Sunday, December 25, 2011

Grandma Ben

I was reading Bone: The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith, and I noticed something funny.

Grandma Ben.

Uncle Ben.

One's in the Bone books, the other is from "Star Wars." And they both have pretty similar roles.

You can see Grandma Ben to the left in the below picture. She's an old lady in a blue dress and white apron.

A cover for book six.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reading list

Last June I came up with a reading list of books to read by the end of calendar year 2011. It was by no means a list of the only books I wanted to read, but rather was just some books that I wanted to make darn sure to read.

I finished off the reading list in the wee hours of the morning today.

Beka Cooper: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (publication date: Oct. 25)

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (publication date: Nov. 8)

1 Discworld book by Terry Pratchet

Devil's Rock by Chris Speyer

The Burning Island by Pamela Frierson

Septimus Heap: Syren by Angie Sage

Septimus Heap: Darke by Angie Sage (publication date: June 7th)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. le Guin

By the way, I didn't read just one Discworld book, I read three. So far. I've been thinking of listening to another one over winter break...

Inheritance and my predictions

I finished Christopher Paolini's Inheritance in the wee hours of this morning, and now I would like to review the predictions I had made. Some of which were wildly wrong, others of which were right on. I give the reasons for all my predictions in this post. And of course, in case it isn't already obvious...


1) I think that Roran is a Moses figure, and that he will either a) die, or b) become king of Alagaësia and be unable to return to his former life as a farmer. -- He does not become king (although one elf does suggest him as a good possibility) and he does return to Carvahall. It is not said how well he takes to returning to life as a farmer, though.

2) Katrina will come face to face with Galbatorix, and there will be a need for her and Roran to use the rings that Eragon gifted them with. -- Nope.

3) Nasuada will die. -- Actually, she goes on to become queen.

4) That in the end of the book Eragon leaves Alagaësia with a green dragon and that dragon's rider. And Roran stands on the shore screaming in despair. Or screaming in something. -- Yes Eragon leaves Alagaësia. No the green rider and her dragon do not go with him. Yes it is Roran who stands on the shore screaming.

5) That the new green dragon hatched just outside of Ellesméra, at the Stone of Broken Eggs. -- Nope.

6) That in the end it will be a matter of who has the most Eldunarí and that Eragon must find the Vault of Souls. At the Vault of Souls Eragon must speak either his own true name or the true name of the Ancient Language -- probably his own true name. -- No it's not a matter of who has more Eldunarí. But yes Eragon had to find the Vault of Souls, and Eragon had to speak his own true name.

7) Certain persons of interest will play important parts. Persons discussed in this post. -- They do not play important roles. However, I think that Bladesinger and the teenage girl do make a brief appearance during the final battle.

8) Galbatorix will come dangerously close to finding the true name of the Ancient Language. -- He doesn't come dangerously close. He actually does find it!!! I hadn't thought it would be possible to defeat him after that.

9) Eragon and Arya will get together despite their age differences. -- Difficult to say. Paolini doesn't write any romance between them, but Arya does return Eragon's feelings. And if she didn't have responsibilities as queen I'm pretty sure that she would have left Alagaësia with him and they would have married. Or done the elf equivalent, by sticking together, anyways.

10) Eragon's true name will contain brisingr in it. -- We have no idea what Eragon's true name is. *pout*

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More reading challenges

I've signed up for three more reading challenges: science fiction, fantasy, and audio books. You can find out more by going to my Reading Challenges page.

Witchy Books Reading Challenge 2012

I am participating in Magaly's witchy reading challenge, which you can read more about if you click here! The challenge runs from January 13th to December 13th 2012, and I'll keep a list of what witchy books I've read on my brand new Reading Challenges page!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chapter two released!

About a month ago John Green read us the first chapter of his new book The Fault in Our Stars, which will be released early next year. Then last Friday he released chapter two. Videos of him reading both chapters are below. :)

ps. May I just mention that I am looking forward to getting my signed copy of the book?


Interesting tidbits

I've come across interesting things in books here and there, and just wanted to share some of what I've seen.

A funny bar code.

I'm not sure what it should be called. It's a funny sort of bar code that I'm pretty sure is designed specially for people with smart phones to scan them to be taken to a web site for more info. (As a happy iPhone owner I should know more about this, but alas I don't.) I'm used to regular bar codes being on the back of books, but not these fancy bar codes. So I thought this was neat.

The title pages.

I found this while book mending. The title, instead of being on just one page, is on both pages. That's pretty unusual.

