Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Book Review: Golda, by Elinor Burkett

"If only political leaders would allow themselves to feel as well as to think, the world might be a happier place."
~Golda Meir

She was the first woman Israeli Prime Minister.  So far she is the only woman who became prime minister in the state of Israel.

This book chronicles Golda's life from Milwaukee to Israel, from a student activist to politician, from prime minister to icon.  Golda was reckless, and worldly.  Married her husband but then run off with different men and with politics.  She was resourceful and passionate.  She stayed true to her ideals and fought for it no matter the outcome.  She dreamt of a perfect socialist Israel without crimes, corruption, and capitalism.  She labored for it but ended up disillusioned as poverty and unemployment increased, crimes were rampant, corruption was present in the government, and capitalism became the dog of greed.

Golda Meir genuinely cared for her people.  The experiences she lived through and witnessed has shaped her views, her policies, and who she was as a person but most of all as a politician.

Elinor Burkett has written an excellent biography.  She places the reader inside the events that have taken place and puts the reader beside the Iron Lady herself.  While reading this book I got to laugh with Golda and at her, get the feel of the victory they won, be outraged at some of the outcomes, be sad when her people were mistreated, cheered for her political stance, and be disappointed on some of her actions.

This is a biography that is neither sympathetic or apathetic.  Burkett gives the readers room to critique Golda, to hate her, or to love her.  There is no room for in-between.

Overall, if you love to read biographies and would want to get to know who Golda Meir is, this book is a good read.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Books First Lines

They say to not judge a book by its cover.  I don't, but, I do judge it by its first lines.

First lines printed on a page.  It can capture or lose readers.  

Reading a good one is like receiving an embrace and welcoming words from a new friend.  Encountering a bad one is like listening to a stranger with bad breath talk gibberish or hearing nails scratching on chalkboards.

Here are some first lines that I find arresting:
"It was love at first sight."
~Catch 22, Joseph Heller

"Woof!  Woof woof!  Woof!  Woof!  

Barking in the night.  Barking, barking.  I shriek but no one answers.  I scream but there's not even an echo."
~Nexus, Henry Miller

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.  Lo.  Lee.  Ta."
~Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

"In the middle of the twentieth century three men were charged with the task of removing the tension between minute and vast things."
~Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Lydia Millet

"Who is John Galt?"
~Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

What are your favorite first lines?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Blogger Hop Meme

Book Blogger Hop

This is the first time I ever participated in a meme and I like! :)

Who is your go-to author when you're in a reading rut?

My go-to author is Joel C. Rosenberg.  His novels put me on the edge that I just have to continue reading.  His light and suspenseful novels give me the momentum to get out of reading rut.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

When History becomes Fiction

There has been news about recalling from shelves and halting publishing of The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths you've always Believed About Thomas Jefferson due to inaccuracies and misinterpretations made by the author.  You can read the full story here.

There are numerous reasons why, if not careful, historians or writers can turn history into fiction.  History is such a gigantic subject.  It is a given that historians tend to be biased on their subject or topic based on their beliefs and prejudices.

But when someone writes history by interpreting it to suit their bias they are then writing, well, fiction.

Also, history has countless points-of-view and the historian is limited to their chosen few to tell the story.  Therefore, it is important to have reliable sources regarding their chosen point-of-view.  But with archives and archives, and books and books of information available, this is not an easy task.

Learning from not so distant past I have no plans of reading The Jefferson Lies.

Have you read this book?
The Secret Wife of Louis XIV.  I picked this up from a discount rack of second hand books.  I was smittened with it until I searched the web for more information on the author and the book itself.

One of the author's secondary sources for this book is The Secret Diary of Louis the XIV.  Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?  It turns out that source is a fiction written by an academic imagining the contents of Louis XIV's diary if he ever had one.  How come the author of The Secret Wife..., who had a critically acclaimed book on a queen of Sweden, did not know this source is fiction?

