Showing posts from August, 2017

Notes from the Underground

It’s About THAT Guy

By Fyodor Dostoevsky
Translated by Pevear & Volkhonsky
Russian, 1864
Existentialist  Philosophy, Novella

Main Attractions

1.  The Most Comedic, Painful Narrator
2.  Great Insights into the Dark Side
3.  Highly Quotable Lines of Greatness
4.  Philosophy of the Human Condition
5.  Great Intro to Existential Novels
6.  Easy to Read, Yet Astounding Depth
7.  A Snippet of Life Underground
8.  More Enjoyable After Re-Reading it
9.  A 40 Year Old Reflects on Being 24
10. Asks the Ignored Bigger Questions 

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Decadent Chocolate Cheese ’N Cake
The first part is a lively philosophical social commentary but the 2nd part takes a radical turn!  It’s told as a flashback and becomes more and more embarrassing for the narrator.  Understanding a lot of this book depends on the social context of the time which can make it confusing for the reader and possibly difficult to finish.

Why Visit Here

Everyone has faced the darker aspects of the self, this novel showcases …

What is to Be Done?

Nothing Short of a Revolution

By Nikolai Chernyshevsky
Translated By Michael R. Katz 
Russian, 1863
Political Fiction, Philosophy, Feminism

Main Attractions

1.  Fascinating Character Study
2.  In depth Exploration of Choices 
3.  Powerfully Influential on Society
4.  Plot Line is a Rich Tapestry
5.  Introduces Unique Alternatives
6.  Strong Feminist Undertones
7.  Moving or Baffling Love Story
8.  A Revolutionary Obscure Character
9.  Great Dialogue with Lots of Ideas
10. Enjoyable & Very Readable Story 

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Decadent Chocolate Cheese ’N Cake
This one is packed with philosophical musings and quotes.  There is a decent sized cast of characters who all influence each other’s actions and choices.  The depth of this book makes it difficult to finish if you become bogged down by the ideas that are explored.  It’s a rich feast for those who enjoy exploring characters and pondering why they make the choices they do.  The fest becomes even richer if you explore the historical…

The Bear and the Nightingale

Russian Fairy Telling Retelling

By Katherine Arden
USA, 2017
Fantasy, Historical

Main Attractions

1.  Russian Fairy Tale Retelling
2.  Plot-Driven, Fast Pace
3.  Clearly Written Language
4.  Interesting Set Up of Plot
5.  Book 1 of a Series
6.  Slightly Spooky Vibes 
7.  Wild Female Protagonist
8.  Drawn Out Climax
9.  Slight Magical Realism
10.  Fairy Tales Woven In

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Summer Salad
 A fast, light read that’s great for lounging in a cabin in the mountains.  The characters develop in a movie like way that makes for faster reading.  The breeziness of the narrative makes for an immersive world that’s easy to fall into.  For added toppings, be sure to explore the original fairy tales!   

Why Visit Here

This book showcases some of Russia’s most well known stories and fairy tales.  It’s told in a very Western way that can be accessible to a wide audience.  Folks who are curious about the culture of Russia or the old ways of life, could enjoy reading this story.  It has a very …

Retellings of Fairy Tales, Mythology & Legends

Thoughts on Own Voices

There’s a few topics I want to touch on with this book, The Bear and the Nightingale.  It can apply to Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and a little bit to The Strain By Chuck Hogan & Guillermo del Toro.  

What do they all have in common?  The underlying plot is based on mythology from another culture than the writer.  Neil Gaiman is from the UK.  Hogan & Arden are American.  del Toro is from Mexico.  They have written books that were inspired by myths or fairy tales from North Germanic culture, Romanian Strigoi or Vampires, and Russian Fairy Tales.

Of these works, The Strain is the most different from the original myth.  The authors took an ancient, obscure and relatively unknown to the average reader of non-vampire books and built a whole world with historical roots impacting the current world of the novel, they added themes of biology, evolution and today’s real world problems to the story.  They did a brilliant job and even added a TV Show to expand on the…


Philosophy's Journey into Darkness

By Jean-Paul Sartre
French, 1938
Existentialist  Philosophy

Main Attractions

1.  Unique Diary Entry Style 
2.  Unreliable Narrator
3.  Can experience the Novel
4.  Highly Re-readable
5.  Blended Plot & Consciousness
6.  Advanced Holden Caulfield
7.  Baffling & Understandable
8.  Gateway into Philosophy
9.  Highly Quotable
10. Plot Seeps into the Reader


Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Decadent Chocolate Cheese ’N Cake
This novel is rich in quotable lines that can spark deep thinking.  Some of the ideas are very abstract and could become a bit difficult to ponder.  Some of them are also very dark and could feel creepy to think about.    Superficially, the narrator may sound like a more intelligent Holden Caulfield who may come across as whining.        

Why Visit Here

It’s a good introduction to Existentialist philosophy because the philosophy is told in a story format.  After a few readings, more and more ideas can emerge from this text.  Of cour…

What is Education… I Mean a Book Review?

I’m still finding the voice of my channel and how to use youtube for education, my own and sharing it with others.This is a bit more poetic than essay or response.And it may come across as a teacher’s style of asking questions.

My reading is at an exciting junction.It’s far more personal than it ever has been before.The dichotomy of it being so personal and yet shared so publicly just highlights the potentials that contemplative reading can have.It brings me to 5 main topics which may not appear to be connected, but with a reflective glance, could be.

The first one I’ll call “Reading Inadequacy.”In our life, just under the surface is always a dark place of doubt.I don’t think it ever goes away, nor should it.Part of learning is setting something a bit higher than your own ability.The courage to stand up to that task is monumental.If you get knocked down, remember it’s only paper and ink.

The2nd one is “Can knowledge be simply enjoyed for it’s aesthetics?”Yes. Yes, as in representing ev…

The Language Instinct

Myths Debunked

By Steven Pinker
Canadian/American, 1994
Non-Fiction, Linguistics, Evolutionary Psychology 

Table of Contents

1. Instinct to Aquire an Art
2. Chatterboxes
3. Mentalese
4. How Language Works
5. Words, Words, Words
6. The Sounds of Silence
7. Talking Heads
8. The Tower of Babel
9. Baby Born Talking —Describes Heaven
10. Language Organs and Grammar Genes
11. The Big Bang
12. The Language Mavens
13. Mind Design


Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Hearty Veggie Burger
It’s light with humorous anecdotes and hearty in the linguist information.  Because this book is more of an intelligent introduction to the field of linguistics, I would rank it as a Veggie Burger rather than the more densely Roasted Chicken Dinner.  It’s the accessibility that makes this well written book such a joy to read.  Pinker has taken some complex theories and added lighthearted humour to the mix.  

Destination Summary

Pinker outlines the basics of linguistics and promptly goes on to explore common theories & mi…