And now, forgive me, I will be complaining about weird things I see while mending books at my local library.

Closeup of some sort of foam sticker thing on a book cover.

SIX foam sticker thingies on the book cover.

Um, why? Why why why? This makes no sense. And I had to replace the mylar.

Mylar: the plastic covering that libraries use to protect dust protectors on hardcover books.

A book fixed up with tape.

Ok, so I can understand this. Pages are coming out so someone tries to be helpful by fixing it up themselves.

However, I will have you know, I still had to glue those pages back in, and getting the tape out of my way first just made more work for me.

People trying to be helpful is the bane of my existence as a book mender.


So there's yet another bill trying to mess with the internet. Info is in the following video, and it looks an awful darn lot like the proposed censorship bill from earlier this month.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

You can get more info on how to fight it here:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beautiful cover!!!

Today I was eating breakfast and noticed a book that my mom had brought home from the library -- Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Or to be more precise, I noticed the cover of the book.

The lovely book cover
I want to describe it for those of my readers who can't see it, and I know I won't do a very good job, but I'll give it a go:

It's a girl in a dress standing at the top of a hill by a tree (papaya I think), and the sky has lovely shades of purple, blue, pink, and soft yellow (I know the details about the colors will be pretty meaningless to those who are congenitally blind). It's a sunset or sunrise, with the girl silhouetted against the sun, and in the top right corner of the picture is night sky. It's painted.

I tried to find out who illustrated the cover so that I could provide that info here, but I can't seem to find out who the artist is. If anyone does know how to find this info please let me know. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hank on censorship

Here's another video on censorship that I think is well worth watching.

And yes, I know it starts out on a completely different topic, and is responding to a video that you probably haven't seen (unless you're a nerdfighter like me), but bear with it.

If you want to read the video description which contains more info, the YouTube link to the video (and therefore what he's written) is here:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I found out today that Congress is working to pass a bill which could change the internet as we know it. That is, it could shut down sites like Facebook, YouTube...and others.

There are already laws in place to protect copyrighted material. The laws don't work perfectly, but there's such a thing as going too far and this seems to me to be too far.

More info is in the following video, but be sure to watch it all the way through because the proposed law was altered for the worse after the video was originally made and there is updated info at the end of it.

If you want to take action to prevent this you can do so at the following sites:

American Censorship: -- There is also more info in this link, FYI


Obviously, blogging and telling your friends about this will help spread word, so I recommend that you do so.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another banned book

As I was reading my psych book and in the section about anxiety (which of course mentions suicide) I read about a book that was banned.

Sometimes when a suicide is reported there is a "rash of suicides" which have similarities to the suicide originally reported. What does this have to do with a banned book? Well, to quote my psych text:

"The contagion of suicide has been called the 'Werther effect' after the rash of suicides that followed the 1774 publication of Goethe's tale of a young romantic who shot himself over a lost love. Werther was wearing a blue coat and yellow vest when he took his life, and so many young men were found dead in similar garb that the book was banned in several countries" (568).

The banned book is The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

If you're wondering what my text book is, it's the second edition of Psychology by Daniel L. Schacter, Daniel T. Gilbert, and Daniel M. Wegner.

2011 Reading Challenge

Thingy showing that I've read 51 of 50 books. :)
This year I signed up for the Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge. In this challenge everyone picks a number of books they would like to read during the year (I set my goal to 50, as did Carrie over at carrotspeak) and then we keep track of our progress and try to meet our goal.

About a week ago I met my goal when I finished Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer. Then I went one book over my goal when I completed Beka Cooper: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce.

Carrie, on the other hand, has gone two books over her goal of 50 books. I admit that I'm a little competitive, so my goal is now to read more books than her this year. Which I may not be able to, because I've got school and she doesn't. But still, I can try. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I've read the prologue thingy and the first chapter of Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.

The prologue surprised me, in that it's written in the form of an oral tradition, which means that it is better spoken than read. There are lots and lots of "ands" in it... "and this, and that, and this other thingy, and that other thingy..."

I think I'd have to get more into the book before really commenting further (and I'm not sure when I'll manage that, what with homework that needs to get done...) but I find the use of oral tradition style to be pretty interesting, and neat.

Cover of Inheritance -- awesome green dragon!

Comments about Mastiff

I finished Beka Cooper: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce last evening and I love it!!!

So now I have some comments.


First of all, oh I was so wrong in my previous predictions when I said...

1) Beka would not marry, and
2) Rosto would likely be the father of her child(ren).

