Maple Street by Nan Agle
The Human Genome by John Quakenbush.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Excellent Woman by Barbara Pynn
Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
The Old Man and the Sea
Book Report #1
Agle, Nan Hayden. Maple Street. New York: Archway. 1971.
Reason, Type and Setting:
I picked this book because it was the first one I happened to grab off of my Humanities Teacher’s shelf. It is a realistic novel set in a suburban black neighborhood during the late 1960’s. It follows the events and happenings (particularly of one girl) on Maple Street. It is neither action or comedy, and certainly not a romance. It is just a short and concise story about a small girl trying to figure out her opinions.
Margaret Gage lives at 916 Maple Street. Her best friend, Betty, is moving away to the “nicer” part of town. Upon leaving, Betty tells Margaret that she is glad she is moving away from Maple Street, because Maple Street is “going downhill”. At the end of Maple Street is a vacant lot. Margaret soon discovers that there is a struggling peach tree being bombarded with abandoned rubbish. She manages to crawl under the chain fence and help the tree. She claims the tree for her own and promises that she will somehow get it a better life, perhaps by clearing out the lot. Officer Pike catches her leaving the vacant lot, and after scolding her, suggests that she take action into making this a park. And so she does. Margaret writes a letter to the mayor, and then another to the Parks and Recreation department in hopes of getting clearance for a park. The Parks and Recreation department write Margaret back, telling her to petition for her park. Margaret soon finds out that her new neighbors are a poor white family renting the the home. The mother of this family quickly becomes very ill and is admitted to the hospital. In a panic, Margaret’s mother decides to care for the children. The daughter, Ellie May, is very rude to the Gage family, and refuses to sit with them or sleep in the same room as Margaret. Mr. Gage sets his foot firmly down, and tells her that as long as she is under their care, white or black, she must abide by the house rules. Margaret tells Ellie May about the tree in the vacant lot, and also about her plans to make it a park. Ellie May shows no interest. After getting enough signatures, Margaret sends her petition back to the Parks and Recreation department. Within days, they respond with construction on the site. But, to Margaret’s surprise, everything is concreted over; including her beloved peach tree. Saddened with disbelief, she does not go to the opening ceremony of the Maple Street park. When Ellie May’s mother returns home from the hospital, Ellie May seems as if she is a changed young girl. She is very grateful for the Gage family. Although Margaret's peach tree did not end up with the opportunity to blossom, Ellie May did.
Margaret Gage is the main character in this book. She is an eight year old black girl who lives at 916 Maple Street. She is described as a lean, short girl with smooth skin and dark braided hair. Margaret is very determined and intelligent. Although she is a very sweet, she is very opinionated and can be offended easily. I believe that she was changed most in the book. Her perspective on people as a whole was totally warped when the white family moved in next door to her. By the end of the book, she gained a higher respect for all people of all races.
Maple Street was a very quick, short and easy read. I would not read it again. Maple Street was a bit boring and lacked exciting moments. To be honest, it only held my attention because I felt obligated to finish it. It is a very realistic story about prejudice and discrimination. It brought up many civil and discriminatory issues that surprisingly are still present in today’s world. I would recommend it if you were studying civil rights. If you are just looking for a nice read, I would not recommend Maple Street.
This book is a realistic novel set in the late 1960’s. It showed many realistic examples of prejudice and discrimination that would happen in that time period. This book isn’t necessarily important for anyone to read, but it does open up some new perspectives and really makes you think about what you would have done in those situations. Of course, nowadays most would respond with, ‘I would stand up for myself and assert my rights’, but back then, you have to take into consideration the social structure and social etiquette you have to mind. I believe that a purpose of this novel is to share that many social issues that were present back then are still present today, no matter how much our society has “evolved” or “overcome”. Perhaps it is just human nature.
I don't believe I am determined or as strong willed as Margaret Gage. She really was passionate about bettering her community. It is an interesting thing to see that children don’t really see race until they are (for lack of a better word) told to. If I was in this story, I would not have been as whiney or bratty as Margaret, but on the other hand I would probably lack the motivation towards renovating the vacant lot into a park. This book’s ending was predictable, and it was foreshadowed that the peach tree was not going to survive. I thought it was very cheesy that they tried to draw connections with Ellie May and the peach tree. I think it might have been more exciting to have run into problems in the process of getting the park approved. They could have also killed one of the characters to make a more dramatic close. I feel that the books ending was satisfying only because it was easily predicted.
Author, Context, and Trivia:
Nan Hayden Agle is an American author of many books, including A Promise is to Keep, Three Boys in Space, and Kish’s Colt. Many of her books are known as schoolroom classics. She was born and raised in Massachusetts, and eventually taught at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She was a Civil Rights activist, mostly voicing her opinions through her children’s books. This is the first time I’ve read one of Agle’s books. I will most likely not read another one. Her style seems to be boring and meant for children.
