Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/catch-22-joseph-heller/1100216099?ean=9781451626650

After being recommended to read this book, I picked it up easily from the library. You can purchase it for fairly cheap used on the above link.

To be frank, it was a difficult read. It was the kind that I felt needed an English Teacher to proctor through. Without that instructing atmosphere: a dictionary, google, and spark notes to be able to follow. I couldn’t be bothered to do the later. My field is not in that circle.

Apart from that, this book had a lot of slap-stick humor that definitely stuck with Mr. Some of it was a “wtf is going on?” but if not funny, was giving a message.

Catch-22, as the used phrase of circularity or lose-lose situations is basically, obviously, what this book is about. It is a profound message, but for me too long in a way that does not hold one’s attention. I skipped to the end once I got to the 400’s and got tired of seeing the same scenes reworked. I the in the towel, screamed internally “yeah, I get it already” and read the last two pages.

Just Pretend : By Dan Barker

Justprentendnew

Since I’m in the process of reading far too many books… I decided to review a child’s book that I picked up. If you can’t see the full title it’s “Just Pretend: A Freethought book for children.”

If you aren’t familiar with the author, I had the immense pleasure of meeting him at a lecture in Sacramento, Ca where I bought this book and had it autographed after talking with him. Here’s a brief synopsis:

DAN BARKER and ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR are co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and co-hosts of Freethought Radio. A former minister and evangelist, Dan became a freethinker in 1983.

You can read the full biography here:

The book’s back gives a wonderful intro to the intention of the inside contents with the claims that the “greatest skills kids can learn is to think for themselves… [and] apply the test of reason to any idea.” Futhermore: the “strongest feature of human reasoning… [is the] ability to change one’s mind.” Upon reading, it proves itself to encourage critical thinking in adults of any age. As a 27 year old woman with 5 years of college under her belt, I was pleased with the critical eye the pages gave to myths of all types.

The book is entirely respectful towards religious thought and perspective, clarifying many times over that “some people believe that…” and that stories can hold meaning for those who want to believe them. How true and pleasant for a child to read! How many times do we remember simply having our dreams crushed with a swoop of “it doesn’t exist” when it came to Santa Claus, or any story that truly inspires us? Truly there is nothing wrong with stories, they hold meaning somewhere deep in its message. For a free-thought book, it does not ignore this.

My only cautionary note with this book is one I find necessary: If you’re a religious parent, you must know that there are parts of the book that seem to strongly persuade children into Atheism and understanding that common ideas concerning God are a myth with words like “they know that…” and “you will…” I still highly suggest this book, because even after what seems like a push towards Atheism, the book ends with a reminder that “No one can tell you what to believe. You are the boss.”

And indeed, our children are the bosses of their own mind. I would recommend getting them started into free thinking with a lovely book such as this one.

http://www.amazon.com/Just-Pretend-Freethought-Book-Children/dp/1877733059

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

huck finn

Assuredly, Mark Twain needs no review nor introduction, but for me this was first on my list of needed to read classics. If you are unfamiliar with him, and bad with history as I am, I’ll save you the google by linking you to a brief biography here.

One must go into reading such a classical work with the mind-set that it is, in fact, a classic, and as such written in a very different era than our own. The language can be difficult to cypher through, as it is written through the voice of a young southern boy in the days of slavery:

On the schutcheon we’ll have a bend or in the dexter base, a saltire murrey in the fess, with a dog, couchant, for common charge, and under his foot a chain embattled, for slavery, with a chevron vert in a cheif engrailed, and three invected lines on a field azure> with the nombrill points rampant on a dancette indented….

And onward the character went. I won’t pretend to have understood what 3/4 of those words meant, but was glad to see Huck sympathize with my confusion with the exclamation “Geewhillikins… but what does the rest of it mean?”

Twain teaches the reader more than history, language, and a foreign culture than us, however. There are enough symbolic adventures in this work to give any English teacher a hay-day. It will make you stop at times, look up from your reading, and think for a moment in a corner with your chin in your hand and “have a good long thing,” as Huck does many times when encountered with a hard thing.

Would I recommend it? With caution and understanding to the reader and the intent. It can be a difficult read, and a dictionary with the ability to offer old-english meanings of words is very handy. The middle of the book can be a little dry and slow-going, forcing the reader to ask “just where is this going?” but it all comes together, rest assured, and the ending is entirely satisfactory.

You can most likely pick up this book at any library and book store near by, or do as I did and pilfer from the Nook store for an easy $3.49.

Read Lag- Vote for next book!

I’ve been really dragging ass finishing Huckleberry Finn. Yes, I know, “You haven’t read that yet??” No, I haven’t. I somehow evaded reading many of the wonderful classics, so this went on my list as a must read. Ugh. I’m about 30 pages to completing it, and a review/reflection (does Twain really need a review? I doubt that) will be following.

But my main query is now, which book on my list do I start afterwards?? $$ is a little short right now, so one will have to do for the time being. Here are the choices:

  • “The Shining” by Stephen King
  • “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” by Annie Dillard
  • “God Matters” by Herbert McCabe
  • “In the Beginning, She was” by Luce Ingaray

Also in desperate need of more Indie written books to read, so please send those suggestions my way!

Showing America How to Live by Taylor Oceans

http://www.amazon.com/Playing-Your-Hand-Right-Showing/dp/1484829794/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385767769&sr=8-1&keywords=playing+your+hand+right

This serves as the first completed book in my personal endeavor to commit to active, daily, reading of full books, novels, and short stories. Taylor Ocean’s is fitting because finding and engaging with him on WordPress was what sparked within me the need to do this very same thing: purposefully read. Immediately proceeding his admonishment to “read this/my book”, I started a literal “To Read” list on paper. A tangible list, not one ethereal started with the words “I’ll put it on my To Read list” but an actual physical list.

So without further adieu, a review of Taylor Ocean’s “Playing Your Hand Right: Showing America How To Live”:

I picked this book up through my Nook Reader on my tablet. I don’t have a Nook, nor a Kindle, and this whole electronic reading thing is awfully new to me. But amazingly enough, it’s very easy and after just a few clicks I had the book in my hand and ready to read.

The book reads like the blog – short life event sharings. Akin to the style of “Chicken Soup For the Soul” but one person, one life, and more like Ecstasy or Steroids for the soul, than Chicken Soup. Who needs that when you have a single American juicing you up and gearing you for one kick-ass life?

You want inspiration for the soul? Pick up this shit.

Taylor Oceans throws the reader through event after event of sheer and raw life. No holds barred. He carries the reader through cancer, sex, intoxication, police raids, death, ethics, and everything in-between. From beginning to end, I could not put it down. After every segment, I stopped and contemplated, and sometimes turned to my S.O. to share the inspiration pulled from what I have read.

So far, what I’ve gained from it: cock ring, get one.

If that raised your eyebrow, you may want to pick up this book and see just how an American should really live.

You can also follow his newer writings and be in contact with the author yourself, here: http://playingyourhandright.wordpress.com/