I guess it's still possible that Rosto will father a child by her down the line (I doubt it though) (now watch Pierce prove me wrong AGAIN and for Beka and Rosto to get together...), but Mastiff has totally proven me wrong about marriage. I would never have guessed that Beka might marry someone who would choose to take her name.

And Tunstall...

I can't believe it. Tunstall turn traitor? I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. Even when Beka was saying that there must be a traitor I couldn't believe that Tunstall or Sabine would do such a thing. When I reread the previous books again I'll have to keep an eye out for clues/hints/foreshadowing.

At least Sabine wasn't the traitor. I named one of my pet rats after her and I would not like to see Sabine turn traitor. lol

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beka Cooper: Mastiff

I'm enjoying reading Mastiff by Tamora Pierce, and I have a few comments about it.


Ok, not much of a spoiler since it's right at the beginning, but I was really surprised how it started. Starting right with a funeral for the guy she was going to break off her engagement to, who we had never met before? Wow. Quite a heavy way to start a book. I'll have to finish the book before I can really comment further on it, though.

I really like Farmer, and I'm predicting that he and Beka will get together. :)

I also think it's fantastic how Pierce ties this book into her other books, and/or how things changed to where they are in her later books. For one thing we're seeing how the worship of the Gentle Mother made it unacceptable for women to be anything but gentle creatures whose duty is to do embroidery and make babies. And now I've just got to where Farmer is talking about wild magic! That's a topic I didn't expect to come up in this book.

I'm also trying to keep track of which noble belongs to what place. Like Queensgrace...that's where Neal and Duke Baird from Protector of the Small are from, right? I think I'm going to have to make myself a list of all the lands and which nobles belong to where.

As I said, I am enjoying this book. =)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Too many books!!!

Too many books, too little time. The lament of all English majors.

I am currently working my way through Beka Cooper: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce, and I would like to share an awesome quote from it:

"You get too excited over big flashes, Tunstall. Mages rely on that to make you think they have more power than you" (251).

There are a two other books which I am super excited about, and would also love to read in one setting, but I'm going to have to bide my time.

One is the final installment in the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini. It will be released and arrive on my doorstep tomorrow (probably today by the time anyone reads this) and it will drive me crazy to have that book sitting on my shelf, unread, while I work my way through Mastiff.

Then today I found out today that one of my favorite authors, Juliet Marillier, has released a new novella, the name of which I cannot even remember. That's another book to be added to my must-read-as-soon-as-possible list.

Oh and then there's that graphic novel that my boyfriend bought well as a few other books he gave me... (He knows me too well. He woos me with books.)

And I haven't even mentioned my school books, which of course get top priority.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


It seems to me that there are two genres that should have names.

The first one is weird crazy unbelievable outlandish books that somehow work despite being nutsy. Books that fall into this category are:

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Discworld books by Terry Pratchett
Blank It comics by Aric McKeown and Lem Pew*

My brother tells me that there is a name for this genre, but I don't know what it is.

The other genre is where young women defy social norms, overcome obstacles, and make their mark on a patriarchal world despite the odds. Books in this category include:

Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce
Protector of the Small quartet by Tamora Pierce
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer**
Nobody's Princess by Esther M. Friesner

Or am I wrong? Should these be called themes or tropes instead of genres?

*Blank It is a web comic that you can find here:
**Holly Short is not the main character, but she's a major enough character that I think the book qualifies as being in this genre/theme/trope.

Awesome awesome books coming out!

I begged mom to pre-order me a copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I got to hear the first chapter of the book in the following YouTube, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Isn't it fantastic?

On the subject of me getting my hands on awesome awesome books, I'd also like to mention that I cannot wait to get ahold of Tamora Pierce's third Beka Cooper book!!! I pre-ordered it, it came out on the 25th, and I should get it on November 1st. Once I get my hands on that book I doubt that anyone will be able to get any sense out of me until I've finished it. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A good Halloween read...

October 31st is coming up, and for some reason I was suddenly reminded of a certain book that would be a good read for anyone who is looking for a good (and more funny than scary) ghost story. And guess what! It's a book I've reviewed in the past. Without further ado, here's my review:

"It's me again, Hank the Cowdog."

So begins the ninth installment of John R. Erickson's Hank the Cowdog series. And I'd like to note right at the beginning of this review that the series does not have to be read in order -- any and every book in this series is a good stand alone story.

