May & June 2019


Pages/book & Ranking

~Listed from favorite to least favorite~

How to Win Friends and Influence People: 236★★★★

Happier: 168★★★★

Fahrenheit 451, 60th Anniversary Edition: 249★★★★

Macbeth Prose Version: 21★★★★

Landry Park: 374 ★★★

For Whom the Bell Tolls (started again) 471★★★

Poems (https://poets.org/poem-a-day) → 45

Pages/day (45 days)→ 34.75

Pages/week (6 weeks) → 260.67 


Reflection

In these 45 days, I am content with my progress.  I usually only read fiction novels, but now I am starting to expand my reach by reading one poem a day, and self-help books.  These books are written in a persuasive format, similar to a critical essay.  I was able to see how a topic, evidence, analysis and the connection to the human condition is organized in a paragraph to convey a specific message.

Consistency is still an issue, as I finished Landry Park in two days, but kept putting off For Whom the Bell Tolls.  Hopefully, the extra time in summer will help me with this.

My goal for the two months of summer is to read all of the required AP novels, and Michelle Obama’s and Trevor Noah’s autobiographies.  Additionally, I feel like school has limited my ability to read for enjoyment.  Therefore, I will read a few dystopian novels to keep me motivated to read harder pieces.

Thoughts

How to Win Friends and Influence People (★★★★★)

This is a self help book written by Dale Carnegie that discusses how to build the confidence and skills to be kind, but also have influence over people. It was published in 1936, and was an immediate hit, as these types of books were usually not written at the time.  Additionally, the author offered this as a course which showed to bring success to those who took it.

My favorite line would have to be, “Give a man a fine reputation to live up to.”  This was the last line in a chapter called, “Give the Dog a Good Name”, where he discussed how to change a person, without being overpowering.  He explores the idea of providing people with a positive standard to reach, so that they are motivated to be better without you forcing it upon them.  Providing encouragement and praise is the best way to influence people.

The book is written in a conversational format, which allowed for the reader to have a thorough understanding of the topic, while still making it relatable.  However, since it was written a while ago, there are many gender stereotypes and biased points.  For example, in a section about having a happy marriage, the author asks the question, “Do you keep track of the day’s news, the new books, and new ideas, so you can hold your husbands’ intellectual interest?”  All the pronouns were male, and I felt that women were barely addressed in this book. I would read this again since the ideas were very interesting, as we are given insight into the mentality of a man at the time.  Gender bias aside, there are many helpful tips in this book that I plan to consider when I deal with people.

Fahrenheit 451, 60th Anniversary Edition (★★★★)

Written by Ray Bradbury, this dystopian novel is about a firefighter that burns books to rid the world of the corruption them.  Even though he has everything that his society considers normal, there is an itch in his throat that is triggered by Clarisse, his neighbour.  Guy Montag unearths a world of passion and emotion locked within the pages of the very books he threw in flames a few days ago.

I love how the author used fire as a motif throughout the novel.  A strong one was, “Fire’s real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences.”  It illustrates how real beauty is in recklessness, which Montag shows in his actions against the norms of society.  Additionally, the information in the back was an interesting read, as it provided more context to the creation of the story, and the relation to modern society.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (★★★)

This book was very different to the things I usually read.  I appreciated the following:

      • Cyclical Pattern The author very skillfully incorporated explicit comparisons.  My favorite would have to be how Robert Jordan finishes his life in the same position as he started his journey.  We know of his mentality shift in the past few days, depicting that an individual can undergo change and not show it.  I feel that the author took the phrase “History repeats itself” and showed that within the lives of those living in the war.  The rabbit, the return of the horse, and the superstitious foreshadowing all allowed for the story to be more intriguing.
      • Death The idea of self-sacrifice is prevalent within this novel.  All soldiers, including  are aware that they are just a piece in the intricate puzzle of war, complete their duty with their life on the line; their life is of less importance than the information they carry in their minds.  This is why Kashkin, a soldier of the Republic, had carried poison, and asked Jordan to shoot him when there was no option left. It can be concluded that death is something that is accepted and welcomed if it supports a greater cause.
      • War Robert Jordan has many internal thoughts about the purpose of war, and which side is good.  As mentioned earlier, he starts to lose his unfaltering support for the Republicans. Additionally, he acknowledges the fact that both sides are innocent and guilty at the same time.  He, like Pablo, starts to take on a more individualistic approach, thinking that the communist side is “better” to be on. The author is trying to show us the uselessness of war and having two sides fight for one cause because, in the end, people think selfishly.

For me, this novel showed the journey of life.  When born, we are naive and unable to do anything for ourselves.  As time progresses, our senses awaken, and we start to discern right and wrong.  Finally, as we age, our bodies start to return to its dependent structure, but we pass with much more knowledge, and a strong purpose – Robert Jordan’s journey showed exactly this.

However, the reason I did not like this novel as much was due to its length.  The plot was described with excessive detail, which took away from the excitement of the story at times.  This is why I will probably not read it unless I am forced to.

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