September22014
In reading Being There, I found myself traveling two different avenues regarding Chance, aka Chauncey Gardiner. On the one avenue, the book contained such an interesting insight into our society. Kosinski pushes to the top a man of simplicity, who arrives there through the use of simple platitudes and repetition of what others are telling him. He literally starts off his rise by parroting back the last few words the person speaking to him has said. They take that as agreement, and propel him forward. It says that what we want is just to hear ourselves speak. We seek only ears.
The other avenue, more tenuously reflected, was Peter Keating in The Fountainhead. Keating is Chance with ambition. Keating spends much of The Fountainhead trying to move to the top, but it’s his method that mirrors Chance. In a critical passage of the book, Keating and Howard Roark are together, and Howard notes that Peter Keating is substantially nothing - he purposefully acts as a mirror, parroting back whatever he’s being told. 
Chance is some combination of both a mirror and something more - a sculptor’s clay. In the beginning, he merely parrots back what he hears, but he becomes more than a reflection through the course of the book. He becomes clay and is shaped into whomever is speaking wants him to be. Each person literally fashions him into whatever purpose suits them best. 
A really interesting satirical work, relatively short, but it leaves you with a lot to ponder about society.
Book 19 of 189

In reading Being There, I found myself traveling two different avenues regarding Chance, aka Chauncey Gardiner. On the one avenue, the book contained such an interesting insight into our society. Kosinski pushes to the top a man of simplicity, who arrives there through the use of simple platitudes and repetition of what others are telling him. He literally starts off his rise by parroting back the last few words the person speaking to him has said. They take that as agreement, and propel him forward. It says that what we want is just to hear ourselves speak. We seek only ears.

The other avenue, more tenuously reflected, was Peter Keating in The Fountainhead. Keating is Chance with ambition. Keating spends much of The Fountainhead trying to move to the top, but it’s his method that mirrors Chance. In a critical passage of the book, Keating and Howard Roark are together, and Howard notes that Peter Keating is substantially nothing - he purposefully acts as a mirror, parroting back whatever he’s being told. 

Chance is some combination of both a mirror and something more - a sculptor’s clay. In the beginning, he merely parrots back what he hears, but he becomes more than a reflection through the course of the book. He becomes clay and is shaped into whomever is speaking wants him to be. Each person literally fashions him into whatever purpose suits them best. 

A really interesting satirical work, relatively short, but it leaves you with a lot to ponder about society.

Book 19 of 189

September12014
Going Bovine telling it like it is.

Going Bovine telling it like it is.

11AM
One of the classics of literature, it offers a magnificent glimpse at the workings of guilt on the human consciousness.  The gradual and inescapable grind of each moment as Raskolnikov tries to deal with the internal consequences of his crime are exquisitely written.  It becomes nearly as hard for the reader to deal with the emotions as it is for Raskolnikov.  A few times I had to put the book down and remind myself that I wasn’t accused of any crime, so deeply had I fallen into the novel!  
Book 18 of 189

One of the classics of literature, it offers a magnificent glimpse at the workings of guilt on the human consciousness.  The gradual and inescapable grind of each moment as Raskolnikov tries to deal with the internal consequences of his crime are exquisitely written.  It becomes nearly as hard for the reader to deal with the emotions as it is for Raskolnikov.  A few times I had to put the book down and remind myself that I wasn’t accused of any crime, so deeply had I fallen into the novel!  

Book 18 of 189

August282014
A really incredible work that is a wild mix of science and prose. The stories took the science of the world and anthropomorphized it. It’s hard to describe exactly where the attraction of the book came in, but it was tangible throughout. The stories are short enough to make it well worth giving them a try. And, as the student who recommended it wrote so elegantly, “Everyone needs a get-away and Calvino created numerous that makes me want to renounce my Earth citizenship and move to the moon.”
Book 17 of 189

A really incredible work that is a wild mix of science and prose. The stories took the science of the world and anthropomorphized it. It’s hard to describe exactly where the attraction of the book came in, but it was tangible throughout. The stories are short enough to make it well worth giving them a try. And, as the student who recommended it wrote so elegantly, “Everyone needs a get-away and Calvino created numerous that makes me want to renounce my Earth citizenship and move to the moon.”

