The life of the everyman in a single day in Dublin is the basic premise of James Joyce’s Ulysses, yet this is an oversimplification of the much deeper work that if you are not careful can quickly spiral down into a black hole of fruitless guesswork and analysis of what you are reading.
Joyce’s groundbreaking work is a parallel to Homer’s The Odyssey though in a modernist style that was defined by Joyce in this novel. Though the primary character is Leonard Bloom, several other important secondary characters each take their turn in the spotlight but it is Bloom that the day revolves around. However any echoes of Homer are many times hidden behind Joyce verbosity and stream-of-conscious writing that at times makes sense and at times completely baffles you. Even with a little preparation the scale of what Joyce forces the reader to think about is overwhelming and frankly if you’re not careful, quickly derails your reading of the book until its better just to start skimming until the experience mercifully ends.
While my experience and opinion of this work might be lambasted by more literary intelligent reviewers, I would like to caution those casual readers like myself who think they might be ready to tackle this book. Read other modernist authors like Conrad, Kafka, Woolf, Lawrence, and Faulkner whose works before and after the publication of Ulysses share the same literary movement but are not it’s definitive work.
Traveling from the palace of the Azish emperor to the carved out city of Yeddaw, a young Knight Radiant stalks her would be executioner even as a danger to her world stalks the land. Brandon Sanderson’s Edgedancer is a tale from the Stormlight Archive set in-between the second and third volumes of the main series as it shows the how Lift, the titular Edgedancer, and a long surviving Herald react to the Everstorm.
Feeling confined and unsure, the adventurous theft Lift travels to the city of Yeddaw to find more Radiants before they are murdered by Darkness. The teenager displays her Edgedancer talents to draw the attention of her would be executioner while also exploring the city and trying to figure out its people. Her tactics pay off as Darkness learns she’s in the city and she follows him to discover what he knows only to find out that Darkness has Radiant apprentices of his own including a man in white. Eventually Lift is forced to use her connections with the Azish emperor to find out who Darkness is searching for only to discover that his apprentices had made a mistake and that the unlikeable woman Lift has had several encounters will is his target. But it is during their confrontation that Lift convinces Darkness, the Herald Nale, that the Everstorm hitting the city means a new Desolation has arrived.
Although this book comes in at roughly 270 pages, the first 58 being a reprinting of Lift’s Interlude in Words of Radiance, the small hardback volume that it appears in makes it seem longer than it is. In a postscript, Sanderson wrote that this novella was needed before both characters appear again in Oathbringer thus meaning for that anyone reading the series this short little story is something they might want to quickly read. Given it’s short length, Sanderson packs a lot into it as he wants to describe the city of Yeddaw as well as continue to develop Lift—who he is not shy in saying he enjoys writing—in both her understanding of who she is and in giving readers hints about what the “Nightwatcher” gave her instead of her request to remain 10 years old.
Edgedancer is a quick, fun read about young adventurous character looking to figure herself out and in the process helping an age-old hero begin to regain his focus on what the world of Roshar needs. Even though you’ll need to have read earlier volumes of the Stormlight Archive to understand the magical system and world it take place in.
After the act of the Tudors, how would the Stuarts follow up in ruling England? Barry Coward covers the history of England between 1603 and 1714 in The Stuart Age giving the reading a comprehensive look at the developments across religion, economy, politics, and government while trying to dispel old assumptions and highlight new research.
Coward begins and ends the book with looking a statistical view England, at first looking how England developed through the early Stuarts to 1650 and then through the Interregnum and late Stuarts until the Hanoverian ascension. The vast majority of the book covers the narrative flow of history of the period from the ascension of James VI of Scotland as James I of England after the death of Elizabeth to the death of his great-granddaughter Anne with all the twists and turns that happened within the domestic political arena that saw numerous failed attempts at Scottish union to disagreements between monarchs and parliament and finally the dispossessions of monarchs from the throne through execution and invited invasion then dictating who can take the throne. Plus add in the events in Scotland and Ireland that played important roles at critical times that shaped events in England that made the century what it was.
The book is first and foremost an overview of the era with Coward attempting to give the events that took place their proper context in the evolution of government or religion or anything else related to “modern” Britain. In doing this he set aside many myths about the era especially in the context of their times, he also gave context between “court” and “country” political establishments especially in relation to developments on the continent, i.e. the rise of absolutism and centralized government. However, one of the drawbacks is that Coward would bring up other historians and juxtapose their theories on events without just simply making his own mark on the interpretation of the events. Another feature which was lacking was that the military campaigns of especially the English Civil War, but also the continental wars, weren’t highlighted much especially since the Civil War was only covered in one whole chapter yet as an overview book it wasn’t unexpected. And finally, as this edition of the book—the 2nd published in 1994—is almost 25 years old further research and debate has been missed out on.
