Day 19…After: The Shock

Sometimes, you find a book that speaks to you and becomes an instant favorite.

Unfortunately, After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson is not one of those. I like the idea of his “zombies” who are not really zombies. But that is about it.

I did not care what happened to the characters. The non-zombies were not as interesting as I hoped. And I am not of fan of books written expressly to be part of a series.

I don’t mind books with sequels. Even leaving a bit of ambiguity is okay as long as the story is resolved. But this felt like part of a book…not a book.

You cannot win them all. This book was not a winner.

Day 19…

…today I am reading

 

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Day 18…On Having No Head

Um.

I am not sure I understood this book.

At all.

Apparently, On Having No Head is about a man who believes he has no head. Not in the “I am out of my head” way. In the literal “there is nothing on my neck” way.

Douglas Harding cannot “see” his head; therefore, he must not have one.

Huh.

Then he discovers Zen…and things begin to make sense to him.

He creates a movement he calls, for lack of a better name, the Headless Way.

It lacks organization

Our overriding purpose, then – which is seeing into and living from Nothingness – is necessarily organization-resistant. —  Douglas Harding

This little book made no impression on me. I have read reviews where it changed lives. Unfortunately, mine is not one of those.

I think that a reader must be in the correct frame of mind and consciousness to truly appreciate a book such as this. I was not.

I think I will revisit this book in a year and see if I feel differently toward it.

Day 18…

…today I am reading

Day 17… Fahrenheit 451

The idea of burning books is absolutely horrifying to me! I mean, I am a big fan of dystopian novels, but this just goes too far!

Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 over concerns of book banning in the 1950’s. This is a definitely a social commentary and it is a fine one.

Guy Montag is a fireman. But he does not put out fires. He starts them. In houses. To burn books.

He is becoming increasingly discontent and curious about what he may be missing in his highly controlled world. As he begins to question more, he realizes his life is untenable. Everything in the world is controlled. Independent thought is not encouraged. This is no kind of life.

One thing that really stood out to me was the regret an English professor has over not fighting enough when he realizes that they are taking the books. He is filled with remorse with the lost opportunity to stop the madness of banning books and rewriting history.

It is important that we stand up and address the wrongs we see in the world before it is too late. The time is always NOW!

This book is a fascinating and short topical read that is highly relevant during this tumultuous time.

Day 17…

…today I am reading

Day 16… The Outsider

Stephen King continues to write phenomenal and unique novels. The Outsider is surprising, suspenseful and riveting, and I enjoyed every word.

Terry Maitland is unequivocally linked to a tragic murder. His DNA and fingerprints are all over the scene, and eyewitnesses saw him picking the young man up before the crime and covered with blood after the crime.

Terry Maitland has an iron-clad alibi and was miles away from the scene of the crime during the time it was committed.

Both of these statements are true.

But how?

King explains this…and more…in this fast-paced novel. I have been reading Stephen King books for 30 years and he has written some terrifying stories. The Outsider ranks high on the scare-o-meter. It is a well-written tale with many twists and turns. As King is wont to do, he weaves some familiar characters throughout. And, though he sometimes struggles with his endings, this book has a satisfying conclusion.

I am definitely biased when it comes to Stephen King. I love his writing. I admire him as a person…he is extremely funny and ridiculously clever. I have read everything he has written (except for a few unpublished and unavailable works) many times. Some of my most beloved books were written by him.

So

I say this with conviction…

The Outsider is one of his best books.

Day 16…

…today I am reading

Day 15…We Should All Be Feminists

Today is my birthday! I got to spend all day reading Stephen King’s new book.

Yay for me!!

Not so “yay” for my review of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I am going to make this short and sweet.

This essay was based on her TED talk about feminism and is a must read for everyone. She presents compelling arguments why feminism, not just human rights, is important. Women have been systemically discriminated against for millennia and it is imperative that we as a society address this problem.

If you are a woman…or are related to a woman…you need to read this.

Day 15…

…today I am reading

Day 14…William Wilson

There is no other author quite like Edgar Allan Poe. William Wilson is a great example of Poe’s mastery with words. He manages to evoke many emotions in a short story…fear, angst, horror, suspense.

In other words

typical Poe.

This story starts off normally and quickly turns strange. The narrator declines to tell his name and insists we call him William Wilson…which is strange, because he soon meets another student in his school name William Wilson.

Original William Wilson keeps running into Other William Wilson and wreaking havoc. It turns out that Original WW has a doppelganger. This is such a short story that this is all I can reveal without revealing the ending.

I will say that this is a fascinating study of the concept of the alter ego.

The reason I read William Wilson is because Stephen King cites this story as a major influence on his newest book, The Outsider. I am reading his new book tomorrow and thought this would be a fun way to prepare. I am SO excited!

Day 14…

…today I am reading

Day 13… The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Miss Jean Brodie is in her prime.

She does not mind telling anyone that.

And she is enjoying every minute of her prime.

