Category Archives: Books

Slaughterhouse V

Isn’t it lovely to be sick on the first day of school? You’d think I plan these things. Well, at least I’ve set myself up with excuses to take advantage of.

Another book I read this summer was Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse V. I wanted to read it because that’s one of the more famous books by Vonnegut, and I remember reading another novel by Vonnegut in high school and really liking it. Of course Slaughterhouse V isn’t exactly an ordinary novel. Contrary to the sound of the title, it’s not a bloody slasher novel. It’s about the carpet bombing of Dresden in World War II, when the Allied Forces basically leveled the German city by bombing the entire city and forcing the city to burn to the ground. Citizens were trapped in bomb shelters and roasted alive from the intense heat. The devastation is comparable to Hiroshima.

Understanding all of that, you’d expect it to be a rather gripping novel that teaches you a lot about history. But I’m beginning to understand that Vonnegut isn’t a very predictable author. Slaughterhouse V has a very strange plot line, and for the first few chapters you’re not sure what’s going on. It’s a very interesting way to tell a story. I could explain some intricacies of the plot that you’ll find in the synopsis on the back of the book, but I think it makes it more interesting when you approach the book with little or no knowledge of what it’s about. By the time it was over I was a little surprised. It didn’t meet any of my expectations. But it made me think. And that’s why I read.

Everybody Likes the Hobbit

Sometimes while driving multiple hours on end I like to write stories in my head. That’s what the little story about Jeanie from yesterday was about. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll take the time to continue her tale. But for now you must forgive me, I have other stories to tell. I finished reading the Hobbit tonight, and am most eager to continue with the Lord of the Rings series. All summer long I’ve been taking books to work and reading them during my lunch break while I eat. More people responded to the Hobbit than any other book put together.

The Joy of Reading

Lately I’ve been finding a lot of joy in reading. I’m crossing items of my summer reading list every week, and taking the time to read magazines online as often as I can. I love reading odd little well written articles about all sorts of stuff. Today I read about New Orleans becoming the next Atlantis and the Pentagon’s secret war with drug cartels in Columbia. Fascinating stuff that really doesn’t affect my life. As I was walking home thinking about some of these things, I realized that some people just don’t care. They don’t like to read, and filling their minds with odd bits of information isn’t a good use of time.

I pity these people. Wouldn’t it be better if everyone in the world could be so knowledge hungry, like me? Of course, I’m not that na

Chasing the Reading List

I love reading. When I was in third grade I remember vying for first place in our class’s reading program. Of course I was reading for number of books, not content. I remember my grandma taking me and my brother to the library during our vacation so we could find something to do. I remember curling up in the back of the minivan during family vacations and plowing through a pile of books–and then getting car sick.

Last night I went to a used book store and thought I was in heaven. I was wandering back and forth between the paperbacks and the hard covers, looking for every author I could think of. By the time I left I had whittled my pile down as much as possible. I walked out with $30 worth of books, birthday money well spent.

Now I’m trying to get through my summer reading list. Which is difficult, considering I’m continually adding to it. But it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction to finish a book and put it back on my shelf. Too bad I’ll always be chasing the end of my reading list. But in a way that’s the fun part.

Summer Reading List

I said this yesterday, but it’s really hard to reflect seriously during finals week. I didn’t do anything that tremendously taxing today, but I still don’t feel like seriously thinking tonight. I didn’t even take the garbage out today. So rather than give a poor excuse for a pondering, I’m just going to share my summer reading list. Everyone should have a summer reading list. Here’s mine (in no particular order):

Continue reading Summer Reading List

Bookstores Like Libraries

Tonight I noticed that a large section of the populous doesn’t understand my ideals. I’m working on a paper for one of my graphic design classes and I’ve been having some difficulty finding information. I tracked down a new book online that looked like it would be helpful, and found a bookstore that carried the book. I went to the bookstore, got the book, and sat down with my notebook to read the opening pages. The coffee shop area of the bookstore I was sitting in was crowded with forty-somethings. A forty-something band was playing in the corner. There wasn’t a person under thirty in sight, besides me and my fiance. As I copied notes from this book I could feel every eye in the place looking over me disapprovingly. Apparently I’m supposed to buy the $75 book for four pages worth of information. Everyone else in that section of the store had a book they were reading–of course they intended to purchase the book when they got up to leave. I returned my $75 book to the front desk where they had held it on reserve for me. A large section of the populous doesn’t understand this cheap college student mentality. If I had the money I’d buy all sorts of books. But I don’t, so pardon me while I browse the shelves and copy down a few notes. Bookstores should be more like libraries. You can take the book home and read it, but you don’t have to keep it.