The Stuart Age does its job fantastically well by giving an overview of the entire Stuart era that like other parts of English history seemed to be overshadowed by the proceeding Tudors. Barry Coward’s layout of the period gives the reader perspective of the statistical elements of history that will influence the later narrative of the political and military events that make of the majority of the book then the aftereffects of those events on the same statistics, though slow in the beginning pays off and make this book pop. If you’re looking for an overview of this period in English history, then you should consider this book.
In June I completed another seven books which equaled my total for May thus getting me closer to my goal for the year of 45 books. Before I really go on, let’s go to the stats.
Overall Total: 43 (95.6%)
Original List: 25 (55.6%)
Total Pages: 14400 (334.9 per book)
Honestly when I began the year, I did not believe that my mid-year total would be so close to my goal for the entire year. However when you read 18 books exclusively at home that’s what happens. With four books from my original list completed, I’m up to 25 from my list in January which means that I have half a year to get through the last 20 just as I’m getting to some of the longer or really in-depth books on the list. But I have completed one goal already for the year as I’ve finished 38 new (as in I’ve never read before) books which is past the 35 books that I made as my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. I’m happy that my page total really jumped up, mainly thanks to City of God, as well as of my pages per book.
Besides completing my goal for “new” books, June also saw some other important events. The most important to me was the completing my first read through of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Another important moment was a book haul I had last Wednesday that added 16 books to my TBR pile and that I have to figure out how to put into my reading schedule in the coming years. But the most surprising is that this month I had a record 227 views (as of 6:30 pm Saturday) for the month, mostly thanks to a Belgian who viewed my site 48 times on Wednesday (and maybe even 16 on the 22nd and 23rd) though a nice Canadian visited my site 13 times on 19th. Yet I’ll take the record.
A look ahead for July I have 124 pages left in The Stuart Age then it’ll be James Joyce’s Ulysses (complete and unabridged) and following that maybe Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. For my home reads, with Brandon Sanderson‘s Oathbringer apparently coming out in October in paperback I’m going to read Edgedancer which my friend Sarah really enjoyed and I hope to enjoy just as much. Another home read, though of a more religious nature (thus for the weekends) will be a book by a professor I had in college about Islam entitled Abraham’s Other Son. And expect a post about me looking for women fantasy and sci-fi authors primarily, though women authors in general as well, and soliciting suggestions from everyone.
Well that is everything for this month, thanks for reading.
Myths pop up everywhere from history, to religion, and in the understanding of someone’s writing. George R. Knight writes in Myths in Adventism: An Interpretive Study of Ellen White, Education, and Related Issues about numerous issues that influence the thinking of Adventists educators and administrators.
Knight tackles 19 “myths” related to Adventist education, institutions, and thoughts over the course of 250 pages. Beginning with myth related to “Historical and Philosophical” issues including those surrounding Ellen White, Knight clears up historical inaccuracies and puts Mrs. White’s writing not only in the context in which lines are written but what was going on at the time that made her write certain statements. Knight then turned his attention to “Institutions and People” focusing on such issues the interplay between home and school, human nature, and intellectualism in Adventist education. The largest section of the book about “Curriculum and Methods”, Knight focused on sacred and secular topics, Bible as textbook, literary subjects, religious instructions, in-classroom environments, and recreation and manual labor.
As a child of a retired Adventist teacher, I appreciated this book in seeing what my mother had to face over the course of approximately 35 years of her career. Knight’s research and writing are fantastic throughout the book giving the reader amazing insights in how myths are given life in numerous fields and situations. However, my problem with this book is not with Knight but with the publishers who in designing the book and blurbs made this book something it wasn’t. The front cover blurb literally says, “A thoughtful look at misconceptions about Ellen White and Adventist life that have long caused controversy in the church” but nothing about education which is what the book is about and instead makes it appear it’ll be about numerous other things about Adventism. Though Knight attempts to shield the publishers for their decision in the preface, it’s unfortunately makes the reader realize they might have gotten hoodwinked.
Overall Myths in Adventism is an insightful look at the cultural clashes in Adventist education by a writer that knows how to do research in Adventist history and education. However even though George R. Knight is fantastic, the decisions of the publishers to make this book appear to be something that it’s not is very annoying and future readers need to know about it.
Yesterday, I went to McKay Used Books and sent over two hours there looking over all the floor at all the books on display and came out with 16 new additions to my To Be Read (TBR) pile putting my total up to 269… *sigh* when will I get to all of them? So let me give you a preview of the books I’ll be reading in…2022?
I began in the Philosophy section where I immediately came across Classics of Western Thought I: The Ancient World and Classics of Western Thought II: Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation each only $0.75. As I have the two other volumes from college way back in the early 00s, I decided to complete my collection. These books will be “home” reads sometime in the coming years along with the two I had already.