It is heart-breaking for readers, damaging for writers, and a headache for publishers when a history book that seems promising end as being unreliable.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Reading List: The Iron Ladies, a 2nd Volume, and Thieves

Next on my list of books to read are:
Golda, Elinor Burkett - This past Israeli Prime Minister fascinates me.  She is the first to be called the Iron Lady.  She has the tenacity of a Honey Bagder, has a delightful charm, and fuses the mind with the heart in the realm of politics.  And according to the St. Petersburg Times review this book is "...a better-researched, better-written biography [of Meir]..."
"Not being beautiful forced me to develop my inner resources.  The pretty girl has a handicap to overcome."
~Golds Meir

The Iron Lady, John Campbell - I became interested in Margaret Thatcher whilst reading the wikipedia page on Golda Meir.  I wanted to know what made her also be called an Iron Lady.  Is she as head-strong as Golda?
"Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.  Where there is error, may we being truth.  Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.  And where the is despair, may we bring hope."
~Margaret Thatcher

Plexus, Henry Miller - Plexus is the 2nd volume of Miller's Rosy Crucifixion trilogy.  I've read the third volume Nexus and loved it.  I consider Henry Miller one of the best writers I've ever read.
"In my portfolio was locked the key to all human knowledge.  Presumably.  And wisdom, like Winchester, only forty miles away.  Nothing in the world is so dead as this compendium of knowledge."
~Henry Miller

The Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova - This about a doctor and a patient.  It is up to the doctor to dig deep to find out why his painter patient refuses to talk.  The story sounds like a mystery of the human psyche.  But it's not only the plot that I find interesting.  I've read the first few paragraphs while in the bookstore.  It is beautifully written.
"Someone is lighting a lantern there, too, bending over the flame, a human form but distinct in the distant window."
~Elizabeth Kostova

In dreams I am reading all these books all together at the same time.  But in reality I'll start with Golda.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My blog content must really suck

In an attempt to reach more readers, I uploaded this blog on BearFood.  After some hours on queue and with a number of visitors coming from BearFood I still have 0 points or likes, but, the blogs that came after me already have points (I don't even want to know what that blog above my entry is about).  Sad.

Oh well, there's always room for improvement.  As the saying goes, "When the going gets tough, the tough stay pretty."  (Huh?  I couldn't connect what I just typed to what I typed before what I just typed.)

Anyhoo, you should check out the BearFood's creator's witty site The Oatmeal.  It's worth the click.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Spine Poetry: Passivity

Here's another of my take on book spine poetry.


Back on the road
Atlas shrugged
the hours,
the question concerning technology,
the elegant universe.

Books I used for this book spine poetry:
Che Guevara, Back on the Road
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Michael Cunningham, The Hours
Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology
Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe

Book Spine Poetry: Either Or

Book spine poetry has been a project of American artist Nina Katchadourian in 1993.  It looked fun sorting books this way, so, I gave it a try.

Here's what I came up with.

Either Or

The ethics of ambiguity
manufacturing consent:
Pride and prejudice,
crime and punishment.

The books I used are by:
Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Do you want to give book spine poetry a try?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bastardizing the Classics: Why oh why?

Today's mass market consumerism has affected the literary world as some authors and publishers are riding on the success of literary giants by combining their books with the taste current readers have for the paranormal.

Every time I browse in book stores and see shelves stacked with such books I am filled with awe (not the good kind).

Why oh why, talented authors and publishers of today, have you decided to do this...
and this...
 and this?

Your "co-authors" are dead by now.  They cannot agree or disagree with your actions.  It is unfair.  It is treason.

Talented authors and publishers of today, I am sure you have more creative juices flowing in you.  You can do better than this.  Please labor for genius to produce awesome books that will stand the test of time.

Not only with the undead are the classics being butchered.  Following the baffling popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, the classics has been bastardized for the adult fiction readers.  Shame shame shame.
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