A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

I liked this book a lot. While much of the story describes acts that would be extremely disturbing, I found it less so because the author wrote the book with made up slang that was not nearly as disturbing to me as an English description would have been. I felt like it was a telling story about the depravity of those in power. Made me dislike government even more than I did before.


Life of Pi - Yann Martel

I finally decided to read this after a lot of pressure to do so. I thought it was more of a philosophical, boy and tiger in boat talking to each other type of book. Thank goodness is wasn't.

I really liked it until the end, and then was not sure how I felt about it. But it makes you think and is well told. I enjoyed it.


Be Tolerant

I had stopped writing about anything other than book reviews here for a while, but something pressed one of my buttons.

I read that 68% of Americans oppose the “Ground Zero Mosque” that is not built on ground zero nor is strictly a mosque, but is a community center. I have heard people say that it is just too close and is an affront to what those people died for. The way people talk it makes it sound like bin Laden is trying to build a victory marker, which is stupid.

For those that oppose the center, would you oppose it if the builders specifically denounced 9/11? Would you oppose it if the builders stated that it was an attempt to show New Yorkers that not all Muslims want to bomb the city? What does it take?

It seems the opposition to the center is around a few points:
1- It is built at Ground Zero. False, it is not even bordering Ground Zero.
2- It is funded by terrorists. False, there has been no fundraising for the project yet.
3- It is built as an affront to those who died in 9/11. I have not seen or heard anything like that. Seems like fear mongering by idiots trying to score political points to me.

Implicit in all of the arguments against the center is that all Muslims are terrorists. That is wrong. This shouldn’t even be a political issue, this is just a common decency issue. Freedom of religion means letting people worship in any lawful way they please.

Finally, we have the opinion that the Muslim world wrongfully hates all Americans. Perhaps they do, that is not important. But can we really criticize them for hating us, when issues like this make it evident that we hate them too. Why should they like us when we persecute and villainize them for doing something legal? If you want a peaceful world, embrace peaceful people of all religions, including Muslims, and all of us can reject violence regardless of claimed belief system.


The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

This was my least favorite Hemingway book so far. It was fairly short, but seemed to drag. There was no point to the story, other than maybe it sucks to be impotent and watch the woman you love with other men. The descriptions of the places and the experiences were classic Hemingway though, so that made it more enjoyable.


The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

It was interesting to read this and see the original Sherlock Holmes (much like dracula the story is greatly changed from the original). Most of the mysteries that were contained were patently obvious before Holmes "revealed" the answer to the mystery, but some of the mysteries had a twist. In the end it was just a fun read.


Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity is an intellectual "proof" of the truth of Christianity. Now you would probably think that as I believe the truth of Christianity I would be right in that book's wheelhouse. However, I was not.

The problem was that lewis arrived at conclusions with which I disagreed because his best tool was to create artificially restrictive dichotomies. He would say "it is either x or y, and since it cannot be x it must be y" while I would think, "but what about a, b, and c."

That being said, not a bad book and there is plenty to give people to think about how to be a better person. A lot on treat others well and don't judge someone because you can't know where they are coming from, which is a good idea for everyone regardless of faith.


A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway

I started this book and was troubled by the unartful writing of the book. While the style worked very well for old man and the sea, it seemed simplistic and unsophisticated in this story. Nevertheless, it was a compelling story.

There were two parts that particularly stood out to me. First was the story of the retreat of the italian army. I think it captured the insanity of war exceptionally well. There was no rhyme or reason, adn the fact that it felt normal that the war was such a mess was what made it more memorable.

The second part was during the childbirth at the end. The ending of was easily forseen. But during that part, while the main character is talking to God, he remembers an incident with a log full of ants, and how they and he responded when the log was thrown into a fire. The ants could do nothing and just burned, and he, the one with power, threw water on the log so that he could get whiskey (effectively steaming the ants). That anecdote made the conversation with God more poignant and haunting.