This book tells the story of one Yossarian and his adventures or should we say misadventures?
Heller's Catch 22 has a reputation of being one of the fu...moreThis book tells the story of one Yossarian and his adventures or should we say misadventures?
Heller's Catch 22 has a reputation of being one of the funniest books that has ever been written. Well, after finishing it, I have to say that it is funny if one likes their humor like they like their coffee, black and strong. War is supposed to be hell, and believe me, when everything is said and done, this novel shows that it is as such.
But can it also be funny? Well, not, haha funny, but rather absurd. And that is what we get here. A novel that tells the story of Yossarian along with several of the other men in his outfit as they are being sent on plane mission after plane mission. We get the same events told from different perspectives, repetition, well, because once you've done twenty plane missions are the next twenty really going to be any different?
But aside from the black humor, we get a real touch of the darkness of the war, particularly in the last third of the book, when the humor gets stripped off and the depravity of war comes through full force.
This is certainly a novel that I have heard about over the years and finally got around to reading. It's a challenging novel to read prose wise and topic wise, but one which won't leave my head anytime soon. The type of novel of that I wish I would had read a long time ago. (less)
Darian Leader's book examines the process of mourning largely from a Freudian perspective, but also incorporates other ideological slants. Leader also...moreDarian Leader's book examines the process of mourning largely from a Freudian perspective, but also incorporates other ideological slants. Leader also differentiates between mourning as being a state in which one is going through the process of losing a love one with melancholia which is defined as a more persistent state of sadness. While the book does deal with the concept and process of depression, it mostly places the concept of depression within mourning and melancholia as opposed to dealing with a greater overview of depression.
Leader provides an interesting discussion which really shines while dealing with the process of mourning. He draws from different cultural perspectives, films, literature, and studies in order to show how people can successfully or unsuccessfully cope with the process of mourning. The book also examines how a person's life and personality along with their relationship with the deceased can affect the mourning process.
As a study and possible guide of the mourning process, Leader book provides several insights and while this is a difficult topic to deal with, I found the book thought provoking and worth reading. (less)
V. S. Ramachandran’s book provides an enlightening and philosophical discussion regarding certain aspects regarding the human brain. He often takes a...moreV. S. Ramachandran’s book provides an enlightening and philosophical discussion regarding certain aspects regarding the human brain. He often takes a philosophical approach regarding what makes us human, that is, in regards of what the human brain does, such as develop a sense of self, structure language, enjoy art, among other things that other species are unable to do. Such philosophical discussion, however, serve as a means for the book to delve into discussions regarding how science has explained these things and how the brain and its different components are responsible for several of our cognitive abilities that make us human. Ramachandran also makes great use of discoveries resulting from certain illnesses such as phantom limbs, synesthesia, autism, among other issues in order to show how studying these cognitive issues have resulted in a greater understanding regarding how the brain processes everything from sight, language, meaning, to physical touch.
What made this book so enjoyable for me besides the fact that it provides solid and accessible information regarding different aspects of the brain is Ramachandran’s ability to connect the different discussions within the underlying theme that the evolution of the brain and its processes have made us human and have allowed the species to reach the point that we are in. Ramachandran also exhibits a great deal of enthusiasm and as such looks to address just how much we still have to learn about the human brain, which will result in exciting discoveries. Ramachandran also makes it clear when he is speculating regarding issues that are still unclear, but his speculation is sincere, thoughtful, and provides much food for thought that can only lead to further research, discoveries, and yes, more questions. (less)
David J. Linden examines the nature of addiction by concentrating on substances that have been historically accepted as addictive, such as alcohol, ni...moreDavid J. Linden examines the nature of addiction by concentrating on substances that have been historically accepted as addictive, such as alcohol, nicotine, drugs, along with disputable addictions such as sex, overspending, among others. Linden’s main reason for examining such addictions, arguably, lies in his desire to show the complex nature of these addictions and how they interact with one’s brain chemistry in order to create addiction. With the use of scientific research, Linden clearly shows the medical basis for these addictions and shows why some substances are addicting while others are not in terms of their ability to elicit pleasure within one’s biology.