Hank the Cowdog is Head of Ranch Security in ranch in Texas. As the Head of Ranch Security he ensures the safety of the ranch and deals with any trespassers, whether they be human, animal, or ghost. Except, he doesn't believe in ghosts. Or does he?

In this book you will meet Drover, Hank's loyal if somewhat cowardly side kick, who does seem to have slightly more sense than Hank. You'll also meet a ranch hand named Slim Chance, a couple of lost buzzards, five trick or treaters, and a ghost who doesn't care that Hank doesn't believe in it.

All these characters, added to the fact that Hank can never keep his nose out of trouble (and is always wondering why he keeps getting in trouble) makes for a great read. I would like to recommend, however, that you either read it aloud or get the audio book version of it. It seems to me that this particular book is just better when it's no longer just words on a page.

Happy reading! :)

Sorting out "Mansfield Park" characters

I'm reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, and I was getting confused about who's who. So, I've made family trees, and skimmed everything I've read so far (only five chapters) to note down every character mentioned.

So far, here are the family trees:

The family trees

I'm not sure how to put the family tree into a format that would work for any blind readers. My apologies.

Before I wrote out the tidy family tree above I took some very untidy notes, which I show below. They contain minor spoilers, such as love interests, which I only consider to be minor spoilers because they happen in the first five chapters.

Messy family tree notes and notes on other characters

Fortunately, I do know how to put down some of my random notes in a format that any blind readers can look at. :) The messy non-family tree related notes are as follows:

*Currently on chapter VI
*Mrs. Norris suggested they take in Fanny


Nanny -- the nanny
Miss Lee -- servant
Ellis -- servant
Pug -- Lady Bertram's dog
Dr Grant and wife -- occupy Parsonage
old grey pony -- Fanny's riding horse
Miss Anderson -- a woman referenced
Mrs. Holford -- a woman referenced
Sneyds' and Miss Augusta -- a family referenced

EDIT: After reading further I realized a mistake in a family tree, which is that Henry and Mary are the niece and nephew of the admiral and his wife, not the children of them. I also figured out that Mrs. Crawford is the sister of Mrs. Grant, a detail that I hadn't been sure of -- I couldn't figure out whether she or the admiral were Mrs. Grant's sibling.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Artemis Fowl

So, on the topic of Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer again...

SPOILERS for books 1 through 3

I have two questions.

Question number one: If someone falls asleep after time has been stopped then they move with the natural pace of time and leave the time stop. This is how Artemis Fowl and his minions escaped. But what about Cudgeon? He gets knocked out by Commander Root. Shouldn't he have also disappeared? Yet it's something that doesn't get mentioned.

Question number two: All LEP equipment has a self destruct for in case they fall into human hands. I'm pretty sure that this is true throughout all of the books And yet the LEP stuff that Artemis gets ahold of in book one doesn't get destroyed, and he's able to play with it. In fact, the plot of book three revolves around the fact that Artemis has been playing with stolen LEP technology.

So was I wrong, and Foaly only adds the self destruct after meeting Artemis, or is there an inconsistency here?

Finding inconsistencies wouldn't be so much fun if I didn't love these books.

EDIT on 10/10/11: While listening to book three last night I discovered that Artemis Fowl had fiddled with the self destruct in the LEP technology he'd stolen, so there isn't any inconsistency there after all. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Commander Root in Artemis Fowl

As I may have mentioned before I have a tendency to listen to audio books as I go to sleep. In the last few weeks I have listened to Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident. I'll start on Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code tonight.

These are books that I've read and/or listened to many times before. But then again, if I'm listening to a book during sleepy time it has to be one I'm familiar with.

These are fabulous books, and one of the interesting things about these books is the inconsistencies found in them. One example is Commander Root's personality.

In book one Root is downright nasty. In later books he still isn't exactly friendly, but he's not so likely to douse his fungus cigar in someone's coffee (as he does in book one...or anyways I think it was coffee). Of course, it could be argued that book one is supposedly a report put together by Argon, and that therefore we're seeing Argon's perception of Root rather than what Root is really like.

So, is this an inconsistency on Colfer's part, or is Colfer just showing us Argon's perception of Root?

Interesting question. And I'm not sure of the answer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Artemis Fowl: Science Fantasy

About a month ago I discovered the awesome book WebMage by Kelly McCullough and was astounded to see it described as science fantasy. I'd never heard of the science fantasy genre before! Yet science fantasy describes that book so much better than either fantasy or science fiction would.