I do not recommend Maple Street by Nan Agle. It was very boring and did not hold my attention.
Book Report #2
Pym, Barbara. Excellent Woman. New York: Plume. 1952.
Reason, Type, and Setting:
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym is a comedy with some romance entailing Mildred Lathbury’s daily encounters with life. I chose this book because it was recommended to me by a family friend. I enjoy comedy; more specifically quick witted comedy- which is exactly what this book is all about. It is a realistic fiction set in the 1950’s of England. The many characters of this book are brought to life through their daily quirks.
The book starts with Mildred Lathbury in front of her house, awaiting her new neighbors. Mildred is in her thirties; witty gal who is nosy in every way possible. She lives in an England flat which she shares with a married couple: the Napiers. Helena is a beautiful blonde married to the handsome Rocky Napier. The Napiers seem to use Mildred as some sort of marital negotiator. Naturally, Mildred falls for Rocky and quickly finds herself in a sticky situation. Because Helena and Rocky are anthropologists, Mildred is introduced to Everard Bone, another handsome anthropologist. Eventually, Mildred pursues a relationship with Everard. As the book progresses, Mildred is caught up in some sort of jumble at her church. The “excellent women” of her parish are wanting her to marry Father Mallory. Helena soon finds herself lusting after Everard as well, and debates whether she should leave her gorgeous husband for him. Everard tries his best to nicely ease Helena away from him, considering she is married to his good friend. Helena eventually leaves Rocky and moves away all together. Mildred seems to be used and heavily depended on throughout the book, and details her life through a series of witty comments and self deprecation.
Mildred Lathbury is an unmarried woman in her thirties. As the main character, she is a bit of a failure at life- and she knows it. I imagined her with a very pretty face, although she was very modest in the way she dressed. She was a slender woman, very average in most aspects. Mildred is a witty and very practical woman ultimately longing for love, although she would never admit it. She is seen as an “excellent woman” of her church, taking initiative at many functions, and lending a hand where needed. Mildred is really taken for granted by others and seems very used up. She let's people push her around, I think mostly for attention. Although she is an “excellent woman” she seems very lonely in the beginning and almost desperate for attention. By the end of the book, she has changed into someone who has learned how to deal with others in a way where she can still help them and at the same time not appear as a push over. She finds her love even though it seemed she was destined to die with alone with a cat.
I chose Mildred Lathbury because the way she articulates her thoughts is very relatable. She is quick witted, and a bit bitter at life, like me. She finds humor in self deprecating and almost making fun of others. If Mildred Lathbury was real, I would be sure to be her absolute best friend.
This was a phenomenal novel. It was a very humorous and enjoyable to read. Barbara Pym really developed each of the many characters. They were all described with full detail and vivid personalities. Excellent Women is really a book that says everything that everyone else was thinking. The main character represented you (the reader). This book really taught me not to take daily things for granted. Even if your daily life is as boring as Mildred’s, you should really try and appreciate what you do have. I definitely recommend this novel. It is a great, humorous read that will certainly make you giggle.
Author, Context, Trivia:
Barbara Pym was an English Novelist. Some of her other novels include A Glass of Blessings, An Unsuitable Attachment, and The Sweet Love Died. Pym is known for her characterization. She sketches real life, and really writes what we are all thinking but do not want to say out loud. Her characters all have very developed backgrounds and incredible personalities. Many literary examiners have said that most of her work is the examination of relationships between men and women. This is the first book I have read by Barbara Pym, and can not wait to read more. This is also one of the first witty books I have read. This book is different from other comedies because it is clever. It is quick witted comedic gold.
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym is a hilarious, relatable and a definite must-read. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Book Report #3
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. New York: Harcourt. 1946.
Reason, Type, Setting
Life of PI by Yann Martel is a novel about a journey a young man goes through. I chose this book mostly because of the allure I had from other movies, shows and other student remarks. It's an action packed, emotion filled story that I absolutely could not put down. It takes place mostly on a boat, in the 70's. The main themes it explores are religion, faith and survival.
The book begins with the main character Pi, being interviewed. He talks about his childhood, and how he gets his nick name. His family owned a zoo, and when he was younger, his father made it very clear to both him and his brother that tigers are dangerous. The family owned a bengal tiger called Richard Parker.
