Taryn's 75 Books: Starting 4/14/2014
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All of that art I would like to complete, all those stories I'd like to write, all that weight I'd like to lose comes from a backbone, a foundation, of good habits. I have always been a huge reader, but I think the time I spend watching television cuts down on how many books I can actually consume in a year and also eats away at better uses of my time. I feel like having a book # goal might make it easier to limit my television and promote good habits. I listen to audio books when I exercise, so I'm going to count those in my book numbers :) Hope that isn't cheating!
So, to make sure I am well rounded I am going to read one book from each category at a time. I am a little biased towards the social sciences because I am an archaeologist: so one of my categories is Archaeology (not related to my thesis) and one is Anthropology. I hope this will make me more knowledgable and well-read in my field. Here we go! Good luck to all the other challengers! Here some other challenges I'm doing: The Alphabet Challenge, the 14 Category Challenge, the Dewey Decimal Challenge , and the Adventure Time Challenge.
P.S. I will try to write a review for every book I read (and post it here). I will also try to keep this list updated as I finish books.
In case anyone wants to get together to support each other or talk about other habits I'm building here are the other ones: Exercise (Walking and Yoga), Creative Writing, Work (writing and research basically), Art (any media), Music (I play violin but hardly practice enough!). If these habits stick, I want to add more and slowly wean myself off of TV and staying in my bed: gardening, meditation, lifting weights, etc. I know nothing about exercise and it is super hard for me to turn my brain off since I am both bipolar and an insomniac, so controlling my body and mind are a big hit on my list of to-dos!
Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais
Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Nonfiction (All Types)
Behind the Short Story by Ryan Van Cleave
Core Questions in Philosophy by Elliott Sober (textbook)
The Argonauts of the Western Pacific by Bronislaw Malinowski
Archaeology (Not Related to Thesis/Dissertation)
World Prehistory and Archaeology (textbook) by Michael Chazan
Here is my rating system:
= Don't Pick it Up
= Readable, but Not Necessarily Enjoyable
= Enjoyable, but not Profoundly Memorable
= Definitely worth the time/Contributes something to the Zeitgeist
= Get to Your Nearest Bookstore Immediately
I will put up a poll every now and again too! Feel free to start a discussion if you feel like it:
Wähle: Do you think the social sciences contribute to the real world?
7 hours of thesis work a week (not including research; only writing, organizing data, and creating maps count)
3 hours of creative writing a week
3 hours of Anthropology reading a week
3 hours of Archaeology reading a week
6 hours of exercise a week
7 hours of nonfiction/fiction reading a week
Although I have only completed an hour of bonuses, I am hoping that they will come easier as I go along. Bonuses include:
4 hours of violin practice a week
4 hours of art a week (drawing, painting)
Any additional hours of exercise (4 hours of yoga)
I know it seems ridiculous that I have to plan out my days like this, but my mental illness makes it really easy to stay in bed all day and watch television. I am hoping that by using stopwatches, exercise, and rewards, I will somehow get into the habit of wanting to be productive on my own.
Also maybe I will be able to read 75 books this year! Yay!
In theory, I think this book makes some great points, and also has some very visual and well-articulated lines. For example, my favorite line in the book talks about how a person is innately connected to their environment; the line is trying to illustrate that the context of an object can completely change the object's use and purpose: "Blood in a vial is not the same as blood in the veins…" I think that spiritually The Book hits on something vital we can all cling to.
I think my problem with The Book is, in essence, not The Book's fault. It is inherently connected to the 70s, and so 70s biases come out unconsciously. Some of the examples are sexist, though, of course, Watts himself is not sexist at all. But because he is a product of his time, the sexist examples somehow ruin parts of the book I might be able to take more seriously if they were left out. I also think some of the later part of The Book loses focus, and becomes the very abstract thing Watts is speaking out against.
All in all, it's a short, good read for the philosopher, and has some great theoretical ideas.
My Review: Overall, I have been happy with the Hunger Games series. Compared to some of the other horrible teen lit out there, Hunger Games actually is sending a clear and productive message. Catching Fire, the second book in the series, was, to me, much more exciting than the first. Maybe because by the end of the first book you realize this isn't truly about the children, but about the unfairness of the political system. (I mean, I guess you realize that early on, but, I like that they address it head on in the second book immediately.) I don't particularly like the love triangle aspect of the book, since I kind of find it cliche at this point, but I realize this is for a younger audience, and is a good captivating hook.
I think the supporting characters are what make this book special. Katniss is an interesting character, but like a lot of heroic characters, becomes too oblivious to others' intentions, and is so selfless unconsciously that it seems disingenuous. I especially the Katniss's complicated mother, Haymitch, and Gail. For some reason, they seem to see the situation much more clearly than any of the other characters. I respect a good intuitive supporting character.
Can't wait to see what happens at the end of the series!
One of the best books I have read all year. Narrative, metaphorical, new, and yet comfortingly relatable, Middlesex more than deserved its Pulitzer win. Calliope, the main character, is just one of the many well-rounded and complex characters. This book is so feeling and so well-written, that we get a very deep sense of Callie as a person, of her family's entire history and how this history is both genetic and psychologically important. This whole novel is dedicated to self-identity, and the complexity of being a multi-faceted human being.
When I was a kid, there were a million lost boy/girl books out. Hatchet might have been the first of those ever published. Because it is geared more towards boys and children with broken homes, I never really knew how to relate to Brian. I also was innately scared of the book because my only fear in life was (and still is) coming in contact with a tornado. But the concept of the underdog becoming his own hero is an amazing way to get young people to read.
A wonderful, clear book, with a reflective main character. I was glad to listen to the audiobook.
I don't really want to write a review for this one. My beliefs tend to favor modern Buddhism. The Dhammapada is beautiful in verse, but some of the ethics do not resonate with me.
