Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sophie’s Choice

Whoa, steamy!

Not only is there a whole lot of built-up sexual tension throughout the entire novel, the narrator has such a love affair with the English language that it’s downright sexy.

I love that this novel operates on so many different levels: there’s the horrors of the Holocaust and the Auschwitz labour camp, and it’s tied back to the embarrassment of slavery in what is recent American history, and there’s also the violence and passion of Sophie and Nathan’s relationship.

I was particularly drawn to Stingo’s struggle as a writer, and how the book is really a bildungsroman in that Stingo matures not only in the literary sense (that is, into a true writer), but also – gratefully – sexually.

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Dune

I am officially caught up on Doctor Who now! (The reboot starting with 2005, at least. I try not to think about how much old DW I have to catch up on, not to mention Torchwood and the other spin-offs.) This means that I can actually read again! I did somehow find the time to read Dune though, which was made easier simply by the fact that it’s an amazing novel!

Dune is about the House Atreides struggling to survive on the desert planet Arrakis that the Emperor has assigned to them as a dukedom. It’s the harshest, most desolate place to live, but controlling this planet means controlling melange, the spice that not only allows for space travel, but gives life, energy, and a heightened consciousness. There’s treachery involved, and a witch-like order of women, and a prophesied messiah, and giant sandworms, and a lot of hope and despair. It’s a really wonderful read, and I promise it reads quickly.

I started watching the movie on Netflix and I think it’s fun! Horrible graphics, but then again it was 1984. I do love that Patrick Stewart is in it – so young! and Sting! And Trey from Sex & the City! On second thought it’s kind of a terrible movie, but amusing nonetheless. I don’t think it’d make much sense to someone who hasn’t read the book, and even then it’s a bit confusing. All the more reason to read the book!

Amazon Kindle Customer Service LOVE

I’ve been slacking off on posts lately (I’m a few books behind!) but this experience inspired me! My poor Guy was broken! The screen was all wonky and well… just look at the picture. It’s sad!

Unfortunately I knew he was out of warranty because Kevin bought it for me in February 2009 and I didn’t buy the extended warranty. So I called Customer Service, very sadly, thinking I’d have to shell out a pretty sum for a replacement, if not the entire $260.

My CS rep Mike was super nice! As I spoke to him, I had a flashback to my last experience with technology-related CS – I was accused of dropping my laptop BY A CS REP when I needed to get my screen fixed. As in, he asked if I dropped my laptop, I said I didn’t, and he said, “Yeah, you did.” This was not Amazon, by the way, but a certain university’s PC support services.

So Amazon CS was a refreshing change from that. Mike was really helpful, asked me to try resetting it to see if it helped (it didn’t), then said they’d send me a new one, free of charge – overnight too! He even said they can credit my account with the return shipping!

Happy! This is definitely how customer service is supposed to be. Good job, Amazon! I award you 1 cookie!

Luckily, this didn’t keep me from reading… I’ve been reading a fair bit on Kindle for Blackberry and Kindle for PC apps too. It was a godsend to have these as a backup in the meantime, but I far prefer reading on the Kindle!

Random Quotes

Random Quotes — Best Sellers

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Starship Troopers

What a great read! I completely disagree with critics who say that this book glorifies war – I think, rather, that it glorifies the soldiers and acknowledges what they suffer through for the sake of country. Now, I haven’t seen the movie, which as I understand interpreted the novel quite differently from the way Heinlein supposedly intended… but the book is really great. I get the impression that if you liked the book, you may not like the movie.

A few things stood out for me:

  • The banality of war: Several times I noticed that Heinlein’s tone shows how desensitized Rico becomes to violence. Very scary!
  • Whoa, he’s Filipino? Kevin & I were talking once about how it’s wonderful that nationality could be just an afterthought – so often race is the most important identifier in literature and I just don’t buy it sometimes. Also, I wonder what he said in Tagalog…?
  • I was very interested in the idea of gaining full citizenship only through volunteering for military service. (I mean interested in the idea, not interested in actually having it implemented in our society!) Although I do wonder how it might work in a place like the United States. Very intriguing concept though.

