This page is for good books, articles,
speeches and other readable materials
I've found and can recommend
Please let me know if you have recommendations as well!Books read in 2015
1) Gifted Hands
3) Tess of the d'Urbervilles
The anatomy of peace
The man in the iron mask
The life of a stripper
The English patient
Into thin air
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde
Description: The novel tells of a young man named Dorian Gray, the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward. Basil is impressed by Dorian's beauty and becomes infatuated with him, believing his beauty is responsible for a new mode in his art. Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil's, and becomes enthralled by Lord Henry's world view. Espousing a new hedonism, Lord Henry suggests the only things worth pursuing in life are beauty and fulfilment of the senses. Realizing that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian (whimsically) expresses a desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than he. Dorian's wish is fulfilled, and when he subsequently pursues a life of debauchery, the portrait serves as a reminder of the effect each act has upon his soul, with each sin displayed as a disfigurement of his form, or through a sign of aging.
What I Thought: This book was incredible. The writing is rich (my copy has numerous pages folded over to mark quotes) and deep with it's content while displaying a character who is pretty simple. Dorian lusts so much after beauty and sensation that he trades his soul to obtain it only to find that he doesn't even understand the soul. As usual Oscar Wilde has his natural sarcasm affect every page causing you to chase your tail with your own thoughts about reality, the soul and happiness. I remember reaching the last page and then turning it hoping for more.
The War of the Worlds- H.G. Wells
Description: The War of the Worlds (1898), a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, is the first-person narrative of an unnamed protagonist's (and his brother's) adventures in London and the countryside around London as Earth is invaded by Martians. Written in 1895–97, it is one of the earliest stories that details a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race.
What I Thought: This book was awesome, far better than the movie. It is written and set a century before the movie so we are able to explore alien invasion without the idea of modern technology. It becomes more about a man's feelings of isolation, natural selection, evolution of man in sight of an unknown species advanced beyond ours and less about explosions and cool effects. It's been a while since I read it but I found it on our bookshelf at home and may need to pick it up again, I remember not being able to put it down.
Into the Wild- John Krakauer
Description: Into the Wild is the true story of Chris McCandless, a young Emory graduate who is found dead in the Alaskan wilderness in September 1992, when he is twenty-four. McCandless grows up in wealthy Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., and is a very gifted athlete and scholar, who from an early age shows deep intensity, passion, and a strict moral compass. After graduating from high school McCandless spends the summer alone on a road trip across the country. After about two years of itinerant travel, McCandless settles on a plan to go to Alaska and truly live in the wilderness, completely alone, and with very few supplies, to see if he can do it, to push himself to the very extremes. He spends a few months preparing, learning all he can about hunting, edible plants, etc, and then he leaves South Dakota, where he’d been working, and hitchhikes to Fairbanks. Those whom he tells about the plan all warn him that he needs to be better prepared, or should wait until later in the spring, but he is adamant and stubborn.
What I Thought: John Krakauer is an incredible writer, using adjectives and imagery that could have made an incredible book sans plot. However, the plot of this book was incredible in itself. Krakauer shares Chris's story with open-minded respect and even briefly shares the stories of a few other adventurists including himself. He shares his opinion of the situation while leaving space for the reader to form their opinion as well. In my opinion, Chris was was in pursuit of a freedom that he didn't fully understand. It was interesting to read about his adventures without society but more interesting to me was the affect that this had on his views of intimacy. Always ready to shrug off a relationship (romantic or otherwise), he finds himself with a few lifelong friends that he is not sure how to love. It seems that it wasn't until he was alone in the wilderness that he discovered that life and love is not full unless it is shared. Being a believer that he really did need to deprive himself of these relationships to learn the importance of them, I do also believe that he truly did realize this and allowed it to sink in. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when you read within the first few pages about the result of Chris's daring adventure.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda- Tom Angleberger
Description: In the sixth grade is a kid named Dwight, who is considered quite weird. One day, Dwight makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. But the thing is, Origami Yoda gives advice that always seems to work, and possibly predict the future. Soon, the students at McQuarrie are convinced that Origami Yoda has a special connection to the Force.