Book 17 of 189

August272014
The best non-fiction books read like fiction. They create a storyline that encourage you to keep turning the page, presenting the facts in an easy-to-digest manner. One of the best recent examples was The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
On the other side of the spectrum you have Jim Diamond’s Collapse. This book was just FILLED with minutiae that I often felt was irrelevant to the overall theme. You end up becoming so bogged down into details that by the time Diamond makes his point about a specific society, you stopped caring.
The book has a strong message about the various factors that, in conjunction, can cause the total collapse of a society. And he does an interesting job drawing parallels to modern society. But again, his knowledge of the topic, though vast, is just not matched by his writing ability, and so the book (and the reader) suffers for it.
Book 16 of 189

The best non-fiction books read like fiction. They create a storyline that encourage you to keep turning the page, presenting the facts in an easy-to-digest manner. One of the best recent examples was The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

On the other side of the spectrum you have Jim Diamond’s Collapse. This book was just FILLED with minutiae that I often felt was irrelevant to the overall theme. You end up becoming so bogged down into details that by the time Diamond makes his point about a specific society, you stopped caring.

The book has a strong message about the various factors that, in conjunction, can cause the total collapse of a society. And he does an interesting job drawing parallels to modern society. But again, his knowledge of the topic, though vast, is just not matched by his writing ability, and so the book (and the reader) suffers for it.

Book 16 of 189

August252014
Written 40 years ago, at times this book shows it’s age (referencing the transitioning hippie community, for instance), but much of it remains relevant and strong. Watts does a great job talking through some of Man’s big questions on karma, what comes next, and our place in the world. I found his discussion on (and “proof” of) reincarnation to be particularly enlightening. While not an overly difficult read, it does require some concentration to follow his line of thinking on different ideas. But it definitely opened my eyes and left me with something to mull over when I was finished.
Book 15 of 189

Written 40 years ago, at times this book shows it’s age (referencing the transitioning hippie community, for instance), but much of it remains relevant and strong. Watts does a great job talking through some of Man’s big questions on karma, what comes next, and our place in the world. I found his discussion on (and “proof” of) reincarnation to be particularly enlightening. While not an overly difficult read, it does require some concentration to follow his line of thinking on different ideas. But it definitely opened my eyes and left me with something to mull over when I was finished.

Book 15 of 189

August222014
This was probably the hardest 100-page book I’ve ever read. Without chapters, and consisting of approximately four total paragraphs, you never really got a sense of breakpoints in the stories. There was literally no pause from one piece to the next, so you couldn’t really catch your breath and review the last passage before heading into the next. It just all unraveled before you, and therefore I feel this book is best read in one long sitting. 
The deathbed styling is intriguing, and if you have a brief knowledge of Chilean history, the book becomes much more revealing. Even a passing wiki knowledge of the fall of Allende and the rise of Pinochet will help. 
Overall the writing was beautiful, but as I said, it was very difficult to get a sense of plot because of that same style.
Book 14 of 189

This was probably the hardest 100-page book I’ve ever read. Without chapters, and consisting of approximately four total paragraphs, you never really got a sense of breakpoints in the stories. There was literally no pause from one piece to the next, so you couldn’t really catch your breath and review the last passage before heading into the next. It just all unraveled before you, and therefore I feel this book is best read in one long sitting. 

The deathbed styling is intriguing, and if you have a brief knowledge of Chilean history, the book becomes much more revealing. Even a passing wiki knowledge of the fall of Allende and the rise of Pinochet will help. 

Overall the writing was beautiful, but as I said, it was very difficult to get a sense of plot because of that same style.