Top 10 Most Influential Books

Kevin told me that people on the Interwebz have been drafting up lists of the top 10 books which have most influenced their lives (via Marginal Revolution). Since MR is an economics-based website, it seems natural that his list has a lot of economics and political theory. As a literary blog, and as a largely apolitical person (comparatively speaking, I suppose… I hang around a fairly political crowd), my list ventures more into literary themes and morality and pretty words. I’ve written my list in the order in which I first read them!

  1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: I still have vivid memories of reading this book when I was young and feeling a sense of completion every time. I think the ideas of selflessness and unconditional love were what really spoke to me.
  2. Matilda by Roald Dahl: Matilda was my hero for the longest time. She loved reading as much as I did/do and she was more powerful because of it. Also, it’s one of those rare cases where the book and movie are both absolutely fantastic.
  3. The Giver by Lois Lowry: I’ll never forget Miss Hammer, who gave me this book in fourth grade (not for class or anything, but because she knew I loved reading). I remember that this was my first exposure to dystopic fiction, and also paved the way for me for books like 1984 and Brave New World. I also credit it with sowing the seeds of libertarianism, which have only recently come out of dormancy in me. The rest of it I blame on Kevin.
  4. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: This book pretty much taught me all I ever needed to know about love. The part about the fox just gets me every time. Et j’aimerai le bruit du vent dans le blé…
  5. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: I know, CORNY! but I don’t know if I would’ve thought I’d love Shakespeare if I hadn’t read this first when I was thirteen. I remember reading this over and over and writing notes all over my battered copy. I’m pretty sure I had all or most of it memorized all through high school.
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I found my sense of justice and uprightness in this book. I know Jem and Scout are kind of annoying, but Atticus Finch is just the most unwaveringly heroic literary figure.
  7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver: I credit this book with putting me in the direction of international political affairs. I think in early high school I didn’t know or wonder much about the problems of other countries (strange how ungrateful one might be, immigrating to the United States at a young age) but this book definitely put things in perspective.
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: And thus begins my love for Margaret Atwood! Again with the dystopic fiction – I was very impressed by this theocratic totalitarianism and even more by the subjugation of women. I also distinctly recall the impression Atwood’s writing had on me. She has the most wonderful visual imagery I’ve ever read, and I’ve loved almost every book I’ve read by her.
  9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Jane, Jane, Jane. I’m not sure how to explain what Pride and Prejudice means to me. I acknowledge that while it’s not necessarily the best of her work (I would argue that Persuasion is), I think it has a certain universality that speaks to everyone. Not to mention the verbal banter/foreplay between Elizabeth and Darcy is unparalleled. (Furthermore, P&P fan-fiction is the best!)
  10. Noli me tangere by José Rizal: I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I only read this book last year, and it’s unarguably the most important book about/from the Philippines ever written. Noli is a call to fight the political and religious corruption that so pervasively invades all of Filipino society. It’s still significant because the problems are still there, over two hundred years later, even after Rizal died as a martyr and the Philippine Revolution freed the islands from Spanish control. Except now the corruption occurs among Filipinos, with no need for outsiders to fuel the social injustice.

I’m perfectly aware that the first four books were written for children. I think it speaks more highly of the authors; that these books are so excellent that I read them when I was young and they made such an impression on me that I still consider them major influences in my life. I was telling Kevin that it might simply mean that I was shaped by these amazing books early on in life and I’ve known what type of person I am and what values are important to me for a long time.

I also think it’s interesting that Kevin & I both consider The Little Prince the most succinct explanation of true love. Maybe that’s why we fell in love so easily.

Please, let me know what you think! Write your own and post it on your own blog… or here!

Also, this list reminds me of First Book’s What Book Got You Hooked? campaign, which celebrates the books that first got us interested in reading. A worthy organization, and a worthy cause!

Kindle giveaway!

If I won a free Kindle, I’d probably sell it because pretty much everyone I know who wants one already has it. So I’m just going to pass on this contest to my wonderful readers: all you have to do is comment on this post over at Crunchgear and they pick randomly from the comments. It’s sponsored by Bravo, so yay Bravo! It ends Monday 12PM EST so get commenting!

H/T Kevin