Friday, August 19, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Art of War***

This slender volume is a must despite it's seeming incongruity with modern female life. We have to be on our toes all the time and Sun Tzu fully understands and explains how to think about this.

This book had me humming "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan all afternoon.

This book is called The Art of War for a reason. It's all about strategy. Because of this much of it is applicable to everyday life.

Also, I think every Commander in Chief of the United States should be required to read this book. America's being involved in war also gives an interesting perspective to The Art of War.

Good Quotes:

  • "The Way means virtue. It is first necessary to compare the political leadership of nations at war."

  • "Therefore it is said that victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."

  • "If you use the enemy to defeat the enemy, you will be strong wherever you go."

  • "Using order to deal with the disorderly, using calm to deal with the clamorous, is mastering the heart."

  • "So the rule of military operations is not to count on opponents not coming, but to rely on having ways of dealing with them; not to count on opponents not attacking, but to rely on having what cannot be attacked."

  • "A government should not mobilize an army out of anger, military leaders should not provoke war out of wrath. Act when it is beneficial, desist if it is not. Anger can revert to joy, wroth can revert to delight, but a nation destroyed cannot be restored to existence, and the dead cannot be restored to life."

Monday, August 15, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - This Side of Paradise***

Another coming of age novel that will keep you at the edge of your seat. This one is all about discovering what one really thinks and why. An astonishing first novel from one of the 20th century's greatest.

I like this book. I wasn't sure if I would because the only other Fitzgerald book I've ever read just confused me. Fitzgerald doesn't always make his point blatantly obvious and so the last novel of his that I read went right over my head and I wasn't able to appreciate it. However, being aware of this problem, I paid attention this time, figured out what he was talking about, and more-or-less agreed with it.

What I got out of this book is that life without God is empty. The main character tries to fill this spiritual vacuum with all different things: ambition, love, etc. but nothing satisfies. The point is made that these idols are "a poor substitute at best."

The ending is well done. It lacks finality, allowing, rather, for the character to exit the stage and walk out into the unknown future; leaving the reader to wonder what path Amory Blaine chose for his life.

Good Quotes:

"I act as an escape from the weariness of agnosticism, and I think I'm the only man who knows his staid old mind is really at sea and longs for a sturdy spar like the Church to cling to."

"Whatever your meter proves to be - religion, architecture, literature - I'm sure you would be much safer anchored to the Church."

"If we could only learn to look on evil as evil, whether it's clothed in filth or mediocrity or magnificence."

"You make a great mistake if you think you can be romantic without religion."

"He wondered that graves ever made people consider life in vain. Somehow he could find nothing hopeless in having lived."

Friday, August 12, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Prisoner of Zenda****

Dashing adventure, fictional kingdoms and mistaken identity make Anthony Hope's novel sheer delight.

This book seems at first to be just a good story; well-written, clever, and all that, but the last two chapters make it a book that every woman should read. It is indeed a "sheer delight," a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is very well-written with beautiful description. The chapter "A New Use for a Tea-Table" is particularly enjoyable and every woman should aspire to fall in love with a man like Rudolph. I highly recommend this book!


  • "I can thank God that I love the noblest lady in the world, the most gracious and beautiful, and that there was nothing in my love that made her fall short in her high duty.

  • "if I can never hold sweet converse again with her, or look upon her face, or know from her her love; why, then, this side of the grave, I will live as becomes the man whom she loves."

  • "It was a maxim of my Uncle William's that no man should pass through Paris without spending four-and-twenty hours there."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Paradise Lost**

This is an all-time world classic and well worth the extra effort. The language may be somewhat unfamiliar to most but will be readily understood with a bit of patience.

Well the first thing to remember is that Milton (the author) was a Protestant. Therefore, he necessarily makes doctrinal errors when discussing theology. Now, I do understand that this is meant to be a novel so there is some poetic license. However, Milton, speaking as a Protestant, does contradict some fundamental points of doctrine and that could be very confusing for someone who is not steeped in Catholic theology.

Paradise Lost is actually an epic poem which was kind of cool at first but gets kind of annoying after a while. The language is difficult to understand and the poetic rhythm gets a bit repetitive. And the book just seems to drag on. By the end I was just sick of it.

Honestly, if I want to read about the fall of man, I'll pick up the Bible.


"But their spite still serves His glory to augment."

"Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife Among themselves, and levy cruel wars, Wasting the earth, each other to destroy - As if (which might induce us to accord) Man had not hellish foes enough besides, That day and night for his destruction wait"

"in mercy and justice both, Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel, But mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine"

"How few sometimes may know when thousands err"

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Witch of Blackbird Pond***

Although this is a young-adult novel, it's information and context may help illumine the period for you. Especially nice if you read it along with The Scarlet Letter.

This book was fine but I didn't really think it belonged on a list of books that you should read. I mean it's good if you want to read it but there's nothing about it that really makes me want to convince you to read it. If you choose to read it you'll probably like it. It's a good story, an easy read, enjoyable, and it does have a very good ending.

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Seasoned Timber***

This novel about age, loneliness, and education, centers around a male lead and the wisdom and peace and intensity of the novel are all quite worthwhile. Very enjoyable.

This story turns on the axis of human dignity. Through all the plots and sub-plots runs this thread.

There is so much to be gained from this novel. It bears incredible insights into human nature, life, love, etc. And it shows the centrality of the dignity of the human person in every aspect of life. This novel taught me about love, education, democracy, dignity, people . . . It taught me about life.

This book is fantastically well-written with beautiful, and startlingly accurate, description.

My only complaint is that there are socialist undertones.

Nevertheless it is a book that every woman (and every American) should read.


"the 20th century battlefield on which human dignity and decency fought for life against a reversion to savagery"

"What visual memories of beauty could be called up to stand against this sick exaggeration of ugliness?"

"Every time I look at a newspaper, these days, I want to hunt me up another kid and tell him, 'Load your gun and cock it and stand guard over the Bill of Rights with your eye peeled, American boy!"

"'Doesn't it sometimes make you wish you could die and get out of the mess?' 'It does not!' said the old man vehemently. 'What'd I want to die for? It makes me want to do something about it!'"

"Nobody's bound to get folks to do what he thinks is the right way. All that's laid on a man is not to let up on trying to."

"It doesn't make any difference whether it is literally illegal or not; it is wrong."

"freedom is not worth fighting for if it means no more than license"

"Timothy stood, not so much listening as borne up on this prodigious ocean of faith, in whose fathomless depths the ponderous, self-defeating, materialistic trust in Caesar sank like a stone"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Master and Margarita*

I'm so confused!

So I started reading this book and I had no idea where the author was going with it. And then I finished reading this book and still had no idea where the author was going with it. So, despite my chronic laziness, I turned to the commentary and afterword to try and figure out what the heck I had just read.

From the dust jacket I got this description of the book: "Together they succeed in comically befuddling a population which denies the devil's existence, even as it is confronted with the diabolic results of a magic act gone wrong." So far, so good.

However, as soon as you open this book you are confronted with this quote from Goethe's Faust: ". . . and so, who are you, after all? -I am part of the power which forever wills evil and forever works good." This quote is explained in the commentary which states "the epigraph introduces the theme of heresy, one which will be reinforced throughout this novel . . . Goethe believed in the theory of polarities which is essentially a version of Manichean thought. In the Manichean view, there are two cardinal principles in the world, the light and the dark, the good and the evil. In this scheme of things, as stated by Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust, God dwells in eternal light, the devils are consigned in darkness, and human beings have only day and night. This sort of dualistic thinking was unacceptable to the Christian faith, which requires that good be stronger than evil, not equal to it; therefore this kind of worldview was considered heretical." So the reader is supposed to understand right from the beginning what becomes clear as the novel progresses, that this is a heretical, and primarily Manichean, work. It comes down to this: "Yeshua (Jesus) does not appear to be more powerful than Woland (Satan), and it is left quite unclear whether there is a power higher than Woland himself." I'm not okay with that and I would never feel comfortable recommending this book to anyone.

In addition to being heretical the book also deals extensively with witchcraft in a way that I was not at all comfortable with.

Furthermore, one basically has to have a working knowledge of Christology and Goethe's Faust to fully comprehend this book.

The author is a good satirist but that's about all I can say for the book. And I'm still not sure what the point of the book was.

If anyone has insights on the book I'd love to hear them as I'm still rather confused.

Good Quotes:

  • "'Keep in mind that Jesus did exist.' 'You know, Professor,' answered Berlioz with a forced smile, 'we respect your great knowledge, but we happen to have a different point of view regarding that issue.' 'No points of view are necessary,' replied the strange professor. 'He simply existed and that's all there is to it.'"

  • "What is it with you? Whatever comes up you say doesn't exist."

