Passenger to Frankfurt

This book was a total disaster. Which is surprising, since this is an Agatha Christie. I guess it was one of the few that bombed but it was so far from what you would expect.

Obviously, she was out of her depth when she wrote this. It was meant to be a sattrical spy thriller. Unfortunately, it was just a bore. The cover may be beautiful, but the contents were far from it. So much so that as soon as I closed the book (and I remember I was on the verge of abandoning it), I promptly forgot everything about it. I don’t even remember the characters, the plot, or anything else about it.

I guess I am writing this review so that somewhere down the line, when I feel like re-reading some books or reading Agatha Christie and come upon this book, I remember I wrote this review and decide against re-reading it.

The Circle (Jerk)

This book. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. It read like a prequel to 1984 by George Orwell and a lot of it made sense. On the other hand, it assumed that nobody in this world would retaliate against gross invasion of privacy; which really is not the case (at least not in the world we live in). With hundreds of thousands of redditors willing to take matter into their own hands and with the existence of “Anonymous” hackers, it really isn’t possible for one company to truly “take over”, so to speak, at least not in a manner as “complete”. Even though the United States is over-run by this craze of technology, I don’t see this happening. Yet.

WHEN we end up in this dystopic future where everyone is watched and is under constant surveillance, it won’t be because one day “Big Brother” just decided to exist. No, it would be because we invited them in. Fact of the matter is, there is a majority of our world already, who would welcome this kind of invasion of privacy, masquerading as “the need for attention”. People sell all of their information on the internet for free. Their opinions (thinking people will respect them for whatever delusional righteous beliefs they have {which are shaken very easily unfortunately}), their choices, their thoughts, their values, their need for popularity. But are these really for sale if they’re given out for free? Samplers everyone is willing to give out, but no one truly wants? Who’s really gaining from all this? Is it for as innocuous reasons as targeted advertising or is there a more nefarious purpose to all this data collection? I think about the suggested ads I see everywhere I turn my head. Sometimes they show me ads for things I’ve never expressed an interest in but have bought on impulse at some point. How does anyone know to show me an ad for some uncommon toy I bought at Walmart? How do they even know what I am spending my money on? It’s scary.

Our fear of the unknown, of secrecy, of conspiracy, of anything and everything that potentially could harm us, of what scares us, will eventually be the basis of our downfall someday. We are already headed there. Our need for more and more convenience and imagining that data being the answer to all questions, is lulling us into this false sense of insecurity. Data will shine light no doubt, but the light is colored and controlled to show you what the powers-that-be want you to see. Much like the book hinted upon. I guess I did like the book.We human beings have lived in this world for thousands of years, and our biggest fear is: our own damned kind.

This book made me think. It made me think about how much, how often, and what I post on social media. What is the image people have of me? Over the past couple of years, I’ve stopped posting a lot of things that I deem personal. It’s just pictures of cats or books for me. My online presence and popularity may be waning, but the price is one I am content and willing to pay: peace of mind and a pleasure in actual relationships. It’s unfortunate.

Caffeine buzz

I realize now why people love coffee to the point where they become addicts. It’s not just the life-style that they are addicted to. It is definitely because of the rush of happiness it gives you, the rush of adrenaline, the rush of serotonin. Or just the rush of plain old excitement; a feeling that you can achieve anything once you take the first sip of warm goodness.

It makes me feel like I am all set to take over the world and still have some energy leftover. The life-style, of course, helps. Sitting by a window with a cup of coffee in your hands, cozy in your favorite over-sized sweater, with your favorite book in your lap; ummm imagine that warm and fuzzy feeling. I’m feeling sleepy just thinking about it. I want to curl up on my couch with a book or sit at a desk by a window with my computer and my paper coffee cup by my side, warm to the touch.

Of course, along with the memory of this feeling comes the feeling of contentment, of no-stress, which is not the case in my life right now. I can’t curl up on my couch or in a corner with a cup of coffee and my favorite book because I have too much to study. And that’s where this drink comes in for me.

And it’s really not even the caffeine hit that does wonders for me. It’s me fooling myself into thinking that my drink is going to make a difference to my mindset because my drink usually consists of 80% hot chocolate and 20% mocha. The total amount of coffee present in my drink amounts to less than 10%, I guess. It’s just the idea in my mind that this will give me the emotional boost, the motivation to finish my work or to look forward to it. It is the idea of a beginning, of a start of a day with coffee. Psychological pick-me-up rather than actual chemicals doing all the work.

