On Books

All things books.  I will review, discuss trending topics, and post whatever comes to my mind about books.

How to Read a Book

Another great posting by the website The Art of Manliness.  These guys have been inspiring me for a over a couple of years now on how to better myself as a man and they seem to put a lot of emphasis on reading.  They look more to teach culture than anything and both men and women can learn from its archives but it is ultimately geared toward men.

6 Books Everyone (Including Your English Teacher) Got Wrong - From Cracked

I don't know about you but I've always questioned what teachers and others say a book is "really about."  How do they know what's in the author's mind unless the author themselves said what it was?  They don't.  Harkening back to Freud, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

"Does Reading Actually Change the Brain" -

Not much of a surprise for us readers.  Helps with some proof though.

"The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader" by COLIN ROBINSON

Colin Robinson in The New York Times laments about how we as a society are finding it harder and harder to focus on reading and on good books.  He attributes this to the overwhelming number of books being produced and the failing institutions where you might be able to find suggestions on what books to be reading (i.e. the library, the brick book store, the book reviewer).


I, being a bit of a purist, tend to lean with Mr. Robinson’s point of view on this.  I think the new media outlet options of iPads, iPhones, Kiddles, Nooks, iBooks, and other assorted digital readers are great for portability and opening the reading world to, possibly, a new set of readers.  This comes with price though.  With digital reducing the prices in book (which is a good thing) we start losing the “brick and mortar” stores, libraries are becoming used less and less, and with the failing of the print newspaper, they are cutting back in areas and one of them is for the book reviewer, who can also be replaced by all the reviews that are listed on the web page, which can be easily manipulated by either supporters of the authors or, more likely, the publishing companies.


I will diverge a bit from Mr. Robinson’s conclusions when he says, “Overall book sales have been anemic in recent years, declining 6 percent in the first half of 2013 alone.”  I would pose this question; there has been a (unnecessarily) prolonged fiscal crisis in our country with a high number of unemployed, how much of that decline is due to people cutting back on their entertainment budgets?

Dracula - Bram Stoker, Brooke Allen

There has been so much lost over the years with the legend of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Or should I say added to?


Dracula, the brutal warring lover who lost the love of his life when she jumped from the castle to the rocky bottom below because those evil Turks tricked her into believing that Dracula was dead.  When comes to find out of her death he renounces God, whom he fought the Turks for.  This is when he becomes the monster that is the vampire…


Wait, wait, wait, not so much.


Dracula has been so misinterpreted through popular novels based on it and especially movies; Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula comes to mind.   They seem to try and add a human element to what Stephen King called the “outside evil” in Danse Macabre when referring to Stoker’s novel.  In fact, it makes me wonder if any of the authors and filmmakers who have operated on this classic, have actually read the book?


In Stoker’s actual novel, Dracula has a relatively short historical background.  We know that he was a brute; relative to, or actually, Valad the Impeller; he is hundreds of years old; and he is actually trying to establish a new empire in England.  He is also the embodiment of evil with little to no redeeming qualities.  He is only seen as a force to defeat, not to sympathize with.


One thing that did pop out to me, in differences in vampires (besides him not sparkling in the sun), was that his mind was described as being underdeveloped and working more as a boys mind than that of a full man’s.  It was only during the span of the novel that he realized his paranormal strength, how he could travel, that he could use weather like the fog, and he was really seeing as exploring his limitations.


It was also surprising that in Dracula, that the monster could travel during the day; that he could walk in sunlight.  If you’re a fan of such movies as Fright Night, Interview With A Vampire, The Lost Boys, or Blade, you’d think that they all burn up or turn to ash.  Not according to the original.


Away from the changing vampire throughout time, I suggest any fan of horror, such as myself, read this classic.  I’ve felt that I was hollow in my reading because I have not read classic horror literature such as Dracula.  It seemed almost intimidating, like trying to talk and understand the adults when you’re finally invited into their conversations.


The book itself is written as if you’re reading a collection of diary entries by each of the characters.  Though this helps develop and give a 3D view of the characters, I find it interesting throughout my short, little literary lessons, I’ve heard it is a big no, no for authors.  Really using the diary way of telling the tail of Dracula, is akin to how we have seen a lot of new movies, think The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activities, where we are treated to the small world view of our main characters and is presented as truth.


