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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Wonderful Chance To Read

Since I have come to school I have gotten so much reading done it is unbelievable. I have read 10 novels for school since September and 1 for school over the summer. I love reading but hardly ever get the chance to. Usually, I read memoirs and non-fiction but, I am a total literature junkie. My reading list of just the classics is pages long, and I've finally gotten a little dent in it! Here are the books I have read so far, and a little bit about each of them. I hope you find at least one or two that spark your interest.

This true story is written by Temple Grandin, a world renowned scientist who happens to be autistic. It follows her childhood and all of the problems she faced growing up as an autistic child. She describes what she needed to help her relax and feel comfortable, so that other people can understand and help the autistic people in their own lives. This book was inspirational and is a great read for anybody looking to either understand this disorder better or read about a person who struggled hard and became successful because of it. Temple actually came and lectured at our school this semester, and is extremely funny because she is so forward.

This book is a collection of short stories that are all western, and about cowboys. I only read a few short stories from this book but the ones I did read were filled with meaning, from social commentary to sexism. You will have to read it to figure out for yourself what she is trying to convey. The one short story that sticks out in my mind is "Brokeback Mountain." I had no idea that this movie was actually a 30 page short story, I thought it was based off a novel if anything. I've never seen the movie but, I thought the short story was good. Proulx is, no doubt, a blunt writer.

Persuasion is another great work of Jane Austen's that layers all sorts of issues (gender inequality, class distinctions, social conduct, individual values...etc). The main character is a woman of the age to marry who is  single, feeling pressure from her family to marry, and waiting on her true love, not an arranged marriage for money. This book is a great read that leaves you cheering for the monumental opinions of the main character in the 18th century. I definitely recommend it. I've read Pride and Prejudice, too. I'm hoping to read Emma next.

This novel, which is also a movie, begins with a description of primitive "man-apes" who began the human race, and delves into a narrative about astronauts traveling to Saturn in a spaceship controlled by a computer. Clarke does an excellent job at comparing primitive humans, with computers and humans today. He has a way of equating them all, instead of portraying humans as the dominant race. This novel has a few exciting twists in it and can be read as a psychological statement on development, an adventure novel, or a scientific exploration of the history and future. 

This book, which I just finished reading today, is a satire-loaded criticism of man-kind as a whole. Swift has an incredible way of creating these generalizations about man-kind through the story of a man sailing and ending up in various countries with different types of people. These people are not just marked by different skin tones; lets just say the first people he meets are all about 6 inches tall. Through describing these adventures, Swift describes the types of people he encounters in great detail, subtly mocking many aspects of society. This book is written in a very dry way with tons of didactic language but, about a completely ridiculous, yet creative, subject matter. His satire left me with a new view on the way humans act. 

This novel was, from what I've been told, one of the first novels written. It follows the life of Crusoe while he is stranded on an island and must fend for himself. It is a buildings roman about this European who was displaced but, still tried to act as civilized as he could by clothing himself, creating a table and chairs, setting up agriculture and farming...etc. This novel is dry in the beginning but, more interesting towards the end. Reading this novel left me with an understanding of THE traditional European novel, which I use as a baseline when judging other novels that strayed from the traditional ideals.

This novel's title is a play on Daniel Defoe's (The author of Robinson Crusoe's) last name. It is a re-write of Robinson Crusoe that tears apart almost every aspect of the previous novel, even the writing style. The female main character tells the story of Crusoe and Friday to "Foe" in such a way that falsifies the entire previous novel. I highly recommend reading Robinson Crusoe and then Foe. Doing so will enhance your critical reading skills, force you to question authorship, and separate you from the plot so that you can make your own critical judgments while reading. You will never blindly follow the main character or plot again.

This is one of my all time favorite classic novels. If you have not read it yet, you should. This story follows "Marlow", a European man traveling to Africa, through Africa to the "heart of darkness" where he slowly learns about the mysterious "Kurtz", the man who seems to be ruling the Congo. This novel is filled with great metaphors, symbolism, and parallels. It questions the divisions between "savages" and "civilized" people. I could read it over and over again. I've actually read it twice, already. 

This novel is almost a parallel novel to the previous. The narrator travels from Africa to Europe and slowly learns about the mysterious "Mustafa Sa'eed". This book presents an alternative point of view to the same concept of colonization. It also questions the divisions between the colonized and the colonizer. As always, this novel also addresses gender divisions, social class, power struggles and modernism versus traditional lifestyles. Again, I suggest reading these two novels together. 

This novel picks you up at the first sentence and does not set you down until the end. The story is composed of a young African girl who works hard to go to school and learns a lot about the problems associated with the new modern ways of doing things as well as with the traditional ways. She feels trapped in a world where she is expected to be a wife and mother, but is drawn to a world where she can be educated and still have a family. This novel is a great read that has many characters who each represent a different type of person in between modernity and tradition, including all the grey areas that lie between.

This story also displays the grey areas between cultures, religions, race, and geography. It follows the life of a woman who was born and lives in Scotland but, is Sudanese. She falls in love with a British man who lives in Scotland but, has been to Sudan and many other countries in Africa. This book reveals a lot about what it means to judge someone and what labels are actually created from. Does geography make you who you are? or does skin color? or religious? what if you are a combination of many things? This is a really easy read that I really enjoy so far. I am only half way through it, though.

I hope that at least one of these novels have interested you and you decide to read it. If you have already read some of them, what did you think about them? Are there any suggestions for books I should read? Enjoy!

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