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The Bridge Over the River Kawaii

this is still the greatest thing i’ve ever posted

// The Gods Themselves-Isaac Asimov//

Ah yes, there’s nothing comparable to the feeling of hope one gets after finishing an Isaac Asimov book and The Gods Themselves is no exception. Asimov has a wonderful  way of looking through the lens of science and shaping a seemingly plausible future from various technological advancements. The Gods Themselves centers around the issue of energy production on a future Earth.

'The Pump', as it is referred to, allows energy to pass between dimensions and its creation is quickly (and falsely) taken credit by the scientist who happened upon it. Since this is energy is free and apparently infinite, nobody really cares too much and ultimately overlooks any of the possible cons of the inter-dimensional arrangement. 

The Gods Themselves follows an Earth physicist with a bad feeling about the pump and his journey that takes him to the moon along with the beings from the other dimension as they try to solve the same problem in order to save both of their universes from cataclysmic destruction.

This is definitely a good read (as is expected from Asimov), so I can definitely recommend this to any sci-fi or Foundation series fan.

Oh, and Newt Gingrich, here’s your moon colony.

// Books I’ve read so far this year//

  1. Chariot of the Gods- Von Danniken (reviewed)
  2. The Gods Themselves-Isaac Asimov
  3. American Gods-Neil Gaiman (reviewed)
  4. Illiad-Homer (reviewed)
  5. 1Q84-Haruki Murakami
  6. Aeneid-Virgil (reviewed)
  7. The Da Vinci Code-Dan Brown (reviewed)
  8. Looking for Alaska-John Green (reviewed)
  9. Windup Bird Chronicle-Haruki Murakami
  10. War of the Worlds-H.G. Wells
  11. An Abundance of Katherines-John Green
  12. The Invisible Man-H.G. Wells
  13. Paper Towns-John Green
  14. Thud!-Terry Pratchett
  15. Theogony & Works and Days-Hesiod
  16. The Epic of Gilgamesh
  17. Hard-Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World-Haruki Murakami
  18. Will Grayson, Will Grayson-John Green & David Levithan

// War of the Worlds//

Now personally I felt a bit ‘on the fence about this one’. Thanks to the very alien-crazed culture in which we live, I was already well acquainted with the story before I ever even picked it up. This story has become the story people think of when the term ‘science-fiction’ pops up. I’m sure this book was a little more gripping in the early 1900s when we knew less about our Universe, but it’s still powerful enough to make one stop and think “what if?” 

I really enjoyed the plot and the underlying message of the book, but Wells’s writing got old and repetitive fast. Okay, that and I couldn’t help but picturing the main characters as Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning from the movie adaptation that my 12 year old self remembers being horrible. Despite all this Wells does a great job of commenting on the nature of mankind. Even when faced with invasion from an advanced alien civilization that outclasses humanity across the board, mankind is still able to persevere and come out on top showing that our species has more potential than any other in existence.

Another moral of this story could be to fund NASA. Scare tactics, ladies and gentlemen, they do wonders.

-Jake [10/50]

// The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle//

This was the third book of Murakami’s that I’ve read so I felt like I had a good idea of what to expect out of this books, tons of imagery and symbolism that flies way over my mechanical engineering major of a head. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle immediately caught my attention as to how different the story telling method was from the other two Murakami books I’ve read. I was surprised to be reading a first person narrative from this man! Admittedly it does change whenever a letter is being read (which constitutes at least ten chapters of the book), but still it was not what I was expecting.

That being said I really can’t say anything bad about this book besides the fact that it is incredibly depressing. Now I don’t mean that in a bad way, but the whole story revolves around the main character being left by his wife and a plethora of other things. There’s just a lot going on in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, definitely worth getting into especially if you understand literary criticism a tad bit more than I do. 

On a semi related note, I was watching an episode of Burn Notice, on USA the other day and the main character, Michael, said something that I felt really rang true for the theme of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. He said something along the lines of, “There’s a space between life and death… It’s amazing how long a man can linger there…” rather threateningly in what my imagination just turned into an Eastern German accent. But anyways, as depressing as I keep saying the book was I found it to be a real page turner just like the other works of Murakami that I’ve read. I know 1Q84 is pretty hot on book lists right now, but I’d definitely suggest snagging a copy of Wind-Up Bird along with it. 

-Jake

(Source: hydrotoxicity, via klefable)

// Looking for Alaska//

Not gonna’ lie, I had a hard time holding back the floodgates with this one. 

That being said I was really blown away by the book. It wasn’t at all what I expected to come out of the hilarious goofball I’ve been watching on Youtube for awhile now. John Green is apparently as brilliantly serious a writer as he his a fifa player (I mean that in the best swoodlipoopin way possible).

I don’t even really want to say too much about this book because it’s just so beautifully written that I can’t even begin to describe it. Looking for Alaska is not a story you read, it’s one you experience and I don’t dare take that away from anyone.

