Musing Monday: Required reading

Posted January 12, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Monday Musing

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Rebecca, host of Musing Monday, asks, How did you react to assigned reading when you were in school/university/college/etc? How do you think on these books now? What book were you ‘forced’ to read when you where in school that you’ve since reread and loved?

Well, I loved required reading in school. I cannot remember a time I did not like to read, in fact. I liked being able to read the difficult books, and then discuss them in class. In college, I took an intro to lit class that read and discussed “The Scarlet Letter”, and that was very fun. We also covered “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which was a blast, as well as many famous short stories. In high school I took a class that required me to read “Julius Ceasar” which I hated because I did not understand anything. But I kept reading various Shakespeare on my own until finally I read Macbeth and sort of understood the plot, so I was very excited.

The ultimate book nerdy thing I did when I was a teenager was read the entire book of “Moby Dick”. I think I was 17 or 18, and just decided that it was a book I should read before I embarked into the world of adults. So I found a neat old copy (that I lost somewhere along the way, thanks to mom, not that I’m bitter =-) and I read the whole thing. Even the boring chapters describing whale biology. And you know what? I loved it. Absolutely loved the entire book, it’s still one of my favorite classics today.

Now that I’m in graduate school I have to read a lot of books on doctrine and theology that are very boring and dry. Every once in awhile I’ll come across a theologian who can write well, but it’s dull going. They need some zest in their writing styles!

Overall, whether it was required or not, I loved to read. I think the #1 influence in my life was my Grandma K. She passed away a few years ago, but I remember she always would get me books for my birthday and Christmas. She always found ones I liked and new ones I had never read before. Maybe that’s why I never minded reading the required reading. I think most people are turned off by the word “required”. I saw it as a challenge: my teacher is making me read this, but I’m going to read it because I want to! AND I’m going to enjoy it! I know, I know, I was such a rebel!! 😉

Daddy’s Book Club: “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”

Posted January 12, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Daddy's Book Club, Read and Review

Tags: , , ,

Here it is, the inaugral edition of Daddy’s Book Club. I love reading to my kids, and just the past year we started reading chapter books. Today, we finished “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. I wasn’t sure if Ryan, my 6 year old would like it, but he LOVED it. Every day he would beg me to read him more. I think he liked it more than anything we’ve read so far. I bought him the book for his birthday in December, so I’m glad to see it was money well spent. We bought the next three books in the series (according to the old way of numbering them), so we are anticipating reading more. So here are a few opinions that my kids had about this book:

Review Sam, Age 4:

img_0726 Did you like this book? “Yeah!”

What was your favorite part? “Ummmm….I liked the silly parts.”

What silly parts? “Umm….when the world is turned upside for Edmund (I’m not sure what he meant by that) and when the giant picks up Lucy.”

What part did you not like? “When the white witch put her knife into Aslan! That was very sad.”

Which character did you like the most? “I liked all of them! Can my go play now?”

Sam likes me reading to him just as much as Ryan does, but I thought at times he had trouble figuring out what was going on in this book. Usually, before I read a chapter book, I read a little book for Sam. One of his favorites is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” He loves that book.

Reviewer Ryan, age 6:

img_0627 Did you like this book? “Yup. I think it was pretty good. I just think it’s a good thing we bought those other Narnia books from the store so we can read more!”

What was your favorite part? “When Aslan came back to life again.”

What part did you not like? “When they killed Aslan. It made me sad.”

What character did you like the most? “I liked all of the people!”

Is there anything else about the book you would like to add? “The white witch was a little scary and a little silly and it was ahappy thing when Aslan killed her.”

Ok. Wow. You liked the violence huh? “What’s violence mean?”

Ryan really got into this book. He liked it about as much as he likes Thomas the Train, which is considerable. When I finished the chapter of Aslan’s death, he cried. We had to read the next chapter so he could know that Aslan came back to life again. And, for the final reviewer:

Reviewer Rosie, Age ???

img_0604 ” I hated this book.  Every time daddy read it, they would all sit on the couch and make me sit on the floor. The nerve. Don’t they know how important I am?”

