Archive for August, 2009

The Fountainhead Plan

August 22nd, 2009

Geez this is a big book. And AWESOME. Here is the plan, Kindle page by Kindle page:

The Kindle software breaks up books into nice little chunks. The Fountainhead has 14,783 of these chunks. My plan is to read 1000 per day, over 15 days, to finish the book on September 3.

It has always been easier for me to tackle large things incrementally. I originally came up with this method at the beginning of the year but soon stopped because I was getting through the books so quickly and didn’t need any “method”. But The Fountainhead is 700+ in really really fine print and it is DAUNTING. So far so good though, through 3000+ sections and learning quite a lot.

Book Thoughts , ,

*SparkNotes Delivers!

August 22nd, 2009

I’ve been hitting this site for insights. Characters, plot-lines, subplots… VERY helpful, especially with a book this lengthy .

Sparknotes , ,

Ayn Rand – The Fountainhead – Book #36

August 19th, 2009

On to something a little more challenging, Ayn Rand‘s The Fountainhead. John Steinbeck was excellent of course, nothing much to say there except whenever I read him, I want to head to Monterey. The Pearl was not typical of the Steinbeck I’ve read. I’m glad I reread these two last books, I had forgotten about them.

I know nothing of Ayn Rand, nor of Objectivism. I suppose that’s why it’s next.

Book Updates , , ,

The Old Man and The Sea

August 18th, 2009

I tried Annie Dillard and didn’t quite get it. This was quite humbling, as the book won the Pulitzer. (*sigh*) So I started reading The Watchman (as per the poll, sorry polsters). Which, at first, was really exciting for me, having never read anything like that. Then it it turned dark and depressing which normally wouldn’t bother me, but right now I’m in a bit of a patch. So I turned to Hemingway early this morning and read The Old Man and The Sea clear through. I read this once before, almost ten years ago, but I don’t remember the story exactly as I read it today. As Clifton Fadimen puts it (I had to look him up):

When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.

I’m reading Steinbeck tonight. The same month that I read The Old Man and The Sea in ’99 I also read The Pearl. These are very short books. This is great for two reasons. 1. I can usually read short books in just a couple sittings which helps out in capturing the story better (for some people, like me). 2. I can read a couple shorter books and make room for larger books that require more than a week to read. This has helped me a couple times this year, once to give me a little breathing room and another time to fit in a much longer book (The Book Thief). Ayn Rand has been sitting on my bookshelf, taunting me and ridiculing me. The Fountain Head‘s thickness haunts me.

Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea , , , ,

Poll: Choose My Next Book!

August 13th, 2009

As I’m re-reading Man’s Search For Meaning I thought I’d conduct a little poll to help me pick my next book.

Which Book Should I Read Next?

  • The Watchmen - Graphic Novel by Alan More, Dave Gibbons (26.0%, 7 Votes)
  • Consider The Lobster - David Foster Wallace (22.0%, 6 Votes)
  • Ideas & Opinions - Albert Einstein (15.0%, 4 Votes)
  • The Economy of Cities - Jane Jacobs (15.0%, 4 Votes)
  • Catcher In The Rye - J.D. Salinger (reread) (7.0%, 2 Votes)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright - An Autobriography (7.0%, 2 Votes)
  • The Double Helix - James D. Watson (4.0%, 1 Votes)
  • Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently - Gregory Berns (4.0%, 1 Votes)
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - Annie Dillard (0.0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 27

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Book Thoughts ,

Viktor Frankl, Auschwitz, Meaning, and Autobibliotherapy

August 13th, 2009

I finished Man’s Search For Meaning. It’s difficult to write about this book. Nothing I could say (because of my mercurial methods, and today I am at neither poles) would do this book justice. Nor do I have the ability to articulate without glaring exclusion the full influence this book has had on me. So without the ability, or the desire to spend the next several weeks attempting to properly express with completeness the profundity of this book, I’ll simply say this: I’ve completed book #33, and it was amazing.

