Recently I posted a review on Thoreau's Walden. Whenever Thoreau is mentioned you see something like the following:
Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. He began writing nature poetry in the 1840s, with poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as a mentor and friend.
Yes, Emerson was a mentor to Thoreau. He lived with in walking distance of the remote Walden. In fact he owned the land that Thoreau built the cabin on.
Jon Krakauer's book, "Into The Wild", didn't end well. Christopher McCandless died after 4 months on the remote wilderness of Alaska, and he paid a step price for what he learned. It was Thoreau's writings about finding ones self through deliberate solitude that took Chris to the wilderness but perhaps Chris found a much tougher nature than Thoreau found.
"Into The Wild" is an older book but not as old as Walden. When I first read Krakauer's book, I thought of the very different outcome and circumstances between it and Walden.
In a recent review of "Education, A Memoir, by Tara Westover" this quote by her came to my attention.
“First find out what you are capable of, then decide who you are.”
I also found a comment on the inside cover of the book that said, "Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention".
I wrote As You Look at Your Own Life Story You See Yourself Differently last December in this same "Stories" section. My focus in that article was how we can re invent ourselves and how we see our past differently as we look back on it. We actually can change what the past experiences did for us as we rethink them.
Tara Westover found out who she was in her memoir. Looking back at our own life story can help us find out who we are and that effort can make us better.
The more comfortable we are without ourselves the more effective our overall relationships will be. Whether we want to or not we can't avoid sharing ourselves with others.
Give some thought to your life story. Find out what your capable of and then keep doing your best.
The image above may suggest the idea of a blog to you? If so then good. If not then try to image the perfect picture to represent a book review blog.
Reviews are often mentioned in posts on Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+.
O yes, and one more thing. If you check out the current Literary Favorites section you will see a copy of a twitter "Like" by Harold Bloom. If you know who Harold Bloom is then you can join me in a "Wow".
And O yes again, check out the review of "Educated, a memoir, by Tara Westover". That review got a "Like" on twitter also.
Yes, "This book blog is different than all the others".
It really isn't selling anything. People could buy things from Amazon, and some may want to buy a book after a review, but then that process is really is not working yet. It may at some point. Not the goal of the blog.
The blog is written by the reviewer and doesn't have other contributors at this point. The books are not just from one genre. The books reviewed were all read completely by the reviewer who has only reviewed them because they had some impact on him. So far, almost everything about this book review blog is different, maybe not necessarily better, but different.
Is there value in following a reviewer? Well quite a few have followed this blog. Many from other countries. Many seem to come back. The reviews are like any experience reading. What you read has an impact on what you read next. You may be able to see in the reviews how one might lead to or even compliment another review
Another item to consider: How many book review blogs have a section on Autos+?
So this is an attempt at some comments on the initial question of "why".
Last week I posted a review of Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. I also did post in the "Literary Favorites" section on Shakespeare. With that done I figured I would just pull the Hamlet review, from a year ago, up to the current post under "Reviews" and I even set up a link back to Falstaff. Maybe this was too much focus on the Bard?
I often post parts of my regular web site posts on Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.
I included the following sentences in the Shakespeare book posts on social media: "Harold Bloom is a well-known American literary critic, and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He has written over 40 books and often it is his opinions that are most interesting and overshadow the book itself."
Well what I am going to say now is probably really just me taking to me, but wow! Harold Bloom liked my review!!! If your doing much social media then you may understand how great it is to have that happen. I remember when John Grisham followed me. I was happy about that, but he follows a lot of folks.
Bloom is someone who I have been a fan of for many, many, years. I may have read all his books or pretty close. So maybe a few folks will find this part of the blog and I will be guilty of beating my chest a little, no actually a lot, but I just thought it was cool.
Caleb Church was born on August 8th, 1647 in Plymouth Massachusetts. He is my great grandfather 10 generations back. When I first found his connection and name the thought came to me that saying his name alive is something that likely has not been done in a long time.
Will anyone say my name, or your name, on this earth 370 years from now? The more I get to know about those in my families past the more I admire them.
I read a book about Fredrick Law Olmsted who is known as an abolitionist, conservationist, and designer of Central Park and many other famous parks. He was born in 1822 and when I think of the kind of country he grew up in his many accomplishments are something that I admire.
