Eragon isn't a uniquely creative fantasy fiction book, and its very simplistic. It's kinda like your least favorite brand of ice cream: it's still iceEragon isn't a uniquely creative fantasy fiction book, and its very simplistic. It's kinda like your least favorite brand of ice cream: it's still ice cream, it can be a fun read if you aren't in a picky mood, but it isn't timeless....more
The Girl with a Peark Earring is a warm blend of historical fiction, bringing together the authenticity of everyday life in 17th century Holland in thThe Girl with a Peark Earring is a warm blend of historical fiction, bringing together the authenticity of everyday life in 17th century Holland in the story of a young girl who is sent to keep house and eventually assist Vermeer in his studio. The young girl gives a seamless picture into not only the painter but the methods and construction of his work- from grinding up plants and herbs to achieve the perfect chalky colors to the attention of detail given to the recreation of each scene Vermeer works to reproduce on canvas. The book is an easy, light read that goes down like a cup of hot chocolate. ...more
The human experience creates pain side by side with isolation. Our common experiences are tangled and singular, holding us together in one moment yetThe human experience creates pain side by side with isolation. Our common experiences are tangled and singular, holding us together in one moment yet unfailingly tearing us apart the next.
"A Mercy" reads similar to the book cover's art of Frederic Edwin Church: Morning in the Tropics. Hot and hazy it's hard to distinguish where one story begins and the other ends. But probing the depths reveals a separateness in experience that reaffirms a united landscape tied together in the stifling indifference of man over land, man over man, and man over woman. I almost put in down the first chapter because, like Faulkner, at moments the stream of consciousness can be hard to follow. But the novel quickly weaves together the story of these lives who each become something quite different while living hand in hand.
My favorite quotes:
Perhaps they were blotting out, as she was, what they fled and what might await them. Wretched as was the space they crouched in, it was nevertheless blank where a past did not haunt nor a future beckon. Women of and for men, in those few moments they were neither. (100)
Why are you killing me I ask you. I want you to go. Let me explain. No.Now. Why? Why? Because you are a slave. What? You heard me. Sir makes me that. I don't mean him. Then who? You. What is your meaning? I am a slave beacause Sir trades for me. No. You have become one. ... I am adoring you. And a salve to that too. You alone own me. Own yourself. (166)
They once thought they were a kind of family because together they had carve companionship out of isolation. But the family they imagined they had become was false. Whatever each on loved, sought or escaped, their futures were separate and anyone's guess. on thing was certain, courage alone would not be enough. Minus bloodlines, he saw nothing yet on the horizon to unite them. Nevertheless, remembering how the curate described what existed before Creation, Scully saw dark matter out there, which, unknowable, aching to be made into a world. (182)
To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing. (196) ...more
Reading Willa is walking backwards to a brief moment in time that you can almost taste, that you can almost remember; a time whose remnants still rollReading Willa is walking backwards to a brief moment in time that you can almost taste, that you can almost remember; a time whose remnants still roll across our vision before tumbling out of sight, soon to be lost completely to those who follow. The west.
Like a pinprick flashed a brief moment in our history when European immigrants were arriving to survive or die, carving out a period of history on an indifferent land that changed the people who learned to live on it.
"My Antonia" tells the story of this relationship to the land simply, without frills. The book reads like a view that stretches out long and lonely, yet arresting. Lives are lived and hard times are endured, or not. I found it took me a bit to settle into the reading- it's not fast paced or thrilling, yet this in itself helps hold the very nature of the book to its honest roots. I'm glad I read it but it took a little perseverance; fitting perhaps.
Below my favorite quotes:
There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made.
The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers.
I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more.
At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.
All day the storm went on. The snow did not fall this time, it simply spilled out of heaven, like thousands of featherbeds being emptied.
I knew that I should never be a scholar. I could never lose myself for long among impersonal things. Mental excitement was apt to send me with a rush back to my own naked land and the figures scattered upon it. While I was in the very act of yearning toward the new forms that Cleric brought up before me, my mind plunged away from me, and I suddenly found myself thinking of the places and people of my own infinitesimal past. They stood out strengthened and simplified now, like the image of the plough against the sun.
I had the sense of coming home to myself, and of having found out what a little circle man's experience is. ...more
Life isn't perfection; It isn't hiding the dark facts that slip into our biography from ourselves. It's accepting our humanity in order to see the beaLife isn't perfection; It isn't hiding the dark facts that slip into our biography from ourselves. It's accepting our humanity in order to see the beautiful.
