The Demon-Haunted World

Reading nonfiction presents a challenge that I have not completely mastered yet. Most of the nonfiction I read is history, so it’s usually cut and dry, factual, without much opinion. Those I don’t have much trouble with. I either like them or I don’t.

But some nonfiction are written on a bias, or from a perspective I’ve never heard or thought of before, or just written by someone way smarter than I am.

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The Demon-Haunted World is all three of those things. Carl Sagan is one of the great scientists of our age, or at least one of the most famous. So he is definitely smarter than I am. His book is basically about skepticism vs theism/religion/people’s beliefs in what exists in our universe.

I say basically, because the perspective was a little hard for me to grasp at times. This book is probably a little over my education level, and out of my normal realm of interest. I think what he was getting at is that we as a society should strive to be educated as much as possible and base our thoughts and ideas in science and education, rather than blind faith. Which, as a book written by a scientist, makes sense.

It seemed to be a book written in response to the millions of fan letters he has received over the years. Much of it was tongue-in-cheek. He asks at one point for submissions for “Top 10 Questions to Ask an Alien.” He discusses a lot of topics–UFOs, ancient religions, Greek/Roman history, modern education, nuclear war, conspiracy theories.

It was an intriguing read, but again, I didn’t understand everything he said, nor did I agree with everything he said. However, he doesn’t really ask the reader to. All he wants is for you to ask questions, and look for the answers yourself. Don’t just take everything at face value. And that is the most important thing, in my opinion.

WWW Wednesday 7/15/2015

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WHOOPS! Almost forgot about this today!

 

What are you currently reading?

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

For Study:  The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

 

What did you just finish reading?

 

The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield (Review up tomorrow)

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

Maggie by Stephen Crane

 

The Heart of the Matter

Some reviews just seem to write themselves. Those are the fun one, both for me to write, and hopefully for you to read.

And then there are reviews like this one, where I just stare at the blinking cursor for what seems like hours. Sigh…

This happens when I neither liked nor disliked the book. Strong feelings make for great reviews. But mediocre books make for mediocre reviews–what in the world do I say about books I have no emotion for?

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The Heart of the Matter is one such book. It was next up on the Boxall’s list, so it hit my TBR this weekend. And really, it wasn’t awful. I just don’t have any real emotion about it.

It’s about a police officer, Scobie, in a small West African town, torn apart by war. His wife is ashamed when he is passed over for a commission, so she whines until he sends her to South Africa–with money borrowed from a skeezy diamond mogul. While she’s gone he has an affair with a shipwrecked widow.

It’s very 1950 dramatic. Which is to say…bland for today’s audience. The officers are all white men who have “boys” as servants, and drink pink gin and scotch. Again, it’s just one of those “literatures” that has probably been on a must read list for decades and it’s just not really relevant anymore. *meh*

 

Fulfills Boxall #91

Trees of Reverie July Read-A-Thon Day One

Create a TBR list and set some goals for the Read-A-Thon!

I completely forgot to put this month’s challenge on my calendar, and so forgot that it started today. OOOOOPS! Thankfully I saw people posting this challenge just in time for it to start.

Let’s get rolling, shall we?

This will work similar to the other challenges I’ve done in the past. I’ll go off my regularly scheduled TBR, and log the pages I’ve read. I’ll also be doing most, if not all, of the Daily Bookish Challenges Sarah posts. Should be a good week. I don’t have too many major things planned, so this could be a big challenge for me!

TBR, starting with what I am currently reading:

Trust No One by Paul Cleaves

Awake by Natasha Preston

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz

The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield

The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan

 

I’m also reading daily The Queen of the Tearling, The Ramayana and The Treasury of Poems, so there will be pages included from that in my count as well.

Good luck next week everyone!

WWW Wednesday 7/8/2015

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What are you currently reading?

Tess of d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

For Study:  The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

 

What did you just finish reading?

Empire of Sin by Gary Krist

Trollhunters by Guillermo del Torro

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

Trust No One by Paul Cleave

Awake by Dan Chaon

 

Goldengrove

I like thrillers, right? I like to be creeped out.

But there is scary horror psychological thriller creepy…

…and then there is legit sexual predator “all my hair standing on end because this person is just not right” creepy. Sometimes it’s a fine line, but there is a difference. One gives me goosebumps. The other makes me want to puke.

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At first, Goldengrove is just sad. It’s a book about grieving and healing. The oldest daughter in a family of four has a heart condition, and dies suddenly, leaving her younger sister and parents to mourn.

Pretty simple premise for a book, really. The dad buries himself in his work, mom finds solace in pain medication for her arthritis. Unfortunately, that leaves the 13 year old daughter without much of a support system, and so the only other friend she has is her sister’s boyfriend, Aaron, who is also grieving.

The problem is that Nico looks so much like her sister that Aaron’s grief becomes very confusing. He starts asking of Nico some pretty creepy things. Small requests at first, but they get bigger and bigger.