  • "'Why the icon?' 'Well the icon . . .' Ivan turned red, 'The icon was what scared them most of all"

  • "Who ever told you there is no such thing in the world as real, true, everlasting love? May the liar have his despicable tongue cut out!"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love Carefully

Every morning on my way to work I have to pass the local Planned Parenthood. A couple weeks ago I saw they had a new banner hanging outside proclaiming the message "Love Carefully."

Love carefully.

I hate to burst your bubble Planned Parenthood but that's not possible.

The nature of love is a complete gift of self. To love is to give yourself entirely to another person, to abandon yourself for the good of another. To love is to forsake your desires in favor of your beloved's. To sacrifice. To make yourself completely vulnerable to another in order to lift them up. That's why the image of love is the cross.

Love is radical. "It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Love is a total abandonment of self, to the point that you would give your life for the beloved. There is nothing careful about love.

Don't love carefully. Love radically.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Human Factor**

"This espionage novel is a fascinating account of human weakness, wisdom and folly. Parsing the moral decisions would take months but the book itself can be read in but a few days. Graham Greene is rich."

This book was just kinda sad. It was cynical, God-less, and rather immoral. The one priest who shows up in the book does a pretty bad job of being a priest. And for an espionage novel it's not very exciting.

Also, it's kind of confusing, especially at the beginning because the author doesn't really tell you the setting or the time period or anything, you just kind of have to figure it out on your own. I'm not totally opposed to this, if the book had been a better book that might have been a really cool writing technique.

One good quote:

"'It's irreplaceable that one.' 'A man's dead,' said Daintry. 'He's irreplaceable too.'"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Death Comes for the Archbishop***

"Willa Cather has other books that one might think of as more 'womanly.' She does masterfully craft the strong female character, but this book has striking depth and richness and in our opinion ought to be higher on people's lists."

So this book is basically a Catholic western. I love it!

I wouldn't say that it's an amazing book but it's simple and beautiful. It's based on the life of the historical Bishop John Baptist Lamy, the first bishop of Santa Fe who, just like the Archbishop in the book, built a Cathedral for the diocese and brought from Europe a group of religious sisters to found a school for the Indian and Mexican children as well as other priests and religious to assist throughout the diocese.

The book gives a perfectly fair portrayal of the Church and does a good job of depicting missionary life. As a matter of fact, the chapter "The Month of Mary" is lovely! It gives a beautiful depiction of Fr. Vaillant's deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother and of his burning desire to bring souls back to God and the Church. Similarly, the chapter called "December Night" portrays a true childlike and deep faith. Also, the book devotes several pages to the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe which I greatly appreciated.

Some good quotes:

  • "Father Joseph said that, as for him, he would rather combat the superstitions of a whole Indian pueblo than the vanity of one white woman.

  • "The nursery tale could not vie with her [the Blessed Mother] in simplicity, the wisest theologians could not match her profundity."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Mill on the Floss**

"This is the story of a young woman's struggle for independence. It doesn't end in a satisfying way but there is so much about youth and love and power here that the book should be re-read many times."

This is, without a doubt, the most depressing book I have ever read in my entire life. The moral of this story is: life stinks and then you die.

First of all, bad families upset me. And Maggie's family is bad. They treat her horribly and it broke my heart from the first page of the book.

This is one of those books that it's hard to say anything about without giving away the whole thing so it looks like this is gonna be a pretty short review. The book is not badly written, I found in it elements reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, Jane Austen, and Jane Eyre, but it is so thouroughly depressing and disatisfying that it's hardly worth reading. It does have a lot of insight into youth and young "love" so that I can understand why it is on this list but I found it so upsetting that I would never want to recommend it to anyone because I would not want to encourage them toward depression.

Some good quotes:

"It was the first sign within the poor child of that new sense which is the gift of sorrow."

"Maggie, with all her keen susceptibility, yet felt as if the sorrow made larger room for her love to flow in."

"'I will not begin any future, even for you,' said Maggie, tremulously, 'with a deliberate consent to what ought not to have been. What I told you at Basset I feel now: I would rather have died than fall into this temptation.'"

"Faithfulness and constancy mean something else besides doing what is easiest and pleasantest to ourselves. They mean renouncing whatever is opposed to the reliance others have in us - whatever would cause misery to those whom the course of our lives has made dependent on us."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Razor's Edge*

"If you want to understand the bad-boy appeal and the drive for independence and adventure this is the book for you."

"A profoundly pathetic object," is an appropriate description of each character by the end of this book.