(A book on this man, “Genius of Place” one of the recent reviews in that section )
When I went to collage I had two friends that seemed to change a lot of things for me. Both were older and both had completed military obligations. The both seemed to be focused on getting an A in all their classes. I admired them both and their friendship meant a lot to me.
Do we really adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, and even the conduct of those whom we admire? Are those that we admire, really, usually our friends? What if the person is just someone in a book? Can they be a true friend?
Yes, to all these questions. I found things in the friends I brought up as examples, that I made changes to adopt for myself. Also yes, I see them as friends even now when one has passed on and the other I don't see anymore. Yes a good example of a person in a book can be a life long influence for good.
The reason I would call all these examples friends is in how they have impacted me. Friendship ought to influence us to seek a higher good. Knowing these people made it easier to for me to want to be better and actually changed me for the better. Putting someone else first is a higher good if they have within them virtues that are good or their friendship brings out your own higher good. Being honest and loyal are higher goods. Real friends influence each other to better.
Do we really adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, and even the conduct of those whom we admire? Are those that we admire really usually our friends?
Thomas Monson, the last President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was a lover of literature. He said of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic account, The Great Stone Face, "we adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, even the conduct of those whom we admire — and they are usually our friends." So who are our friends?
For many of us our friends are the authors, and even the characters, in the books we read. In Harold Bloom's book, How to Read and Why, he answers the question his own book raises by saying "we read because it matters".
Hawthorne's book gives us even more insight into why it matters. It changes us. It also suggests that we can change who we are with changes in what we read. Picking good authors is important.
Click on How to Read book or words to see that prior review
Ok, I need your help.
I have been reviewing books for almost 20 years. Thank you so much for coming to the site. The site is now reaching 34 countries. I need to make a decision as to whether or not linking with Amazon is something that should be continued.
Almost everyone has an account with, and buys from, Amazon. They are very competitive and I see that their prices are right in line with Costco so the point is you won't buy the books any cheaper.
To the left in the sidebar is a Amazon Link. Just click on it.
So when you hit the link on this site, then when it takes you to Amazon you then can buy anything and the site gets a small credit. It is as simple as that.
When you get to the Amazon site you will be working with them one on one, just like you always do.
If your like most of us you will be going to Amazon soon anyway. Come on? You can do this............... Go to Amazon and buy something. Surely one of these books will be of interest.
The books on the blog section has been updated. It wasn't used much before but now it has more value.
Currently all the books read in recent years, which are possible candidates for new posts, are listed, and now, on the right column of the same page. all the books that have been reviewed here, are listed in alphabetical order. Hopefully we will add changes of value.
Pleased to be visited by many from other countries. Thank you for coming. The new American Lit Influence section opens some new doors for posting.
It is one thing to just say that reading is a good thing, or reading fantasy expands creativity, but another to show examples of good things to read.
The constitution as interpreted my many tell us that owning a gun is a basic right and that driving a car or owning a dog is a privilege? The dogs need a licence. One person in Pennsylvania told me that it took a 10 page document to get a dog out of the pound. As for the Ducks and Walruses they have no rights.
This is not a political post! The web site is about books and literary influence. Doodling might be a literary influence by the way.
Recenty I posted in the "Stories" section on this blog some comments about "writing in the moment". I listed 4 books about writing that I had enjoyed and had reviewed on this site before. I linked those books in that post back to the reviews.
Writing in the moment, posted in the stories section, was intended to deal with the quality of our overall writing skills, rather than just whether were picking a particular moment to write, but even so this particular moment is a little challenging to write in, because it is hard to leave the news events of this week, and focus anywhere else.
The mass shootings in this country are upsetting. I thought this picture before had some relevance.
“What day is it?"
It's today," squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day," said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne
This little guy is on the verge of getting erased but he may be telling us an important truth. If we can't look back at the past we may lose sight of where we are going, even if we do live in the moment.
This week I posted on Google+ . This is a similar social media tool to Twitter but not nearly as popular. It is easy to use but harder to feel a part of just yet.
I posted on several google+ communities and had a few things to say about Fantasy in those posts. I referred the readers to the blog site and to the January 31st post on Fantasy. From that post I linked to a couple of prior posts on the subject. (just click the bold item above.
Today may not reflect much of a personal thought but then some days are like that. It is Valentines day. So Happy Valentine Day.........
Today is also a day of tragedy with another school shooting. So sad.
I just wrote a review for a book by Gary Paulsen called "Hatchet". (see book reviews)
Brian the 13 year old boy that was the only survivor of a small plane crash deep in the forested areas of Canada had to find a way to eat, and to avoid the dangers around him.
He learned by making mistakes and he also learned to think before he acted. He would stand, very silent, and observe the surroundings before making any movement. He felt he gained new insight that way.
Sometimes that approach couldn't save him. He avoided a bear and some wolves only because he was lucky.
What about a big black spider? No this wasn't a scene in the book i just reviewed, but I saw a huge spider this week and learned a few things. I learned that this variety of spider would not bite humans and lived on bugs mostly. That was interesting but the only reason I learned about this was that a man who knew all about this type of spider was on hand and told me about it.
What would I do if I was stranded in the far off forested regions of Canada and one of these guys came crawling up my leg? I haven't a clue right now and hope I never learn. In years past the answer would be that I would grab the Hatchet and finish off the spider.
This week, after being up close with this spider and learning more about it, I would hate to see it needlessly killed. The key to this situation is to know something about the spider.
“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing”. Kindness is not an intellectual decision. It is one the heart makes without motive." -Blaise Pascal
Kindness is more than an intellectual decision because it takes a heart to get the intellect to move. Doing nothing is not a middle ground. Doing nothing can be unkind. Doing something can be unkind.
Are we, by our very nature as humans, kind? When we use our hearts to create action, are we acting more human, or just overcoming our human ways?
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix "
-Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -Mark Twain
"It is futile to judge a kind deed by its motives. Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind." - Eric Hoffer
"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness". -Dalai Lama
I have always loved this thought by T.S Eliot:
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
I loved it before I had any understanding of what it meant. It just drew me in and I felt it was important. I am not saying that today I really know what it means, but a lot of things seem to fit.
I think our life will seem very different when we reach the end and look back. All that we explored, learned, and have done, will change us. We will see the whole of it very differently than we did as we experienced the parts. The beginning, and all of the related circumstances of that beginning, and what followed, will be clear, for the first time.
When I wrote the review for "The Lonely City by Olivia Laing", I found myself going back and thinking about the following statement taken from the first paragraph of the book.
"You can see them, but you can’t reach them, and so this commonplace urban phenomenon, available in any city of the world on any night, conveys to even the most social a tremor of loneliness, its uneasy combination of separation and exposure."
This thought is presented as fact, but it also is how the author sees loneliness. If you are socially minded you will be quicker to see your own isolation.
Some like solitude and it may take a lot more than not being able to reach all the people you see to cause loneliness. Perhaps for them it is in not being able to find their purpose?
Loneliness may be common but the causes, and how they feel, likely are not common in how you explain them.
Today in a casual conversation the person I was talking with mentioned liking the books written by Ayn Rand and quoted the following statement from her. “The rational pursuit of selfish gain on the part of each individual must give rise to the ideal form of society”. I think this comment appeals to a lot of people and does attract some serious readers to her books.
Even thought capitalism is often promoted with the idea of self interest as a driving force I still think that this thought is largely “bunk”.
Ayn Rand loved the idea of the pursuit of selfish gain in a free market and since the market place was free if some didn’t succeed, then that was too bad and she even added that they deserved it. With her Russian background she ought to have understood that marketplaces are really never free. Those who are successful block the path for others.
(I don't intend to write about politics on the blog but literature does take us there sometimes.)
Albert Einstein said of fantasy: When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
This idea that fantasy is valuable isn't unusual. Neil Gaiman said that the Chinese added fantasy and fiction into their school curriculum because they felt it would lead to more creativity.
So what about "absorbing positive knowledge"? How does that work? Is new knowledge found between the imagined thoughts? Do those new thought need a foundation so they pull from a larger base of knowledge? Then if that works what about the pure joy of getting out of our day to day world and just enjoying the trip? Maybe that is where new knowledge lives? We have to be free from what is blocking our vision.
Seems like it is worth it even if it is just an escape and nothing new occurs? Could that happen?
LINK... to more thoughts on Fantasy Click on Neil Gaiman below.
In this book Neil Gaiman talked about fantasy and imagination. What he learned from his trip to China is very interesting regarding this subject................
This is Neil Gaiman’s first fantasy book for children, but adults will quickly be absorbed into the plot. The New York Times Book Review said that is was “One of the most frightening books ever written”................