The Screwtape Letters

Do you believe in angels? Do you believe in demons? Images are conjured up of beautifully shining, winged beings, and wickedly ugly, black little demons. Cartoonish fairy tales. Yet they do exist. Understanding more about them is certainly a difficult task, but I’d urge you to read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. If his account of demons is anything close to reality, it’s pretty frightening. Imagine a diabolical fiend harassing you at every step, always trying to make you trip and fall that much farther from the truth. It’s really kind of scary to think that they could be messing with your mind like that. But then you also forget that the almighty power of God is also watching you every step of the way. It’s just frightening to think that a demon could be playing tricks with your mind like that. It really makes you think twice. It’s kind of like one of those conspiracy movies. You’d have to read the book to understand, I won’t try and recapitulate Lewis again.

Experiences as a Yo-Yoing Street Performer

Life is hard on the streets. A hard days work for a hard day’s money. For everybody but me! I spent the day yo-yoing at the corner of Michigan and Pearson in downtown Chicago. But it’s not all fun and games. I did have to figure out the Chicago Transit Authority bus system, which is never an easy thing to figure out. But you know what I learned? It’s almost faster to walk. After waiting for the bus, and then considering that the bus stops at every stinkin’ corner, it takes just as much time to walk. I also earned myself a few cuts and bruises today. You think yo-yo’s are nice, safe toys, do ya? Well, I got news for you. I usually wrap three of my fingers to save them from string burns and blisters, and today I had to bandage a fourth. I also managed to bruise the palm of my hand. And as if the yo-yo wasn’t giving me enough trouble, I was hustled by a group of kids. They were determined to show me how good they could yo-yo, and were adamant that I pay them for their trouble. Kids. But to be serious, I did receive a few comments that me stop and think. One lady described my yo-yoing as, “real pretty,” which I think says a lot for the yo-yo itself (I can assure you the sweaty kid attached to the yo-yo wasn’t too pretty). Another kid asked what I was majoring in (the sign on my box says, “College Student”). I replied, “Writing.” He tossed a buck in my box and said, “Well write me a book.”

I’m also still loving the public transportation system here in Chicago. Rather than fight traffic for over an hour, I curl up with a book on the Metra. I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Rather than try to recapitulate what Lewis said and really mess it up, I’m just going to tell you to go read his book. It’s a very practical, very honest, and very logical defense of Christianity. Sometimes it’s a little too logical for me, but if you can wade through the deep mental waters, he says some very powerful stuff. Add it to your summer reading list. Oh wait, it is summer. Silly me. Go pick up the book now and read it.

Mere Christianity and Attractive Women

My third day of cooking, and the dorm is still standing. Aw yeah.

Today I began reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I got through the preface and the first chapter (not even 15 pages), and already it’s Daily Ponderings worthy. C.S. Lewis was talking about how there are definite moral standards in different cultures that are relatively the same. People have debated how many wives you should have, not whether you should be true to one woman. People have debated who to consider most before yourself, your family, your country, or your friends? But no culture values selfishness. However, I look at today’s generation, and I can’t help but wonder. Selfishness may not be valued, but it is accepted. And few people see the need to be faithful to the opposite sex. Times they are a changin’ Mr. Lewis.

How sad is it that because girls don’t look just like some swimsuit model, they don’t think they’re attractive. They don’t think they’re sexy. Let me tell you, a woman is a woman. No amount of plastic surgery, silicone implants, liposuction, or computer graphics will ever change the way God made men and women and how they’re attracted to each other. The standard of beauty has already been set, and man’s cover model perfectionism can never change it. Now if only the rest of the planet would realize that.

The Rule of St. Benedict

The following is a collection of quotes from a book I’m reading for one of my classes. It’s the Rule of St. Benedict, a 1500 year-old classic. A lot of the quotes I took were from the commentator’s comments. I included the page numbers from the version I have, if that will be of any help (some people who read these ponderings are actually in this class, so it will help them): “The Rule of St. Benedict: Insights for the Ages” by Joan Chittister, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992

“Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” (St. Benedict, 19)

Those are Benedict’s introductory words. It sounds like wise advice from a father. Something I wish I could say about my ponderings. ;) The rest of these quotes seem to echo what I was talking about yesterday. It’s kind of odd how that happens, although I doubt it’s a coincidence.

Continue reading The Rule of St. Benedict