**spoiler alert** A few weeks ago I read the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (it may show how awesome my procrastination skills are that I'm writi...more**spoiler alert** A few weeks ago I read the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (it may show how awesome my procrastination skills are that I'm writing this now--three days past the due date). The book was written in 1953, and is 165 pages (at least in my version; it's a short read, isn't it). I think that at the time that this book was written, it was intended to be read by people who looked for books in the gas station or something. Now, it's mostly read by high school students for English assignments, which I think might be a bit of a waste. It's basically a book about how technology can really improve our quality of life, but can cause us to lose other cool things, such as: happiness, individuality, and knowledge. This book is set in a futuristic American city, where people are all addicted to technology and where firemen start fires in people's houses instead of putting them out. The job of the firemen is to burn down people's houses who own and use books (instead of watching TV or listening to "ear seashells" aka headphones). There aren't many characters in the story, but they all do warrant a description. Montag--the fireman who doubts if he should actually be burning these books. Beatty--Montag's boss, who owns more books than anyone but uses them to rebut Montag's claims of how great books are. Faber--an old English professor (Mr. Thompson in 80 years) who is a closeted book-lover, and who is a sort of inventor of his own, he eventually helps Montag. Clarisse-a young girl who helps Montag realize there is more to life than buring books. Mildred-Montag's absent wife who eventually blows the whistle on Montag for owning books. Montag is a fireman in some anonymous city in America. He burns houses for a living, and never questions it. On one of his jobs, he steals a book that was meant to be burned. He takes the book back to his house, and tries to read it to his wife, who rejects it. We find out that he had hidden a few books. He stays home and reads a lot of them, not knowing that he loses the trust of Mildred. He goes to Faber,who decides to help Montag by putting a two-way radio in his ear so they can have constant conversation. He goes back to work, and everything seems normal; however, the next burning job they go on happens to be to Montag's house. Montag ends up burning Beatty to death, and Montag runs off into the wilderness, saying goodbye to his old life and uniting with some old men who are trying to remember what the world used to be like (with books). They watch the city blow up, and return to help the survivors try to remember. I would recommend this book to anybody who uses to much technology and wants a little bit of a wake up call. It was a good book.(less)
I just need to begin by saying that some (ok, a lot) of the science in this book goes over my head. I'm pretty sure that that's also the case for most...moreI just need to begin by saying that some (ok, a lot) of the science in this book goes over my head. I'm pretty sure that that's also the case for most people who read this who don't have a degree in microbiology. However, since I'm reading this book for my biology class, and we've been talking about the basic structure of DNA, there were parts that I actually understood (which made me feel great). Also, even when you don't understand exactly what's going on, you still can get an idea of what's going on because this is a personal account. The author effectively conveys the emotions that were racing through his mind during that time in his life, and that helps the reader understand at least the gist of what's going on. Now that I've given you this incredibly long and possibly boring introduction, I should probably get down to specifics. "The Double Helix" is by James D. Watson. It has 138 pages (at least the version I had did), which is a fairly short read. I completed it in an afternoon, although I had to re=read a few parts to write this report. The story takes place in Europe, specifically England, in the early 1950s. Some of the main characters are: Francis Crick, a boisterous and obnoxious British researcher; James Watson, the quieter and more absent-minded half of the DNA Duo (see what I did there?); Maurice Wilkins, a cautious, long-time researcher of DNA; Rosalind Franklin, the moody and often disagreeable crystallographer for Maurice. The book starts off with Watson in the Alps, after the events of the story have taken place. He sees a researcher who was part of Wilkins' DNA research lab. Expecting a friendly greeting, the researcher just says "How's Honest Jim?" This simple phrase alludes to the fact that Watson and Crick didn't come up with the structure of DNA solely by themselves. They had some help from a lot of people, some of whom didn't get due credit. The story then flashes back to Watson first arriving in Europe, Denmark specifically. He has wanted to study DNA for a while, and has finally got his chance with Dutch scientist Herman Kalckar. However, Kalckar's research on the metabolism of nucleotides fails to inspire interest in Watson. He learns of a lab in England, the Cavendish, that is studying more the structure of DNA than the processes of it's elements. He transfers to England, and begins to dream about the structure of the DNA molecule with fellow researcher Francis Crick. Watson and Crick brainstorm on the structure of DNA, and with advice from Maurice Wilkins, a researcher at King's College who had been pondering the question of DNA for a while. There, they meet Rosalind Franklin, the newest member of Wilkins' lab. She is a crystallographer, and