The book started out ok, it certainly wasn't the best book I've ever read but it wasn't the worst. If I hadn't ended up being disgusted with the book I would've just been indifferent towards it. Frankly, it's just depressing and there's not much more I can say for it. If you'd like to have a raincloud hovering over your day, this is the book for you.

In his conclusion, the author maintains that he has written a "success story" because all of the characters "got what they wanted." However, in the end, it's not whether they got what they wanted that really matters, it's whether they got what they needed, and what each one of them really needed was a good slap in the face. And so at the end we are left, as we began, with a cast of "profoundly pathetic object[s]."

A few quotes:

  • "Marriage is a serious matter on which rest the security of the family and the stability of the state."

  • "nothing is easier than to bear other people's calamities with fortitude"

  • "Though not a Catholic, I can never attend Mass without a sense of tremulous awe when the little tinkle of the servitor's bell informs me of the Elevation of the Host; and now, similarly, I shivered as though a cold wind ran through me, I shivered with fear and wonder."

  • "marriage still remains the most satisfactory profession a woman can adopt"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Republic***

"So much of Western thought is colored by knowledge of Plato and his forms, it can be frustrating to try and read a philosophy textbook but actually reading Plato is relatively simple and very satisfying."

Everyone should read this book! It definitely stretched my intellectual muscles - after a month out of school it was nice to know my brain still worked.

All of Plato's works are written in the person of Socrates who is a brilliant debater! After talking circles around one of his opponents the man declares that, "For myself . . . I am quite ready to join your side of the quarrel." His discussion of justice and injustice cuts right to the heart of human nature and he goes on to more or less disprove Greek theology and prove Christianity to the best of his ability.

I don't agree with everything in this book but for the most part they are intellectual disagreements. In other words, even when Socrates/Plato is wrong he doesn't annoy me because he's not just some idiot spewing random opinions - he really believes what he's saying and has intelligent reasoning to back it up. He even goes on to discuss the fact that opinions are only as good as the facts that back them up.

However, speaking of my disagreements with Plato, allow me to enumerate some of them. First of all, the entire section on Women and the Family is terribly disturbing. And, apparently, Plato supports abortion and infanticide, which is definitely not just an intellectual disagreement. The root of Plato's problems is his lack of respect for the individual. The good of the individual is constantly sacrificed for the community. But, what Plato fails to realize is that the community is made up of individuals. For example: Plato will sacrifice the happiness of individuals for the happiness of the community. But communities are made up of individuals so if you sacrifice the happiness of the individual you sacrifice the happiness of the community. And soon enough you'll find that you've sacrificed the happiness of every individual in the community and if everyone in the community is unhappy, how can the community be happy? At the end of the day, someone could write a great sci-fi novel about the society that Plato proposes.

That being said, I reiterate that everyone should read this book, if only to get you to think a little.

Some good quotes:

  • "the music and literature of a country cannot be altered without major political and social changes"

  • "it is in education that disorder can most easily creep in unobserved"

  • "and so, because he knows, we can rightly call his state of mind one of knowledge; and that of the other man, who holds opinions only, opinion"

  • "they have no right to be annoyed at the truth"

  • "he's drawn to complete license (which his tempters call complete liberty)"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Tale of Genji**

"Ok, you don't have to read this one, but you should learn about it. It is a very long, repetitive work but it is the first novel ever written and it was written by a woman in eleventh century Japan."

So I decided to be an overachiever and read this whole book. I've been working on it since January. It is, indeed, very long and repetitive, not to mention morally repulsive.

It was very difficult for me to read this book due to the fact that it was written long before Christianity came to Japan and is therefore completely void of any Christian influence. My Catholic brain had a very hard time wrapping itself around a culture completely devoid of Christianity.

The book centers around the character of Genji, the son of an Emperor and one of his concubines. It chronicles the life and numerous "amorous exploits" of this man, and then of two of his descendants.

What I learned from this book was that early Japanese culture was pretty hostile to women. Despite the fact that this novel was written by a woman there are a definite lack of strong female characters. There is no lack of females but they are all entirely helpless when it comes to defending their honor, which they need to do quite frequently, as the men of early Japan were apparently not very good at self-control.

In the end I just found this book to be utterly frustrating. It was ridiculously long, it was repetitive, the men were jerks, the women were wimps, and the morality was practically nill. I'm giving it two stars in deference to its historical significance as the first novel ever written. It was also well written. When I first began the book I thought it would be interesting and my hope returned upon reading chapter 45 but, alas, it was not to be. And so I beg you all for your own sanity to avoid reading it! You should learn about it. But don't read it.

