Monday, January 30, 2012

A Totally Top-Ten Tuesday! (Numero Cinco)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wondrous individuals at The Broke and the Bookish and participated in by so many wondrous book bloggers. So with no further ado, I henceforth give you...

Top Ten Books (BUT ALL I CAN COME UP WITH IS SIX!) I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks

1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Book clubs tend to like books that make you want to scream at certain characters for doing certain things, and no book causes more vocal outbursts than Mitchell's account of the delightfully bitchy Scarlett O'Hara, whose gumption makes her a classic of American literature. Said book club can also have the experience of seeing the ever-so-famous movie version of Mitchell's novel. 

2. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A definite tear-jerker, this one's narrator is a golden retriever named Enzo. Enzo really has a knack for understanding humans, and his thoughts make the book light-hearted and thoughtful simultaneously. This one is especially recommended for those book clubs who have dog lovers in their mix, for anyone who loves a canine will keep raving about Stein's novel years after the final page is turned. 

3. Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
4. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
These would be fun reads just because of the public debates surrounding them. Not surprisingly, many people have claimed that the at times heartwarming anecdotes recorded in Dreams from My Father were fabricated to promote Obama's political career, while the counterargument has been that Barack wrote this as a senator of Illinois, not a presidential candidate. Such a debate, in my opinion, would be smashing; get a few representatives from the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, and you've got yourself a real party.  The same goes for His Dark Materials-the argument over whether the trilogy promotes juvenile atheism gets people steaming in a hurry. 

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey
If anybody in your book club is going through hard times, this is definitely one to read. Up there with Joel Stein on the laugh-o-meter.

6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The simplicity in this novel is gorgeous-it is the story of a boy and a discovery. Yet in the process of his discovering, you get so much more (including illustrations so ingenious in their angles and detail that your jaw has no choice but to drop.) 

Book groups are one of the greatest institutions humanity has ever known. They are a way in which we can appreciate art not in a formal setting with professors screaming at us to write a dissertation about Shakespeare, but in a casual one, one surrounded by friends we know. The comfort brought on by this setting can allow literature to be interpreted in ways not possible outside the realms of a book group. Pretty chill, huh? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's CHALLENGING Me in 2012

Challenges make you read. That's one of the many pros, and the one most important to me, because I just love to neglect reading as that oh-so-wonderful work load starts to a-pile up on my desk..yikes. And if I don't integrate reading with such work, I'll just become this introverted, unsociable machine who cranks out chem problems like Crispy Cremes cranks out doughnuts. Therefore, challenges for 2012 will include...

Les Mis Mania!!!

First off is Owl Tell You About It's (isn't that blog name a riot?) Les Miserables Reading challenge, hosted by Laura Ashlee of said, riotous blog. I encourage you to find out more about it!

Second is the "Chunkster Readalong-Les Miserables in 2012" challenge hosted by Kate of Kate's Library. And again, please find out more!

How will I be coordinating this? Well, I will write a blog post about what I have read by the end of each month. Said posts will be comprised of the philosophical insights you know and (hopefully) love about this blog. Got it? Good! I'm uber excited! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Rachel Berry of Mughal India

The Feast of Roses
See the Goodreads page here.
See the Shelfari page here.
Arrogance. It's the fallibility many humans admit to, but not one can find the sense of. What is it that makes us want to conquer other humans? What is it that gives us an inherent need to make them feel inferior when, all in all, we will always be inferior ourselves? This exact phenomenon is the source of many tragedies throughout history, tragedies such as the ever-so-famous sinking of Titanic, the fall of Rome, the World Wars....actually, every war, when you think about it.  The figure portraying how much life arrogance has stolen  is a figure bordering on the ridiculous. You would think that, just maybe, we would learn. That humans would eventually have an epiphany of how this accursed phenomenon only leads to other accursed phenomena.
     But we shall never. That is the sorry truth.
     Let's start with some examples of this phenomenon in action from Indu Sundaresan's The Feast of Roses. Sundaresan's piece follows the many escapades of Empress Nur Jahan, who ruled the Mughal Empire (the richest Empire on Earth during the seventeenth century, nowadays located in Pakistan and India) in her husband's name for approximately eighteen years. She faced many trials throughout her period of prominence in the Empire, predominantly men who believed she was not worthy, and at times not capable, of wielding such power over the country. Such an  issue made survival in the cut-throat environment of a royal court quite trying indeed, and just like Ms. Rachel Berry of Glee, Nur Jahan used ruthless techniques to prove those who doubted her utterly wrong. Very funny how power struggles continue to plague politically prominent people today. Why has it continued, asks the inquirer?
   Let's progress with a law of evolution from our good friend, Charles Darwin-"Survival of the Fittest"
    Darwin studied the evolution of animals, specifically finches on the Galapagos Islands (which sound like a pretty nice destination to get some work done indeed), and this was one of several laws concluded from his travels. Scientifically speaking, humans are indeed animals. We have evolved from intellectually inferior apes, and adapted to our world so well that the power alter it is in our very grasp, a power no other species on Earth possesses. But still animals. But still beasts. These rules of evolution, therefore, apply to us as well.
   Since humans followed this law in a most primitive state, it is only natural that we followed them as the species became more complex. It is all we knew concerning how to live, and continues to be so-it is why we go to work each day (one cannot survive if he does not have the money to do so), why every song you hear on the radio these days has to do with break ups, make ups, or make-outs. In all honesty, the Mughal Imperial Court had quite a large resemblance to the animal kingdom-characters rose, fell, conspired, even killed each other to attain dominance over others; for if you have that dominance, you're that much more difficult to conquer. If you're more difficult to conquer, you're that much more likely to become immortal.

In My Neglected Mailbox (Numero Cuatro)

This time around, I tried doing IMNM with my new iPod touch. Fancy, huh?

Dear Viewer Who Has Oh-So-Wonderfully Watched this Cry for Help, 

Just as a prologue to this post...if you don't know what "In My Neglected Mailbox" is, feel free to watch the video posted to the right titled "They Want to Be Heard".

First, of all, "In My Mailbox" is a blog meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren ( and Alea at Pop Culture Junkie ( to let all of us book bloggers party on the web.

Second of all, the desperate book here is The Cider House Rules by John Irving. 

Third of all, I was initially attracted to this book because its movie adaption had such a beautiful score, a score so masterfully composed by Rachel Portman. Rachel, kudos to you and your beastly, composing talent! Here is a selection of the aforementioned soundtrack for listening pleasure:

Fourth of all, thank you for giving my boisterous books your precious time. Trust that there will be another one hating on me in the coming weeks.

Best wishes,

Uomo di Speranza

PS: Be sure to check out my funtastic, new post-"The Rachel Berry of Mughal India"-right over here!