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The Count of Monté Cristo

Written by Neal on September 9th, 2008

Title: The Count of Monté Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dümas
Year: 1844

Wait and hope.

This is one of the best books I have ever read. The characters are deep and multi-faceted. At various times in the novel you feel pity, sorrow, envy, joy, dislike and other emotions towards Edmond Dantés (the main character.)

The book is pretty large (over 1000 pages), but it reads well and never drags. The final chapters of the book are exceptionally exciting as events and plans come into fruition. There are even a few unexpected twists that are vaguely foreshadowed at the beginning of the book.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is a thrilling tale with action, suspense betrayal and revenge.

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The Catcher in the Rye

Written by Neal on September 8th, 2008

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Year: 1945

If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye.

I really enjoyed this book. It is a little quirky, and I can see why this book is supposed to be well liked by schizophrenics. The narrator is a 16 year old boy who never seems be able to keep focused on one topic.

The book is pretty short, I finished it in 2 days. There is a dark humour in the writing that I particularity enjoyed.

A good book. Read it if you have a little amount of time, it’s over before you realize it.

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Catch-22

Written by Neal on September 6th, 2008

Title: Catch-22
Author: Joseph Heller
Year: 1961

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.

This novel spends most of its time mocking war and its institutions. Even the title makes fun of the ridiculous bureaucracy of the military. Mixed in with the comedy is a dark tale of death and the realities of war which adds tremendous depth to the read.

The primary character in the story is Yossarian, a man who is afraid that he will be killed in the war. The book takes us through his plights, his adventures and his realisations regarding the war and his place in it.

Catch-22 is a great read. Some of the humour and paradoxes that Heller creates are brilliant, but they are tempered with occasional moments illustrating the horror of war.

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Atlas Shrugged

Written by Neal on September 5th, 2008

Title: Atlas Shrugged
Author: Ayn Rand
Year: 1957

Who is John Galt?

Atlas Shrugged is one of my favourite books. Not only does it tell an excellent story, the philosophical premise behind it is intriguing and thought provoking.

The main character in the book is Dagny Taggart, who is an industrialist struggling to survive in an anti-industrial world. The story is used to explain and illuminate Ayn Rand’s intriguing philosophy of Objectivism.

I highly recommend that everyone read this book. In fact, in 1991 in a joint survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Atlas Shrugged ranked second (to the Bible) on a list of “books that made a difference” in peoples’ lives.

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The Art of War

Written by Neal on September 5th, 2008

Title: The Art of War
Author: Sun Tzu
Year: circa 6th century B.C.

To win without fighting is best.

This book is deep. Everything that Sun Tzu says can be interpreted at least three different ways. Most of the information that is passed has a lot of relevance in today’s business world. It is no wonder that this book has been intensively studied by successful businessmen all over the world.

When you choose an edition to buy, try and find one that has commentators with the work. This way you can see a few interpretations by other people to each of the passages.

This is a great book, any like any great classic, it seems to reveal more of itself the more times you read it. This would be a great book to take a university course on.

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn

Written by Neal on September 5th, 2008

Title: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Year: 1876

Title: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Year: 1883

Author: Mark Twain

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

I placed these two books together because it seems natural. Even though they are very different books, they are also very similar.

Tom Sawyer is a book about youth for youths. It is written in a narrative style with Mark Twain transcribing the adventures of young Tom. There is no real character depth; Twain is content to move the reader from adventure to adventure. The novel has a lot of darkness to it, mixed with mirth and happiness.

A good introduction to Mark Twain, and I think it is used a lot in schools.

Huckleberry Finn is a much better book. It is a book for adults about youth, written in the first person perspective. Twain also seemed to want to distinguish it from its predecessor, but the novel assumes at least a working knowledge of Tom Sawyer. The book is a lot more serious and it is also quite a bit darker.

In short, a good read. Even though it isn’t as gripping as some of the other novels that I have read, it flows nicely and is worth reading. If you found Tom Sawyer good, but not great, you will like Huckleberry Finn much more.

An interesting note: The year that Mark Twain died (1910), American literacy reached a new low, 7.7%!

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1984

Written by Neal on September 4th, 2008

Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell
Year: 1949

Big Brother is Watching You!

Wow, what a book. In 1984, one of the twentieth century’s great authors, George Orwell, takes a cold look at the future. In it, Winston is a member of a socialist/oligarchic society where every aspect of you life is monitored and controlled. It’s ability to arouse and disturb the consciousness is still as strong as ever!

The most disturbing part of the book is its realism. It is easy to imagine this sort of thing happening.

I thoroughly enjoyed the terminology and the world that Orwell created in the book. Like newspeak, doublethink, Victory Gin, Hate Week, and Oceania.

Bottom line: A great read; both for entertainment value and the issues that it makes you think about.

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Written by Neal on September 3rd, 2008

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Written by Neal on September 2nd, 2008

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Written by Neal on September 2nd, 2008

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