I enjoyed Linden’s book which adds further evidence supporting a medical based view of addictions. His book is filled with anecdotes and specific cases that add a level of humanity to the addictions that he discusses. The book also goes case by case in terms of different types of addictions and discusses what science has shown to occur in the brain that sets the stage for addiction. Linden’s ethical and philosophical discussion is also useful since he raises how certain compulsive behaviors clearly seem to be addictions in medical terms. All of this comes together in order to allow Linden to argue that addiction treatment needs to continually improve and move beyond simply stigmatizing addicts. (less)
Malcom Gladwell examines different factors that he believes are largely influential when it comes to obtaining personal and professional success. He e...moreMalcom Gladwell examines different factors that he believes are largely influential when it comes to obtaining personal and professional success. He examines the role of practice, how one’s date or year of birth can factor into success, personality, one’s upbringing, and a variety of other factors. I enjoyed Gladwell’s use of specific cases and persons and how their success or lack of thereof makes the case for the importance of specific factors in creating success. Gladwell does a good job in making the argument that while hard work, drive, and talent are integral to success, there are a variety of factors, some of which often appear as extraneous, that give certain people advantages, thus resulting in an uneven playing field in the game of success. (less)
Jonah Lehrer’s Proust Was a Scientist revolves around the argument that art, whether it is writing, music, painting, has at times predicted aspects re...moreJonah Lehrer’s Proust Was a Scientist revolves around the argument that art, whether it is writing, music, painting, has at times predicted aspects regarding the nature of neuroscience that has eventually been supported by science. By looking at a group of artists in different fields, Lehrer provides an interesting look at how the works of these artists have been able to use their work and the process involved creation such work as a means to understand the human mind. At times, these artists have used their work to address what their personal experiences have allowed them to understand about human nature, such as how the mind uses language, understands music, uses and builds memories, and develop mental illnesses.
I enjoyed the book largely since it parallels my belief that art and science do in fact have a relationship with each other, and that both serve as a means to understand human nature and the brain. Lehrer provides a well researched argument, relying both on scientific studies and specific artistic works, that articulates the importance of art within a world filled with scientific advancement. (less)
Cosmopolis marks my first attempt of reading Don DeLillo. Sure, I could have started with say one of his more known and acclaimed books such as White...moreCosmopolis marks my first attempt of reading Don DeLillo. Sure, I could have started with say one of his more known and acclaimed books such as White Noise, but the upcoming Cronenberg adaptation convinced me to start with Cosmopolis. With this novel, we get a story, all taking place in one day, where a young ambitious man in New York goes out for a drive in a limo for a haircut. In his way, he comes across a variety of events, sleeps with women, and well how does it all end? I really liked the prose and feel of the book in the way that it’s going to stick in my head for a while, but I just felt like it needed some sort of payoff to take this novel into something great. With that being said, it did pike my interest and will read more of DeLillo’s work. (less)
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman is certainly an interesting book. Considering that the writer is a neuroscientist, I expect...moreIncognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman is certainly an interesting book. Considering that the writer is a neuroscientist, I expected something really technical and dense. Instead, we get a book that’s accessible and aims to discuss how different parts of the brain lead to movement, vision, sexuality, violence, learning, among other things. Eagleman does a solid job describing how these components of the brain come together (as much as science understands at this point) to create several common functions and how abnormalities can change these functions. The book’s biggest strength, in my opinion, is the philosophical discussion throughout the book that revolves around ethical and intellectual concerns regarding just how much are people responsible for their own actions and how much is their biology to blame? Eagleman makes several arguments and states his reasons with research, specific cases, and ideas based on his experiences within his field. I enjoyed this book and found it thought provoking making me consider aspects regarding the brain and their consequences that we easily don’t think about day to day and even take for granted. (less)
Richard Wiseman seeks not to answer whether or not there is such a thing as paranormal activity, but the reasons for why people believe such things. I...moreRichard Wiseman seeks not to answer whether or not there is such a thing as paranormal activity, but the reasons for why people believe such things. Is it simple wish fulfillment? Biological and neurological factors? Victims of smooth talk? Finding patterns in coincidence? Well, Wiseman argues, a bit of everything. In his book, Wiseman looks at different types of paranormal activities that include everything from psychics, ghosts, premonition, to mind control. With each phenomenon, Wiseman provides how science has attempted to explain these issues and cites specific studies, cases, and people, all with a great sense of humor. I really enjoyed reading this book largely as a result of my fascination with the paranormal, which I don’t quite believe in, but still find interesting. This book, then, was fascinating and refreshing since it does not argue for or against the paranormal, but shows just how much of this activity can be explained with science and psychology. (less)