As the teacher of 10- and 11-year-old girls in the 1930’s, Miss Brodie is a bit daring…to say the least. She delights in telling her students of her sexual exploits and her exciting journeys.

She picks six girls as the “crème de la crème” and molds them into the “Brodie set”. From a modern perspective, it seems she is using them to feed her ego, be her moles and become confidants. It is a truly bizarre relationship between teacher and students.

Bless her heart…she ends up being betrayed by one of her set and loses her career.

Do not worry! That is not a spoiler. The reader learns that very early on.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark is another quick and fun read.

Day 13…

…today I am reading

Day 12… The Day After and Other Stories

I love Wil Wheaton! He was in the movie Stand By Me, based on short story by my favorite author Stephen King. He was in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He uses only one “L” in Wil.

What’s not to love??

This is the first time I have read any of his fiction…or any of his writing at all. I was pleasantly surprised!

The Day After and Other Stories is an anthology of short stories. Very short stories. The Kindle version of this book only has 43 pages and four stories. They are tiny little tidbits that go down easy.

The eponymous story is about a zombie apocalypse. Two teenagers are in a gym with other survivors and a horde of zombies are milling about outside. On a run to fill the generator, they run into something unexpected.

It is not a new concept.

What stood out to me is that the teen says several times that he wishes he had died in the initial outbreak. He references the 80’s television movie The Day After. What he remembers most is how bad it was for the survivors of the nuclear bomb. He concluded that it would have been much better to die in the initial blast.

I agree.

I have always said that I would much prefer to die in the initial catastrophe than lose my loved ones, have to fight every second for survival and know that there is no hope for the future.

This book is a great short read. Put it on your phone and read it next time you are in the waiting room.

Day 12…

…today I am reading

Day 11…The Happiness Project

I was trying to decide how to describe this book. I finally decided it was a memoir of a somewhat interesting year in the life of Gretchen Rubin.

In The Happiness Project, Rubin delves deeply into the meaning of happiness and what it takes to make one happy. Unfortunately, she shares little of her research. Fortunately, what she does share, she does in a charming and entertaining way.

I read some reviews before I started writing this, which I do not normally do. Most of the criticism was centered on the fact that her life seemed good and why should she be trying to be happy. That is kind of the point of the book. Happiness is not dependent on things or even people, for the most part. Happiness comes from within. It is NOT the opposite of depression. She makes this point definitively. She is talking about “ordinary unhappiness”.

She quotes a wide range of people from Benjamin Franklin to Aristotle to the Dalai Lama. Her insight into the concept of happiness had depth and breadth.

Her “project” is loosely based on Franklin’s daily checklist. She divided her goals up by month and worked on them methodically. She seems to make progress and seems to be happy with her progress.

I listened to the audiobook and Rubin narrates it. She is charming and pleasant to listen to. I think listening to her narration increased my enjoyment of this book.

I have had huge changes in my life in the past two years. I have thought about happiness and where I want to be in my life right now and in the future. While this book wasn’t life changing, it was life affirming. I started some new projects lately and I feel they are positively affecting my life and generally increasing my happiness. I won’t be starting a “happiness project” like Gretchen Rubin…it won’t be so planned out and organized…but I feel like I have reclaimed my life. This was a great book for me to read right now.

Day 11…

…today I am reading

Day 10…Lock In

Occasionally, I like to try things outside of the genres I normally read. Straight up science fiction is one genre I generally don’t read, so I decided to try Lock In by John Scalzi.

I listened to the audio book, which not only included the first book in the Lock In series, but also an interesting little prequel. Both were enjoyable.

“Lock In” is caused by Haden’s Syndrome, which is caused by a flu-like virus that spread around the world extremely quickly. One side effect of the virus was for the patient to be completely trapped in their body, unable to move but completely aware of their surroundings and able to feel pain.

25 years after the first wave of the virus, everything the Hadens lost is replaced by simulated brain connections and robot-like units called “threeps”, an awesome reference to C3PO.

High profile Haden Chris Shane is a new FBI agent, partnered with Leslie Vann, and immediately thrust into a free-wheeling murder investigation. It is an exciting and fast-moving story that is fun to read.

Now, I have to say that I enjoyed reading about the virus and its effects much more than the mystery. I love medical apocalypse-type books (for example, one of my favorite books is The Stand by Stephen King) and this was a good one.

The novella Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome was equally fascinating. It reminds me of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War…in a good way. The fact that it is presented as an oral history makes it seem like the reader is experiencing the epidemic as it happens. Great fun! I recommend both!

My uncle was paralyzed in a car accident when he was in his twenties. He lived 30 years as a quadriplegic. He was an amazing person, deeply loved by his family and friends, and led a productive, independent life. He also had to live a life I can’t imagine. The whole time I was reading Lock In, I thought of him. It must be awful living like that; yet, he did it with grace and love. When he died almost 20 years ago from complications of his quadriplegia, the world lost an amazing man. We miss him and love him.

Day 10…

…today I am reading