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Beggars in Spain (Sleepless, #1)
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Monthly Read: Themed > May 2014 Themed Read - Beggars in Spain

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Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
For our "Previously Unread Female Authors" theme, the book is Beggars in Spain! I read this one years ago, and remember liking it - I'm looking forward to reading it again! Thoughts on the Sleepless and Kress' work?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 260 comments I finished the book this morning. I thought it was excellent. She explores a lot of important issues, e.g., why do we fear people who are different? is welfare ("dole") good or bad? are Americans too focused on individuality to the detriment of community? There are more. I look forward to discussing specifics later in the month when others have read.


message 3: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 69 comments I have it on my list - just have to finish one for a book club this coming week. I love the idea of not having to sleep, so it'll be interesting to see where this goes!


message 4: by John (last edited May 05, 2014 02:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments Ok. There we go.

It will be my third time. It seems I read it every seven years ;) I love this book.


message 5: by Katy (last edited May 05, 2014 09:48AM) (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) I picked up the book. Hope to find time to read it. Glad to hear that you it was great read for you, Linda & John. Hope to discuss with you soon.


message 6: by Mickey (last edited May 05, 2014 11:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mickey | 589 comments Linda wrote: "I finished the book this morning. I thought it was excellent. She explores a lot of important issues, e.g., why do we fear people who are different? is welfare ("dole") good or bad? are America..."

I have read the book many years ago and enjoyed the book.
However, your questions are bit complex and not sure if this the correct forum. So I will risk the rath and provide my uproffesional opinions of why.

"why do people fear others that are different"?
People want to feel secure, starting from birth. They feel secured surrounded by their nuclear family (mom, dad, relatives). As people get further away from the nuclear family they start to feel a little more insecure. Do not speak to strangers (a good reason for kids). People will get very insecure when surrounded by different races, religions and environments. When people feel insecure they will tend to lash back, keep away from anyone that is different. As one gets older, many will not overcome their fears, some will overcome their fears and explore other races and beliefs.

"Is Welfare "dole" bad?
Not in my book. In my unprofessional opinion, the world is going through a precipice. Technology is the main reason for the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. What if through automation and robots that 10% of the worlds popultation can provide for 100% of all goods and severices on the planet? What kind of economic system will the world have? Let the 90 % masses starve OR have a utopian society where machines provides everyone's needs. I believe we are in an economic transition and many will suffer. Old belief systems will have to give way: if you do not work, you shall not eat.

Their will always be a balance between what is good for the individual and the majority. I believe everyone should have: food, clothing, shelter, medical and a good education. Population control may be needed of some kind.

And now for the book and another answer to the questions.
(view spoiler)


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 260 comments Thoughtful comments Mickey. I did not mean to start a discussion of the specific issues. I was just impressed at the number that were included and how the situations in which they arise could be related to similar situations we are encountering today. I sometimes find myself in conflict on these issues -- my beliefs vs. my real life reactions.


Mickey | 589 comments @Linda
I see, resolving ones conflicts seems to part of life and learning.

Enjoy Life... Mickey :)


Darren Hewson | 1 comments Hey folks, thanks for having me in your group.

I read this the other day and enjoyed it. It was refreshingly short, thought provoking and a little bit sad.

Cheers


message 10: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - added it

Maggie K | 1280 comments Mod
Welcome Darren-and Im glad you are enjoying it!


message 11: by John (last edited May 12, 2014 03:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments Mickey wrote: "Linda wrote: "I finished the book this morning. I thought it was excellent. She explores a lot of important issues, e.g., why do we fear people who are different? is welfare ("dole") good or bad..."

Uuuaaauuu!!! What a good discussion stuff have you put over the table!

About the fear of different people. I basically agree with you. The book shows the fear that reach an extreme point. But in these times, there is a clear positive point in diversity, don´t you think?

Regarding the welfare point, I disagree that technology is causing the economical differences. I think that technology is neutral and the differences are caused by the way we organize our society. Both aspects, technological and social, appear in the book.

You mentioned your unprofessional opinion. Could I ask you which one is your profession?


message 12: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments I watch on the TV a sociologist that said we should work less in the future to have what we need. Less hours working and more hours learning, during more working years.


message 13: by Mickey (last edited May 12, 2014 04:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mickey | 589 comments John wrote: "Mickey wrote: "Linda wrote: "I finished the book this morning. I thought it was excellent. She explores a lot of important issues, e.g., why do we fear people who are different? is welfare ("dol..."

