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"