I actually got to visit Thoreau's cabin for my brother's birthday this April. Despite it being below freezing the mosquito's had already started to br...moreI actually got to visit Thoreau's cabin for my brother's birthday this April. Despite it being below freezing the mosquito's had already started to breed. When we approached the pond we were engulfed in a cloud of them. I could almost hear them singing with delight as they began to feast. Almost... perhaps intermittently between screams. (As a side note I would like to say that I am terrified of bugs. Especially the flying ones that like to bite) In denial of the adject horror I was experiencing due to these troublesome creatures I trudged onward; looking upon the house where one of my personal heroes had lived had always been a dream of mine. Thoreau had build the cabin himself. It was a small, isolated alcove in the woods where Thoreau could be alone to write. When we arrived I couldn't believe how small it was. It was like a modern day closet with barely enough room for more than five people. His statue was just outside the front door. He was a small guy. I'd wager a little over five feet tall. He looked even smaller next to all of my relatives who all break six feet. As I peered into the Thoreau's brass face I began to remember why I love this guy.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."
There was a billboard with this quote next to the spot where the real cabin - which has fallen apart long ago - had stood.
After reading about how Thoreau was arrested for refusing to pay six years of missed tax payments I began to appreciate Thoreau for what he really was. A true American and a very humane person. He wasn't afraid to stand up and fight for what he believed in; nor was he frightened to suffer for it. He was no fool to be trodden over by men who supposed they had the right. His essay Civil Disobedience was instrumental to almost all subsequent social reforms. He inspired monumental figures like Mohandas Gandhi and MLK Jr. and his work did more to preserve the spirit of freedom in America than any other. I would be hard pressed to recommend a more prolific American philosopher.(less)
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
I learned something today from the new National Geographic issue. Mockingbirds are one of the most aggressive birds and will actively protect their nests or territory. Methinks Harper Lee never had a close encounter with one of these bad boys in the midst of the wilderness. If she did maybe she would've wrote about another type of bird. Like a goshawk or something.
Fun fact: Attila had the emblem of a Goshawk on his helmet.
To all those people who love history here is the Nobel prize winning history of the Balkans. Andrić's style and precision are staggering and his book...moreTo all those people who love history here is the Nobel prize winning history of the Balkans. Andrić's style and precision are staggering and his book covers the history of his homeland over several centuries. The book is much better in the original language but the English translation is well done and succeeds in capturing the mood of the region. For you history students out there this is a must read. (less)
WARNING If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you...moreWARNING If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think everything you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.(less)
Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy is one of my favorites. Her style is so unique and the underlying themes in her books are powerful. She has this...moreUrsula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy is one of my favorites. Her style is so unique and the underlying themes in her books are powerful. She has this way of saying a lot without saying much...if that makes any sense.
If you love wizardry this is the book for you. Ged is the name of the Archmage in this series and unlike Gandalf, who is presented as incorruptible, Ged must battle his own demons to gain redemption. The story is from Ged's point of view so he seems more human than the classical representation of the wizard seen from afar as a powerful figure cloaked in mystery. The second book changes the point of view from Ged to Tenar "The Eaten One". The story goes on to describe a tale of suffering, mercy, and the love that can be felt for strangers even in the the darkest of places. This trilogy is so full of imagery and meaning that I would recommend it to anyone that loves a truly fine fantasy. I would also recommend you read the accompanying Tales from Earthsea and the final book in the series The Other Wind.(less)
This is one of my favorite fantasy trilogy's of all time. These books are in the small category that have ever utilized something as simple as footnot...moreThis is one of my favorite fantasy trilogy's of all time. These books are in the small category that have ever utilized something as simple as footnotes to add so some much more depth and personality to the story. This epic tale is about an ambitious boy magician named Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, his wise mouth demon. Stroud's depiction of London, and its more sinister and secretive underside are perfect; while reading it you can clearly see the plot unfold in your minds eye. The connections you will develop with the character's are astonishing;(I almost cried man!) and I found myself actually being emotionally invested in these books.
In summary I highly suggest these books to anyone who loves fantasy and a darker kind of humor. Hell! I'd even recommend The Bartimeaus Trilogy to people who don't like fantasy or humor. These book are THAT good.(less)
The Lord of the Rings is nothing if not epic. In fact, it's the very definition. Still, I feel could have enjoyed it more if it wasn't so goddamn long...moreThe Lord of the Rings is nothing if not epic. In fact, it's the very definition. Still, I feel could have enjoyed it more if it wasn't so goddamn long! I remember reading the Hobbit right before I started LOTR and I was excited because I loved the Hobbit. But comparing the prelude to the sequels is like comparing day to night. The Hobbit was faster paced and shorter! Shorter! (Pun definitely intended) I felt like Tolkien could have shortened the LOTR series by 200 pages at least if he stopped being so descriptive and trying so hard to explain the scale of the world. I can appreciate the work he put into this and how he tried to make it realistic but I wasn't reading this EPIC fantasy series for a shot of reality...It certainly does begin to ramp up toward the middle and end and I would totally recommend the LOTR series to any hardcore fantasy buffs. If you're not such a strong reader or have a short attention span I recommend skimming, a lot of skimming. These books are definitely reread worthy if for nothing more than to memorize more of your favorite Gandalf quotes. Gotta love Gandalf!(less)
This book is my favorite. Read it if you like adventure, searches for treasure, dwarves, elves, spiders, and dragons! The riddles with Smeagol and the...moreThis book is my favorite. Read it if you like adventure, searches for treasure, dwarves, elves, spiders, and dragons! The riddles with Smeagol and the way the dragon was portrayed made this book one of the best for me. The riddles were fiendishly clever and I still can't believe Tolkien came up with those on his own. The dragon Smaug was so powerfully delineated and so intelligent it was incredible. Truly a force of nature. Read it and when you're done read it again! (less)