He eventually gets to why his family decided to move to Canada from India, and how the had to embark a boat in order to safely move all of their animals with them. The boat ends up sinking, Pi as the only survivor. Pi ends up on a life boat with a few of the animals from the zoo, including Richard Parker. After a few days, Richard parker and Pi are the only two left in the boat. Pi manages to make a smaller raft for himself, thinking he'd be safer away from the tiger. Pi ends up training Richard Parker to stay on his end of the boat. Eventually they come to kelp island, populated with Meerkats. The Island seems to be a paradise, with fresh water that has edible fish. For some reason, during the night all the Meerkats go into the trees to sleep. It is revealed that the island is actually carnivorous, and the island floor shocks/kills during the night. Pi and Richard Parker collect as much fish and as many meerkats they can and leave the island. Eventually, they reach land somewhere off of Mexico. When they land, Richard Parker promptly leaves Pi without a goodbye.
Pi is then "rescued" and submitted to a recovery place of somesort to get better. There is interviewed by Japanese men who are investigating the sinking of the ship. Pi tells them the story, but they do not believe him. He then tells the same story, but instead of animals, he uses people. They conclude that Pi actually didn't have any answer to why the ship infact sunk. Although Pi told two stories, the Japanese men said they like the first story better.
Pi (Piscene Molitor Patel), grew up in Pondicherry, India. He is the main character in this book. At 16, he is faced with many difficult decisions to make, including faith. Although he was stranded and very close to death, he held on to his hope very tightly. Pi demonstrated a sense of "growing up" throughout the whole book. He had to choose between faith or survival. As a practicing Hindu, he had to eat meat in order to survive. Pi tried to be very rational with all of his choices. The story is actually retold as him when he is a middle aged man.
Through out the story you don't necessarily see a change of faith in him, but I felt like I gave him more respect towards the end of the book. The overarching question of this novel though, is, "is Pi really Richard Parker?" I believe he is. Richard Parker is the part of Pi he was never able to bring out of himself.
This was an excellent book. I do, however, must say the beginning is very slow. Part I of the book is mostly slow and informational. However, I believe that all the backstory is needed in order to make the Part II that much better. I really enjoyed this novel. It was action packed (especially towards the end) and kept me on my toes. It wasn't very predictable at all. I also am critical of the ending. I am very sad that it ended that way, so open. It really had me thinking about which of the stories was the "real" stories. I kind of wish that the story had more of a conclusion.
Over all, phenomenal read.
Author Context Trivia
Yann Martel is a Canadian author. He has won the 'Man Booker Prize'. Other Books by Yann Martel include, we ate the children at last, and Virgil. I haven't read any others of Martel's books. Life of Pi is his most "famous" book. From reviews, I read it also was his best. I haven't read any other books similar to Life of Pi, but I have heard it compared to "Old Man and the Sea".
Honors Book Report #4
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner Brothers, Inc., 1960.
Reason, Type and Setting
My Dad originally suggested this book when I told him I was looking for something to read. To Kill a Mockingbird is a realistic novel set in the 1930's. It takes place in Maycomb, Alabama. This book touches on many racial issues while following the summer of a little girl and her brother. It is a timeless classic that most everyone should read.
To Kill a Mockingbird is about the summer main character, Scout's older brother, Jem broke his arm. Scout Finch is a six year old girl who is quite a tom-boy. She lives in Maycomb Alabama, with her father, Atticus and her older brother, Jem. Atticus is a lawyer, but Scout is still to young to really understand what her father does for a living. During this summer, a small boy named Dill visits next door to Scout and Jem. Across the street from the Finch household is where Boo Radley lives. Boo is mysterious and stays in his home, he is rarely seen by anyone in the town. The kids amuse themselves by making up stories about boo, and exchanging others that they have heard before. After two summers building a relationship with Dill, Jem and Scout find small gifts in the hole of a tree in front of Boo's house. On many occasions, the children find nice gestures from Boo, but never actually see him in person. One night, the kids decide to investigate around Boo's house; only to be terribly scared away by Boo's brother. During their escape, Jem rips his pants and has to leave them hooked on a fence. When Jem goes to retrive his pants, he finds them nicely sewed and folded.
Atticus is appointed by the court of Maycomb to defend Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson is a black man who is charged of raping a young (and rather ugly) woman called Mayella Ewelle. Although many residents of Maycomb county disapprove of this, Atticus agrees. The other children taunt Jem and Scout, saying that their father is a "nigger-lover". Scout doesn't quite understand the problem or why there is such a hubbub about the situation. Scout almost fights these children although her father warned against it. Atticus has to face a group of men who wanted to lynch Tom Robinson. But because Jem and Scout followed their father, the townspeople are guilted into it.
