Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The 306 Greatest Books #142 - Pilgrim's Progress

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. This book can be found on the Sybervision and Observer Book Lists.

I will start off my review of Pilgrim's Progress with my general review. This is an overly heavy-handed biblical allegory written at an elementary level. First off, almost every single character in the book is a trait that defines the character, i.e. Mr Honest, Faithful, Mr Worldly Wiseman, etc., where sometimes the traits don't even make sense based on the way the character acts. It is as if the author didn't know the definition of some of the words he used. Second, the story is written very poorly. It feels like the writer has never actually written a book before. Phrases are repeated line after line and the setup of the book doesn't make sense. It is written as if it were a play, with the characters name spelled out where they should talk, but then it has a phase like "so and so says this." for instance:

"Christian: 'Truly,' said Christian, 'I do not know.'"

Why would you call out the character that is going to speak, then write again that they are speaking? And the story is beyond hypocritical. Maybe it is because I am not a religious person, but the main character, Christian, complains about nobody listening and doing what he tells them they should do, but he doesn't do anything they tell him he should do. Do as I say not as I do? Every single character is one note, and the women characters in the second part of the story are next to useless. Why make the second part centered around Christian's wife (whom he left willingly) to just make her a useless character that needs everyone around her to do everything for her? In short this is a overly heavy-handed, misogynistic, racist, piece of garbage that I am thankful that I will never have to read again. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The 306 Greatest Books #141 - Babbitt

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. TThis book can be found on the Sybervision Book List.

Babbitt is a rather interesting book. It takes place during the prohibition era of the early 1920's in middle America. It is set in the town of Zenith in a state that does not exist, but the main character, George F. Babbitt, frequently travels outside of Zenith to actual places like Chicago and Maine.The story is about an upper middle-class conservative businessman, who seemed unhappy with his life. Around the midpoint of the story, there is a breaking point that sends Babbitt off the deep end into a midlife crisis. During his midlife crisis, Babbitt eventually finds "liberalism" and "fun" (i.e. drinking and carousing) and it seems like he supports those wanting to make a difference in society (the worker unions) but eventually he is brought back into the conservative/religious/anti-union fold. Although the story seemed to be rather plodding at times, it had an interesting subtext. I got the feeling that the author, Lewis, was promoting liberal thoughts and anti-religion, however in the book, conservatism and religion "won". Religion even seemed to be a joke to everyone involved at the end, which was something you just had to do whether you wanted to or not. It was weird. Overall the story was well written but the majority of the story was just dull. It was an alright book, but not one I would go out of my way to point out to someone to read.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016 Personal Goals - Month 11 Update

Eleven months in, time to finish up.

1. Finish 1st Draft of my Novel
Start - Again on the list.

2. Drop weight to 167
Start - This has also been on the list since the beginning. Starting at 179.7
Month 1 - 179.0
Month 8 - 189.6
Month 10 - 190.2

3. Read 1 of the Top Ten Books on Zane's List
Start - In the middle of The Stories of Anton Chekhov.

4. Read 6 books on the Sybervision Book List (including 2 in the Science or Philosophy sections)
Start - Current count is at 89.
Month 1 - In the middle of The World as Will and Idea
Month 8 - Finished The World as Will and Idea and The Three Musketeers. 4 to go.
Month 10 - Finished Vanity Fair. 3 to go.
Month 11 - Finished Paradise Lost and in the middle of Babbitt. 2 to go.

5. Read a total of 12 books on my book list. (need to get to 200 books by my 40th birthday)
Start - Currently my total count is at 131.
Month 1 - Finished Artemis Fowl. 11 to go.
Month 2 - Finished Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 10 to go.
Month 3 - Finished Mort. 9 to go.
Month 8 - Finished Guards Guards!, The World as Will and Idea, and The Three Musketeers. 6 to go.
Month 10 - Finished Vanity Fair. 5 to go.
Month 11 - Finished Paradise Lost. 4 to go.

6. Finish 1 more Geological Movie Review
Start - Earthquake still looks like the best bet.

7. Watch 10 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time
Start - Current count is at 75.
Month 8 - Watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. 9 to go.

8. Finish 50 things on the Blog/Website, with 25 specifically on my To Do list.
Start - My To Do list currently has ~150 things on it.
Month 1 - Finished 5. 45 to go.
Month 2 - Finished 6. 44 to go.
Month 3 - Finished 8. 42 to go.
Month 4 - Finished 10. 40 to go.
Month 10 - Finished 18. 32 to go.
Month 11 - Finished 38. 12 to go.

9. Finish 8 things on the House Things to do List
Start - The list currently has 27 things on it.
Month 1 - In the middle of the kitchen remodel still.
Month 2 - Finished 1 item, installing new furnace. 7 to go.
Month 3 - Finished 3 more items, finished the kitchen, dining room, and front entryway remodel. 4 to go.

10. Finish skinning the top of the hovercraft
Start - Hopefully I can make some time to get to it this year.

11. Get my 5K time under 25 minutes
Start - My current best is 28:32

12. Collect and photograph all of the Star Wars Comics
Start - I got most of this done last year. It's time to finish this up and move on this year.
Month 1 - Only one comic left to go. Photographed box 5.
Month 8 - I have almost everything collected and photographed. I have 1 box left to go.
Month 10 - Everything in boxes has been collected and photographed. Just need to organize the photos and website them.

13. Submit my Masters Thesis for Publication
Start - Last year was actually spent getting a chapter of my dissertation published. Let's move on and get this done this year. This was the last big thing I had left to get published which I wrote before.

14. Get caught up on my Star Wars to read pile
Start -  Right now I have more than a bookshelf full of books that I am behind on reading.
Month 1 - Slowly working through my pile of stuff to read when I get the chance.
Month 2 - Still reading through the pile.
Month 10 - I actually have my 3 big piles down by about a 1/3rd. Not too shabby.

15. Watch and re-review an entire list of one of the 10 Top Ten Movies
Start - I finished one set of 10 last year. I plan on doing another set this year.
Month 8 - Watched/rewatched Back to the Future and 2001: A Space Odyssey on the Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies list. 8 to go.

16. Collect, photograph, and organize my Star Wars novel collection
Start - I have it mostly set with paperbacks but I would like to get the collection organized and get the first release hardcovers.

-----------------------------------------------Other items of note-------------------------------------------------

I spent the last month working on a blog post a day and it paid off, getting 20 items marked off of my website/blog to do list. Plans to continue that this month with 3 posts a week and everyday working on at least one of my writing projects.