Oh, how marketing works in favor of these coffee chains. Giving us the impression that it’s cool to have a kick in your butt so early in the day because all the hipsters are doing it.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

I finished this subtly mind-blowing book the other day. There, that is the review in a sentence. I, honestly, do not know what genre to put this book into.

I said in my Goodreads review that some or most books are about making loud statements. Books that feel like they need to shock you or scare you or shake you to get attention or to get their point across. This book isn’t like that. It is quiet. It is subtle. It seems mediocre until you get halfway through the book and realize the entire night has passed and you just kept turning the pages.

It has a very different method of making a statement. It could have been one of those fast-paced shocking thriller type but the author, Rachel Joyce, chose not to go down that road and I really respect the way she chose to write this because honestly, this is what life is like. It creeps up on you and you only realize how much things have changed when you look back on the life that you have lived and see the stark differences.

Most people who prefer to read the loud kind of books might not like it. They’ll tell you it’s the story of a man who takes a really long walk to go see a friend and his story unfolds in the form of memories and that is SO BORING. But honestly though, that is what makes this book such a great read. Because isn’t that what our lives are actually like?

What I loved about it was how true it was to life. An old man, not used to living a really active life since his retirement, chooses to take control of it and give himself a purpose to right a wrong he believed he did a long time back. He believed he could fix things. And in his own way he paid his penance for the wrong and at the same time came to terms with his own life and faced his own problems. Sometimes loss is what tells us how precious somethings are. How precious some people are.

This book weaves all the subtleties; all the truths of a life lived, into one man’s story. Of having never dealt with things, of never having fought for them, of never righting a wrong, of letting relationships go, of neglecting to do anything that could change things, of regrets, of loss, of guilt, of everything human.

I would recommend this book to anyone with half a brain.

Walking Dead and Sociology

I got into reading the Walking Dead comics a couple of years back. I had, however, gotten through several of the volumes before I saw the underlying theme of the book. The underlying theme isn’t immediately apparent though. After all, the books are about zombies. Aren’t they?

No, they’re not. They’re not about the zombies or about fear or the horror or the apocalypse or about the survival. It is about the survivors. The people left behind. It’s commentary about the role society plays in our current world and a prediction of what might happen if something so disastrously destructive happened that it took away the society we lived in and changed all the rules.

Even though back then I had no idea what sociology is or what it means and how important the role of society in our lives is, I did seem to get an inkling of the broader concept when I read these books. What struck me was that they didn’t even attempt to explore exactly what had happened. And what surprised me was that I was ok with it. I was fine with them not going after the cause.

The books are about people left behind who realized that there were no rules anymore. There was nothing holding them back. They could do whatever they wanted. That they had to make the rules; had to create a new form of society. What kind of society they created, how they built it back up from the ashes of the last burnt-out phoenix of a society zombies had decimated was up to them.

“To me, the best zombie movies aren’t the splatter feats of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue in cheek antics. Good zombie movies show is how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society… and our society’s station in the world. They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too… But there’s always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.

…To me zombie movies are thought provoking, dramatic fiction, on par with any Oscar worthy garbage that’s rolled out year after year. Movies that make you question the fabric of our very society is what I like. And in GOOD zombie movies… you get that by the truckload.

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With the THE WALKING DEAD I want to explore how people deal with extreme situations and how these events CHANGE them. I’m going in for the long haul. You guys are going to get to see Rick change and mature to the point that when you look back on this book you won’t even recognize him. I hope you guys are looking forward to a sprawling epic, because that’s the idea with this one.”

We were recently studying Durkheim in Sociology class. He is known as the founder of cultural studies. Its true too. Reading the books he wrote and trying to understand his perspective and suddenly it was an ‘AHA’ moment for me when I realized that Kirkman had done what Durkheim had tried to do by writing; he was showing his perspective, his world-view of society. Obviously, he was making things up as he went but is the Walking Dead so far from the truth? What do you think will happen when society devolves into this barbaric world where there is no sanity to be found in any crevice? Aren’t we all already reduced to blood-thirsty wild animals? What place does society- this invisible glue holding us together- have in our world and how important is it? What value does it add to our lives?

I’ve always been cynical of the role society plays in our life. It is a man-made phenomena. Us humans have bumbled our way into applying some organizational rules and patterns onto our collective lives so that we all behave in a similar and expected way. No ugly surprises, nope. The rules of society haven’t been sent by God in most cases. Society gives us a way of life and so do some religions. But that is an argument I will make later.