Atticus did not want the children to watch the trial because of the sexual and racial concepts it entailed. But the kid snuck into the colored balcony anyway. Atticus proves that the prosecutor and her father, (the town drunk) are actually lying. Mayella was coming on to Tom when her father saw what happened. Atticus is very clever and points out that Tom has a dead arm, and could not have beaten Mayella, which suggests that Mayella's father committed battery. Although there was evidence to prove Tom was guilty, the white jury convicted him anyway. Jem's social justice is questioned. Before Atticus could try and get an appeal for Tom, Tom is shot.
Even though they won the case, Mayella's father had needed to seek revenge. He committed many terrible acts, including spitting on Atticus, and stalking and attacking Jem and Scout on their way home one night. Jem's arm was badly broken. Luckily, a friendly person came to their rescue: Boo! He carried Scout and Jem back to their house. If it wasn't for Boo, Jem and Scout would have probably been killed.
The next day, it's discovered that Mayella's father was killed the night prior. The sheriff argues with Atticus about whether or not Jem and Scout should be held responsible. It is "agreed" that he fell on his own knife. Boo asks Scout to walk him home. When Boo watches him disappear again, she regrets that she didn't thank him for all of his nice gifts.
Boo Radley lives in Maycomb, Alabama. In this story, he is portrayed as a recluse, keeping to himself and seldom leaving his house. Because he is rareley seen, he is given a scary reputation and stories are made up about him. THroughout the story, Boo does increasingly nice things for the kids, including leaving them gifts, fixing Jem's pants, and saving Jem's life. Although I noticed that he never formally got the credit, and in the end Scout never really got to thank him properly. Boo is a metaphor for black people during this time period. Although he is white, he lives the repressed life that the black community did, especially in Alabama. I felt bad for Boo because everyone already had an opinion of him, even though they never even saw him. In the end, you find out that Boo is not at all the scary person he is painted out to be. He saved Jem's life. I chose Boo Radley because I think he is one of the most important characters in the story. He represents a very complex and deep metaphor.
I enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird. I have to admit, it was slow at first. But especially towards the end, it was very exciting. Overall, I would recommend this book. I think that it has an important message that everyone should get. Although, I do not think I will be reading this book again, mostly because of the style it was written in.
This book highlights the racial struggles that may actually still be seen today. I now understand why many teachers require this book in their classes.
I am sure that this book is Jem very realistic compared to the time it was set in. It addressed the racial and social issues of Alabama during the 30's. It is important that books like these are written, to inform and preserve the history of our past. Although it is brutal, it did happen and is happening to an extent today.
I don't think that I could be as adventurous as Scout. Perhaps its the sole reason that "I know better", but I wouldn't have bothered with Boo. It is difficult to put myself in the plot because the times are so different. But I am not sure how I would respond to the difference in social norms. I think I would conform to the rest of society, mainly because that is just my personality type. As terrible as that sounds, its true.
Author, Context, Trivia
Harper Lee was born in Monroeville Alabama. She does not have any other published books, and surprisingly, To Kill a Mockingbird is based loosely on an event that happened when she was ten, as well as the behaviors of some of her family and neighbors. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for this amazing novel. I have read several other books about rascisim (specifically African-American), including The Color Purple, Maple Street, The Help and others.
I personally would not read To Kill a Mockingbird again, but I do recommend this book to everyone.
Book Report #4
Quackenbush, John. The Human Genome. New York: Imagine. February 2011.
Reason, Type and Setting
I chose this book purely based on the cover and the title. I have always been interested in genetics, and when I saw the book, I seized my opportunity. The Human Genome is a non fiction book about the Human Genome. It's cleverly placed 23 chapters talk about all of the factors that play into making the human genome. Despite the fact that it is very informational, the author is quite humorous and sarcastic, including many jokes and references throughout the text.
The Human Genome is about exactly what you think: the human genome. The book talks about the 23 chromosomes that the human body has. There are 23 chapters, each about the specific chromosome and a different aspect about the discovery of the human genome or the role the genome plays in our life and society. This book draws upon the sciences behind the genome, the ethics in discovering, and testing and how the discovery of the genome has impacted society.
Chromosome I, although one of the earlier chapters: it was one of the most important. It discussed the different theories behind how the genome was created in the first place. It argues that perhaps RNA was first because bacteria was able to thrive without the complication of a more complex DNA, but also argues that the bacteria couldn't have thrived without the DNA being here in the first place. The chapter talks about how a trace of the beginning, the "original gangster" of genes, can be found in chromosome I. The chapter also dances around the idea of the "chicken and the egg", stating that science has proven that the egg came long before the chicken. It suggests that religion might actually not be that far when it comes to the topic of "the beginning". This chapter is important because it discusses where everything came from and how it could of came to be. It establishes that all life is really the same, and comes from the same place. That is what makes life so extraordinary. I chose this chapter because of its hidden inside jokes and its overall quirky approach to how things might of been created. This chapter is crucial in describing how important the human genome is to our race. It states that the fact that life is meant to be born, reproduce , and then die is no coincidence. No matter how hard we try to die, the human body will always fight to live. This chapter established that the human genome allows us to be set apart when it comes to how our bodies are designed (sometimes) to do different than what our mind wants.