Book 14 of 189

August202014
A really wonderful bit of poetry.
There was a book I read a number of years ago called “The Missing Piece” (no, not that one.) It was about a world where solving jigsaw puzzles was a major sporting event. It got really detailed into the act of doing jigsaw puzzles and the different strategies people used to solve them. I imagine many of these strategies are real, and there are probably small circles and groups where people get deeply into jigsaw puzzles in this manner.
I mention the book because Maggie Nelson does the same thing with the color blue. Besides the use of the color as a metaphor, she draws out quotes and history and science about the color. She draws inspiration and sadness from it. It becomes the focal point. And she delves so deeply that you are pulled with her and sorta see, in a hazy way, what that sort of love for a color would feel like.
Book 13 of 189

A really wonderful bit of poetry.

There was a book I read a number of years ago called “The Missing Piece” (no, not that one.) It was about a world where solving jigsaw puzzles was a major sporting event. It got really detailed into the act of doing jigsaw puzzles and the different strategies people used to solve them. I imagine many of these strategies are real, and there are probably small circles and groups where people get deeply into jigsaw puzzles in this manner.

I mention the book because Maggie Nelson does the same thing with the color blue. Besides the use of the color as a metaphor, she draws out quotes and history and science about the color. She draws inspiration and sadness from it. It becomes the focal point. And she delves so deeply that you are pulled with her and sorta see, in a hazy way, what that sort of love for a color would feel like.

Book 13 of 189

August192014
I felt a little disappointed in this book, as I didn’t really feel like it had a narrative carrying the reader forward. I felt like it started strong, sorta getting into the connection between man and city, but it become more ethereal afterwards. It became more of a David Byrne stream-of-conscious of his experiences in different cities, and it didn’t seem to me he had a set of ideas in advance of writing the book that he wanted to get across. It just seemed like a notebook that he carried in his pocket as he traveled, recording his thoughts, and then published that notebook. Some people will enjoy that style of writing, but it fell flat for me.
Book 12 of 189

I felt a little disappointed in this book, as I didn’t really feel like it had a narrative carrying the reader forward. I felt like it started strong, sorta getting into the connection between man and city, but it become more ethereal afterwards. It became more of a David Byrne stream-of-conscious of his experiences in different cities, and it didn’t seem to me he had a set of ideas in advance of writing the book that he wanted to get across. It just seemed like a notebook that he carried in his pocket as he traveled, recording his thoughts, and then published that notebook. Some people will enjoy that style of writing, but it fell flat for me.

Book 12 of 189

August182014
Zainab Salbi joins the ranks of Barbara Demick (North Korea), Barbara Kingsolver (Democratic Republic of Congo), Katherine Boo (Mumbai), and Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan). Particularly with Demick and Hosseini, Salbi opens up doors to an otherwise closed society of which Americans have, at best, a glossed-over knowledge. 
Besides of her family’s relationship with Saddam Hussein, we get a very unique perspective on Iraq during his reign. She details the “prison bars” her mother metaphorically felt trapped the family in Iraq, as Hussein set one family against another in order to instill fear in all. Her pathway to escape was difficult, and yet it wasn’t until she began working for others that it nearly overcame her.
A fascinating story, and a great summary of a regime that is quickly being forgotten by the western world.
Book 11 of 189

Zainab Salbi joins the ranks of Barbara Demick (North Korea), Barbara Kingsolver (Democratic Republic of Congo), Katherine Boo (Mumbai), and Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan). Particularly with Demick and Hosseini, Salbi opens up doors to an otherwise closed society of which Americans have, at best, a glossed-over knowledge. 

Besides of her family’s relationship with Saddam Hussein, we get a very unique perspective on Iraq during his reign. She details the “prison bars” her mother metaphorically felt trapped the family in Iraq, as Hussein set one family against another in order to instill fear in all. Her pathway to escape was difficult, and yet it wasn’t until she began working for others that it nearly overcame her.

A fascinating story, and a great summary of a regime that is quickly being forgotten by the western world.

Book 11 of 189

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