The Wisdom of Carl Sagan

Many people don’t know who Carl Sagan was, but they’re probably familiar with a well known quote of his.

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

[Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory (1980)]”
― Carl SaganCosmos

Well, to be fair, I think people are only familiar with the end of that quote. “A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” But I think the rest of it is pretty darn cool!

For those of you who don’t know, Carl Sagan was a very famous scientist, primarily in the field of astronomy. He also wrote quite a few books on the cosmos, and a little known book called “Contact.” Yeah. Remember the movie? It came from him. *Mind blown* Right?

Anywho, this quote, to me, sums up the reason that people love to read so much. And the reason people take care of (or should take care of) their books.

Reading has always been a mind-altering experience for me. Yes. You heard it right. Reading is my drug of choice. And in all honesty, I’ve probably been on trippy experiences as a reader that might equate to hallucinogenics. (No, I’ve never touched that stuff). I’m sure you can think of a few trippy books you’ve read that left you feeling a little ‘out of body.’

This quote also embodies the fact that, once a book is published, the author no longer has ANY way to control how people perceive it. We all take books and make what we will of them. I don’t think I feel the same way about “1984” as other people, and you know what? That’s okay!

Did J.K. Rowling ever think people would make OTPs between Hermione and Draco? Umm… Doubt it!

“Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.” And whenever we read a book, we use our own life experiences to make what we will of the genius of the author’s gift. Thank you, Carl Sagan, for reminding us how important books are.

So… are books proof humans do magic? I vote, heck yeah! What do you think?

Literary Characters who Should Die

ImagePhoto Credit: A Book Lover’s Diary

I love books. You love books. We know that. But we’ve also all read characters in books who we just wanted to push off the side of a cliff for any number of reasons. Don’t shake your head. Yes you have. Liar.

Anyway, why don’t I just start listing off the characters I’ve disliked so much that I wanted to dedicate an entire post to them.

Draco Malfoy

I actually have a friend who loves Draco. We used to randomly discuss HP and it was before I’d read any of the books and she banned me from ever having an opinion on the series. So what do you think I did, I only talked about the one character I knew she adored, Draco. Ew. What was she thinking. I HATE Draco. Seriously. Yes, I’ve only read the first book in the series, but I already hate him even more than before! The worst part is that she loves Tom Felton too. Huh? But really, Draco should just die. Like right now. I don’t have anything more to say about him.

Keller

You know those books you’re looking forward to reading and you end up being utterly disappointed? That was me when I read Hit Man by Lawrence Block. If you’re unaware, Lawrence Block is a Grand Master with the Mystery Writers of America. He has a large body of work and he’s won eight Edgar Awards. He’s the real deal. So imagine me when I found his series revolving around an assassin by the name of Keller. I thought I’d found a new author and series to read for years to come. Wrong. The book was so bad. I did finish, but man was it awful. Keller would assassinate a random person pretty much every chapter. He wasn’t funny. Likeable. Or anything but boring. Suffice it to say that I won’t be buying another of Mr. Block’s books and definitely not in the Keller series.

Kinsey Millhone

Do not yell at me for this. I am well aware how popular the alphabet series by Sue Grafton is. And I know that Kinsey is Sue Grafton. There have been 23 books written in the series so far, I’ve read letters A-F and S in the series. There’s a book for every letter through W. I’ve always read such raving reviews about her attention to detail and how great Kinsey is as a character. I just don’t feel the same way. At all. I’ve had the book for G on my TBR shelf for years. Years! I’ve started and stopped it twice! To me, Kinsey is awkward and mediocre at her job as a private investigator. She’s not as funny as she thinks. And she drives, at least in the books I’ve read, a Volkswagon Beetle. I mean, no. Just no. But what do I know, right? Not like her books are consistently #1 NYT bestsellers or anything.

President Snow

All you THG fans better feel the same as I do about this guy. Seriously, look what he puts Katniss and Peeta through. Sure, they defied the capitol in their first Games, but EVERYONE loves them! And then to personally threaten her family before she begins her Victory Tour. No. President Snow, go in the arena and eat some poison berries or shoot a fireball at yourself. That’s about all you deserve. I think Donald Sutherland is great as Snow in the movies. To be fair.

Okay, now I’d LOVE to hear about some of the characters you’ve forced yourself to read who you thought were ugly and disgusting and just bad. Tell me!

Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read: 29. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Another week, another book read from the Amazon list. When I first set out to read the books on the list I figured that I’d read one every five or six books I read overall…WRONG. I’ve found myself browsing through the list trying to decide on which book I want to read next. I have no scientific way of picking books, I really just go with whatever catches my eye. The first two were fairly easy beginner choices, though.

The Sorcerer’s Stone

The book begins with an introduction to Harry Potter. We learn about his ill-fated family. We learn about his horrible Muggle family. We get a small taste into how rough he’s had it since the murder of his parents. Then we’re introduced to all kinds of magical characters. The Weasleys. The Malfoys. Hagrid. Dumbledore. Snape. Quirrel. Hermione Granger. There are too many to name. Then we’re taken on a journey with Harry, Hermione, and Ron through their first year at Hogwarts. There are tears, triumphs, trolls, dark magic, and…Voldemort! He’s back, after all. The gang of three is ultimately up against the Dark Lord himself, though they don’t even realize it until it’s nearly too late.

My Thoughts

This was a splendid read. I found several things that were either changed in the movie or left out completely. This being my first JK Rowling novel, I quickly learned that she has a great gift for children’s fiction. I found the reading to be more than accessible for a grade school student and still rather intriguing. I haven’t read a book with chapter titles in years, and I loved that the chapters have titles in this book. I liked being able to expect when Hermione needed Ron and Harry’s help with the troll. I liked knowing when Harry would be making his first trip to Diagon Alley. I liked knowing when Harry would play his first quidditch match. The chapter titles told me a little about what to expect in the coming pages, and for a young reader who may not read leisurely very much, I think that can make reading more enjoyable.

I also loved Hermione more than I did in the movies and hated Draco more than I did in the movies. Just happened.

This book is currently ranked #21 on my list of best books.

The next book from the list that I’ll be reading is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.