Welcome to my bookshelf

I am a voracious reader who is constantly found with her nose in a good (although sometimes not so good) book. I felt the need to share my experiences and suggestions, so here it is. Recommendations and comments are most definitely desired.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Familiar Faces

Currently Reading: Choices of One

There is just something about the Star Wars universe.  Man, I love it.  I know that it probably makes me a huge geek, but at this point, I'm cool with that.  I love picking up a new book and having the opportunity to delve back into the awesomeness that George Lucas inspired so many years ago.  Seeing familiar places and following those time-tested warriors throughout their journey.  Do you think he ever imagined the impact his wee little story would have on the world?  (Or at least the fictional world).  How epically amazing.

What I enjoyed the most about this latest book is that it takes place back in the Classic era in between the original movies.  Luke isn't a Jedi yet, Han and Leia haven't begotten all those feisty children and (spoiler) the wonderful Chewbacca, Vader, and Mara Jade are still with us.  While the chronologically latest stories are all fine and good, sometimes we hard core fans need a break from all the Force users and just sit in on a good space battle or blaster shoot-out.  This one was from Timothy Zahn, my all time favorite Star Wars author.  Not just because he created my favorite non-movie character, Mara Jade, but because he is clearly realistic when it comes to the plot.  Sometimes when you read something by one of the youngsters, they are too much in awe of the characters that they have them saying and doing things that are unbelievable and out of character.  Han Solo sometimes does need to know the odds and, quite frankly, some Imperials do have a heart.  Zahn manages to stay true to the original story and personalities, but adds his own level of nuance thus arriving at a much more enjoyable and exciting tale.  He adds without taking away and never steals from others.  The actions and dialogue are all his own.

This one has inspired me to dust off some more Star Wars offerings and re-read, for the gazillionth time, a couple of Zahn's other tales.  Those library books will just have to wait.  The Force is calling.

And yes, I know it isn't really real, but hey, a girl can dream!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Foreign Language??

Currently Reading: The Sweet Edge

Pg 231: "It must be 35 degrees in the shade."

This was the second time that a thirty something degree had caused the characters to swoon.  Of course the first time, I was totally thrown, but by page 231 I was well aware of the fact that I was reading a Canadian novel.  I read a lot of books by British authors and many of them actually take place in England, but never so much have I been aware of the foreignness of a book that with this Canadian one.  Funny isn't it?  You'd think that with Canada and America at least sharing a border, this wouldn't have been the case.  Maybe it the fact that this story could only have been told in Canada.  All those English click-lit books could just as well be set in New York instead of London, just by substituting feck with some other word ; )  I find that I like it though, the foreignness.  The point of a book or a movie is often to take you away to someplace different and all the better to do that, by reading something taken place in another country.  And reading a book written by a native, as opposed to all those Americans posing as foreigners, is always a nice refreshment.  Oh and the title, it refers to the foreign languages of the Canadian and English novels despite their having a common tongue as us Americans.

So onto the story, Ellen and Adam are at a standstill in their relationship.  Both are unsatisfied, but neither can really voice what they want to change.  Ellen works at an art gallery, Qi (see Aunt Cathy, I was wrong), and eventually it is here where she finds some answers.  While she is busy installing and presenting artistic offerings, Adam goes off by himself on a 50 day canoe trip through the wilderness.  He finds himself lost and yet eventually finds some piece.  Needless to say, miscommunication and misunderstanding, cause the couple to become further and further saddened, despite their being in two separate places.  What is it about the human psyche that so yearns for companionship?  What is wrong with being alone and being happy with it?  I find this question popping up in my own life quite a bit.  I am satisfied being alone, but the few people connect to me cannot fathom that and of course seek to remedy my solitude.  When you are alone, no one else can hurt you.  When you are alone, you are in charge of your own life and actions.  Of course, when putting it into words, it sounds kind of pathetic.  Still, are couples the best way to solve things?  It seems, through all my reading and all the stories I hear, that more often than not, pairing off simply causes more heartache than it is worth.  Can you still be a part of society, but still be alone?  Are you necessary?  Adam removes himself from society, but is still influencing it even through his absence.  Ellen is in the midst of it, but still utterly alone.  When they do meet again, things are different, but are they really better?  I think not, but this is left up to the reader.  I will say that the ending is quite appropriate for the theme of the novel.  Adam had left a gift for Ellen which she never opened in his absence.  Upon his return, he presents it to her, but what it actually is, that is left up to us.  Will it bring them together or throw them further apart.  Intriguing, eh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Don't Wanna Be A Sheep

Currently Reading: Across the Universe

And no, not the movie with all the Beatles music.  This is a young adult science fiction story.  It follows the similar theme of a ship being sent out to Alpha Centauri in order to create a new civilization on this planet.  The main members of the expedition are put in cryogenic stasis for the duration of the journey.  What makes this one unique is that the main character is a teenage girl who came with her essential parents.  She too was put to "sleep" but was awoken too early and finds herself thrown into the civilization that has grown among the members of the traveling crew.  This group consists of descendents upon decedents as the trip was originally slated to take about 300 years.  They have created their own little government and lifestyles that are totally foreign to Amy, the main character.  She doesn't understand at first and manages to point out many flaws in the system that the current people cannot even fathom.  Their leadership consists of one "Eldest".  He is accompanied only by his "Elder", basically a leader in training.  The Elder is of a similar age to Amy.  The people aboard the ship are forced to be held to a certain procreation cycle and so people are part of distinct generations.  There had been a dramatic episode of a plague in the earlier years of the trip and so a more rigid form of control, the Eldest system, was established.

What I find interesting is that almost every form of government finds itself inevitably falling back into a totalitarian pattern.  Think of communism.  There were certainly distinct leaders there, despite the rhetoric calling for equality and whatnot.  Even our democratic society is finding it self in a tail spin, with more and more concentrated government control over people's individual rights.  The Eldest points out three main sources of discord.  One of which is difference and another is the individual.  His goal was to eradicate any desire for change and to get people to be satisfied being sheep to his sheepherder role.  Things were fine while no one new that anything could be different, but when someone new, Amy, who looked different and had different experiences, came into the picture, discord, much to his dismay, occurred.  This is inevitably happening in all forms of government and it makes you think.  Should we simply roll over and accept the fact that no matter what, there has to be a leader?  I hope not, but who knows, maybe that is the way we humans work best.  There are leaders and there are followers.  Which one are you?

This post is now hitting too close to home as I too am struggling with my role as a "leader" at work and really don't want to think about my inadequacies.  Still, I don't know that follower is the best description for me either.  Why can't there be some middle-management positions?  I think that may end up being where I fit best, although most days I'm not sure that I fit at all.  Anyways, now I am getting on that tangent I was so hoping to avoid so thus ends the post.  Still, ponder the ideas that this book poses.  Must we have a single charismatic leader or is it possible to be a true, democratic society?  Regardless of what your answer is, where do you find yourself fitting into the system?  Are you content to follow or are you driven to lead?  Hmm...