Sunday, 31 May 2015

On The Road

Book 22 of 2015 is On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

I finished this a week ago but have been distracted with the journey and forgot to update the destination :)

This is a book that has been on my To Read list for quite some time but I am only now getting around to hitching a ride with these hipsters and jerks and travelling moments. The time seemed right with my move to the US and this being an iconic American novel.

It is always worrying that a book of this caliber and notoriety would not live up to my expectations but this did. I still think it could have done with some slash and burn editing but it kept me entertained and entwined through the whole trip.

One thing this book really made me feel is that no matter how often I think I'm not a real grown up, I'm still more together than these guys.

4 hipsters out of 5.

Should I read this? Honestly, only if you can handle a good classic. This is not a simple read but it is beautiful writing and a wonderfully dysfunctional journey. You will have to work for it though..
What did I learn? This has a pivotal moment in my life to read this book. There may not have been a more relevant moment. I learnt that we will cross paths with many people in our lives and it ok to let them come and ok to let them go.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Roger Ascham and the King's Lost Girl

Book 21 of 2015 is Roger Ascham and the King's Lost Girl. It isn't really a book but a short story written as a prequel to The Tournament, which is on my list of books to read.

Matthew Reilly's books are what I classify as Airport Reading. You find yourself at an airport with a long flight ahead and pick up a book that seems like it won't be too much of a challenge and has some action in it. Others must feel the same because I only ever find Matthew Reilly books in airport bookstores and online.

This is a short story that establishes Ascham's relationship with the King and his Sherlock-like skills of reasoning. In fact, it just clicked that this is very much like a Sherlock Holmes novel. I won't be able to unknow this now. Damn.

I now want to move The Tournament up my To Read list. It's still at about #30 though. Maybe when I'm next on a flight.

3 dead prostitutes out of 5.

Should I read this? Only in an airport and with an intention of going on to The Tournament.
What did I learn? People are stealing Sherlock Holmes style narratives and readers aren't realising. Maybe that is ok.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Book 20 of 2015 is a book based on my favourite opera Salomé by Oscar Wilde.

To say I love everything Wilde has ever done is an understatement. He was an amazing mind and a broken soul and if that relates to anyone, it really does me.

Wilde's interpretation is different and brilliant.

It is a short read and of course, if our French is any good then it is wonderful. If you choose English then is is still fricken awesome.

3.5 heads out of 5.

Should I read this? If you love Wilde or you love this opera then yes.
What did I learn? Chicks be crazy when the guy looses his head first.

The Sea of Tranquility

Book 19 of 2015 is The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay.

I picked this book up because it is one of those five star rated best sellers that sits in the teen fiction section. I figured it would be an easy read and it had a female protagonist who wasn't saving the world or even herself. My hopes weren't high when I read the reviews calling it the best book ever. That usually results in messes like The Da Vinci Code and 50 Shades of Grey so I entered carefully and identifying all my exits.

This book elicited many distinct and extreme reactions from me - both good and not so good.

It is written in the teenage voices of an 18 year old girl and a 17 year old boy. There is the usual angst with the characters acting like no one has ever gone through what they have gone through and the author does justify this by making their drama pretty damn awful. Even adults would break in those situations so it's not just "my sparkly vampire boyfriend doesn't get on with my werewolf bestie." It is more than that.

The writing is simple and lyrical. The challenge is whether you can get past the teenage angst and ridiculousness and hear the message being portrayed. I think that message is "no matter how we are broken, we can be fixed if we decide we want to be."

That is the maturity in this book but it is so wrapped in all other pretences and it takes away from it.

3.5 angsty teenagers out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you are open to the idea that a story set in the wrong generation can teach you something.
What did I learn? I am a very broken individual but maybe not forever. I always thought it was forever.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Kite Runner

Book 18 of 2015 is Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

This is one of those books that I can't see being made in to a Hollywood movie because it doesn't start, travel or end like one but somehow they managed apparently.

I truly enjoyed this book although this is one of my least favourite settings and genres. My view is usually that life is raw and depressing enough out there in these tough countries without reading fiction about it.

The thing with fiction is that it makes is palatable and relatable and that is endearing. This an insight in to two best friends who lived in the same world but with different rules.

Everyone I know has liked this book and I understand why now. It is quite well written and the story keeps you interested the whole way through.

4 kites cut down out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, I think so. It opens up a world that we get little human insight in to.
What did I learn? That fighting over what god says is  never constructive.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Organized Mind

Book 17 of 2015 is The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin.

This book is brilliant in ways and condescending in others. This could be because I'm a mathematician. But nonetheless, I am now a more organized mind.

I read this because Amazon recommended it and rated it highly. I recommend everyone else reads it because it gives you tools to help reduce the noise in your life and bring order to the societally induced chaos.

I know I love a book when I have to go read about 17 other topics after reading it. Read it.

Should I read this? If you are aiming to calm at least some of the chaos then yes, read this. It will help you even if you don't want to be helped.
What did I learn? Trust the numbers.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Esther Daia Madden

To my most wonderful mother,

I have known you 9 months longer than anyone else on earth. 9 months and a day since refusing to be born until being induced the day after our water broke. Sorry about that. You know how I love to sleep in before a big event.

Not one day in my life has passed in my life when I didn't know without absolute certainty that you loved me. When I was clinically depressed and didn't see the point to anything, you told me explicitly that you were my tether to the world and you'd never let me down. It was true. You are my most consistent and genuine love and that means a lot to me.

Unfortunately, I don't build tangible things. My skills aren't in making a vase to hold flowers for you or publishing a book dedicated to you but I try my best to live a life that would make you proud.

When people say they love their Mums, I just snigger. I love you much much more than anyone ever did another person.

You are brave, adventurous, compassionate, strong, gentle, funny, brilliant, beautiful and most of the things that I kinda wish I had a clue how to be.

If I grow up to be an actual adult, I hope I am a tenth of who you are.

Happy Mother's Day to the absolute best mother in the world.

Love from the loud daughter who never stays in one place too long but always comes home to you, Damana

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Silent Spring

Book 16 of 2015 is Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

I have wanted to read this book since I was a teenager but it took another 25 years before I got to it. That made me think it wouldn't be as relevant anymore but it was disturbingly so.

The worst thing about this book is that we don't seem to have learnt enough to change in 50+ years.

Carson writes beautifully about science. I want to read more of what she has written.

5 essential insects out of 5.

Should I read this? Everyone who lives on this planet should read this.
What did I learn? More than I wanted to. Ignorance was bliss.