I enjoyed this book a lot, and I found myself looking forward each day to our reading time. Sometimes I would read another chapter because I wanted to find out what happened next. I have never read the books, but I did see the movie that came out a few years ago, and wasn’t too thrilled by it. I liked Lord of the Rings better. But “The Lion, the Witch, and the wardrobe” book was way better than the movie. I think this is a good book to read to your children as it explores issues like misbehaving and being mean and its consequences; having courage to do things even when your scared; death and life, and of course, all the religious metaphors or allegories that are in it. It’s a masterpiece!

The Sunday Salon: Adventures in Binge Reading

Posted January 11, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Read and Review, Sunday Salon

Tags: , , ,

tssbadge1 The Sunday Salon is a group that blogs on Sundays about their reading adventures.

     This weekend, I’ve been binge-reading. I like to read a lot, but for some reason I’m not a fast reader. I like to read slowly and carefully, savoring the written words as if they were the finest delicacy. But this weekend I’ve read almost 300 pages! I finally finished “The Silmarillion”, so I was in need of something different, maybe more light-hearted. So, I tried to pick up, “The Return of Sherlock Holmes” short story collection, but it just wasn’t holding my attention. But that is the joy of reading short stories, you can read one or two, and then put the book down for a few weeks.

Friday, I read 3 chapters from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” to my boys, (age 6 and 4). I was only going to read 1 chapter, but they begged me to read one more chapter so I did. It happened to be the chapter where (SPOILER ALERT for the rest of this paragraph !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Aslan sacrifices himself to save Edmund. My 6 year old was on the edge of his seat the whole chapter, and we were almost finished with it, he blurted out, “Is Aslan going to die? I don’t want him to die!” I finished the chapter (it ends with his death) and he just sat on the couch, absolutely quiet. You have to understand, my 6 year old is NEVER quiet. I put the book down and started helping my wife fix dinner. We look over on the couch, and he is sitting there, looking very pale and sad, trying not to cry. Then, he said, “I don’t want to read anymore of that book!” and he started crying! My wife comforted him and tried to tell him that he needed to hear more of the story. My wife smiled at me, and quoted the line from Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”  ‘It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? ‘ Anyway, she then told me I had better read just one more chapter before dinner, so I did, and Aslan came back to life, and my boys were happy again.

     That night at work I had to work a four hour shift overnight, so I brought a book along to keep me company (my job is very boring, especially the over night shift. I like it, because that gives me a chance to read!). I decided on starting Elie Wiesel’s “Night” trilogy, 3 short books called, Night, Dawn, and Day. The first one is a memoir of sorts about his experiences in a concentration camp, Auschwitz and Buchenwald. I first read it 2 years ago (I think it was also an Oprah Book of the month). I finished the whole thing in the time I had to read at work. It is hard to read, because of all the tragedy that he writes about, but his writing style is very engaging and easy to zip along. But the themes and statements he makes in the book are profound, and they stick in your head for a long time. Yesterday afternoon I started “Dawn” and just finished that this morning. That story is fiction, though Wiesel said in some sense the main character is him, or what he might have become if circumstances in his life had been different after he was released from the Nazi death camps. The story is about a young man named Elisha who joins a Jewish underground movement and is ordered to execute a British soldier at dawn. The story is brief and poignant, as he struggles with this decision, debates whether he will do it or not. That one question, will he do it or won’t he?, kept me turning the pages to the very end. (It was 87 pages long.) If you want that question answered, you will have to read it for yourself. 🙂 This book wasn’t quite as horrifying as “Night” was, but it was just as well written. Again, it will make you rethink many things, especially as they pertain to war, executions, morality, and God. I hope to start on “Day” this afternoon, and then, I think it’s time I moved on to something more cheerful than Holocaust literature.

     I find myself this weekend enjoying some well-written pieces of literature, as well as enjoying my freedom that so many people suffered and died for, and possibly faced such moral delima’s as Elisha did, all in the name of freedom. We are trully blessed to be living in America in the 21st century. May we never take it for granted!

