. At once that girl With plaited hair who has confined me Remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens.
So, what's the answer?
Yeah, the other riddle they included was even worse. Now I'm just waiting for one of you to ask me to type it up. (less)
I won this book through the GoodReads first-reads program.
I've read previous books on topics such as education reform, the work of Neil Postman coming...moreI won this book through the GoodReads first-reads program.
I've read previous books on topics such as education reform, the work of Neil Postman coming most immediately to mind along with Daniel Pink, but none that quite looked at it the way that Paul Tough did. This book examined the importance of character and how good parents and good teachers can bring out the best attributes in the children they work with.
Examining low income schools and the way that poverty affects success Paul Tough lays out what he believes would be the best course to take to break the cycle that too many children get sucked into. While it's too in depth to truly examine in a review, I do believe that teachers should at least peruse this book to perhaps take some advice away from it all. This is a complex and contentious issue, and an ever increasing one.
At the very least, this book could start a conversation between teachers as to what is to be done, perhaps it could even point them towards a good solution?(less)
I won this book from the GoodReads first-reads program.
Parmy Olson did a good job of summing up the social aspect of the Anonymous community. While th...moreI won this book from the GoodReads first-reads program.
Parmy Olson did a good job of summing up the social aspect of the Anonymous community. While this book may not satisfy the desire for technical explorations of the internet and what goes into subverting it, for us non-technical folk I believe this book did a very fine job. The prose was quick and easy to read, the details intricate and interesting. All in all this played out rather not unlike a playful action film that in its second third began rushing towards the inevitable conclusion...(less)
This was a very accessible volume. The book is divided into short stories, chronologically for the most part, about the characters that make history....moreThis was a very accessible volume. The book is divided into short stories, chronologically for the most part, about the characters that make history. Legend is treated firmly, but sympathetically, and everywhere that primary sources can be quoted they certainly are.
I found this book both entertaining and informative. The bibliography in the back was quite extensive, and I was rather happy to see that it included some of the books that I've been using for reference.
I'd recommend this to anyone with even an inkling of historical curiosity, as I do believe that it would be a good "gateway" book to get people in a scholarly mind. I've the next two books in the series as well, so here's looking to more history.(less)
I was looking for an in-depth history of London, and I certainly found it between this book's covers. Peter Ackroyd...moreThis book was truly extraordinary.
I was looking for an in-depth history of London, and I certainly found it between this book's covers. Peter Ackroyd truly did write a biography of London, from its sprawling streets to its strange citizens. His writing is fluid, and fascinating to read; his use of primary sources is utterly astounding, and somewhat maddening, as the cockney can be a bit hard on the eyes.
Peter Ackroyd's book is told in a very loose chronology. While the 'story' begins with prehistory, and ends in the 80s, not much in this book is linear. He makes London timeless, and turns the city into the icon that it is today. The emphasis of the text is upon how little things have changed, even while London is destroyed and rebuilt cyclically. The essence of the city can be found in the hospitals raised upon the sites of druidic wells, the very wells that the Victorians later claimed had healing capabilities.
The triumph of this text is not in the traditional dates and names of rulers, battles, and the like... rather, the triumph is in the fact that it focuses upon the citizens of the empire. Reading this book, you will learn about the conditions of the jails, what Londoner's favorite pasttimes were, how the role of women changed, and how London assimilates the immigrants. You'll read about how little Cockney has changed from the 1500s, and how London's taste for the theatrical existed before Shakespeare came on the scene.
After reading this book, I feel that I have learned more about London than I have from the World History courses I've taken. Peter Ackroyd has an eye for what's importance, and brings this city of commerce, violence, and theater to life in a way that no one else has.
This book was given to me by the perfectly brilliant Margaret Atwood when it comes to the subject of writing. Then again, where exactly has she gone w...moreThis book was given to me by the perfectly brilliant Margaret Atwood when it comes to the subject of writing. Then again, where exactly has she gone wrong, the woman who gave us The Handmaiden's Tale and Oryx and Crake?
While this book is not for everyone, as some people aren't particularly fond of literary criticism, for those looking for a succinct history of the genre and a consideration of futurology in light of it - this is your book. Margaret Atwood is a wry, accessible author who makes what otherwise may be dry essays both insightful and hilarious to all who wish to read them.
One wishes that all academics had such supreme talent.(less)
This book gave a good general overview of The Rolling Stones career, and the short biographies of each of the people involved within t...moreShort and sweet.
This book gave a good general overview of The Rolling Stones career, and the short biographies of each of the people involved within the band. I mainly read it to learn more about Bill Wyman, who was good friends with John Entwistle. For those very interested in the Stones, I would not recommend this book. For those interested in the Stones who don't know too much of the band? I would certainly recommend this book. Just bear in mind that it isn't comprehensive.
I'll be interested in reading Bill, Ronnie and Keith's books for more in depth look at their lives and careers.(less)
I enjoy reading what the fringies write, and this was no exception to the rule. While a bit out of date, this...moreYeah, yeah, stop looking at me like that.
I enjoy reading what the fringies write, and this was no exception to the rule. While a bit out of date, this collection of essays still preached what one would expect: Childress, Schoch, Hancock, et al - while not writing there in force, were still being written about in force. While this book was light on the aliens, it was still very strong when it comes to the Mu civilization and the like.
Lego linguistics, poor understanding of physics, and more were to be found. I give the book credit for speaking out against Yonaguni and the Bimini Road, but take away a lot of that credit for their inability to understand why diamond saws aren't needed. I also take away points for them not understanding how Coral Castle was a man-made creation, nor even referencing it. Coral Castle proved that a single man could build something akin to the pyramids.
I wish that people would approach books like this in good humor, give them a chance, and then take away from them everything with a grain of salt. The articles within the book at times entirely contradicted one another: The Ice Age was a lie, but the Ice Age had to exist for the theory of catastrophism to triumph over uniformatarianism. I don't quite get it.
Well, today I learned that Einstein believed in Atlantis. I'm open to Atlantis having existed in some form or another back in the day, and I appreciate their debunking of Thera. While some of the facts they levied against Thera were inaccurate, it still was a decent effort.
So, yeah, I didn't like it. I had fun reading it all the same.(less)
This book was a very interesting read, and I covered a lot of the topics that it mentioned through my status updates. Having finished the book, for th...moreThis book was a very interesting read, and I covered a lot of the topics that it mentioned through my status updates. Having finished the book, for those of you that are curious about the title and its premise (and want a more in depth explanation than I offer without reading the whole book) I'd recommend reading the last chapter and the epilogue, both sum up the explanation of the title rather well.
All of that having been said, it would be more accurate for the title and the subtitle to be switched. "An Alternative History of American Popular Music: How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll" or something similar. The book is indeed an alternative history of American popular music, and it covers eighty years of history ending in the 1970s.
The book reads a bit like a dissertation or a thesis paper, and I don't mean that in a negative way. Each chapter covers a very particular subject in history, and in the end it all seems to tie together pretty nicely. In the epilogue Elijah Wald does admit exceptions to his theory, and attempts to bring it all up to modern day.
The essence of his theory is that when the British Invasion happened the Beatles (and other such British bands) covered a great deal of rhythm and blues songs, and the American audience ate it up. The British Invasion solidified the fact that white musicians were dominating the rock world, which they continue to do today, and eliminated the musical integration that had happened previously.
Jazz, blues, pop, etc. all took lessons from the black community and traditions - the dance steps nearly all originated from the black gospel churches. The composers and musicians essentially all get filed under rhythm and blues and/or soul even if they write rock records (Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep - Mountain High was here mentioned) which unduly ruins their chances of climbing to the top of the charts.
While all of this I found interesting, I ultimately disagreed with the conclusion that he came to. While it might have been true in the context of the times this happened, I don't believe that it really extends into today. I can think of too many exceptions to the "certain genres are dominated by certain races" rule, and I don't believe the bulk of any population is prejudiced against any particular artist being any particular thing. Gay musicians make it to the top of the charts, as do artists of any race. Heck, looking at the last.fm records of any person can kind of guarantee that you're getting a huge mix.
Essentially, I'd recommend this book as a truly great history, but it hasn't changed my mind about the Beatles influence, impact, and legacy. Everyone does build off what has come before, but I think that they pretty well acknowledged their own influences, as I feel that Bob Dylan acknowledged his. (less)
This book proved to be a surprisingly readable history of post-1945 Britain. While the book itself focused more strongly upon politics than social his...moreThis book proved to be a surprisingly readable history of post-1945 Britain. While the book itself focused more strongly upon politics than social history, there were still rather good sections devoted to what set, say, the population of Britain in the 50s apart from the population in Britain today.
While at times the book was a bit verbose and dry, for the most part Andrew Marr kept the tone remarkably accessible, and extensively quoted primary sources. The wry British humor is out in force when describing certain politicians, and a few times I had to do a double-take when coming upon some unexpected wit.
This was precisely the book I was looking for in terms of historical content. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an overview of British history, though not necessarily for lighter reading. I would also recommend that anyone wishing to read it get it in hard cover or paperback format as opposed to an e-book, it would be far more easily readable and referenced in physical form.(less)
Ah, well, this one took me a while to get through. Other reviews criticized the style of Armstrong's writing, and sadly, I have to agree with the gene...moreAh, well, this one took me a while to get through. Other reviews criticized the style of Armstrong's writing, and sadly, I have to agree with the general consensus here. Armstrong's writing was not the best, loaded with facts, it often comes off a bit too dry and heavy. This takes away from the readability of the book, and is the only reason I did not give it one or two more stars - it's dense.
The content of the book, however, is both rich and informative. Overwhelming at times, Armstrong's look at the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions is thorough and fascinating. She goes through great lengths to explain even some of the more minute details, and as an introduction to the evolution of religions overtime this text is vital.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in religion in either a practicing manner or an anthropological one. This book sheds light on some of the more modern issues, and offers a historical perspective on how religion may prove helpful in the future.(less)