Cover of the first Artemis Fowl book
Since then I've gotten used to the idea of science fantasy, and I intend to eventually get around to reading some science fantasy books that a commenter recommended. (Have I mentioned that I love it when people comment on my blogs?) I had also decided that WebMage was the only science fantasy book I've ever read.

But guess what? I realized a couple weeks ago that one of my favorite series is science fantasy.

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, combines fairy magic with super advanced technology. Yep, that's right. The fairies have magic, and they also have technology that far exceeds anything humans have managed to come up with so far.

Is that awesome or what? :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fun(ny) text book

I'm taking a psychology class online. (Actually, I was on the verge of switching classes because I thought it was a mistake to take this class online as opposed in in person on campus, but on second thought I think I can handle it after all!) Anyways, my psych book is quite interesting and I wanted to share some amusing excerpts.

"But sometimes a full and complete picture is just TMI*" (49).

And then at the bottom of the page...

"*Our publisher thinks you need a bunch of middle-aged professors to tell you this means 'too much information,' so there, we told you. LOL."

Someone's got a sense of humor!

And on the following page, during a discussion of medians, means, and modes...

"When Bill Gates walks into a room he dramatically increases the mean income of the people in it, but doesn't much change the median, and has nothing to do with the mode. Microsoft is working on a fix for that" (50).

One of these authors is quite a character. And I'm actually having fun with this text book. :)

The book!

The book is the second edition of Psychology by Daniel L. Schacter, Daniel T. Gilbert, and Daniel M. Wegner. Hey, each of their first names are Daniel. What's up with that?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Murtagh and Thorn

I really should be doing homework, but my brain isn't working, so I'm instead going to write about a topic that I don't have to think about because I've already thought about it!

What will happen to Murtagh and Thorn in book four of Inheritance?

SPOILERS for books 1 through 3

I'm not really going to make any predictions. Because I really have no clue! But there are two possibilities I can see, so even though I won't make predictions I will speculate.

One of my ideas is that Thorn and Murtagh get killed in the fighting. However, if this happens, I don't think that it will be Eragon who kills them. I just can't see him doing that...unless maybe Murtagh is actively trying to kill someone else, especially someone who Eragon cares about. Hmm, I hadn't thought of that until I sat down to write.

My other idea is that Galbatorix gets killed and that Murtagh and Thorn are freed. But then what would they do? After all they've done they won't exactly be welcomed by those who opposed Galbatorix...really their only option would be to leave Alagaësia forever with Eragon, but I don't think that Eragon would welcome him along for the ride after everything that Murtagh has done.

Hmm, or maybe Murtagh and Thorn survive but they go off in a different direction than Eragon and Saphira...

So I guess that there isn't really any point to this post, other than to state the obvious possibilities.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inheritance for $14!!!

I just had to share, in case any of my readers are eagerly anticipating the release of Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.

You can get it for $14 through It's a pretty good deal. :) Plus I got free shipping, and it'll be delivered on the release date. Its normal price is $28, FYI.

Does anyone else think that this looks like the painting of Glaedr, just tinted green? Wait, that can't be a clue, is it...?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned books

Shade's Children
by Garth Nix
Science Fiction

This one was been banned for being "vulgar and obscene". I guess I can see where they're coming from, but you can't tell the same story without having some of the horrific bits, and it is a book that is really good.

It's a dystopian book in which there are no adults. Human children are used by machines (similar to The Matrix) and those who do escape don't live to adulthood because they always die in the battle against...well, I forget exactly what they're fighting, but it's something that's pretty nasty.

Despite the depressing picture I'm painting here it is a fun read.


Twelfth Night
by William Shakespeare
Drama: comedy

This one has been banned for "gay-positive themes". I find this rather amusing because I don't see the problem.

Twelfth Night is a comedy in which two twins are shipwrecked and separated. They both have their own adventures, with the brother finding a male comrade who falls in love with him (ok, so that's debatable), and the sister masquerading as a man...and falling in love with her master. And then the real fun begins.

It's a great play. My favorite character of all is Feste, who in some portrayals reminds me of Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream.


Holy Bible 

Full disclosure: I haven't read all of the Bible, but I've all of Genesis and have studied the Bible in college.

Yes, the Bible has been banned! You name it, the Bible's got it. That's part of why I think it's such a neat book -- it's got love, hate, anger, friendship, betrayal, redemption... But as I said, if you name it, the Bible has it. And that's probably exactly why it has been banned.

Reasons given for banning it include "Lewd, indecent and violent contents", as well as murder, incest, and inappropriate language. I'm sure there have been objections to it for other reasons as well, but these are all that I've found in my limited search.