As an adult, looking in from the outside, I was screaming at her to stop. But it was like that frog in a pot of slowly heating water. She didn’t realize what was happening until it was boiling over. To be honest, I’m not sure Aaron did either (although his response does make me hesitate on that), but it was still just…creepy. *shudder*

The book itself wasn’t bad. The writing was great, to be honest–and obviously I had a very real emotional response to it. It’s one of those books that I don’t know how I feel about it. I can’t say it’s a “good” book, because the emotional response I’m having is not a good feeling. But it is a well written one. It’s a book that probably should be read, for awareness and emotion, something like reading All the Rage, just go into it knowing that it’s not going to be entertainment or relaxing.

My Stroke of Insight

The brain fascinates me. Everybody’s neurons fire in such different ways and it’s amazing to me how it all works. When things go wrong, the brain reacts in some seriously interesting ways to compensate and heal.

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Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor was a successful neurological expert at Harvard, with a focus in schizophrenia (and some other things that were far above my intellectual level). One morning, she was getting ready for work when she was struck with crazy waves of euphoria and pain. Her left brain, where our analytical side (and thus, all her neurological study knowledge) resides, was screaming at her that something was wrong. Unfortunately, that side was quickly becoming overwhelmed with a hemorrhage due to stroke. And so, her right side was taking over to compensate. She could see the “bigger picture” but mostly she was overcome with an inner peace, hence the euphoria feeling.

Thankfully, she was able to get help, and thus began an 8 year period of recovery, from a unique perspective of someone who understood the brain. Taylor has written a book of her journey, My Stroke of Insight. She shares the terrifying moments of the day of her stroke, her struggle to regain control of her mind and body, and what life is like now. She also gives a lot of advice for caregivers of stroke patients, since most of us know someone who has had a stroke–but it’s so hard for us to reach them to know what they need or want.

My favorite part about this book is the last few chapters where she talks about how the right brain functions, and how it affected her perspective on life. Because the stroke was in her left side, she spent a great deal of time functioning in her right brain–the “big picture” side. This is the side that gives us meditation, creativity, beauty. She talks a great deal about finding your deep inner peace. For someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, these sections were extremely inspiring to me.

Dr. Bolte Taylor is an extremely courageous woman. I can’t imagine the amount of pain she’s gone through to get to where she is today. My Stroke of Insight is so inspiring, and I would recommend it to anyone who needs to be moved. This will be my meditation for the week, for sure.

She also gave a Ted Talk about her stroke, you can watch it HERE. It’s a really great addition to the book, hear her up close and personal about her experience through her stroke. It’s very emotional, and really shows just how strong and courageous she is.

Oscar Wilde

June is Pride Month, and so to celebrate, I added some specific books to my TBR. The Empty Family had several gay narrators. I’m listening to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on audiobook on my walks, so I’ll review that one when I am finished. And Under the Lights was a bit of a surprise that I’m not revealing, but that one turned out perfect for the theme too!

I wish there were more books out there with LGBT characters, and my library has been posting a lot of recommendations, many of which I have added to my TBR. If you have some good ones, shoot them my way!

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The book I was most excited to read for Pride was about one of my favorite authors, Oscar Wilde. Written as part of a series called Lives of Notable Gay Men and Lesbians, Jeff Nunokawa gives us a short but informative piece on Wilde’s struggle to be a prominent gentleman in 19th century England, while living his life the way he needed to.

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed. Obviously, you can’t fit that much life into 100 pages. The information was there, it just wasn’t that grandeur you expect when reading about Oscar Wilde. It was very “This happened on this date.”

And ok, I can live with that. What really got to me though was that here we have a book about a gay man in the 19th century, at the height of Victorian censorship. His very name stood for persecution.

And then in the book written ABOUT this man…this happens:

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Now, I am sure it was a publishing error, but still. There was about 10 pages missing, randomly in the middle of the book. And in a 100 page book, that’s a lot of information.

Just kind of makes you wonder, huh? It IS a library copy.

Anyway. It left a bad taste in my mouth. I skipped to the end, past the snow white pages, and read about the trial and sad end to this brilliant man’s career.

Time to read something a little less sad.

What are you reading for Pride? I hope all my LGBT friends are having a fantastic month!

 

WWW Wednesday 6/17/2015

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In interesting, nerdy news this week, I figured out that if I were to read one Boxall book every week, it will take me 17.5 more years to read it. A long time, but doable. I don’t think I’ll be dead by then…hopefully.

What are you currently reading? The Quest by Frederik van Eeden For Study:  The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon   What did you just finish reading? The Empty Family by Colm Toibin (Review Today) The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell   What do you think you’ll read next? Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte The Appeal by John Grisham Swerve by Vicki Pettersson (Also picking up library books tonight or tomorrow so…you know this always changes.)

WWW Wednesday 6/10/2015

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What are you currently reading?

Hannibal by Thomas Harris (Reread since it is Fannibal Season!)

For Study:  The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

 

What did you just finish reading?

 

Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding (Review Tomorrow!)

Fanchon the Cricket by George Sand

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Airplane Rides by Jake Alexander

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Desperation by Stephen King