Book Review 1: “The Silmarillion” by JRR Tolkien

Posted January 9, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Uncategorized

silm2e2 I can’t believe it, but I’m actually finished! This book was a hard read, and it took me several weeks to get through it, but it was worth it. If you like Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring trilogy, than this book is one you might enjoy, too. I say “might” because I could see how it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. This is a book that Tolkien had been working on most of his life, and in fact, never did finish. His son, Christopher was able to put it together after Tolkien’s death.

It covers the mythology and legends of Middle-earth thousands of years before the events of the Lord of the Rings take place. It is primarily concerned with the elf Feanor creating 3 precious jewels called Silmarils, and the results of having created something so beautiful. Morgoth, middle-earth’s own version of Lucifer, steals them for his own, and there are several attempts to recover them. There are other stories and legends that interweave with this story that tells an overall story arc that leads directly into the events of The Lord of the Rings.

I picked up this book mostly because I couldn’t find anything else to read. It was a few days before Christmas, and I was just kind of bored with what I had been reading (too much of the same thing!). I had read The Lord of the Rings once a few years ago, but I didn’t approach it right, not knowing what to expect, so I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I could. I LOVE the movies however, and I recently read “The Hobbit” and loved that. And since my wife, my sister, her husband, and my father in law all love Tolkien, I already had a general idea about him and his works. So I thought I would give this book a go, just because it was something different than I usually read.

I was blown away by it. It was beautiful, tragic, and epic. Much of it reads like beautiful poetry. Tolkien created this masterful world, highly detailed, vividly real. I can’t think of another author writing today who even comes close to the way he created Middle Earth. One major theme of this book is to show how easily the best people are corrupted by power and greed. There was a chilling sentence in the book about Feanor, the elf who created the Silmarils. He used the light of the two White Trees, and contained it in a jewel. He became so obssessed with these jewels, and with the prestige that they brought him, Tolkien wrote something like, “Feanor forgot that the light was not his own.” (I couldn’t find the exact quote). It reminded me of people who are corrupted by power or fame. They take credit for things they didn’t do, they are impressed with power they have, but forget thatthey are in that position because of someone else’s help, or the votes of the nation.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely, it was by far the best book I read all year. However, I will say, I don’t think it’s for everyone. But give it a try like I did, and who knows, you might like it. The first two little sections are the hardest reading, but once you get into the major section, entitled “Quenta Silmarillion” it will have been worth the trip. Now, my biggest problem? What do I read next! Help! I’m between books!!!

Friday Finds, 01-09-09

Posted January 9, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Uncategorized

Happy Friday everyone! I found lots of new ideas and books thanks to everyones post on the Booking through Thursday blog. Here are a few that many of you have probably already read, but I’m adding to my “To be read” pile:

1. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. A lot of people had it on their best of 2008 lists, so I thought I’d give it a try.

2. “Night” by Elie Wiesel. Another book, like “the Road” about a Father and son going through hardships. This one was excellent, one of the best I read in 2007, I just found out that he had actually written two more books that follow up on that story, “Dawn”, and “Day”. I just got this book with all three novels in it, so I will be reading it this year. Night takes place in a WWII concentration camp, it’s very sad but very good!

3. “Dominion Trilogy #1: Relentless” by Robin Parrish. MizB recommended it to me, so I will have to give it a try!

4. Here, There Be Dragons (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica) the recommended reading level is 8th grade and up, so I assume these are considered Young Adult, but they sound interesting. It’s a book series about the magical adventures of JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and Charles Williams, who would later go on to be famous writers, and form a literary group called “The Inklings.” The books sound like fun!