I am now retired, computer science A.I.

Try this Ted talk.
http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_mcafe...

As for the diversity question. Read my spoiler in message 6.


Mary JL (maryjl) | 14 comments I read it last year and am eager awaiting discussion.


Mickey | 589 comments Many decades ago during the university years, I tried sleeping only three hours a night. It worked for about three weeks, I got a lot of studying in and did well on exams. Then... It was like hitting a wall. No alarm or dorm roommate (they laughed and knew it would catch up with me) could wake me up I was like out, no dreams or anything. I was like out for 12 hours when I went to bed for the next few days. Missed classes and felt tired and draggy all day. So that experiment last about a month. So give me my eight hours a night :)


message 16: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments I agree with the 8 hours sleeping. I need them all.

(view spoiler)


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments So, I'm about a quarter of the way in. I'm finding the Ayn-Rand-like philosophy and the overwhelming hatred a bit heavy-handed. Are we supposed to take these economic theories seriously? Because ironically enough, as much as they preach "the free exchange of contracts," the sleepless have a fairly communal style of economic interactions among themselves.


Mary JL (maryjl) | 14 comments Btw, there are two more books in the series "Beggars and Choosers" and "Beggars Ride". Have not been able to get copies of those yet--they are on my TBR.


message 19: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments Mary JL wrote: "Btw, there are two more books in the series "Beggars and Choosers" and "Beggars Ride". Have not been able to get copies of those yet--they are on my TBR."

Yes. I liked the sequel "Beggars and choosers" as much as "Beggars in Spain", but I think "Beggars ride" decreases the level a Little.


Rion  (orion1) | 87 comments I'm only on chapter 10 so far but I'm getting the same impression as Alexa. The author seems to be constructing this book as a cross between Atlas Shrugged and Methuselah's Children. Unfortunately not as well as either the two other books just mentioned thus far. Sort of hard to take on Rand and Heinlein with one stroke but I'll try an keep an open mind with the heavy handed, under developed usages of many different philosophical concepts. She has made a few statements I rather agree with in regards to there needing to be a balance between individualism/free market capitalism and altruism/socialism. But I'm not all together convinced that altruism leads to greater gains in the future from lets just use her euphemism beggars instead of Rand's Parasites. Even though time certainly is a factor, Rand's overall message wasn't that most of the proletariat are parasites. I'm getting way ahead of myself here though and must finish the book. At least I'm curious to see where she goes next.


Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
People have often accused Kress of that kind of political ideology, but I've always read that as the beliefs of some of the characters, not the author. By the end, Leila has certainly come to a different conclusion.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 260 comments Rion wrote: "I'm only on chapter 10 so far but I'm getting the same impression as Alexa. The author seems to be constructing this book as a cross between Atlas Shrugged and Methuselah's Children. Unfortunately..."

For the most part, I don't think Kress was promoting any specific political ideology. She does, however, explore a few. She also considers an array of human dynamics, providing, I think, an array of issues for consideration that mirror situations we are seeing in our day-to-day lives that have been highlighted, for me, by the continuing economic slump. For example, I work and live in a small city. Over the past few years, the number of homeless on the streets has escalated significantly. The question for me is how should this situation be addressed? And the range of responses I might give on any particular day are influenced by how the situation impacts me personally. And the situation sometimes impacts how I react to seemingly unrelated situations, such as the heated debate about the City's decision to sell part of a park to the neighboring hotel.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments I'm about a third of the way through - right now it's reading to me as a mix of Ayn Rand and Dr. Seuss's Star-Belly Sneetches.

It's really hard for me to see that removing the need to sleep would result in all this intellectual activity. It seems just as likely to me that we would all be reading science fiction all night long, or drinking in bars, or watching cute kitten videos. Yes, it might give an edge to Olympic-level figure skaters and law school students, but the rest of us? (And don't tell me those law school students don't occasionally go carousing all night long!)


Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
That makes sense in this context, though, as the sleepless gene is part of a host of gene selections, and most parents specifically selected for high intelligence.


message 25: by Alexa (last edited May 14, 2014 08:09AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments I know some really really smart people who are really good at finding ways to waste time! ;)


Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
True that!


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Mary Catelli | 403 comments Yeah, there's a lot of selection bias going into the traits the Sleepless brag about.


message 28: by Rion (last edited May 14, 2014 12:25PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rion  (orion1) | 87 comments @Megan and Linda. I was more so pointing out the convolution of ideological premises that are underdeveloped thus far. Only ten chapters and dare I use the p word, it's a bit pretentiousness.