I enjoyed the Human Genome very much. I definitely recommend it to anyone slightly interested in science. It gave amazing insight to the human genome. I will admit some parts were harder to get through, but the author's humor made up for it. This book really highlights how amazing the human genome (and life itself) really is. The fact that a system can retain so much information, copy itself millions upon trillions of times, and still remain microscopic and the single most important part of your make-up is quite remarkable. This book, while informational, brings up many ethical and moral issues scientists are faced when trying to progress human life. Some parts of the book I questioned, 'Is this information even necessary? What was the point of all that research?", but then quickly remembered that this information discovered has helped save many lives, and ease the stress of life significantly. This book definitely makes you think and question some of your morals, as well as values and priorities in life.
This book really brought to life how important research is. Science is often times seen as overwhelming, unnecessary, and "too much". But the countless years of research poured into the human genome has helped treat diseases, care for the body better, and understand how the body works. Genes are the directions to life, they tell the organism what to do. The human genome is an amazing and breathtaking sight, that really should not be overlooked.
I recommend this book to any lover of science or curious soul.
Author, Context and Trivia
John Quakenbush is a computational biologist and genome scientist. He contributed to Bioinformatics and is the coauthor of Microarray Gene Expression Data Analysis. He is also published countless scientific journals of his research in genes. I probably will not read any of his other publications, mainly because they have no interest to me. I haven't really read any other non-fiction books, I am more of a realistic-fiction kind of gal. I do not really plan to read any books similar in the near future- I have decided that I want to spend my reading time more pleasurably. Although I do not plan to read any of his other work, I definitely recommend The Human Genome to any lover of science.
Honors Book Report #5
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Toll House. February 1982.
Reason, Type, and Setting
I chose this book because i read it was a top selling item that everyone (except me) had already read. The Color Purple is a civil rights novel. It is about the life of women of color in rural Georgia in the 1930's. It is a strong, graphic, violent, and most definitely a tear jerking book.
Celie is a 14 year old girl. She is uneducated, poor and lives in rural Georgia. She writes letters to God because her believed father, Alphonso, beats and rapes her. Alphonso impregnates Celie on two occasions, both of which he takes away the children. Celie's mother soon dies, leaving Celie and her younger sister, Nettie, to fend for themselves.
The young girls soon find out that a man named Mr. __ wants to marry Nettie. However, Alphonso will not allow Nettie to get married quite yet. Instead, Alphonso arranges Mr. ___ to marry Celie instead. Because Mr. ___ was in a tight and desperate situation, he takes the offer. Mr. ___ and his children all treat Celie very horribly. Soon after Celie is settled with Mr. ___, Nettie runs away from Alphonso in hopes to live with Celie. However, Mr.__ rapes Nettie, so Celie told Nettie to go and live with a woman she saw at the market. The woman Celie described was a well dressed, black woman with her own money. According to Celie, she was the only woman she has seen with her own money. Nettie has no other choice than to leave, unless she would be stuck with the grusome horror of Mr.__. Nettie promises to write letters to Celie. Although, Celie never recieves any letters and concludes that her little sister is dead.
Many years pass and a woman named Shug Avery comes into the picture. Shug Avery is Mr.___'s mistress. She is a lounge singer and a very beautiful woman. When she becomes ill, Mr.___ invites her to live with him. Celie found pictures of Mr.__ and Shug and was fascinated, so she really had no problem with her moving in. At first, Shug is mean to Celie, even though Celie is assigned to nurse her. But the two quickly become friends. When Shug learns that Mr.__ beats Celie when she is away, she grows closer to Celie.
Celie really looks up to and admires Shug. Shug introduces her to the idea of "exploring" her body. Celie knows that Mr.__ doesn't like her, because he really wanted Nettie in the first place. Shug insists that things will get better and Mr.___ will perhaps grow to her liking. Shug helps Celie recover all of the letters Nettie has sent. Mr.__ has been hiding these from Celie for decades. Through the letters, Celie is pleased to find out that Nettie is safe and actually engaging in missionary work. She also finds out that Alphonso is actually their stepfather.
Fed up and tired of Mr.___'s abuse, Celie leaves. She moves away with Shug and squeak. She supports herself as a tailor. When Alphonso unexpectedly dies, Celie inherits the land, and moves back to her home town.