Next is The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant, I purchased Durant’s The Story of Civilization a year ago and this book kept on popping up in my recommendation on Goodreads and Amazon. This book won’t be read until I’ve read all the philosophy books I have on my reading list for the coming years, including Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard. This book will cause me to reorder my reading list, but I’ve had in mind getting Kierkegaard and so it would be worth it.
I hit the biography section next starting at the end of the alphabet and immediately came upon Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul by John M. Barry. This was a very welcome find because it was recommended on the Current Reading: May 2018 in the LibraryThing forum History Fans by rocketjk and suddenly there it was in front of me. Expect to see this book read sooner than all the others.
Then a few aisles down was the history section, which I looked at intensely through all categories–World, African, Asian, British, French, German, U.S., etc. It was in the British section that I found the complete trilogy of James Morris’ (though Goodreads and LibraryThing has the name as Jan Morris…interesting) Pax Britannica trilogy (Heaven’s Command, Pax Britannica, and Farewell the Trumpets). For the last three or four months, I have been teased with only the last two volumes on the shelves but yesterday the first finally showed up on the shelves and I couldn’t help myself. This series will probably be a “home” read in the coming years.
I spent an equal amount of time in the fantasy aisle as I focused on finding books by women authors–look for a post tomorrow or next week related to this topic–that I feel that my former reading is seriously lacking. After some near misses, I finally found J.V. Jones’ Book of Words trilogy (The Baker’s Boys, A Man Betrayed, and Master and Fool). If not for the missing of book 4, I would have purchased her Sword of Shadows series of six books.
After some more searching I came across C.S. Friedman’s The Coldfire Trilogy (Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, and Crown of Shadows). Honestly I had to be reminded by another book of Friedman that she was an actual woman author when I read the “about the author” because I knew the name but couldn’t remember her gender. So I was glad I took the time to investigate.
My final book from the section was The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, at this point I was feeling lucky and began looking for well thought of books regardless of the writer. Kay has always been a author I’ve seen well thought of as is Al-Rassan, so finding this book made it a must buy (at this point it was why not I’ve already had 14 books what is one more?). When will I get to these books? Good question, I’ve got to redo my schedule to add in numerous fantasy books I’ve purchased the last six months.
While Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison should not follow the phrase, “I’ve gotten 15 books, what’s a few more?” there is no other way to put it. I’ve been thinking about grabbing this book for months as I’ve seen it on the shelves–the last few months up to almost two dozen stuffed on a shelf–so I figured I need to get it now no matter what. Like some of the other books listed above, no idea when this will be read but it will be.
So there you have it, 16 more books that you’ll be seeing me review in the next four to six years. Let me know what you think.
From the beginning of the 20th-Century the state of Ohio has seemingly been on the forefront of manned flight from the Wright Brothers to Neil Armstrong to the flight of an “All-Ohio” crew of STS-70 aboard the shuttle Discovery. Don Thomas in Orbit of Discovery relates the entire history of the mission from his assignment to the crew to the post-mission events as well as the event that is it best known for, the woodpecker attack that delayed the launch.
Thomas begins his book with the sudden halt in his pre-flight routine when a love sick woodpecker drilled holes in the foam of the external tank forcing weeks of delays that put him and the other four members of the crew spinning their wheels. This pause allows Thomas to give an account about how he personally got to this point through his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut to his course of study in school to achieve that dream then his three time failures to join the program until finally succeeding on this fourth try. He then goes into his time in the program before his flight on the shuttle Columbia and quick turn assignment to Discovery soon after his return. Thomas then related the year long process of training and preparation for the mission until the sudden halt in the process when a woodpecker used the external tank to attract a mate. After NASA was able to repair the foam, the mission returns to normal save for the humor inclusions of Woody Woodpecker throughout the flight in space and the numerous post-mission events that Thomas relates in detail.
The uniqueness of the mission’s delay as well as the fact that the crew was entirely made up of astronauts from one state—well one was given honorable citizenship—made for a good hook for any general reader who might have an interest in the space program. Thomas with the assistance of Mike Bartell gives a very reader friendly look into what it was like to be an astronaut and the course of shuttle missions from assignment to post-flight events without becoming bogged down in technobabble. At the end of the book is included an appendix for profiles for all the astronauts that came from Ohio which is in the spirit of the book and adds a nice bit of history for those interested.
Overall, Orbit of Discovery is a well-written and easy to read book that gives a first-hand account of everything that went into a space shuttle flight. Don Thomas’ own story of his journey to finally getting to the program adds to the account in allowing the read to see how much dedication goes into becoming an astronaut. For those interested in any way in the space program, this is a highly recommended book.