Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is the March entry for my Classics challenges, and I will answer these questions about it:
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
WHY I Chose to Read It
WHAT Makes It A Classic
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
WILL It Stay A Classic
WHO I’d Recommend It To

As with a number of classic books, I have been aware of A Tale of Two Cities since at least high school. I decided to read it because it one of those books that everyone should read, according to numerous lists of such things.
I am truly not sure why this book is a classic. I found the second part better than the first, but was truly not impressed. I have read some Dickens before, with varying amounts of satisfaction, but this will not go high on my list.
Since it has remained a classic for this long, it probably will stay one. I would really only recommend it to those who desire to read as much of the literary canon as possible.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Lord of the Flies

The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, is the second book for this particular classics challenge, and I will answer the following questions about it.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
WHY I Chose to Read It
WHAT Makes It A Classic
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
WILL It Stay A Classic
WHO I’d Recommend It To

The Lord of the Flies is one of those books that I have nearly always been aware of. I can picture the cover on the version that was on the shelves in my house growing up, and which is still floating around here somewhere. When I was in high school there were books that we were required to read, and then a list of optional reading that could be used for various papers, etc. I know this was on there, but I never chose it. I am sure that the fact that it was about a group of young boys probably influenced that.

I chose to read it now because it consistently appears on lists of the best books, and I am trying not to leave any significant holes in my reading.

I believe that it is a classic--and will stay a classic--because it addresses one of the most basic literary themes--man's inhumanity to man--at a basic level. It shows a truth that we all know: Children are not innocent. It affirms what we all know in our hearts, that without civilizing influences and "grown ups" enforcing the rules, there will always be those who will take advantage, take over, steal, murder, etc. But it also allows for some to be guided by a stronger sense of right and wrong, and by the welfare of others, as well as themselves.

I liked this book, although I didn't really expect to. It was well-written. The monsters were an interesting idea. You could feel the tragedy coming from the very beginning, and the book was sad, but somehow not in an overwhelming way.

I would recommend this book to those Pollyanna-ish people who believe in the innocence of children or the ideals of communism. This deeper truths of this book are a perfect illustration of why communism and socialism don't work.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Lukewarming

Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes EverythingLukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything by Patrick J. Michaels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an extremely readable, well-researched and documented look at the current state of climate science and the politics surrounding it. Because of all of the charts and graphs and pieces of information, I had to read it in chunks to digest the information thoroughly, but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a better understanding of what is true and what is hype.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016


MeditationsMeditations by Marcus Aurelius
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has taken me a long time to get through. I have set it aside and returned to it a number of times, and I realized today that I needed to just plow through and finish it. I think that I would have enjoyed it more if the Kindle version weren't written in archaic English, with "thees" and "thous" and "hadst" and "shouldst." Even with the benefit of having grown up with the King James Bible and archaic language in church, it still slowed me down.

It was interesting to read the thoughts that this powerful man wrote down almost 2000 years ago. It has been nearly thirty years since I did any formal study of philosophy, but I could pick up his Stoic views in the writings. Ultimately, I am glad that I read it, and relieved to finally check it off my list.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016


It was poor planning on my part reading Faust in January, because it doesn't fit the category for my 12 Month Classics Challenge, because I haven't always wanted to read it. However, it is the first title for my other classics challenge, and for that challenge I have some blogging prompts.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
WHY I Chose to Read It
WHAT Makes It A Classic
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
WILL It Stay A Classic
WHO I’d Recommend It To

I am not really sure when I discovered Faust. I think I heard of Goethe while I was in high school, and I'm fairly certain that my first knowledge of the name "Faust" was because of the opera. At some point in the last few years, as I've been assembling a list of books that are gaps in my knowledge, I decided that Faust was one of them. I saw a review of this particular translation, and it sounded promising, so I ordered it.

I think Faust is a classic partially because the basic story has had many retellings in many forms--including Goethe's own revisions--over time. The poetry was the best part for me. I'm assuming that the translation was really well done, because there were none of the issues that you often run into with translated poetry. It isn't a book that I enjoyed all that much--except again--the poetry, but I'm sure it will remain a classic.

I would recommend it to my daughter and oldest son, especially since they could read the original German, too. And I think they would enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 Reading Challenges

 This year was a mixed bag for reading challenge success.I could give up, but I know that the challenges do improve my overall reading quality and variety. So this year I am keeping that goal in mind and I am doing far fewer challenges, and fewer that don't really challenge me.

You Read How Many?
12 Month Classics Challenge
Foodies Read
European Reading Challenge
Mount TBR
Random Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge

This is one of those rather random challenges, but it looks like purposeful randomness.

1. Heat by Bill Buford (1/3/2016) PREVIOUSLY ABANDONED
2. Faust by Goethe (1/6/2016)  OWNED BUT UNREAD
3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (1/12/2015) PUBLISHED BEFORE I WAS BORN
4. Pretties by Scott Westerfield (1/13/2015) FINISHED IN A DAY
5. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (2/8/2016) SHOULD HAVE READ IN SCHOOL
6. The Law by Frederic Bastiat (2/14/2016) BEEN MEANING TO READ