In the end, she is reunited with Nettie and her children.
Shug Avery is a beautiful lounge singer, who happens to be Mr.__'s long time mistress. Shug Avery "gets around" and really knows what she is talking about when it comes to sex. Celie, however idolized Shug because of all the praise Shug receives from Mr.___. Eventually, Shug cohearsed Celie into a sexual relationship with her. I think that Shug played the "non" role model for Celie, but ended up helping her in the end. Shug's character really helped to develop Celie. Through Shug, Celie was able to choose her own right and wrong. Although Shug Avery's promiscuity led her to praise from Mr.__, Celie did not want to be apart of that. When they ran away, it sounded mostly like Celie's choice. My hypothesis is that Shug was really Celie's "second half", sort of like a Calvin and Hobbs thing. I think that Shug represents the other part of Celie's conscience that really wanted to stand up for herself, protect herself against Mr. ___. Just when you think that Shug is trying to harm Celie, you realize that she is helping her all along.
Overall, The Color Purple was a great read. However, I will say that it is not appropriate for all readers. It was extremely graphic and explicit. Another critique I have is, although realistic some of the dialogue is hard to understand because it is written in slang. The Color Purple addressed issues about black history that I personally are not talked about enough. In the end, I must of cried 10,000 buckets. Although she seems impossible to relate to, you will be surprised at how much you actually do relate to Celie. This book was an incredible read. I recommend it to anyone who is ready to take the truth.
Author, Context, Trivia
Alice walker is an American author and activist. The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize and the National book award. Her other books are mainly about the sturggles of (black) women, including Posessing the Secret of Joy. I will gladly read another one of Walker's books. Her writing style was more than enjoyable, and I definitly recommend this book.
Book Report #5
Thich Nhat Hanh. Living Buddha, Living Christ. New York: Apple. February 1997.
Reason, Type And Setting
Living Buddha, Living Christ is a nonfiction book about dealing with faith in the real world, particularly in the west. It discusses how freedom of religion and pop culture really challenge faith-what ever it may be. While the author is Buddhist, he is not strictly advocating for Buddhism (or perhaps he is, subtly, and has tricked yet another reader into the faith). He fairly looks at both perspectives while adding advice from his perspective. I chose to read this book because someone in my house got it from the library, and never read it. So I read the book before it's due date.
Living Buddha, Living Christ compares (mostly) the Christian faith to the Buddhist faith through our modern times. Throughout the book, the author talks about dealing with faith in our modern (western) times. He provides ancient folk examples, following a solution for a Buddhist, Christian, and non-believer. Surprisingly the solutions are very similar. He makes the point that although the beliefs are different, they all hold a general ideal. The author discusses "spiritual brotherhood". He says that we are all one, and through our faith, we can connect even better. He discusses how even though the faits are completly different, in the western world we are in, we are able to be civil, just and make the best decisions for our brother, even if he is not "one of our own". His argument is that that is what religion is, helping others outside. He also discusses how you really can't unify all the religions even as similar as they are. He states that that is just how the world works. No matter how hard you try, the world is better in this half-sperate state. He says that as long as "to each his own" we should be able to live in perfect harmony. Although, he adds that even if you are just concerned for your own, you need to be more concerned for outsiders because they are the ones in danger. By this logic though, that makes everyone outsiders- so his statement after that is that it only makes sense that we care for each other. In shorter words, he paints the perfect venn diagram between eats and west religions.
My favorite chapter would have to be the one where he discusses the contrasts between religions. He compares religion to not only itself, but to nature. His ultimate argument is that is is ok and maybe even good to have separate Gods/religions. He makes the argument that although religions are very different, they all have the same general idea: to promote good. Although he criticizes western religions, mostly christianity for it's consumeristic values (tithing, dress your sunday best, holidays, christmas), but that could easily be said about buddhism. Money is always placed at statues, and the whole culture has strange superstitions. Another point made in the chapter was the type of people who participate in each religion. He said that is really isnt a matter of race although it may seem like it at first. Even though most are born into the church, and destiined to grow up and preach- every human has a freedom of religion and a free mind. After a certain age, you can chose to really leave whenever you want to.
I have to admit, Living Buddha, Living Christ was a very slow and boring book. Although the author made brilliant argument and points, it was a pain to actually read. Looking back, I probably will not read this book again.
The book really had me questioning my faith. I understand that it is important as a human to reflect, but I was really set back when I realized how much reflecting I was set up to. The book has brilliant and controversial discussion points, but I really think you should only read this book if you are in the middle on your faith. I would hate for a book to sway you in the wrong direction (however, according to the author, there is no wrong direction).