Additionally, it is usually the case that I finish one book and immediately start another. That’s usually the case. In this case I won’t be able to move forward as quickly. There is an afterglow that refuses to dissipate. There are ideas that I need to cultivate. Simply put, it must be read again. And immediately. There’s no rule that says I can’t read #33 twice. #34 (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek) will have to wait until the weekend. Sorry, Annie Dillard, but I’m going back to Auschwitz and existentialism. I have much more to learn, all over again.

Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl , , , ,

Man’s Brian’s Search For Meaning

August 10th, 2009

My previous book was the longest read I’ve had this year. 13 Days. So I’m welcoming the seemingly succinct Man’s Search For Meaning. This book came from the “important books” campaign I started a couple weeks ago and quickly moved to the start of the line after being emphasized by Ana as an absolute-must. (Hi Ana!)

I feel fiction in my future.

Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl ,

A Library Without Us

August 9th, 2009

Oh boy. I’ve totally blown it. That’s pretty much what I think while I’m reading The World Without Us. Whether it be the car I drive, or how I handle refuse, or what I’m NOT doing about all that plastic in the ocean, I feel like I’m not too friendly with Mother Earth. But at the same time, she’s probably laughing a little at those who haven’t realize it’s too late, “oh, the naiveté”, she says. Homo sapiens were destined for extinction from the beginning. I’ve always thought so, but only in the biblical-armaggedon sense. Now I feel the same way, but for more practical “real-world” reasons, as in, The Earth Will Always Win. There will always be freeze-thaw, there will always be a warming and an icing over, and starting over again, as countless civilizations before us have experienced. Think of it in millions of years, which is difficult, almost impossible actually, but it makes it easier to grasp. We are done for. This isn’t fatalism. It’s evolution.

So why am I all the sudden very conscious of my carbon footprint? I know eventually I’ll be in the ground, an ice age will begin, and my remains will be pulverized over hundreds of thousands of years into bonemeal to be used for whatever bonemeal is used for. Most likely as unnoticed fertilizer for our descendant’s cornfield a million years from now. Like most things in nature, the earth and myself including, there is a constant breaking down and renewal. Not that I have any choice, but that’s fine by me and not in the least bit depressing. As corn or whatever grows through my fine-powdered remains, will the farmers, or the food be any different because I put pizza crusts in one trash bin and cardboard in another a million years earlier?

I have no idea what the (very) long implications of sorting out recycling are. What I do know, is that I see the impact it has now, in my time. And I’ve been impressed to do something about it, whether I ever see the return or not. EVEN if it makes a difference or not.

It’s much like the time when I realized that although my one small presidential vote is largely mathematically insignificant, not voting is wasting the lives that provided the opportunity to do so, and honoring sacrifices is reason enough to do something that sometimes feels pointless.

Ok, so I lost myself a little and somewhere there is a tie-in to recycling, I promise. Bottom-line is that although it may appear insignificant when people think about it a million years from now, deep down I feel like it’s my duty to ignore that and do what’s best for the earth, right now.

So, then, what can I do? Well I started using a Kindle again. I won’t go into whether this is environmentally better or not simply because I don’t know. Paper comes from trees, thus the more books, the more forests get hewn down. But then, paper is biodegradable and plastic is not. In a thousand years my books will be indistinguishable from soil, and my plastic Kindle will still be sitting there. I could go on and on, which I may, at a future date.

My problem is now all these books that I’ve accumulated over the years. They just sit there. Nobody reads them but me, and 95% of the books that make up my library never get read again. They collect dust while they wait for their journey to the landfill. A landfill will eventually be their home regardless of pretty much anything I do, but what can I do with them in the meantime?

Note To Self: Must think about this.

Book #33 tomorrow, week #33 started today. Not too shabby.

Alan Weisman, Book Thoughts, The World WIthout Us ,