can take pictures of DNA using X-Rays. However, her personality and ideas clash with those of Wilkins, Watson, and Crick. Several months later, Watson and Crick construct a triple-helic-ed DNA model. They call in the King's College team for remarks, but they are disappointed when Franklin points out that the model is chemically impossible. For the next 15 months, they have little interest in DNA. Then, renowned scientist Linus Pauling states that he has discovered the structure of DNA. However, Watson realizes that Pauling has made a mistake. He and Crick work with renewed vigour, knowing that the great scientist will as well to correct his mistake. Finally, using previously recorded data by Erwin Chargaff, and fellow US chemist Donahue, the two build an accurate model representing the structure of DNA. The King's team approves, and they publish simultaneous articles in the magazine "Nature." Something that I like about this book was that the author doesn't try to hide the character's flaws (sometimes including his own). One passage referring to Franklin talks about how she "did something novel with her hair." One of her lectures is described as "without warmth of frivolity" and a passage referring to Crick states that "there existed an unspoken yet real fear of Crick." I would recommend the book to those interested in the personal relationships surrounding the discovery of the structure of DNA. This book really hits home the fact that science isn't all about performing experiments in a lab. Human beings thoughts and emotions need to be considered when you are in a race to make the next big scientific discovery. This book is a very interesting combination of biology, chemistry, physics, and emotion. I really enjoyed the read, and enthusiastically recommend it.(less)
Let me start off by saying, “The Color of Magic” isn’t the typical book that I’d read. I’m not that in to fantasy (Harry Potter probably being the clo...moreLet me start off by saying, “The Color of Magic” isn’t the typical book that I’d read. I’m not that in to fantasy (Harry Potter probably being the closest I’ve come), so take this review with a grain of salt. There are plenty of other books that I’d likely read before this, and honestly, I only chose it because I found it in my garage, and it looked like a short (210 pages, by mine, and the publisher’s count), easy, fun read. It wasn’t, for me at least. I labored through this book for the better part of two months. Sure, I was reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” (in my opinion, a much more engaging read, but it’s a classic, so maybe that’s not fair) at the same time, but it was still sort of a chore to read this “short, funny, easily-digestible fantasy parody. Anybody who has read a lot of fantasy will probably love this book. I, however, didn’t.
The book is set in a fantastical world (Discworld) which is, oddly enough, disc-shaped. The world itself has rests on the back of four giant elephants, who in turn rest on the back of a HUGE turtle, the great A’Tuin (who is, in theory, traveling to some cosmic mating grounds to mate, and spawn a whole new generation of A’Tuins. This is known as the “Big Bang Theory”) who is swimming endlessly through the cosmos. This obnoxious premise is a parody of the even crazier premises that, I guess, pop up in many fantasy titles. This book addresses many problems, one of which being, Discworld is not a very safe place, especially for the tourist Twoflower (a floundering, rich, over-trusting tourist) and his failed wizard tour guide Rincewind (the worst-as in bad at magic-wizard probably ever written; he is good at running away, and staying alive.)
The story begins when the out-of-plate tourist Twoflower arrives in the hard livin’ streets of the Twin Cities of Ankh-Morpork. Twoflower is from the Golden Kingdom, a far off land that seems surprisingly similar to our on world, in this medieval, magical Discworld (it has accountants, and in-sewer-ants). He has with him a pocket translator, and a magical, sentient luggage containing a large amount of gold, which causes him much grief as the lowlifes of Ankh-Morpork pester him for it. He meets up with the inept wizard Rincewind, who is forced by a city official to accompany Twoflower, and keep him safe so as not to tarnish relations with the Golden Kingdom’s Emperor. This odd successfully burns down the Twin Cities. After they flee into the woods, they encounter a mountain-troll (controlled by the petty Gods of Discworld, who are all explained in a very complicated chapter that I didn’t really understand), and are separated. They both, through teleportation and ineptitude, arrive in a temple, erected in tribute to Bel’Shammaroth, the Soul-Eater. In the temple, the meet a new traveling companion, Hrun the Barbarian, and his magical sword, Kring. They defeat the Soul-Eater with a camera, fight some dragons, go to space, everything. If this sounds pretty complicated for a relatively short book, it was, at least in my eyes.
I don’t know if fantasy is always this complicated and convoluted, or if Pratchett was going for comedic-ly long expositional chapters. Maybe avid fantasy readers will like this book more for it, but I found it kind of boring. Something that I did like was the few “broad comedy” jokes thrown in there (“Any suggestions?” “Obviously, you attack,” said Kring scornfully. “Why didn’t I think of that?” said Rincewind. “Could it be because they all have crossbows?” “You’re a defeatist.” “Defeatist? That’s because I’m going to be defeated.”), Kind of roundabout, I know, but I certainly got those. I’m sure that people who read a lot of fantasy will LOL (ha) at all the little fantasy inside jokes peppered in throughout the book, all the ones that I just couldn’t find.
