Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Things I've Read...

Here are the last six books I've read since my last post on the matter (back in January)--as well as the blogs I have been frequenting lately.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
  • This book is about one of the largest medical mysteries, and is unknown to a majority of the public. It tells of the story of the HeLa cells, what they are, and from who they came from. Skloot not only writes about Henrietta Lack's life, but the life of her family since the 1950s, and the story behind Skloot tracking everything and everyone down. After decades of the world not acknowledging the HeLa cells came from a person, finally the truth is exposed for all to read.
  • Paris in the Twentieth Century - Jules Verne (posthumously published in 1994)
  • When Verne originally tried to sell this novel, it was quickly shot down on the basis of such an impossible future. Set to take place in Paris in the 1960s (Verne wrote it in 1863), Verne was very accurate in his predictions of technology. In the book, society favors mechanical and money-making careers, art and fiction (not to mention poetry and Latin) are laughed at and forgotten. Carriages are run by engines, not pulled by horse; storefronts are lit-up in great displays of light; elevators carry people up skyscrapers; and subways are replaced to a refined steam-powered, tramway system above ground. One of my favorite images is the use of large balloons as lightning rods so that the tall buildings aren't set ablaze by lightning.
  • The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
  • Somehow all of the Robert Langdon books by Dan Brown end up being controversial, or maybe its just the tarnish from the Da Vinci Code "scandal." Anyway, I always enjoy Brown's work with symbolism, and challenging people to look at the world in new light. By the end of the book, I was deeply inspired to read all of the ancient texts in the world, and also a supporter of furthering Noetic Science. (Although with a large public, the ideas of Noetic science may be viewed as superstition, science-fiction, and borderline paganism, I believe the capacity of the untapped human mind is very promising.)
  • Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  • Written in 1932, Huxley paints a vivid dystopian world that is actuallt pretty close. Humans are no longer born, but grown in very strict social ranks. Social etiquette based on this system is instilled while children sleep. The government mass-produces a drug for recreational use, and free-for-all sex is highly endorsed (with proper birth control, of course). Theatres play ultra-risque movies which the audience can feel sensations through the chairs, and old classics like the Bible and Shakespeare aren't even known. Instead, there is a mass religion based on a character known as Ford/Freud. Who knows, maybe our society will digress to this: in the book it is the "year of our Ford 632" which is 2540 A.D. for us 21st Centurians.
  •  Demian: Story of Emil Sinclair - Hermann Hesse
  • Ever since I first Siddhartha, I have been a fan of Hermann Hesse's work. Demian is of no exception. When it was first published, Hesse was in no way connected to it, as it was published under the nom de plume Emil Sinclair. The story tells of Emil's life when he is young, and his encounters with the mysterious character, Max Demian. The book explores themes of discovering the individual within yourself, which most people that read this can relate to. 
  • The Road - Cormac McCarthy
    As far as books go that make me feel hopeless and yet still wanting to push on, McCarthy is a genius at it. In this book, McCarthy describes a world after some sort of event--volcano eruption, nuclear war, meteorites...--that leaves the world gray and covered in ash. The story follows a man and his young son as they trek through the very much Post-Apocalyptic landscape, trying to reach an unidentified coast. The readers are left to decide for themselves where it takes place, when, and what causes it. The story of the duo shines through all of the falling ash, and is absolutely moving.

The blogs I've been reading the most are:

Frog Hospital, local blogger and coffee-shop personality. Amusing and fun to read (and I designed his new shirt too).
Alex Pardee, a California artist who has some awesome work. Most notable for collaborating with the band The Used.
BLDGBLOG, an architectural-themed blog. A very interesting field of theories and discussions.

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