The Best from 2008

Posted January 8, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Booking through Thursday

Tags: , , ,

The Booking Through Thursday blog I recently discovered asks this question today: what were your favorite books from 2008? I love reading lists like this, as it usually gives me some great ideas to read some new ones. So, I’m giving listing the top 5 books I’ve read and really enjoyed this year:

5. “Death Masks” by Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files #5. Harry Dresden is my other favorite wizard named Harry. Unlike the boy wonder, this Harry is also a private eye in Chicago. Butcher writes exciting plots full of great action, heart ache, and joyfully stuffed with humor (you can’t have a talking skull named Bob and still be serious all the time, right?). In this book, Ortega the vampire is hunting Harry to challenge him to a duel, and Harry is enlisting the help of some friends old and new to try and find The Shroud of Turin. Why? You’ll have to read it to find out. It’s good. But start with #1 Storm Front if you haven’t read any of the series.

4. “Sourcery” by Terry Pratchett. This book was hilarious. If you love english humor than Pratchett’s discworld series is something you might want to pick up. A sourcerer arrives on the discworld and wreaks havoc, and it’s up to Rincewind, the completely inept wizard, to save the day. The end is a bit of a cliff hanger, and it always amazes me that Pratchett can write humor/parody that isn’t just stupid humor, but it’s witty and intelligent. And, at times, stupid. That’s what makes it fun.

3. “David Copperfield.” Where to begin with this one? It’s Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, his magnum opus. It was beautifully written, and it drew me in from page 1. The book totalled over 900 pages, and never once did I get bored reading it. The best parts were during the first half when David was a child: Dickens paints this pathetic creature so clearly, that I was near tears at certain parts of the book, (Spoiler: for instance, the chapter when his step-dad beat him made me want to run home and hug my boys!)

2. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. I loved this book. Stoker is a master, and this book terrified me. Now, I have not read a lot of vampire books or seen movies, (I’ve watched “Buffy” and “Angel”, and I think I’ve seen the preview for “Twilight” 😉 ) so I think most of the impact was still fresh with me. The way that Stoker creates a very atmospheric scene, and then adds in creepy characters like Dracula, and then adds the plot…it’s the best. I couldn’t believe I had waited this long in my life to read it.

1. “The Silmarillion” by JRR Tolkien. This one surprised me as much as anyone. I am actually still reading it, but I started it before Christmas. I have two chapters left, but it is one of the best books I’ve ever written. Imagine a bunch of Greek mythology stories rewritten with elves, dwarves, dragons and epic quests, huge battles, and tragedies all around. Many of these stories explores the theme of objects of power, and how that power corrupts the hearts of men and elves. You may have heard that this book is a difficult read, and it is. But if you can make it through to the tales of The Silmarillion (the three jewels that the elf Feanor made from the light of their two sacred trees), then I think the stories just become incredible. I have never read anything like this before, and I am not sure what I will be able to read next! The book is beautifully written, but you need to have your full concentration going, it is difficult. But it’s worth it. And imagine this: Tolkien created all of this from his imagination, including the languages for the different races of elves, men, and dwarves.

There are others I could add to the list, but I need to go and read some of your comments now! What did you find to be a good read in 2008?

Teaser Tuesdays: “The Silmarillion”

Posted January 6, 2009 by fuzzyface
Categories: Teaser Tuesdays

This event is hosted by MizB, and the rules are simple. Here is brief, tantalizing snippet from the book I’m reading, The Silmarillion, by JRR Tolkien:

“Now the phalanx of the guard of the King broke through the ranks of the Orcs, and Turgon hewed his way to the side of his brother; and it is told that the meeting of Turgon with Hurin, who stood beside Fingon, was glad in the midst of battle. Then hope was renewed in the hearts of the Elves; and in that very time, at the third hour of morning, the trumpets of Maedhros were heard at last coming up from the east, and the banners of the sons of Feanor assailed the enemy in the rear.” The Silmarillion, by JRR Tolkien, p. 192.

I was surprised at how good this book is, (though it’s very slow reading) once you get into the stories of the “Quenta Silmarillion”. If you approach the book as if you are reading a book of history and legends, then it really helps in understanding, although it is difficult to keep a lot of the names straight. I’m about half way through so far!