Some good quotes:

  • "There may seem to have been nothing wrong with a woman making her own choice in the first place, when it turns out to be succesful after all and the outcome honors her, but actually, everything I hear suggests that the worst mistake a girl can make is to act as she pleases in secret, merely because of something someone happens to have told her, without a word to her parents or the permission of those from whom she should seek it."

  • "Yes, she thought, her name would be bandied about shamefully enough, but she meant to answer her own heart's questions with honor."

  • "Human life is short enough as it is, and we must respect what remains of hers, even if it is no more than a day or two."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Crime and Punishment****

I'm having trouble figuring out how to explain the amazingness of this book without giving away the whole thing. Well, as you can see, it is a tale of crime and punishment. In examining a man's sick conscience, it seems that the greatest punishment is always self inflected whereas the punishment of the state can, in fact, be a healing experience, a means of cleansing the soul by making reparation for one's sins. The greatest struggle is admitting that one needs forgiveness and then forgiving oneself. This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!

Some quotes:
  • "'That's enough!' he said, solemnly and decisively. 'Begone, mirages, begone, affected terrors, begone, apparitions! . . . There's a life to be lived! I was alive just now, after all, wasn't I? My life didn't die along with the old woman! May she attain the heavenly kingdom - enough, old lady, it's time you retired! Now is the kingdom of reason and light, and . . . freedom and strength . . . and now we shall see!"

  • "no, even supposing he knew that he, too, if ever so slightly, was a decent human being . . . well, what was there to be proud of about that? Everyone ought to be a decent human being"

  • "That's why they have such distaste for the living process of life: they don't want the living soul! The living soul demands to live, the living soul isn't obedient to the laws of mechanics, the living soul is suspicious, the living soul is reactionary! No, what they prefer are souls which can be made out of rubber, even if they do have a smell of corpse-flesh - but at any rate they're not alive, they have no will of their own, they're servile, won't rebel! . . . Their phalansteries may be ready, but the human nature that would fit them is not yet ready, it wants to live, it hasn't yet completed the vital process, it's not ready for the burial-ground!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Man Who Was Thursday****

"Another fabulous book, which like If On A Winter's Night A Traveller . . . defies description. The denouement is as glorious as it nearly defies description."

This book is incredible! It's written by the great G.K. Chesterton who, by the way, is severely underrated. He is one of the finest authors I have ever encountered and it is tragic that he is mostly only known by Catholics. Yes, he was a Catholic and one of the finest Catholic writers that ever lived but beyond that he is simply a fantastic author and it is a tragedy that the majority of the population is not acquainted with his work.
This book is no disappointment, in fact it is one of the best books I have ever read. It does indeed defy description. I came upon a review of this work by Kate Christensen which I think says it best: "It's a wacky, nightmarish, deliriously well-written adventure story for grownups in which nothing is what it seems and everyone wears a mask, whether figurative or literal."
Now, don't let the word nightmare scare you off. After reading Frankenstein I was ready for something a little lighter and this certainly fit the bill. It is positively hilarious in its brilliance.
Also, everyone who aspires to be an artist or author, particularly poet, absolutely must read at least the first chapter of this book. Though by the end of the first chapter you will probably be hooked.

Some great quotes (and it was hard to pick just a few, I literally have 5 full pages of brilliant quotes from this book):
  • "'Your offer,' he said, 'is far too idiotic to be declined.'"
  • "Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left - sanity."

  • "It seemed almost as if all friendly words were to him lifeless conveniences, and his only life was hate."
  • "Like any man he was coward enough to fear great force; but he was not quite coward enough to admire it."
  • "But he did feel himself as the ambassador of all these common and kindly people in the street, who every day marched into battle to the music of the barrel-organ. And this high pride in being human had lifted him unaccountably to an infinite height above the monstrous men around him. For an instant, at least, he looked down upon all their sprawling eccentricities from the starry pinnacle of the commonplace."
  • "This very pride in keeping his word was that he was keeping it to miscreants."
  • "The devils might have captured heaven, but they had not yet captured the cross."
  • "Energy, he said, was the All. He was lame, shortsighted, and partially paralytic."
  • "always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?"

Monday, January 10, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Frankenstein****

"In an era of genetic experiments, stem cell research and cloning we need a reminder to examine the moral issues surrounding science. Mary Shelley, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote a fascinating novel that can do just that."

