Category Archives: Book

Me as a reader

During the first term of our school this year, I have read numerous books. I’ve read numerous genres, such as fantasy, mystery, dystopian, etc. I have loved “The Green Mile”. I have watched the movie, I never knew I would read it until I saw this book in the library. “The Green Mile” consisted of a rather more interesting, never-seen-before story line. A group of prison guard, letting a convict out of his prison just to save their friend’s wife’s life. There were some funny and touching moments during the story. From a sweet revenge on the antagonist, Percy, to inevitable death of one of the innocent convicts, the book had a lot of captivating moments that I loved reading.

My reading

I get most of the reading done before I go to sleep. I read from 30 minutes to 1 hour everyday before I go to sleep. I am slowly growing as a reader. I did not read books on daily basis before; but the fact that I have gotten onto a rhythm in which I set a particular time to read, I can say I am growing as a reader. In one go, I can now read around 1 hour and 30 minutes without losing interest/focus on the book.

I plan to exert my reading further. I would read more challenging text, and make myself read in a particular set time. That would further enhance my reading and comprehensive ability. Until the end of school year, I will challenge myself to read around 15 classical novels. These novels will be tough, because they consist of old English language, and the context will be harder for me to comprehend because they are mainly set in 2-4 centuries ago.

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My Reading Profile – 2014/2015

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Above is my bookshelf. These are the books I read and planning to read.

Easy text – The easiest text I read this year was “Noughts and Crosses”. This book was easiest because the story is set in modern times, and was based on discrimination and segregation in South Africa (except fictional), it was fairly easier for me to understand the plots and the story progress in this book. The language the author has used was fairly easy, she has used commonly used words for her book. Regardless of the level, I found this book really interesting and looking forward to read more of her “noughts and crosses” series.

Hard text – The hardest text I read this year was “Game of Thrones”. Because the story consists of many characters, it was hard for me to keep track of every characters, especially as I did not read this book daily, I often forgot the individual plots that a certain characters go through. Later on this book, as these characters came together, it was harder for me to comprehend the overall plot of the book; I often had to go back to fill in the “missing” gap between each events.

Goals and Challenges
Most of the books I read are urban-styled books. They are fictions that are based on modern times. To add more diversity in my reading profile, I’d like to read more classical novels and non-fictions. Classical novels, will provide an insight of the situations that many renowned authors lived in. Non-fiction will provide an insight of more realistic sense of the world.

Of Mice and Men

Title: Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck

“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck is the kind of book that reveals the true nature of man.
Of Mice and Men is the story of two alienated men who work as farm labourers, drifting from job to job in California. Lennie is a gentle giant (who is a little slow). George guides and protects him and depends on him for companionship. They dream of owning a farm one day and tend rabbits. This however is not meant to be. They arrive at a new farm; work with new people, make friends, till the owner’s son’s Curley’s wife ruins it all for them.

The title of the book is from a poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”, which goes: “The best laid schemes of mice and men,/ go often awry,/ and leave us nothing/ but grief and pain,/ for promised joy!” Steinbeck draws on these lines in the book very subtly, making sure that the plans do not go as they dreamt of, because after all that is the story.

I’ve never wanted a book to spontaneously change endings so badly. I yearn for that little place as much as they do. I wanted them to have it desperately. Proof the incredibly sad ending isn’t hopeless is that on a reread I could still hope it would end differently. Oh, it does happen, loneliness and cruelty and mass mob hating mentality. The possibility that it won’t, that people might come through, is still a chance. Otherwise why bother reading a book such as this one.

Lennie dying alone like a dog, haunts me. The dying with honor issue I’ve read about in other stuff isn’t an issue with me. Dignity, yes, because in this case the dying was robbing his life of dignity. Lennie had precious little of it as it was. I know that in those times that kind of thing was not unheard of (or much later than that). Still, depressing as shit. Maybe those kinds of hateful things make some kind of a stain on the atmosphere, like a ghost. (If ghosts exist, I imagine they’d come out of something like that. Why are ghosts usually from like Colonial usa or Civil War times? Not the 1970s?) So the dying and the living are the same as both are long over. It should never have to be that way.

Steinbeck depicts the impossibility of dreams being achieved and explores brotherhoods in humans – the strengths, the weakness in man and sometimes the angst. It truly reveals what men are really like; men shattering other people’s dreams for their own good. Of Mice and Men is a classic in every sense that should not be missed.

The wild geese- midway through the novel

As I was reading this book, I found “Memoirs of a Geisha” and this book very similar. Not only because they have the same setting, but in the way that those two portray two very similar characters; two beautiful women who were sold by their parents for wealth and fortune, but not because they wanted to, one becoming a Geisha and one becoming a mistress. The only thing that differentiates those two characters is that Geisha in “Memoirs of a Geisha” is really different from the mistress in “The wild geese”; the way they are being treated and what they do.

Now, back to “The wild geese” – Otama, learning that her new husband is an usurer, considered as a disgraceful job in Japan, Otama becomes overwhelmed with turmoil, and she goes through a dilemma, whether to tell his father or not, for she is ashamed, marrying a usurer, yet she does not want to spoil any of her father’s happiness. She views any sort of bad news as a kind of poison, and “she didn’t want to pour a drop of poison into the sake cup he [her father] held in his hand.”