In the end, the book really enlightened me on a different perspective of religion. I reccomend this book to anyone with an open mind.
Author, Context, Trivia
Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese monk. He is a teacher, author, and most importantly and advocate for peace. He has many publications, including Anger, A Pebble in Your Pocket, and Bring Peace. In 1967, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by MLK Jr. In 1991, he was awarded the Courage of Concience. I have not read any of his other publications, but I do plan on looking into his meditation guides.
Book Report #6
Gladwell, Malcom. Outliers. New York: Little, Brown and Company. November 18, 2008.
Reason, Type and Setting
I have had an interest in books that Deal with physiology, and my mom recommended that I read the 7 habits book. I was using the family kindle at the time, and there was a book called the 7 habits. However, when I started to read it I began to question why my mom recommended me this book. Just the first page was filled with vulgar language paired, graphic images and substance abuse. The book I soon found out to be a post apocalyptic horror book, not a self-help non-fiction book. The novel takes place in the future in which zombies take over. The story follows two characters; a man, and a girl with each chapter from a different perspective. The book is actually called The Seven Habits of Highly Infective People, easily confused with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
The book’s title is a spinoff of The Seven Habits of Highly effective People, but the similarities end there. The book starts off grim. Bosley is the first POV character who is a drug addict. He can see into the future when he takes drugs, because he is connecting with the "Eye of Aeon". When he time travels into the future, he takes refuge in the mind of a little girl named Ocean. Ocean is a post apocalyptic survivor, and Bosley is a normal guy before the breakout. The book starts out with Ocean killing her mother, and running from the zombies. Her goal in the book is to acquire food, shelter and security. Bosley sees her going through this stage, and his goal is to prevent the apocalypse from happening so that he can save Ocean and her mother. We follow Bosley as he looks for the 7 habits that are an indicator if someone is infected. He spends his time contemplating, planning and executing the murder of Clarice Hudson. Clarice Hudson is just an ordinary girl, who happens to shows the 7 habits. Of course, there is a twist and Bosley finds his job a little harder than he expected. You can't fiddle faddle with time travel or the future.
The character I chose is Clarence Hudson. She is a blonde, larger girl. Throughout the story you really see her character grow. She is infected with the "7 traits". Bosley follows her, planning to kill her because of the infection. She starts as a seemingly nice girl, attractive, fun, and normal. However, as her character develops, you see some changes happen to her that you shouldn’t have to think about. I'm not sure if she knows what’s happening to her, if she knows that something is wrong with her body. I like to think that she does, and that makes her character even more thought out. What interests me are the changes that she goes through, and how it affects Bosley and the story. Eventually, she is turned into a zombie. I chose Clarence I got really attached to her character and was upset to see her misfortunate ending. I thought it was really interesting that it seemed she didn't even notice the change happening to her. Perhaps it was a metaphor that we don't ever really see change happening to us until the very end or it is too late. Bosley was the only person who could really notice what was going on with Clarence. I think that the author really wanted to show that people don't always see themselves becoming monsters.
I enjoyed this novel despite its sickness. I enjoyed this book because it was interesting and suspenseful. There was always something new happening, and I got really involved in the story and attached to characters. I cared about the characters, and I felt like I understood them and what they were going through. It was entertaining because I felt like I was actually in the story. It was well written and the characters were well developed. I was informed by the characters in the story. I also felt like the themes in this book were well thought out like the characters. The books themes discussed the fight between good and evil, decision making, belief, and self preservation. I sure as hell hope that it didn’t teach me anything, because this book was awful! Not awful like poorly written, but terrible and dreadful. The book taught me about terrible decisions that some people must make., and making the right decision even if it ruins you. This book does not really compare directly to everyday life nowadays, as there is hopefully no outbreak happening anytime soon.
If I were in Bosley’s place I would have killed Clarence Hudson. What he did was right, even though it cost him his mental stability, and he was committed to a mental institution. I would have killed her had I seen the 7 habits. That being said, my first course of action would be to get her to see a doctor, because doctors could actually solve this stuff. He became so engrossed by her, even obsessed with killing her that it seemed like the only option to him. His lust to kill was overwhelming, as he wanted to punish her for what her kind would eventually do to ocean.
Author, Context and Trivia
William Rose has written many other dystopian novels. Some of his other books include, Sex in the Time of Zombies, The Zombist: Undead Western Tale, Zombonauts: "Undead in the Universe", Shut The Fuck Up and Die!, and Apocalyptic Organ Grinder: A Hydra Dystopian Novella to name a few. His writing is very intense, and at sometimes you question if you want to read what you’re reading. Nevertheless, this book is well written enough that you endure the pain and suffering of the characters for the suspenseful story. I have never read a zombie book like this one, and I would prefer this one over any other zombie book that I have read. Character development and depth is often my indicator of a good story, and on that account he does a great job of making the characters stick out.