I just realized my biggest criticism is that I think the author might have borrowed to heavily from Atlas Shrugged and Methuselah's Children that it's been hurting her own voice coming across as genuine at first. The last chapter I read has shown some promise that this is going to change.

As far as not sleeping goes. I often wish I didn't have to sleep. In college I slept on average about 2-3 hours and at least once a week not at all. Needless to say it lead to burn out by the time I graduated. If I didn't have to sleep now, more opportunities would possible in my case.


message 29: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 403 comments Her original inspiration for the book was that she has an abnormally high need for sleep herself.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments Ah, that's intriguing! So it's wish-fulfillment. I can just see her resenting all that "wasted" time. Me, I've always cheated myself of sleep, so I view it as a pleasure I've never had the luxury to have enough of.


Rion  (orion1) | 87 comments Just finished this obfuscated, horribly paced attempt at one upping Atlas Shrugged's well thought out and masterfully executed use of fiction to advance the philosophy about individualism and rationalism. Unlike Atlas Shrugged this book completely lacked focus or a soul of its own. I wanted to stop reading this with each new chapter completed and each new failure to offer up well executed arguments for progressing the idea of the rights of community and society over the will of the intelligent individual. I've come to accept that some aspects of government and society are important. Altruism has some very good arguments of which this book loosely definded with one line statements and shallow characterization. It's not how many ideas and or philosophies one can incorporate into a book that makes it worth reading, it's how well those ideas are disseminated. I cringed every time a new complex idea like string theory or social Darwinism lead to more underdeveloped plot and characters. The main characters were hollow and villains static and transparent. While the ideas could have lead to interesting anticlimaxes and climaxes the author did not effectively transition her controlling themes. I could rant further but I'll spare you all. No interest in continuing with the series unless it "changes" over time into a well thought out critique of Randian free market capitalism.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments I have to say I was quite disappointed. I just have no interest in rambling explorations of Ayn-Rand-like philosophies. And on top of that I couldn't find any of the various characters' motivations the least bit realistic.


message 33: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments I have never read Ayn Rand. Would you recommend me a book?


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 302 comments I can't "recommend" anything by Ayn Rand because I despise her. Her two recognized major works are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. They pretend to be novels but they are actually her attempt to explicate her philosophical beliefs. A handful of deluded libertarian-types (such as Alan Greenspan) admire her. Since I find her beliefs so reprehensible, it would be difficult for me to actually comment on the quality of her writing.


message 35: by Bruce (last edited May 21, 2014 08:41AM) (new)

Bruce Deming Alexa wrote: "I can't "recommend" anything by Ayn Rand because I despise her. Her two recognized major works are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. They pretend to be nove..."

Thanks Alexa. I think it gets overlooked that her books are a cold blooded pursuit of money and it doesn't matter gets stomped on in pursuit of wealth.

Leaves me cold. Didn't pursue to the end any story of hers.


message 36: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments Alexa wrote: "I can't "recommend" anything by Ayn Rand because I despise her. Her two recognized major works are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. They pretend to be nove..."

Understood. You said Beggars has that Ayn-Rand-like philosophy and I was curious. The Rand´s philosophy is cuestionable at best and in the context of Kress´ novel could be not very plausible, but nevertheless it is interesting. I mean I don´t think Kress is for the society she describes but she just suggests "what if..."


message 37: by Rion (last edited May 23, 2014 02:51AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rion  (orion1) | 87 comments John if you want to understand what Kress is attempting to do in this book, you'll need to read Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Heinlein's Methuselah's Children. She uses a few openings in Rand's arguments in an attempt to challenge the philosophy of Objectivism and Libertarianism. Both Rand and Heinlein are often coined as major contributors to these philosophies.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 260 comments I'm not sure it is necessary to read either Rand or Heinlein, although I've read both, to understand what Kress is doing. Ann Rand's philosphy seems very popular among the current crop of Republicans that seem to fall in the Tea Party characterization. I read Kress as not necessarily rejecting the Rand philosophy but as questioning whether it is compatible with the reality of life.


message 39: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Doez | 38 comments I have read the book for the third time and I don´t feel unconfortable with the society Kress presents. This is speculative fiction so she writes from those premises.

I like the way the supers think. I don´t know where the idea comes from but I love it.


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