This book is fantastic! I was afraid I would hate it cuz I'm really not into the whole scary story thing. But you know what I've discovered? I don't dislike horror novels. But here's the thing: I dislike modern horror. In modern horror the sole purpose of the book or movie is to scare your pants off. So the entire "story," if it can be called that, is merely one grotesque scene after another with little or no plot to connect them. Classic horror, like Frankenstein, on the other hand is a story that happens to be horrific. However, it is horror with a point not just a grouping together of terrifying scenes. And the main point of this book, I would say, is that we wreak our own havoc by our sins. Though Mary Shelley never actually mentions God or religion in this book it is chock full of theological gold. And this book can be analyzed from so many different angles. For example: the monster as an allegory for sin.
When reading this book it is important to read the prologue in order to properly understand the story. It is also important to realize that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist who creates the monster, not the name of the monster itself which is never given a name but only called such things as "the monster" and "the creature."

One of the most horrifying parts of the book is when Frankenstein is creating the monster. This intelligent young man withdraws from society, abandons friends and family, and closes in on himself, focused only on his creation. He haunts cemeteries and morgues to find parts for his creature, abandoning the society of all but the dead. Things which had formerly held pleasure for him are overlooked. He can no longer see the beauty in the nature which he had formerly adored. And it is not until he looks his creature in the eye that he realizes what he has done. He is only cured of his sickness of the mind by suffering through physical illness which he attests to when he says: "I felt also sentiments of joy and affection revive in my bosom, my gloom disappeared and in a short time I became as cheerful as before I was attacked by the fatal passion." But even this cannot undo what he has done and he is haunted for the rest of his life by his monster.
Some great quotes:

  • "how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow."
  • "If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind."
  • "I collected bones from charnel houses and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame. In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation. My eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment. The dissecting room and the slaughterhouse furnished many of my materials and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, while still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased."
  • "How dare you sport thus with life?"
  • "Come, Victor, not brooding thoughts of vengeance against the assassin, but with feelings of peace and gentleness, that will heal, instead of festering, the wounds of our minds."
  • "You are my creator, but I am your master. Obey!"
  • "Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries."
  • "I was the slave, not the master, of an impulse which I detested yet could not disobey."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Animal Farm****

"This classic Orwell title is both a quick read and a powerful insight into totalitarian regimes. Orwell was himself a Socialist but clearly saw the dangers inherent in the Russian regime."

This is a small, easy-to-read satire of the evils of the Soviet Union. Orwell beautifully simplifies these evils, which have so often been obscured in long, complicated speeches, so that anyone can understand them. As the Complete Woman Blog says, Orwell was indeed a socialist and so it is interesting to see the USSR from the perspective of this purist. He clearly advocates true communism, as evidenced in the early chapters of the book, but sees that what the Soviet Union came to was not Marx's idea of communism. I would be interested to discuss with Orwell how he felt a society could achieve true communism without falling into the vicious cycle of tyranny which seems inevitable in Animal Farm.

This is an important book today as we continue to face the evils of socialism even in America. It is important that we fully understand the consequences of this system.

It is also important, in order to understand the book, to realize from the beginning that this is, as Orwell says, a "fairy story." For example, the animals are able to communicate, not only amongst themselves, but with humans as well.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - If On A Winter's Night A Traveller*

"There is no way to describe this book without explaining the entire thing. It is unexpected, profoundly unexpected. It is literary post-modernism and that is, for it, a high compliment. Go out and get a copy and then read about yourself doing so."

The beginning of this book is positively fantastic. It is a novel about novels in which you are reading about reading. It is a book about the reader. It is different, in fact, I think I can guarantee that you will never read another book like it. After reading the first two chapters I was prepared to give it four stars. In chapter three it got a little weird but I waded through it expecting the novel to get back on track in the next chapter. And then I ran headlong into the fourth chapter which was atrocious and the book went rapidly downhill from there. I continued on because I was determined to read all 100 of these books in their entirety. But then chapter six rolled around and destroyed any final hope of this book's redeeming itself. I have now completely abandoned it, never again to darken my mind with it's absurdities.

Basically, this book isn't worth the paper it's printed on. It could have been but it isn't. I hope the author is happy.

One good quote:
"the novel to be read is superimposed by a possible novel to be lived, the continuation of your story . . . or better still, the beginning of a possible story."