2017 Reading Challenge: The Sun Also Rises

Would you look at that?! Look who’s off to a fine start to their 2017 reading! *raises hand*

Okay. I’m going to be completely honest. I read this book because it’s one of Amazon’s 100 books everyone should read, which y’all know by now that I’ve been slowly working my way through the list since it first came out almost three years ago. It was my first foray into the world that is Ernest Hemingway. I was so excited to read the book that I didn’t even bother to read the back of it before I started.

I could not have been more disappointed. I considered splitting my review in half between this post and the video, but I just couldn’t do it. When I went back and edited the video it was so obvious how frustrated and disgusted I became with parts of this book. I didn’t want to fail to convey those feelings through the written word. So, all of my thoughts are in the video.

I imagine many of you have already read this book, so I do want to tell you some of the things I discuss in the video.

  • The objectification of women in the book
  • The drinking habits of the characters
  • Bullfighting
  • The Jewish character
  • The overall writing style

ALL are discussed. I have extremely strong thoughts about every aspect of this book. As always, I encourage you to take a quick look at my reaction to my first Hemingway read. This book fulfilled the requirement to read a 20th century classic for my 2017 Reading Challenge.

Have you read The Sun Also Rises? What did you think of it?

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2016 Reading Challenge: The Martian

WOWZA.

Guys, THIS BOOK!

By now everyone knows the story of this book. And I imagine most people also know that it was originally self published. I know just about every person alive has an opinion on this book. This will be mine.

I cannot praise this book enough. I don’t know if the science is 100% accurate, but it doesn’t matter. He made me believe every single word of it. It’s odd because this is both one of the funniest books I’ve read while also being one of the most hopeless.

I admit that I’d seen the movie beforehand, but as great as the movie and Matt Damon were, they don’t come close to the original.

  • The writing style
  • The humor
  • The SCIENCE

I loved every one of those things in this book. I talked about the language used in my book as being unnecessary and forced. This book showed me the difference between a true professional and an amateur. He used cussing throughout the book, but you know what? IT WORKED PERFECTLY. I’m not sure why people criticize authors sometimes for using language that we use every single day of our lives. I don’t think it makes any sense. So I imagine there would be individuals who’d say they’re turned off by the language in the book. My response would be that THEY LEFT HIM ON MARS. IT ISN’T GOING TO BE SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS.

Whew. Moving on.

I enjoyed the interaction between all of the characters because I felt that it most represented how people actually interact instead of how characters typically interact in books and on TV shows. It never feels natural to me.

I have nothing negative to say about the book. How often does that happen with me!? But I can’t write this post without talking about Mark Watney. He’s very likely the funniest character I’ve ever read. Which is crazy because he was left for dead on Mars! I enjoyed all of his scientific explanations for the crazy things he was doing to stay alive, though I understand why they were largely left out of the movie.

There is one other part of this book I want to talk about. Rarely does all of humanity get behind something. Actually, it doesn’t happen. But in this book that’s exactly what happened. Billions of people were behind Watney. They were working to get him food. They were praying for him. They were coming up with rescue plans. It comes down to something Bill Nye said throughout Unstoppable. He said earth is our only home for now, but I’d take it a step further. Earth is our only home but every one of us is human. We spend enormous amounts of resources, money, time, and human capital just trying to tear each other apart. We kill mercilessly and needlessly. And we view our own brothers and sisters as enemies. I think our possibilities as humans are limitless, if only we could recognize the potential that we’d have simply by working together. We could go to Mars faster than we anticipate. We could cure disease for everyone, not just the West. We could end military conflicts that go on and on with no end in sight. We could raise the quality of life for every person on earth. And we could live in a more prosperous and peaceful world. If only we could recognize that there’s a common ground between every one of us.

Thanks, Andy Weir. For writing a book that shows us exactly what humanity is capable of if we simply work together. Now let’s get to moving closer to that vision.

This satisfied the requirement to read a book set in a foreign country. I mean, Mars is another planet! Ha!

Have you read The Martian!? What did you think?

2016 Reading Challenge: Texas Rising

This is it! The final homestretch!

The latest book I read for my 2016 reading challenge was Texas Rising by Stephen L. Moore. It’s about the Texas revolution and the decade in which Texas was an independent state.

The book was very well done. It gave the reader plenty of information about well known battles and landmarks, such as the Alamo and Goliad. We know those stories down here in the state, but I imagine the average reader doesn’t.

Though I’d firmly disagree, I know people tend to say history is boring. But this book wasn’t. If you take a moment to realize who was fighting and who was sacrificing everything, then you can’t possibly become bored with the book. Imagine if the world were different today and there were no military installations throughout your state. Then it was invaded. But no one was there to fight them off. So leaders traveled throughout the state trying to recruit any willing volunteer to fight for the cause. That was Texas.