Olive Kitteridge is a novel about the fragility we all share as humans, but how in hiding from our own weaknesses we effectively shut out love, and the experience of shared human experiences.
The novel is delicately woven together from different people, each exposing the rawness of their life- a rawness that stays hidden from everyone around them. So in fact, while sharing the same pain, they are rendered islands of isolation.
"You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind" (56).
"Some skin that had stood between himself and the world seemed to have been ripped away, and everything was close, and frightening" (102).
"The natural rubber band around people's lives that curiosity stretched for a while had long ago returned to encompass their own particularities" (142).
"It was shame that swiped across her soul, like these windshield wipers before her: two large black long fingers, relentless and rhythmic in their chastisement" (160).
"People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it" (161). ...more
A great read... I don't often read fantasy (my favorites are harry potter, lord of the rings, and narnia)... but this one is right up there. Great chaA great read... I don't often read fantasy (my favorites are harry potter, lord of the rings, and narnia)... but this one is right up there. Great characterization and plot, surprises, and well written. I highly recommend it!...more
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is popcorn for intelligent people; a fun read- perhaps along the lines of a sexy, updated John Grisham. The Washingt"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is popcorn for intelligent people; a fun read- perhaps along the lines of a sexy, updated John Grisham. The Washington Post touts: "Wildly suspenseful... an intelligent, ingeniously plotted, utterly engrossing thriller." My take on the book results in a hearty recommendation although not quite as sensational of a push: "Suspenseful... an intelligently plotted mystery with a good dose of thrill thrown in to keep you reading". The first half of the book does a good job of developing the characters so that by the second half it becomes a read you don't want to put down. Although not a mind-blowing phenomena or deeply meaningful, you'll want to pass the popcorn. ...more
This book tackles the powerful tension that lies between idealism and reality. As human beings we are often drawn to ask ourselves whether we are capaThis book tackles the powerful tension that lies between idealism and reality. As human beings we are often drawn to ask ourselves whether we are capable of something great- truly experiencing the pinnacle of some achievement or feeling in our lifetime. Sadly however, Madame Bovary never takes off.
I spend more time bogged down in descriptions of people, houses, countryside, and back again that by the time I was more than halfway through the book- very little had still happened. To me, it was well written but simply put, boring. There were sparks of great insight into human desires and what drives them, but far less than needed to keep me going. I shant recommend it nor read it again. Too bad, because it's a great theme.
Just for kicks, here are some quotes I found worth recording:
"Before marriage she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought, have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed ot her so beautiful in books."
"He was beginning to feel that depression caused by the repetition of the same kind of life, when no interest inspires and no hope sustains it. ... Yet the prospect of a new condition of life frightened as mush as it seduced him" (73).
"She sprang towards him, she pressed against him, she stirred carefully the dying embers, sough all around her anything that could revive it; and the most distant reminiscences, like the most immediate occasions, what she experienced as well as what she imagine, her coluptous desires that were unsatisfied, her projects of happiness that crackled in the wind like dead boughs, her sterile virtue, her lost hopes, the domestic tete-a-tete she gathered it all up, took everything and made it all serve as fuel for her melancholy" (78). - It's so dangerous as human beings when we let unfulfilled sentiments turn onto another person and then hold them in silent contempt. Either speak our minds and be free or we must let it go.
"But happiness, no doubt, was a lie invented for the despair of all desire. She now knew the smallness of the passions that art exaggerated" (143). - It's so easy to get caught up in the romanticism of art, the thrill and passion of it incites and coming back down to reality can often burn. Is art a microcosm of one intense moment or feeling sold as a complete picture?
"By the side of a Parisian in her laces, in the drawing room of some illustrious physician, a person driving his carriage and wearing many orders, the poor clerk would no doubt have trembled like a child; bu here, Rouen, on the harbor, with the wife of this small doctor he felt at his ease, sure beforehand he would shine. Self possession depends on its environment" (147). - Are human beings constantly evaluating themselves against the presence of others- judging accomplishments and status of others, desperately trying to avoid the "bottom"- their own self judgement that would make them lacking in comparison to those around them.
"He was in one of those crises in which the whole soul shows indistinctly what it contains, like the ocean, which, in the storm, opens itself form the seaweeds on tis shores down to the sands of its abysses" (158). - Crisis truly test man, what he is made of and who he is, these are the points in life where we define ourselves real-time.