Camille Paglia’s devotes an entire book on Hitchcock’s The Birds. One of the obvious challenges in dealing with a film that has been written about cou...moreCamille Paglia’s devotes an entire book on Hitchcock’s The Birds. One of the obvious challenges in dealing with a film that has been written about countless of times is to find something different here to say. Here, Paglia is concerned with discussing the history of the film, chronicling the entire plot and characters, all while providing and illuminating discussion and making the film experience her own. She does focus on the female aspects on the film, but with an obvious admiration of the film, which enables her dissect the film’s gender implications and suggest food for thought regarding what the film attempts to say about the women in the film and their role within society and family. Reading this book, ultimately, resembled revisiting an old classic with a film watching companion whose discussion and thoughts make the watching experience better. (less)
With Leonard Mlodinow’s The Drunkard s Walk, we get an examination of randomness, which in reality, affects our daily lives, but some people might avo...moreWith Leonard Mlodinow’s The Drunkard s Walk, we get an examination of randomness, which in reality, affects our daily lives, but some people might avoid thinking about such in favor of the idea that they are in control of their lives or that there is some sort of destiny underlying the world. Mlodinow takes this debate and heads towards the idea that randomness serves as an underlying force that becomes easier to understand with a closer look at the science of probability math. The use of math is straightforward, and for many might serve as a refresher course for concepts learned in school. As important as the mathematical arguments used in the book are, arguably, the strength of the book is Mlodinow’s ability to incorporate so much history regarding how these mathematical concepts arose, the history of the people to put forth these concepts, and how their personal lives and era encouraged them to find mathematical solutions to variety of problems and concerns. Full of anecdotes, past and present, the book provides an illuminating look at how probability math has shaped one’s understanding of randomness and its effect that it continues to have in our lives, and thus, illustrating the importance of appreciating the random good things in one’s lives that could had easily not been there. (less)
Jonah Lehrer’s book examines the notion of imagination and goes beyond the idea that imagination is simply a personal aptitude. Instead, the book argu...moreJonah Lehrer’s book examines the notion of imagination and goes beyond the idea that imagination is simply a personal aptitude. Instead, the book argues that while personal skill and hard work are key factors to imagination, what really leads to creativity, thought, and innovation are largely situations in which one’s imagination is facilitated. He examines the rise of Silicon Valley and how young engineers gave and took ideas from each other. He also examines the rise of Pixar and how some of the best ideas came from small talk between people from different departments. The book also examines the cultures that gave rise to people such as Shakespeare or artists such as Michelangelo and why these people seem to come from areas that produced so many creative people. The book also looks at individuals and specific companies ranging from David Byrne to 3M and how their creative process works.
I really enjoyed Lehrer’s writing style and his obvious excitement for the subject, the individuals, and companies that he discusses. The book’s arguments are obviously debatable, but the book is well researched and provides food for though. This is a book that made me want to consider my own creative process and examine ways in which I can improve the role of imagination in my own life. (less)
John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things tells the story of David, a young boy in London during WWII who largely deals with his mother’s declining deat...moreJohn Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things tells the story of David, a young boy in London during WWII who largely deals with his mother’s declining death and eventual death through the escape of fairy tales. Eventually, with growing tensions within himself, his new stepmother, David is able to escape into an actual world of fantasy in which fairy tale conventions are revisited. This new world is not unlike the ones from his books, but now Rumpelstiltskin is after him, traditionally innocent women characters, such as Snow White and Red Riding Rood are no longer such, and he wants to return to the real world.
Connolly’s prose here works well to create a wonderful fantasy world setting that’s engrossing and the novel offers interesting inversions of fairy tales, in particularly, how they relate to gender. The novel, however, ultimately is an exploration for the need to use the written word to escape and the difficult realization that regardless of how powerful the written world is it cannot prevent real life and its tragedies from continuing. Certainly an interesting novel that sees the writer delving into a different genre successfully. (less)
One of the random or perhaps not so random memories that I have as a child is watching glimpses of parts from Carl Sagan’s television Cosmos. Along wi...moreOne of the random or perhaps not so random memories that I have as a child is watching glimpses of parts from Carl Sagan’s television Cosmos. Along with science fiction films, and other shows, I watched enough of the Cosmos to get my attention regarding, well, the cosmos and the greater world and universe that exists around us.
Well years after my first exposure to the television series, I decided to read Carl Sagan’s corresponding book, which has for years been on my to-read list. This is certainly a seminal book written years ago which has been built upon by countless more modern books regarding the subject. While this book does include information and theory that is still relevant, the book, obviously, has the challenge of staying relevant in a quickly changing field.
Aside from the theory and knowledge that is well discussed in an accessible and revealing manner, ultimately, what will allow this book to stay relevant is Sagan’s almost poetic prose and the excitement for discovery that he instills throughout the book. Cosmos is a work relating to the philosophy of science as much as it is to the science itself. He speaks about his interest of science and physics and how it’s pushed him to study the subject as well as relating the broad spectrum of knowledge within the book to everyday life. He argues for the importance of understanding the Cosmos not just as an expert, but as a human who forms a slight part of it by being alive and thinking. That special something that I heard in Sagan’s voice when I was a child that made me want to know more about space is here and it’s easy to understand why so many scientists and readers look back to this book to remind themselves that they still have to answer that child inside them looking up at the stars and asking one simple question: “What are the meaning of the stars?”(less)