I think that the main theme of this book was that sometimes those who people wouldn’t normally consider as heroic are actually the best heroes. It’s actually a kind of simple theme, for such a complicated plot. I guess all themes are, aren’t they. I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers, by the way. They’d probably get it more than me. I certainly hope so, because this spawned over thirty sequels. I sure hope that it wasn’t all fluff. I haven’t actually seen much parody books, and this one doesn’t really impress me. I’d like to read some stronger parody material. (less)
I read this book for a science term project. There was three choices available for us to read: "Uncle Tungsten," this, and "October Sky/Rocket Boys."...moreI read this book for a science term project. There was three choices available for us to read: "Uncle Tungsten," this, and "October Sky/Rocket Boys." Since many people had told me "October Sky" was a bore, and I refuse to read any book that contains the wor "uncle" (not really, I just couldn't find it at the libary), I chose "How I killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming" by Mike Brown. Initially I wasn't to excited about reading a book about science, astronomy in particular. This book changed my mind, as you may or may not be able to tell by looking at my starred review. The book (fun fact, it was published only last year) is a great read for anybody who is even remotely interested in the circumstances and people involved in the declassification of Pluto as a planet, and its reclassification as a dwarf planet, along with Eris, which was discovered by...(view spoiler)[Mike Brown (hide spoiler)] along with colleages Chad and David. The book centers around Mike's quest to find a new planet outside of Pluto. He wants his name to go down in history books as the only living discoverer of a planet. He also wants to leave a legacy for his daughter Lilah. Mike comes to discover that there are a lot of troubles that a well meaning astronomer can come by when just trying to do good research and discover a new planet. Even though Mike discovers many new objects in the Kuiper Belt (area of asteroids just outside of Pluto), he's not satisfied, since they're all smalle then Pluto, and thus not planets. He works for years with the help of some of his colleages, but when he finally does find a object larger than Pluto, he sends the astronomical community all a flutter. The IAU (international astronomers union) meets in Prague, and produces many bogus ideas about what should and shouldn't be a planet. Eventually, Pluto and Eris (view spoiler)[Mike's (hide spoiler)] planet are classified as dwarf planets. He is still searching though. I really enjoyed all the sarcastic comments and digs that he squeezes in about the utter idiocy and beaurocracy of the IAU, and how easy it is to understand the science (physics, it's easy?) of planets, at least how Mike puts it. Although there isn't an overt theme in the book, I would say that there is a underlying theme of don't give up (no matter how many times you find objects that are smaller than Pluto, or other astronomers steal your discoveries). This book is really an insight into what it's like to--almost-- discover a planet, and that makes it really interesting. I would recommend this book to almost anyone, but especially to people who are interested in why Pluto is no longer a planet. I found it, surprisingly, a really good read. It held my attention, kept me entertained, and perhaps most importantly, it was very understandable. I was never lost, whether the book was talking about center of mass or the odd shaped orbits and strange rotations of Kuiper Belt objects. I don't know if I would have picked it up if it wasn't required, but I'm glad that I did. This was actually one term project that I enjoyed.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I chose to read "The Chosen" for my Honors English book because it seemed more interesting than the "Yearling," plus I didn't want to read about a you...moreI chose to read "The Chosen" for my Honors English book because it seemed more interesting than the "Yearling," plus I didn't want to read about a young man and his favorite pet dear. I think I should have chosen differently. The story didn't keep me interested in reading, and felt like a chore. It's not like I can't read super long/old books without staying intrigued, but this one didn't capture my interest like other books have. For some reason, I never really wanted to read "The Chosen," I just had to read "The Chosen." Although the book was set published in 1967, it was set in the '40s, which brings me to one of my problems with the book. All of the dialog between the characters, and Reuvan's thoughts, had a strange type of speech pattern. It permeated throughout the whole book, and it always bugged me, like when Reuven and Danny have this strange little chat: "'That was delicious,' I added, yawning again. 'What time is it?' 'It's after five, sleepy head. I've been waiting here ten minutes for you to wake up.' 'I slept for almost three hours.' I said. 'That was some sleep.'" (page 110). I may just be me, but that whole exchange just seems awkward. It may be historicall accurate, but it bugged me the whole time that I was reading. Chaim Potok has other books, so I wonder if this is his writing style of if this is just for this book in particular. The main issue of the book is Danny's struggle between his father and his family line, and pursuing psycology, which is his dream. Reuvan serves as kind of a control, meaning, he has his life pretty much worked out, whereas Danny doesn't. When the two friends first meet, they pretty much hate each other because of a spring baseball game where they were on opposing teams and Danny injures Reuvan's eye with an amazing hit. Their friendship has many ups and downs over the years, mostly due to their different beliefs (Danny is an Orthodox Jew, Reuvan isn't) and Danny's over protective father, who wishes that Danny follow in his footsteps and occupy his whole life with the study of the Torah. The theme of "The Chosen," as I interperated it, is that people with differing world views can still care for and love each other. You need to look past what you expect of the person,and focus on what they actually are. Nobody has the exact same mindset as you do, and that's something that we all have to accept. In the end, what our world views are is part of what makes us us. We need to acknowledge that everybody is entitled to think what they want to. In the end, I would recommend "The Chosen" to young adults who like stories about growing up. This story could, realistically, be set in any time or place because at it's heart, it's about fathers and sons. Also, anybody who thinks that their homework is hard should read this, because these boys have an enormous workload, which mainly comes from their religion. I didn't neccesarily enjoy "The Chosen," but I'm giving it three stars because it's not as bad as some of the books that I have read. It is fairly well written and constructed, but it just didn't capture my attention.(less)