"But the disparaging of those we love always alienates us from them to some extent. WE must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers" (179).
"Every notary bears within him the debris of a poet" (184). - What could we have been; what separates the good from the great?
"Then, thought she might feel humiliated at the baseness of such enjoyment, she clung to it from habit or from corruption, and each day she hungered after them the more, exhausting all felicity in wishing for too much of it" (185). ...more
Mcnamara's honesty in looking back and objectively detailing how our country got into Vietnam is an account that everyone should read. He has an intelMcnamara's honesty in looking back and objectively detailing how our country got into Vietnam is an account that everyone should read. He has an intelligent and organized approach; along the way the reader learns much about how our government works and how decisions are made. It is a must read- also watch the documentary "Fog of War", excellent as well.
"The reward of suffering is experience"
"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time" TS Elliot
"The beginnings of all things are small" (29).
"Was it true that the fall of South Vietnam would trigger the fall of all Southeast Asia? Would that constitute a grave threat to the West's security? What kind of war- conventional or guerrilla might develop? Could we win it with U.S. troops fighting alongside the South Vietnamese? Should we not know the answers to all these questions before deciding whether to commit troops?" (39).
"But was our judgement correct? Were the views of the problems we faced realities? ... How were we to know, when we were moving in an alien environment, alongside a people whose language and culture we did not understand and whose history, values, and political traditions differed profoundly from our own?" (43).
"Rather than increase military spending I told the editors we should assist those developing countries which genuinely need and request our help and which as an essential precondition are willing and able to help themselves. I noted the already dangerous gap between rich and poor nations was widening and that poverty within nation produced social and political tensions that often spilled over into conflict between nations. In sum, I believed that w would achieve greater security by transferring marginal dollar expenditures from defense to foreign aid." (312)...more
Interview with the Vampire is backed by solid, descriptive writing along with strong philosophical intrigue as the road into darkness, or the naked trInterview with the Vampire is backed by solid, descriptive writing along with strong philosophical intrigue as the road into darkness, or the naked truth, is exposed through Louis. I wish I had not watched the movie as it made the book a little more predictable (the book was far better).
"That is a much more mundane idea, said the vampire immediately. People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil. I don't know why. No, I do indeed know why. Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult" (13).
"The monument does not say that this or that man walked here. No, that what he felt in one time in one spot continues" (41).
"Because all aesthetic decisions are moral, really. . . What about the cliche of the artist who leaves his wife and children so he can paint. . . both were moral decisions. Both served a higher good, in the mind of the artist, the conflict lies between the morals of the artist and the morals of society, no between aesthetics and morality" (72).
"The ribbons crushed form the bonnet fell loose and I felt a palpable relief to see the childish dress, those ribbon, and something wonderfully comforting her arms, a small china doll" (206).
"Because if God doesn't exist we are the creatures of highest consciousness in the universe. we alone understand the passage of time and the value of every minute of human life. and what constitutes evil, real evil, is the taking of a single human life. whether a man would have died tomorrow or the day after or eventually. it doesn't matter. Because if God does not exist, this life, every second of it, is all we have" (237). ...more
Well written with a compelling narrative. At times philosophically heavy and hard to chew but in a good way.
However, the narrative is no longer as enWell written with a compelling narrative. At times philosophically heavy and hard to chew but in a good way.
However, the narrative is no longer as enticing because many forms of art have explored this theme in the past few decades rendering, in my view, the work less potent. Films such as Minority Report, Equilibrium, and Gattaca have visually captured this "futuristic" reality that Orwell conceived of and in turn it's very power, the power of a shockingly new but believable reality becomes weak and feeble from mere exposure; as a reader I felt desensitized.
Some of my favorite quotes below:
"Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and the Low. But the essential structure of society has never altered. The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable" (152).
"But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. the fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at" (153). - modern war has changed; and just like the British in the Revolutionary war, we can not afford to mis-represent it, mis-understand it or our wrong thinking will take us to wrong conclusions.
"Secondly, in a material sense, there is no longer, anything to fight about" (154).
"The primary aim of modern warfare is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society" (155).
"The essential act of war is destruction, no necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor" (157).
"While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible. but when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous" (163).
"The essence of oligarchical rule is not father to son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living" (173).
