A Look Into an American Nightmare: Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

I’ve been absent from here, but I’m finally ready to get back to what makes this blog what it is: BOOKS.

I’ve owned this book for a couple of years. I first started it a few months back, and finally got around to finishing it last night. What follows is my review.

So often after mass shootings we hear about “politicizing” the issue. There’s nothing political anout this book, just as there’s really nothing political about combatting gun violence. It would have been easy for this book to delve into the common topics that persist after every shooting, but it did no such thing.

Dave Cullen takes you into the minds and private lives of these two muderers. He chronicles in minute detail the days, weeks, and months leading up to April 20, 1999. He details how these two kids went from fantasizing about murder to committing a massacre. He takes you into the lives of several parties after the killing had finally stopped. Parents, students, educators, law enforcement. No life is the same after such an event, and he makes it crystal clear.

There’s a part near the end of the book in which he describes how “Columbine” had become the name of a mass shooting rather than a high school, but over the years seems to have reverted back to just the name of a high school in Colorado. I’m not sure if a community can ever really love on from something like this, but based on the book this one seems to constantly try.

An phenomenal story about an unspeakable act.

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Summer Reading? People Do That?

I wasn’t a give reader when I was in school. I read more in college than I’ve read during the rest of my life. Seriously.

I can think of one summer reading assignment I completed. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It was assigned the summer before my freshman year in college. I thought it was a great book, but I’ve not gone back to read any of his other books.

What’s your take on summer reading?

Books I Recommended to Someone who Asked for a sad Read

The actual request was for a book that may make them cry.

Lone Survivor

Night

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Martian

All of the books have completely different storylines. Two are based in fact. Two are not. The common thing from all of them is that I believe there are lessons to be learned from each. Just like there’s a lesson to be learned from nearly every book ever published. The messaging may be off and the writing poor, but find a book in which you take nothing away from it and I’ll gladly hand you hundreds in which you’ll find something hidden beneath the printed words.

What was the last book that made you cry?

Wait, What?

Bill O’Reilly is essentially always in the news. Recently it’s been for some serious things that have happened in the past. It was recently reported by the NYT that Fox News has settled multiple sexual harassment allegations made against O’Reilly for millions of dollars.

This isn’t the point of this post because wherever you get your news has surely reported on the latest developments. The point of this is to tell you that a book on “family values” written by O’Reilly was just published during the same week these allegations and settlements have come to light. Hollywood couldn’t write this stuff.

I’m not even surprised by this. It often seems that those who are the worst examples of people want to tell others how they should or shouldn’t act.

The book is called Old School and is available wherever books are sold. I know you’re eager to get your hands on it.

Should I do This?

People are becoming more and more politically active, but not everyone is outspoken and open about it. I’ve just read multiple reports of people doing something great. They’re buying dozens of copies of books like 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, and In The Garden of Beasts, but guess what they’re doing with the books they’re buying? They’re giving them away!

The stories I’ve read about have included anonymous buyers who simply ask that the bookstore give the books away while telling the lucky readers to stay aware. Every instance has resulted in every book being taken. I want to do this.

I’m not sitting on a pile of cash to buy dozens of books to give away, but again I’m willing to make a sacrifice to get people reading and start conversations. It would definitely be on a smaller scale than the ones I’ve read about. Maybe 10 copies of 2-3 books. But I wouldn’t want to stay in the shadows. I’d want to do the whole thing myself. I’d want to hear what people have to say about the topics in the books and how they relate to current ongoings.

I’m already sending three books to the White House with a message to President Trump. What do you think about doing this too?


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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: Unstoppable by BILL NYE

I love Bill Nye. I follow him on Twitter, which makes us best buds. RIGHT?

Seriously though, one of the hardest things for me to accept within the last decade of my life was how much difficulty I have with scientific concepts. I remember struggling all the way back in middle school. Give me a paper topic and I’ll write you a 98 paper the night before it’s due. Give me a lesson on history and I’ll likely never forget it. Give me a literary masterpiece to analyze and I’ll write a damn good paper and remember the story for years to come (looking at you, Dracula). But put me in a science lab and I’ll crumble. Perhaps that’s why I majored in a social science?

My point is that science is difficult for me. But this book is written FOR ME. One thing I do know is that climate change is real, it’s happening right now as I type this, and humans are contributing to it. You’ll hear people say “I don’t believe in climate change.” all the time, and that’s fine. But there is no “believing” and “not believing”. Not with this.

Which is why this book is so important. At some point all of us will have to face reality because our planet is the only one we have at the moment. It’s our only home, and we’re doing our best to leave the issue of climate change to be dealt with by our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We’re just kicking the can further and further down the road. And our continued inaction will come back to bite us. There’s no doubt about it.

Bill Nye is pushing 60. He didn’t have to write this book. He’s under no more obligation to help save our planet than the rest of us. He wrote this book looking at the future, but also looking at the present. The people of today are going to be the ones who begin making the necessary changes to help preserve our planet, our planet’s resources, and our way of life. Because humankind has never had a greater say in the future and preservation of our planet than we do today.

I know many of you aren’t interested in my videos, but I implore you to take a look this one time. Not because I care about views or subscribers, but because this book is not just entertainment or a good story, it’s IMPORTANT. This is the first time I can say a book I’ve read is more than a book.