As I was reading, the book reminded me of “Their Eyes were watching God”, a novel I read recently (I will post a review on it later on this blog). Otama, who was forced to marry the usurer to fulfil her father’s happiness and will, feels oppressed and unhappy about the marriage for the fact that she couldn’t fulfil her own view on marriage and her view on romance. I could relate this to Janie in “Their Eyes were watching God” – who was also forced to marry a rich man called Logan Killicks, just because her grandmother thought she needed materialistic stability and wealth, more than to fulfil her romance she thought of, and the expectations of a good, lovely marriage. Janie, later on, perceives that her love is more important than a materialistic, cold-hearted marriage, and runs away from her husband to find her ideal husband. Can Otama relate to this and run off to marry her ideal husband against her father’s will and the guilt culture in Japan, called Hajji?

I will be updating you on this novel as soon as I finish this book. Stay tuned!

Wild Geese – First Impression

Hi guys, I’m back with another book! The book’s called Wild Geese; it was originally a Japanese literary book; that later has been translated into English.
The author of this book, Ogai Mori, had a vast influence on Japanese literature of Pre-World-War era along with Soseki Natsume; for having written during the fall of the Meiji Era — or what marked the decline of the classical image of Japan as it struggled to accept the new Western influences. These authors were remarkable; they could incredibly depict the cultural context and values of Japanese people at that time.
Before reading this book, I watched a movie called “Memoirs of a Geisha” (see the previous post), which was a quite a lot similar to this book. Reading this book after watching the movie, made me easily understand the context of the book.
The book starts off with a narrator, who is staying at a boarding house in Japan, near his medical school. Just like other students, he works hard, and reads book a lot, struggling to be top of his class. There is one of his classmates in the boarding house named Okada, who is handsome, respectful and smart; and the narrator starts to tell a story about him and his love life. And the story unfolds as 2 men, Okada and a usurer develope a love triangle around the girl named Otama…
Stay tuned for more details!

Memoirs of a Geisha (Movie review)

Memoirs of a Geisha is a movie based on Japanese culture, it is an autobiography of a Geisha named, Sayuri, who reveals her past living as a Geisha. She goes through jealous rivalries between other Geishas, who want to be the most famous Geisha, the entertainer in Japan, highly respected and desired by rich and famous, influential men of Japan. As Sayuri’s story unfolds, the plot also deals with themes about Geisha agency, social structure and traditional values, the duplicity, American occupation over Japan after WWII and, of course, romance of the main character; the most important element of a Hollywood movie.The movie well depicts the cultural elements.

First of all, what is Geisha?
Geisha is a respected artist in Japan. Even though they might seem like a prostitute, as they drink and entertain men, they are educated, probably more educated than normal women in Japan. Most of Geishas are sold by their own parents who needed money for their living. After they were selected based on their appearance, they are trained to be a Geisha, in Geisha school; they learn how to play instruments, dance and learn the values and tradition of Japanese culture. They are respected by men, and they are forbidden to sell their body.

The cultural contexts in the movie.
Set before World War II, the movie well depicts the coexistence between the Western culture and Asian culture. The movie includes lots of scenes that well shows the traditional life of a Japanese household; the foods their eat, their traditional Japanese housings, and clothing; kimonos. It also shows the Japanese people’s traditions and values; it shows well how they consider their values and honor important, to an extent that they would have to end their life to maintain their values or honor. It also shows Japanese people’s way of life being westernized; people using electricity, wearing western suits, fedoras, using cars, and it is also evident how Japanese men became more respectful towards women, through westernization as Asian females are redeemed from oppressive Asian traditions by men who are westernized to a certain extent. The film acknowledges the negative effects of American occupation of Japan, but softens the blow by representing Americans in negative but historically accurate portrayal in a modern-day multicultural coexistence mentality.

The more you want to know about Japan and her culture, the more you will enjoy the movie. It has lots of cultural context, that will teach you the deep Japanese culture and their people, as the movie shows the daily routine of normal Japanese people, and the prosperous culture that Japan had, that was mixed with both Western and her own traditional culture. I highly recommend you to watch the movie to find out more about Japanese culture.

Anthem by Ayn Rand

anthem-ayn-rand
Anthem by Ayn Rand is an another Dystopian novel. This book is really similar to the book ‘Giver’ (another Dystopian novel), as in both novels, their governments erase “shameful” history, and they have the utter power to control everything – from people’s lives to controlling everything in the universe: colors, weather, day and night, etc.
Ayn Rand in this novel, depicts a young man in a future’s society. This young man is “extraordinary”; he is different from everyone in his society, who were educated to be obedient, and follow the government’s rule. The young man was born defiant, always wanted to know more than what the school taught him; even to things that the government didn’t want him to know about.
This book kept me thinking: Is it good for civilians to have a totalitarian government that decides what you should do for living, based on what you’re good at? Is it good to have a government that restricts anyone who wants to be different and better than others? Is it good to erase history full of blood and gore, and brainwash, uneducate people the true history to prevent the history from happening again? As many people in our world want fair, equal and peaceful society, isn’t the world in the novel their ideal society? But in this novel, Ayn Rand is criticising such society (communist societies): where everything is fair, and controlled. She views these societies as evil, when she views societies that allows individualism and ‘capitalistic’ societies more efficient, and more peace loving.

Which society do you think is more ideal? Society that allows your own individuality or society that keeps everything the same, fair and equal?

(I personally think capitalistic society is more ideal)