I was surprised to find that this book was also very physiological. As mentioned in the beginning of my essay, I was expecting a non-fiction, study of physiology. This book was actually much like a physiological fictional novel which I enjoy very much. A physiological novel is a book that focuses on internal motives in reasoning for external actions. I would recommend this book because it is interesting, although you must have an open mind. As for the horror genre, this book is among some of the greatest works I have read. In addition, if you want to know what the 7 habits are, you are going to have to read the book.
Honors Book Report #6
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Charles Scribner's Son. 1952.
Reason, Type and Setting
I honestly chose this book because of how conveniently short it was. I was looking for a book to end quickly with my school year. My english teacher recommended it as a very good read. I took up the offer and I was pleased to have chosen the book. It takes place in Cuba during the 1900's.
The Old man and the Sea is about a man who is a fisherman in Cuba. He was down on his luck and seemed to not be able to catch fish for a long time now. Santiago was distraught and sad because of his bad luck and one day decides to sail out further than he normally goes and drops his line. His son-like figure Manolin, who is much younger than him, talks to the old man about baseball and other stuff and helps the old man with his fishing gear and gives him coffee and such. Because Santiago’s having so much bad luck and can’t catch any fish Manolin’s parents say he needs a new fishing partner, but Manolin sees the old man anyways. Then Santiago sets sail in search for a massive fish to turn his luck around and goes out in the ocean farther than he normally does. He finds a massive marlin bigger than he has ever seen and after a tiresome 3 day battle with it he finally reels it in. He hauls it in and ties it to the side of his boat. Because he had killed the fish with his harpoon, the fish bled and left a trail of blood on his way home. The blood attracted predators who came and ate the fish despite Santiago’s desperate attempts to keep them away. In the end, Santiago loses his harpoon and all means of defending the fish and gives up, letting the sharks devour the marlin that took him so long to catch.
Santiago was the main character. He is an old, tan, worn out Cuban man. He is a simple and patient man who was very determined to catch the marlin. Although, Santiago was also very critical of himself. He would see the mistakes that he made shortly after making them and would criticize himself for that. I guess I could relate to him, the the fact that I am also very bland and simple and also critical of myself. Since he was the main character, he contributed a lot to the plot and that is why I chose him. He was also the character that we had the most insight on. I admired how focused and detirmined Santiago was to catch the fish of his dreams. Most (including myself) would be discouraged by that point and would contemplate maybe switching careers but he was patient all the way through. Even when he had the fish on the line and he was weary from hunger and heat, he still pressed on and kept fighting the fish. He doesn’t see giving up as an option until it is the only option left and even in that case he is still hesitant. In the end, Santiago loses his fish to the predators and even though he lost this battle, he got his claim to fame hauling in the skeleton of such an enormous beast. It shows what a good character Santiago is when he loses the fish. I think its because he had so much respect for the sport itself.
Although I spoke highly of Santiago and his dedication, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. I was really disappointed at the end of this book. I rooted for Santiago and I so desperately wanted things to work in his favor but when things didn’t, I was heartbroken and now I really hate the book. Though I was sad about the ending, it taught the reader and me about perseverance and determination. Because of that I feel as if I would recommend this book, but not to all people because it does take determination to even finish the book itself. It takes patient readers to read this book and thats why I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I would recommend this book if you want to be greatly disappointed about something.
This book compares to life because it shows traits that we should all possess or admire. It shows us how even though we are down on our luck, we should still persevere and press on, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, rather than the darkness that surrounds us. A lot of us have times where we feel like it is too difficult to continue and this shows that if you are doing something that you love and are doing it for the right reasons, then you shouldn’t let anything stop you. I do think that it is important for those who do feel as if they are having difficulties with life but not as important for others to read.
If I was the main character, I feel as if I would not have the determination and focus that Santiago has in this book. He is so strong minded and is unrelenting. If the book was about determination on something that I enjoyed like painting or sculpting I might have a different opinion but I could never match his love of fish. I wish that there would have been a more triumphant ending because I really fell in love with Santiago and wanted the best for him. I wish that in the end, he wouldn’t have lost his harpoon and fought to the very end to keep his marlin.
In the end, I was greatly disappointed in this book and feel as if my heart has been ripped out.
Author, Context, Trivia
Ernest Hemmingway was an American author that won a Nobel Prize in literature and whose books are considered American classics. Some of his other novels are The Sun Also Rises For, Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, The Garden of Eden, and more. I’ve never really read an American classic before but they seem to have important morals and teach important lessons so I would definitely be apt to read more.