What made the book even more interesting for me was reading about present day locations. The county in which I live actually played a role in the revolution. How cool is that!?

But with this book being about events that took place nearly 200 years ago, there was bound to be some things that leave you wondering why. I imagine you’re aware of the Trail of Tears. Easily one of the low points in the history of this country. But Texas wasn’t much different. At first Texas leaders thought they could buy peace with the Native Americans. But soon realized that it wouldn’t work and made every attempt to forcibly remove or kill every Native American in Texas.

The Natives were violent toward Texas Rangers and settlers, but what were they supposed to do? What would you do if someone knocked on your door at home and said they were taking ownership of the property? You’d fight like hell to keep what’s yours. They did. But it wasn’t enough and peace eluded everyone.

As someone who enjoys history, this book was a great read. Texas history is both similar to and different from US history.

I hope that in 200 years Texans will look back on the current period and realize how much better and more equal life is for them than it is right now. History only repeats itself, unless it doesn’t.

This satisfied the requirement to read a book that takes place in your favorite city or hometown.

2016 Reading Challenge: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Oh boy.

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I launched my reading challenge late last year. I knew this would be the book I reread after not enjoying it the first time around.

I mention this book so much on the blog and off of it that I’m used to jaws dropping to the ground when I tell people what I think of it. It’s the best.

But YOU don’t know if the second time around changed my opinion! And I’m not going to tell you. Either watch or don’t Blah.

Fun fact: This was the first book I ever reread that wasn’t written by me.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #5: Night by Elie Wiesel

Immediately after quitting my job at Half Price Books I got to reading. I finished this book over a month ago, but I’ve been too busy to make a video.

Night is the autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel’s experience during the Holocaust. The book is just over 100 pages long, but not a single page is wasted. There’s no fluff or filler. There’s no dramatization. It’s simply the retelling of what happened to him.

He takes the reader on a journey no man or woman should have ever taken. He describes a feeling of hopelessness that most simply can’t comprehend. He describes losing his faith. Most importantly, he holds nothing back. The events described are brutal, terrifying, and beyond humanity. No detail is spared because to do so (in my opinion) would be to take away from those who didn’t make it out of the camps. The story of the Holocaust must continue to be told in this manner. We can’t afford to lighten up on the details. Every person who experienced the Holocaust deserves better.

My takeaway from the book is rather simple. Anne Frank’s diary has given millions of people a look at what it was like to be persecuted and in hiding during this dreadful period. Night has given millions of people a look into the lives of those forced from their homes into camps like Auschwitz.

Both stories need to be told. Both books should be required reading for every high school student in the world. Why? Because the Holocaust is an important world event, but there’s more to it than that. These students are going to be politicians, world leaders, military personnel, and voting citizens. It’s important they understand the evil humans are capable of so that when the time comes to act against a group or regime or leader, there’s no hesitation.

I surely hope you’ve read Night by now, but if you haven’t I believe it’s a book more than worthy of your time.

The book satisfied the requirement on my reading challenge to read a book by an author I hadn’t read before. 

2016 Reading Challenge Book #4: Friday Night Lights

I know we’re in August now and I’m only four books into my 2016 reading challenge, BUT I’ve actually read two more I haven’t talked about just yet. Hehe. I’ll finish. Because it’s so easy.

Anyway, the requirement I fulfilled by reading Friday Night Lights was a book I’d already seen the movie for. Which you definitely should have seen the movie by now since it was released in 2004. I can’t tell you how great this book really is. This might sound stupid to you, but I believe it should be assigned reading in any sports-related class in Texas high schools and universities. Because if you’re studying to go into the Texas sports market you should understand how important sports can be. This book gives the reader incredible insight into the world of Texas high school football, but more importantly it gives the reader incredible insight into small-town Texas life. It is simply a remarkable work.

Now take just a few minutes for my complete thoughts!

What’s the best sports book you’ve read? The best one for me (just narrowly) is still Moneyball, but boy this book couldn’t be any closer.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #3: Paper Towns

I know I’m not exactly leading the pack when it comes to my 2016 Reading Challenge, BUT at least I am reading something, right? Right.

This time around I decided to read John Green’s Paper Towns to mark off the young adult book from my challenge. In the video I didn’t get into the plot too much because I know people don’t like spoilers, but after editing and watching it back again I’ve decided that I’m going to be more in-depth in future videos because it just comes across as awkward when I’m referencing parts of the story but haven’t really spoken about them. So that’s just for future reference.

Also, I know yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday but I released a really important video. I laid out what my future plans are for my Johnny Reads YouTube channel. It’s two minutes in length, so I’ll leave it here for you just in case you didn’t catch it.

And here’s my video on Paper Towns. Now watch and tell me if you’ve read it and what you thought of it!

PS: I haven’t seen the movie just yet.