What I Thought: Strangely full of meaning for a book that takes about an hour and a half to read! Origami Yoda has a puzzling depth that he is able to share with the kids at this school. There are many stories of how Yoda gave great advice, one of my favorites being about a boy named Mike Coley, who was really bad at baseball. Whenever they played baseball in gym he would strike out and then get so frustrated he would cry. He quickly became known as a crybaby. When Mike took this problem to Origami Yoda, in hopes of receiving the secret to better baseball playing, he was told by Yoda that the other boys are better than him. Feeling a little robbed he leaves for gym under the impression that did not receive advice. However, as he is up to bat he is able to keep in mind that the other boys are better than him and that's ok. By the time is strikes out (and he does strike out) his mind has wandered to more important things such as self-esteem and the realization that being good at baseball can be left to the meat heads anyway. He then realizes that he is not crying. Origami Yoda has helped him shed his crybaby persona. The book is full of stories like these where Origami Yoda helps the middle school kids realize things about themselves that give them confidence and help them figure out who they are.
The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho
Description: tells the story of a young shepherd named Santiago who is able to find a treasure beyond his wildest dreams. Along the way, he learns to listen to his heart and, more importantly, realizes that his dreams, or his Personal Legend, are not just his but part of the Soul of the Universe.
What I Thought: Another beautiful and thought provoking book. The focus of this story seemed to be the realization that God is in our everyday lives. He is vying for our success against our own doubts and imperfect perspective. It's exciting to watch Santiago experience the pursuance of his own Personal Legend as he has victories but more often "failures" that lead him to his reward. He really is able to find himself and his place in the universe through his daily realizations that the universe is actually on his side.
Life of Pi- Yann Martel
Description: Part 1 details Pi's childhood in Pondicherry, India. His father owns a zoo and Pi spends a lot of his time thinking about animals. But zoology is only one of Pi's passions: he also loves religion. He's a Hindu from birth; then at fourteen he adds Catholicism to his repertoire; at fifteen he adds Islam. He's inquisitive, joyful, and an all-around wonder of a human being. Things, however, aren't so swell in India. The Prime Minister, one Mrs. Indira Gandhi, institutes martial law. Pi's parents decide to leave India. They sell most of the animals and pack up their belongings. They board, along with some of the animals they're selling to North American zoos, a Japanese cargo ship. They're headed for Canada.
All of Part 2 takes place at sea, but without many of the characters we met in Part 1. Tragedy strikes and the ship sinks halfway to the Midway atoll. No one survives except Pi and a menagerie of animals: a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan, and a Bengal tiger. All these creatures, including Pi, are packed into a 26-foot-long lifeboat.
What I thought: This book was brilliant. It's thoroughly entertaining in every sense of the word. It will keep your senses busy and cognitively challenge you in what you live and believe. Pi's relationship with everything in his surroundings is questioned, from the tiger he finds himself trapped with to himself and even God. The beginning of the book invites you to open your mind to a boy who is discovering who he is, often in religious terms and in the second part you see those developments challenged until the end reveals what a strenuous situation has the ability to do to the human mind.
The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare- G.K. Chesterton
Description: Can you trust yourself when you don't know who you are? Syme uses his new acquaintance to go undercover in Europe's Central Anarchist Council and infiltrate their deadly mission, even managing to have himself voted to the position of 'Thursday'. In a park in London, secret policeman Gabriel Syme strikes up a conversation with an anarchist. Sworn to do his duty, when Syme discovers another undercover policeman on the Council, however, he starts to question his role in their operations. And as a desperate chase across Europe begins, his confusion grows, as well as his confidence in his ability to outwit his enemies. But he has still to face the greatest terror that the Council has - its leader: a man named Sunday, whose true nature is worse than Syme could ever have imagined...
The Great Divorce- C.S. Lewis
Description: An allegory along the lines of Dante's Divine Comedy, Christian apologist C.S. Lewis' book The Great Divorce was written, as Lewis explains in the preface, to combat the universalist notion that everyone will be saved in the end. The book takes the form of a bus ride that carries the damned from Hell to Heaven, where the narrator learns that they are offered a chance to stay there, but ultimately reject it because they prefer to remain in Hell.
What I thought: I really enjoyed how this book was a cry for action an argument against complacency. It's the same idea as Lot's wife. How could God and Christ offer us something better than what we have even if what we have is misery? Why is it so difficult to believe that The Son of God good free us from what's holding us captive? The only requirement is that we let go of ourselves, our material belongings, our pride and our own personal demons. I also liked how C.S. Lewis depicted the growing period coming from Hell to Heaven, at first you are painfully uncomfortable but if you put the time in then you are eventually helping people to find Heaven yourself.