I can hardly imagine it’s possible for anyone to be reading this and not have seen a vlogbrother video on Youtube, but if you are may god have mercy on your soul.

DFTBA

-Jake

// The Da Vinci Code//

Alright, I know I’m a few years late on this one but I have got to say, well done Dan Brown. Bravo. After reading this book it is wildly apparent why there was so much controversy surrounding its subject matter. The doubt it casts on the precepts of the Catholic church are really thought provoking. 

My only quibble with The Da Vinci Code was its very apparent plot twists. While reading, one gets a sense of what will inevitably comes next in any situation and needless to say, it comes next. The plot is surprisingly slow for being a story that literally takes during a twenty-four hour time period and the police investigation aspect just drags painfully on through the whole story. Despite all this, the book does culminate wonderfully in the last few chapters.

I’d still have to say I’m a fan of The Da Vinci Code. It’s a really fun mystery to read if you’re into history and conspiracies like the Grail. So if you’re bored I suggest picking it up. I happen to know that you will be able to find it at just about any thrift store for a buck, and anything with a dollar price tag is well worth your while nowadays.

-Jake

// The Aeneid//

"Arma virumque cano," so goes the first line of Vergil’s Aeneid, which translates to “I sing of arms and of the man,” and Vergil does just that. The man of course is the illustrious Aeneas, whom you might remember as one of the Trojan players in the Illiad. This tale follows Aeneas and his quest to Italy in order to found a new city where his descendants are destined to live indefinitely. On this epic journey Aeneas tends to get sidetracked rather often not unlike his Greek counterpart, Odysseus.

Now the story existed orally before Vergil recorded it, but since Augustus Caesar was sponsoring Vergil at the time there are a lot of apparent political points squeezed in along with many comparisons of Aeneas and Augustus. That being said, it’s still a wonderful read. The Aenied has so much going on in every book it’s insane, one is basically like reading The Perfect Storm, another consists of a Romeo and Juliet type love story doomed to fail, and eventually even explains the inventing of pizza!

I was first exposed to The Aeneid as the textbook for my fourth year of Latin during high school, and I’ve got to say that there is a lot grasp in every line of this story. The notion of ‘pietas’ which meant to the Romans a sense of reverent duty not only to the gods, but to yourself and others, plays a major role in all of Aeneas’ actions to emphasize what values the city and empire were founded upon. 

This is a favorite of mine although I even have a hard time reading it in English. I would really only recommend this book to hardcore Classics nerds who will be able to really grasp all the subtle messages Vergil so cleverly hides in every line. Also, I swear I will review something from this millennium next. Salve!

-Jake

// The Illiad & The Odyssey//

Since these two amazing books are effectively sequels, I decided to review them at the same time. These stories were recorded by a man named Homer (whose last name wasn’t Simpson) around 850 BC. Originally, there were more stories that are referred to as “The Nostoi” which means “homeward return,” but those have been lost somewhere within the last three millennia. So it goes. 

Let’s start with the Illiad! This story recounts the fabled Trojan War where the Greeks/Achaeans/Danaans fight the Trojans/Illians/Dardanians. The Illiad doesn’t really center around any main character or even take a side in telling its tale unlike many of the movie adaptations made over the years. Depending on the translation you get a hold of, you will either find it riveting or repetitive. A good translation from the original Ionic Greek is going to be incredibly dull to the average reader, whereas something that has been adapted to capture the meaning through modern English will be much easier to read (although you will lose my respect if you choose this route). The biggest quibble I hear from people about the Classics is that they take pages listing people, their homelands, and how boring it is to read. In the time when Homer was writing, his audience would have been able to trace their ancestry back to the heroes he describes in such great detail. This would have been the most exciting piece of the epic for Homer’s contemporaries. 

Now being a rather biased Classics geek, it’s no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed the Illiad. I was always fascinated by how faint the line between god and man is throughout Greek literature and this story is no exception. The Illiad is just one of those books that is your responsibility to read as a human being. 

The Odyssey, on the other hand, you might be a little more familiar with since everyone and their brother read it in high school. The only problem with that is your English teacher should not have been teaching you anything about Ancient Greek literature because quite frankly, they don’t know anything about Ancient Greek literature. Instead of talking about the Greek culture and civilization from which the story arose, they just turn off the lights and make you watch O Brother Where Art Thou? and call it a day. I know that’s what my Freshman English teacher did…

But anyways, The Odyssey is another one of those ‘must read’ books because it is the original journey story. All the boring themes and motifs your English teacher may or may not have shoved down your throat can be seen in just about any book or movie (if you care to look hard enough). Either way the Odyssey is a much easier read than the Illiad if you happen to be a tad Classically challenged, and should hopefully leave you rather ‘owl-eyed’.

χαίρετε

-Jake

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