Is society a bad thing? Do we not need it? Looking at the Walking Dead as an example of a situation where there aren’t enough humans left to form society and I think to myself, maybe we do need it. It keeps us all on one track. It gives us morals, ethics, and shuns those who don’t follow rules.

However, society is also constantly changing and transforming. These days some societies are really moving ahead faster and faster; which is great. But I think it’s imperative that we take a step back and out of the society that we currently live in and look at it from the outside and check to see the forces that are shaping the society we live in now. Is it fear that is changing our society? Or is the change being driven by something productive and positive? Are we changing into something better or are we being driven down a road by the unseen hands of other invisible entities that we don’t know are actually in control of the societies? There are so many things to think about just on one subject.

There was something I heard in the last episode of Bones that I watched. That the forefathers of the United States of America were seen as traitors in the time they were living in. Because they were rebelling against the society that was dominant around them. So what we see as evil and unforgivable in this time, do you think it will be seen as the usual in some later times?

And now for a more controversial question that just floated in my head. No offense meant but I do question these things so here goes: in the olden days even though homosexuals and transgender people existed, they were shunned and now they are celebrated. Which is great. Everyone has the right to a respectable life, which they have every right of choosing and making decisions regarding. However, in our times there are still people who are shunned. Pedophiles, perverts, murderers. Do you think our society will ever progress to a point where these people will also be respected for their conditions?

We are horrified by the very idea. But I am pretty sure, just 50 years ago people were horrified at the very idea that women would be given the right to vote, African Americans would be free from slavery and homosexuals would be able to marry each other and live freely and respectably in our society. What do you think will happen 50 years from now? What will be condoned and what will be condemned?

Do we make society? Or does society make us? What do you think?

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

The Flight Of The Silvers

Argggggh! If you’ve been reading my blog, you would by now know that I HATE TRILOGIES. And not just any trilogy. I hate trilogies that are not stand-alone books. Like this one! I hate it! The entire book reads like a prologue to a juicy story that is obviously not going to be a part of this book, but of another book, which is two books away from this one. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT!!?? I don’t need such a long drawn-out epic. You are not creating literature, NO! You are writing a young/adult supposed fantasy/science-fiction that you’re hoping will catch on like a house on fire! This is not the next Hunger Games series (one of the few young adult sci-fi/fantasy books I could actually tolerate) and it is definitely not the next Harry Potter.

These books need a warning to come with them. People should not be allowed to package their books into something they’re not – books for adults.

Suffice to say, this book was not meant to be read and appreciated by someone like me. I skipped pages and eventually skipped whole chapters. In the end I just read the last chapter just to fool myself into thinking that I actually read the book. I came down to a level where I had to deceive myself into thinking I actually finished it. No book should put someone through that. I shouldn’t have had to do that to a book.

It was awful. I didn’t take anything from this book, except for the fact that big boobs always gets some hot hero person and that it’s supposedly ok to be slutty if you can’t deal with things the way other people do. I don’t know what morals books these days are handing over to the next generation. These authors don’t understand that these books are the ones that form a person’s mind; their personality. What these people write will be taken to heart and directly be transferred into young minds. Books are the USB 3.0 of our minds. This is how you get information into our brains. You can’t be putting shitty trashy morals like this into people’s minds. People unconsciously adopt the morals and ethics they learn from either by watching other adults, or by their books. If you’re showing the younger generation that its ok to have such trashy morals, what do you think they will take from this?

To take nothing will be the best. However, younger minds haven’t yet formed a filter to filter out the crap these books stick in there just so that they become a sensation. Make it saucy enough for more and more people to want to read it, but give 0 effort towards the story and actual character building. Nope, just pick up some stereotypical characters and stick them between the pages. It’s a shame really. We need authors with more mettle and who aren’t just looking for the money they can mint by becoming an overnight sensation.

Aside

Question

I don’t understand why people can’t write books anymore that are not part of a trilogy. I mean. Seriously. What happened to proper stand-alone novels. I mean what is it with trilogies and series!? Can’t you just write one whole story in one book rather than extending it into a couple just so you can drive people to read them? It really makes me mad. I mean its ok if you want to use the same characters but at least make the story standalone and not a continuation! It drives me nuts!

I’m so tired of having to buy 7 books and having to my research on what to read first and what to read next. It really waters down the content in the books and that really makes me angry. I want these books I read to have as much quality content as a person can fit between two book covers. Why is this so hard these days!? What are they teaching these people in college!?