Again, for anyone looking for a good classic to enhance the your literary knowledge, or just to open your mind, I will suggest Dracula.  There is a reason books as these are considered classics.

The Andromeda Strain / The Terminal Man - Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton, who I believe will go down as a modern classic author with several works that span all genres and provoke the imagination, has not really impressed me with these two books in one.


Mr. Crichton was a doctor turned author producing several books that have been turned into movies.  His writing can be used to actually learn from, though many authors will proclaim this, Crichton can actually attest to this.  His writing will cause you to Google, look in a dictionary, ask your friends, parents and professors, just to figure out some of the concepts that he’s talking about (so, I’m exaggerating a bit – lets face it, if that were the case you wouldn’t read his work but its still insightful).


The Andromeda Strain/The Terminal Man bored me.  I think it is because these were his first couple of novels.  He went a bit far in the explaining the science there were times I thought I was in a medical class (again a bit of an exaggeration).  This was in both novels.


The Andromeda Strain is a story about a town who had a satellite crash land near them.  It’s payload, dust from the furthest reaches of space (sound somewhat familiar to anyone?).  What it brings back with it is a microbe that is deadly, that would have never made it through Earth’s atmosphere if it weren’t for us.  Why though are there survivors?  What is our response?


The Terminal Man plays a bit on psychology and a bit on the medical field.  Truly this is a psychiatrist’s novel.  What happens when you try and control the blackouts of a man who’s prone to commit horrendous murders while blacked out?


If either of these concepts interest you, if you’re a detailed person, you’ll enjoy these books. 


After reading these novels of Mr. Crichton, I still come to two positive conclusions.  First is that he wrote his books to explore this theories through a thought experiment.  Second is that it would have been fun to have known the man in person.  Could you imagine the breadth of your conversations?


The Walking Dead Compendium 2 Review

This is the second in the collection of The Walking Dead series of comic books.


Yes, comic books are a bit of cheating in the reading realm but I figure I get a pass since this is a bit more than even a graphic novel but a graphic bible.  It’s thickness is only rivaled by Stephen King novels.


We are once again welcomed into the land of the dead where a group of survivors try all they can do to adapt to their new reality.  They have gone from the prison and found danger not only from the dead but from other survivors.  They also find that a devil is awakening in them.  They have lost their innocence and it seems that it will not return even when they find another city, a friendly city, one that has been able to insulate itself.


If you are looking for a crystal ball into the television series, see a psychic because this will not help you.  The television series broke from the comic in the first episode.  There are some hints but it will be different.


I would strongly suggesting reading the comics, especially if you’re like me and want something more to tide you over between shows and between seasons.

Out of the Net for a While

I’ve been off of BookLikes for a while.  Been busy reestablishing myself.  I will be updating and reviewing more to come.  Thank you for  your patience.

Reblogged from Olivia Smith... and her BookWorld:

Before The Hobbit

Some more on the Hobbit.

More Tolkien: Looking forward to the Hobbit

In the 20 minute video, it seemed that both the interviewer and interviewee were reaching from some far reaching comments about Tolkien but it was interesting to see what they came up with.

Why Edmund isn’t Judas: The Chronicles of Narnia, Allegory or Supposition?

I think this author makes a compelling point on how The Chronicles of Narnia are not a christian allegory on the death of Christ and is really a stand alone story.

In Defence of Harry Potter, Or Harry Potter and the Magic of Christianity (As found on Letters from Nottingham)

I found this on a sit called Letters From Nottingham. I'm not sure what the full site contains, however, this (and the subsequent articles) I thought were interesting and worth the read for the BookLikes community.

The New Canon: The 21 Books from the 21st Century Every Man Should Read

I'm not sure about all of these but some of them I can attest to, for example The Road is a great book and well worth anyone's time.

Paper is not dead

For all of us who use our tablets.

The Friday 5: Top 5 Fantasy Books You Should Read

Currently reading

The Singing Sword
Jack Whyte
Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth
J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien