Is it really Excellance or is it Pride

Why do we strive to excel? Is it for our "self-image" or is it to give thanks for our abilities and to help others? In our search for excellence, perfection and accomplishment we can become trapped. C.S. Lewis said "Pride gets no pleasure out o having something only out of having more of it than the next man." 

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https://www.linkedin.com/in/brent-m-jones/

"I Read Your Book", by Brent M. Jones

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Erwin Rommel was a German general and military theorist A defining scene took place after Patton, played by George C. Scott, beat Rommel’s Tank Division. He had set a brilliant trap for the tanks and when the dust cleared after the battle was over, Patton was delighted with the victory and seemed to be talking directly to Rommel as he looked over the battle scene and yelled out joyfully. “Rommel I read your book”…………………….Study your competition!

Thoughts are Choices

by Brent M. Jones

C.S. Lewis said that "every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before."

Lewis didn't just imply that the process creates us he suggested our conscious complicity in the process.

We are in the final analysis still left with our thoughts. The choices we make clearly reflect those thoughts and we either become better or worse as a result.

FYI, C.S. Lewis can be found in the Literary Favorite Section of this blog. Links to many of his books reviewed on the site can be found there.

“As You Look at Your Own Life Story You See Yourself Differently” is an essay that resonates with this message above from Lewis. Click to Link to Story


What Does the Secret Life of Bees tell us about Christianity

Sue Ann Monk Kidd was born in Sylvester, Georgia, and attended local schools and she graduated from Texas Christian University.  Her first book, “The Secret Life of Bees” was set in the South and tells of her growing up being taught being taught that Catholic's were wrong and then finding her home with those who embraced much of Catholicism mixed with their own added tender feelings and emphasis.

Kidd’s book reminds me of some of the strong feelings for Catholic beliefs that William F. Buckley often included in his books.

Buckley’s book, “Nearer My God: An Autobiography” used the background of the world war and changing social mores for him to speak out about how his faith had sustained him. It was the softness of his words of appreciation for the rituals and teachings that reminded me of Kidd’s softness and tender approach to Lily’s feelings in her first book as she meet with the black neighbors and family to morn the loss of one of them.

Both Buckley and Kidd deliver an important message of tolerance. Seeing the love of the Lord expressed by others and accepting that it has beauty is the message.

Thoughts on Books Written in a Series

Dean Koontz’s books on Jane Hawk and Lee Child’s books on Jack Reacher are examples of suspense thrillers that have done well as a series. Many of these are included in the regular review section.

I have gotten to know the Jack Reacher character by Lee Child and look forward to the next book. I was a little disappointed to find that Jane Hawk had not really let us know if her little boy was ok at the end of The Crooked Staircase. It does bother me that Jack Reacher seems to really care for some of the women he gets close to and then he just leaves, or they do.

I still see Stephen King and the real master of suspense thrillers, horror, fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. He does well without having the characters as part of a series.

Books in a series perhaps could include a “Series of similiar approaches such as below

Lisa Genova has written five very good books, Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, Inside the O’Briens, and Every Note Played. Each of her novels are about people who have heartbreaking diseases and she brings her own background as a Neuroscientists to the stories that bring a compassionate look at these lives.



Vardaman thinks his Mother is a Fish. Why?

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In the review section on this site there is a review of William Faulkners, As I Lay Dying. The review includes an interesting comment from one of Addie's five children, Vardaman, when he says after she dies, that he believes she is a fish.

When he said this Vardaman had recently caught a fish and then he had cut it up into little pieces; once it was cut up, it was no longer a fish. The comment he makes, “My Mother is a fish”, stands out as odd. We may ask ourselves why Faulkner had Vardaman say this?

Perhaps it is conciseness taken to a new level, cutting out unnecessary words while conveying an idea enhancing communication by eliminating redundancy? Was it meant to be profound, metaphorical or just show a very poor understanding of death? Maybe it was religious intending to show that mom was no longer in the box but fish would be soon?

So a fish was previously caught and it was a fish, and then it was cut up and it was not a fish. Or, as Vardaman sees it, and says it, it was a fish and now it’s a not-fish.

Addie was his mother, and then she was not his mother, the same as for the fish, she is a not-mother, so she must be a fish.

See the complete Review in the Review Section. Click Here

Strength of the Pack is in the Wolf thoughts

     Lou Holtz was well known for his coaching technique, and success at Note Dame, has this statement associated with him:

      “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,            and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” 

      Such a great comment, it just defines teamwork. Maybe Coach Holtz is a poetry fan? More about this below.

      The book, American Wolf, brings some deep insights into wolves and their life daily life in a pack where a strong leader is very important.  Even though many associated this quote with Lou Holtz it was originally used by Rudyard Kipling in his poem................................

, "The Law of the Jungle". (See Poetry Section for the full poem)

      "NOW this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die."

Click Book to see Review

China Achebe's thoughts on an African Proverb are insightful.

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Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian author who is best known for his book “Things Fall Apart”. That book as well as “Home and Exile” are reviewed on this site.

In Home and Exile Achebe tells us of an African Proverb that tells us that "until lions produce their own historians, the story will only glorify the hunter."

Achebe wants us to see that many writers portray Africa in ways that they think are expected, not having the right point of view. They have a dark and primitive point of view that strips much of the real beauty of the culture away.

This lesson applies to much of what we read of history. The American West has a viewpoint with many of the old writers that does the same thing to the culture of the American Indians.

Achebe's message is that Africa will be best served if African authors write about it.

We should consider whether our viewpoints as writers are factual or traditional. 

Click on books above to see reviews

Symbolism of The Sun Also Rises

See the full review of this book, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway in the Review Section

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Of course this book is full of symbolism, beginning with the very title. Much of it just boils down to a writer obsessed with masculinity. That obsession takes us to bullfighting, which is itself symbolic of sexual seduction, when two beings face each other in a game of skill, where one wins and the other is really hurt or even killed with a sword. Sex seems to be a symbol of masculinity, rather than an object of it.

The story starts in Paris, which symbolizes romance, where Jake's lost love, Brett, meets with him. He tells her of a war wound that has left him impotent. Brett tells him she loves him and always will, but she rejects him because of his impotence. Jake gathers up some friends, also from the lost generation, and they go to Spain for the bullfights and other macho activities. Brett goes with them.

The chapters on bullfighting flip back and forth complimenting their fly fishing trip, drinking, sex other very masculine activities.  

Hemingway's outlook seems to be summed up by two of his characters, Cohn and Jake, when they say, "I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it." "Nobody ever lives life all the way up except bull-fighters" 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symbolism in Steinbeck's book, The Pearl

These comments refer to the Review of John Steinbeck's book in the Review Section. Click her to go to that section or click on that tab. 

A few symbolic things in this novel are: The pearl, plot, characters, ocean the child but of course there is much more.

Kino is 3rd generation as a pearl diver and the futility of ever doing better is reinforced with the uncertainty of the ocean. The scorpion represents more uncertainty with the sudden presence of evil coming into their lives. It attacks the innocent child and to save her they need anti-venom. Anti-evil to save an innocent child adds blame and irony to the resulting problems of good fortune. Event when the need for the anti-venom goes away a different type of evil from those perusing Kino and his wife kill the innocent child with a stray bullet. 

The Pearl is bigger than any other one previously  found and suggests that the fortunes of this poor family can really change.  When it comes time to toss the pearl back into the ocean the pearl's great value emphasises that good didn't come from potential wealth. 

 

 

 

Flatland, emc2, Einstein, and Dimensions

The recent review of Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott, suggests some questions. All us folks are 3rd dimension beings, but we can experience the 4th dimension of "Time". Abbott's thoughts for mid 19th century are really amazing. 

We exist in the past, present and future. Perhaps we can find a way to take the 3 dimensions and move into the 4th, but what about the 5th and are there more? 

Einstein's theory stated that an entity’s velocity, or its momentum, is only measurable in relation to something else, and secondly that the speed of light is a constant in a vacuum, regardless of the person measuring it and the speed at which the person travels. The third part of the equation is that nothing goes faster than light in contrast to Newton's gravitational laws. To make it work, Einstein needed the fourth dimension called space-time. He expressed his theory using the famous mathematical equation E= MC2

Today, scientists use 10 dimensions and string theory to explain where gravity and light from the electromagnetic spectrum meet.

 

 

 

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New Site upgrades: Alphabetically listing of Books Reviewd & Top Ten pages

When you hover over the BOOKS/ALPHA LIST or TOP 10 Tab you will see a sub page that Alphabetically Lists the Books Reviewed & you will see a top 10 page option

The reason this has been done is another step to help find the books reviewed in the past because so many of those coming to the site come to see a Past Review. 

Past Reviews can be found by just scrolling down on Reviews but it can be done easier by using the Past Review Tab. 

 

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Changing Ourselves, both Past and Future

Throughout this blog there are many quotes and books that point to the reality of changing ourselves.

Reading is the key. It tell us, as C.S. Lewis said:

“The good of literature is that we want to become more than ourselves, we want to see with others eyes, to imagine with others imaginations, to feel with others hearts, as well as our own.” 

For me the more I read the more this truth becomes not just something that I believe, but something that I know.

T.S. Eliot's comment seems to add to what Lewis said: "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".

It must mean that we not only can change the future but we can change how we see the past. 

Huxley's thoughts about Orwell

Huxley's Thoughts about Orwell

The information below is taken an article in the Atlantic Magazine January/February 2017 issue. They stated that their thoughts were taken from this book: Letters of Note, Volume 2

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Aldous Huxley to George Orwell: My Dystopia Is Better Than Yours

"On October 21, 1949, a few months after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell received a letter from Aldous Huxley, whose Brave New World had been published 17 years earlier. Huxley concludes:  Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large-scale biological and atomic war—in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds."

 

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Taking others for granted

Having read the book Down and Out in Paris and London more than once, and having just finished a review of it, the question of "what is the lesson of this book" comes to mind? 

The poor work long hours and are underpaid. They have nothing but eating, sleeping & working, to fill much of their lives, if they are working, and if they are not, then they have to take charity and when it is found it comes with conditions. At least a thank you is necessary, but often the need to acknowledge that those charity givers are somehow smarter and more deserving needs to be imparted. 

I looked for the overall lesson of the book but found instead this quote by George Orwell.  

                   “It is curious how people take it for granted that                                        they have a right to preach at you and pray over                        you as soon as your income falls below a certain level.”

A man handing out tickets for the meal inside a place where the homeless were fed was considered to be "one of the good guys", simply based on the fact that he was in a hurry and didn't take any time to convey that he expected the receiver to say "thank you". 

Maybe the message of the book is that even the poor, or maybe especially the poor, have a dignity that has worth.