Horrible book just.....horrible. Seriously, I just..I just can't.
When I first started reading this book, I didn't have high hopes, but it completely surprised me. The characters were archetypal without seeming cliche. I thought all of them were interesting, and the story was too. I loved the way the author gave his readers credit; instead of just spelling out the story or trying (and failing) to give a surprise twist, he expected the reader to follow along. Well written.
I never knew a book could be so terrifying. Had to sleep with my light on after Jack has his incident with the hedge animals.
One of my favorite books from childhood, but I couldn't remember much about it. I decided it couldn't hurt to reread and see what all the fuss was about. And boy did I remember! What a lovely, inspiring book. Even as an adult it made me want to start exploring, creating, observing, playing more.
I loved this book. Mostly because I think interdisciplinary studies/perspectives lead to breakthroughs in research. An amazing neurobiologist and an amazing writer, Sacks takes us into his work life and shows us just how wondrous and perplexing the sciences can be. He reminds us that even though we use objectivity in science, we shouldn't forget the human component.
Short, easy read, but completely enjoyable. The little bits of history thrown in with two personal stories are what really make this book a standout for me. I loved the connection between the two. I also liked the question that Bartlett keeps asking throughout, 'What turns the book lover into a book thief?' or 'Where is the line, and what obsessions will make us cross it?'
This book includes history, science, folklore, and everything someone could want in a good nonfiction book. I will say, Rose probably takes some license with the narrative story, but, in the interest of entertainment, it works. I especially love the descriptions of the East India Company and their influence in India: I guess I never understood how much power they actually possessed. I also liked this book because I love tea, and this story gives it all the glory it deserves!
I was impressed with the realistic (I guess mature is the more appropriate adjective) ending of the series. I expected it to be cheesy or cliche, considering this is a YA series. I expected true loves, lots of happy endings for the important characters, and a level of 'wrapping up' for Katniss. Instead, Collins sticks true to the heavy consequences of war and strife, and the casualties that would inevitably take place within. Not just physical casualties, but relationship casualties that occur when there are tragedies. I was both impressed and a little sad with the end of the series. In the end, I think my favorite book of all was the second, but I found I liked the progression of the story.
Great book; beautiful writing. Liked this much better than Sophie's Choice, although I am not sure why. Maybe the descriptions are detailed without being too heavy. In the book aforementioned, I sometimes drifted off in the middle of paragraphs because the descriptions were so verbose. Nat Turner is an incredibly interesting historical figure, and I think Styron's take on the revolt was both imaginative and probably somewhere close to the truth.
No one kill me but.....to me, as a fantasy series, GoT is average. Sure, there is tons of amazing descriptions of violence and sex and food. And I enjoy those descriptions just as much as everyone. But as a story, it seems a little contrived. Some of the violence is almost random in nature.
My favorite characters are the Lannisters: they are the bad guys you love to hate. And they are all so different, they don't just become one blurred archetype of evil. I think the relationships among them are believable and complex, and that they are the most interesting characters in the whole book. Even this first book.
I have to admit, I'm probably biased. I am finishing up the WoT series and the series just makes so much more sense to me. If someone mixed together the heaviness of GoT with the optimism of WoT, they would have the perfect, realistic fantasy series.
My favorite philosophical piece ever. Resonates with me in a way other simple philosophies don't.
One of my new favorite books. I liked Grapes of Wrath but this book just struck a chord with me. I love Ethan; he is such complicated man, yet still very relatable. I thought his children and his wife were also believable but unique characters. I loved how subtly he moved through the story, yet still affected the plot in every little motion. And I especially loved Danny, who knew exactly what he was doing, all the while killing himself with booze.
I liked a couple of the characters, but I found the book overall cheesy. I did listen to it as an audiobook, and I wonder how much the narrator and the background music contributed to the overall cheese. I also wonder how the translation played into how I liked the book. My real review is really just one word: meh.
Loved the different perspectives and how the book was organized. A quick read with a clear voice.
One of my favorite fantasy ever. I think I even liked this one better than Harry Potter, which is saying something for me. I actually started reading the first of this series as a joke a year ago, and haven't been able to put it down since. I thought the last book did credit to the series, and the characters themselves. I loved how it was mostly about the fight, and didn't focus exclusively on romantic relationships. I am sad that I have finished this series.
A great book about drugs and sex and the remarkable debauchery that goes on behind the scenes. I listened to the audiobook, just so I could have the quintessential experience of Anthony Bourdain telling me the story himself, and I think that might be why I liked the book so much.
This ain't no Oliver Sacks. Holy fuck the writing was bad. Just...abysmal. I'm so sorry. I just couldn't stand it. The author tried way, way too hard to dumb down the information--it was dumbed down to the point that the author sounded incredibly stupid (although he really likes to tell you how smart he is directly). It might be just me, but the book seemed pretentious and just a tiny bit sexist. The funny part is he talks about collective hysteria and how women are more prone to it. Yes, that makes sense to me. And his explanation of it makes sense to me. But then the way he talks about women is often flippant, and he uses the word housewife over and over again. Honestly, it's not just women. There was a lot of simplistic labeling going on, and none of it was helping him seem relatable. Needless to say, I pretty much despised this book. Having to listen to his incredibly inane descriptions on audiobook was like sticking an ice pick through my eye. The dialogue....oh, the humanity!...the dialogue....no one has ever spoken to each other like that.
"Hi honey, what are you up to today?" Christ.
What just happened? I thought when I got to the end. But I really loved this book. I have been avoiding it for a long time, but I just couldn't get enough of it.
Sexist and fucking stupid.
I've come to think that even though Neil Gaiman wrote my beloved Coraline into existence, Terry Pratchett might be the better storyteller all-around.