Another great read in line with Malcolm Gladwell that uses scientific approach and logical thought to help make sense of the world and trends. It wasAnother great read in line with Malcolm Gladwell that uses scientific approach and logical thought to help make sense of the world and trends. It was interesting though that a few of the studies in this book were also mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers", but both authors drew different conclusions from the statistics- I guess a warning that even these books are merely guides on how one can choose to think and not concrete conclusions. Funny- that's all we want sometimes as humans; something or someone to make it all make sense for us.
Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. The conventional wisdom is often wrong. Dramatic effects often have distant, even subtle causes. Experts use their informational advantage to serve their own purpose.
"Cheating is a primordial act: getting more for less." (21). - I just listened to An America Life that delves into the market crash last year and certain companies that were not only hedge betting but creating probable investment failures in order to collect on them (foreseeing the impending doom so to speak). Are people by nature honest? Sometimes, but it depends on the the conditions surrounding them.
"The supreme court gave voice to what the mothers in Romania and Scandinavia- and elsewhere- had long known: when a woman does not want to have a child, she usually has a good reason. She may be unmarried or in a bad marriage. She may consider herself too poor to raise a child. She may think her life is too unstable or unhappy, or she may think that her drinking or drug use will damage the baby's health. She may believe that she is too young or hadn't yet received enough education. she may want a child badly but a a few years, not now. For any of a hundred reasons, she may feel that she cannot provide a home environment that is conducive to raising a healthy and productive child" (126). - There is a strong social incentive here to consider abortion based on, I believe, true and a rather insightful look into a women's psyche and nurturing instinct.
"Emotion is the enemy of rational argument" (134).
"Risks that you control are much less a source of outrage than risks that are out of your control" (136).
"There was, however, one group of students in Chicago who did see a dramatic change: those who entered a technical school or career academy. These students performed substantially better than they did in their old academic setting and graduated at a much higher rate than their past performance would have predicted. So it did help prepare a small segment of otherwise struggling students for solid careers by giving them practical skills" (145). - an interesting find considering the controversy that can surround vocational schooling." (145)
"To overgeneralize a bit, the first list describes tings that parents are; the second list describes things that parents do. Parents who are well educated, successful, and healthy tend to have children who test well in school; but it doesn't seem to much matter whether a child is trotted off to museums or spanked or sent to Head Start of frequently read to or plopped in front of the television. For parents, and parenting experts, who are obsessed with child-rearing technique, this may be sobering news. The reality is that technique looks to be highly overrated. But this is not to say that parents don't mater. Plainly, they matter a great deal. Her is the conundrum: by the time most people pick up a parenting book, it is far too late. Most of the things that matter were decided long ago- who you are, whom you married, what kindof life you lead. IF you are smart, hardworking, well educated, well paid, and married to someone equally fortunate, then your children are more likely to succeed. But it isn't a matter of what you do as a parent; it's who you are." (161)
"What kind of parent is most likely to give a child a distinctively black name? The data offer a clear answer; an unmarried, low income, undereducated teenage mother form a black neighborhood who has distinctively black name herself. In Fryer's view, giving a child a super black name is a black parent's signal of solidarity with the community" (168).
"But they are all trying to signal something with a name, whether the name is Winner or Loser, Madison or Amber. What the California names data suggest is that an overwhelming number of parents use a name to signal their own expectations of how successful their children will be." (188). ...more
Is our great fear that the world doesn't really make sense beyond the meaning we can ascribe it; that all that's holding it together is ourselves?
LorIs our great fear that the world doesn't really make sense beyond the meaning we can ascribe it; that all that's holding it together is ourselves?
Lord of the flies observes human nature, and the road that nature takes if unfettered by social cues, norms, and laws.
To me, humanity seems to be an organism of paradoxical extremes. On a large scale people are driven to violence while others to science. Some to religious spiritualism and others to logical reality.
On a smaller scale, even the mass of people living "ordinary" lives find extremes to visit; affairs, sex fetishes, drugs- anything that breaks away from the norms we've set up for ourselves.
Why do we feel compelled in one moment to create structure and stability, and then with our very own hands thirst to upset our own created balance?
Here are some quotes for thought:
"ancient, inescapable recognition, the recognition of human capacities for evil and the superficial nature of human moral systems. Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You know, didn't you? I'm part of you? Close, close close! I'm the reason why its no go? Why things are the way they are?" (242.
"He wanted to explain how people were never quite what you thought they were" (58).
"They closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink"(76).
"There was the brilliant world of hunting, tactics, fierce exhilaration, skill; and there was the world of longing and baffled commonsense" (77).