Handing out Bibles is banned in Saudi Arabia, and throughout history various countries have made it against the rules to have Bibles of one form or another. For example, in 1551 it was unlawful in Spain to have a copy of the Bible written in Spanish. Various translations have been targeted for banning.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

More banned books!

The Lottery
by Shirley Jackson
Historical fiction

This is a short story I read for a fiction class a few years ago. It starts off quite mysteriously, and the ending...well, if you've read it you know how it ends, and if you haven't I don't want to spoil it for you. Let's just say that it's shocking and controversial. But also a good read.

It was published in The New Yorker and a number of readers canceled their subscription because of it. Also, it was banned in South Africa.

The word count is 3773, and you can click here if you want to read it. I found the link to it in one of the Wikipedia articles. :)


The Scarlet Letter
by Nathanial Hawthorn
Historical fiction

This book has been challenged because it is "pornographic." I find this rather amusing because I've read this book and there's no sex in it. Sure we know Hester had sex -- that's how she got her illegitimate child -- but that takes place before the start of the book.

For those who don't already know, The Scarlet Letter is the story of a young woman who travels to the Americas ahead of her husband and, once her husband fails to show up, has an affair with a man she has fallen in love with. Then, she gets pregnant. Oh, and the real fun starts when her husband shows up.


Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?
by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

This is a really nice picture book for children, and I remember it was one of my brother's favorites when we were little. It was banned in 2010 "because the author has the same name as an obscure Marxist theorist, and no one bothered to check if they were actually the same person." What a reason to be banned!


Virtual Read-out: Sherman Alexie book

My second installation of the Virtual Read-Out is Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

This book has been banned from one high school and in another School District. It was temporarily banned from one school because it discusses masturbation, and from the School District for "violence, language and some sexual content." It was challenged in a second School District because of "obscene, vulgar and pornographic language." However, it was not banned in that second School District.

I read and reviewed this book in summer 2010. You can read my review here. It's a book that's really fun and really funny, while at the same time exploring the issues of racism. It's really good.


If you want to participate in the Virtual Read-Out find out how to here. If you want to see more Virtual Read-Outs click here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Changing one's mindset...or not

I've been reading The Burning Island by Pamela Frierson. It's a book about the volcanoes of Hawai'i, and in it Frierson talks about: the geology, how Westerners bring their own perceptions of volcanoes to these volcano islands, and about the mythologies of Hawai'i.

Frierson realized, some time or other, that Westerners bring their own perceptions of volcanoes -- founded on the Abrahamic religions -- to Hawai'i, and that this colors our understanding of Hawai'i culture and the volcanoes there. She spends several chapters on this topic, and I would like to share with you just one example that she provides. This particular example is the below painting, and here's what she says of it: "Cole's painting, with its juxtaposition of wayward nature (the volcano) and wayward female (Eve) suggests to me that the volcano may symbolize something more than the wild -- perhaps unholy? -- side of nature" (91). I could probably spend a few paragraphs discussing this quote (there's a lot packed into it!), but the basic and relevant idea here is that, according to Western thought, volcanoes are wild, unholy, ungodly, destructive, and basically bad things.

"The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" painted by Thomas Cole.

Frierson seems determined to avoid Western ideas of volcanoes, which I think is why she spends so much time discussing those ideas -- so that they can be recognized, acknowledged, and then ignored or extinguished. Only then can she/we really understanding Hawai'ian culture, mythology, and the volcanoes properly. So you can imagine how amused I was when she slipped into Christian terminology.

When discussing volcanic activity in 1868 Frierson says "These campers, if they had such dreams [of paradise], jolted awake to a living hell" (180). What is this if not reference to Christian mythology?

I guess this shows that when you grow up in one culture/mindset it is difficult to remove it completely from your thinking.

Controversial books

Welcome to Banned Books Week! I was going to stick to talking about banned books that I've actually read, but in this post I'm going to talk about only one banned book I've read and two controversial books that I have not read, but which I have read about and think are interesting.

Twilight series
by Stephenie Meyer

Actually I haven't read all of them, but the only one I haven't read was the final book. And if you were with me when I first started this blog you know that I don't have a very high opinion of these books (just click the tag "Stephenie Meyer" if you're curious about what I've said). I wouldn't put these books in the hands of any pre-teen of mine. That being said, I wouldn't advocate banning this book. If a school put it in my hypothetical child's hands I would allow the kid to read it and then discuss the book in depth with my child.

Despite the controversy around these books I had not known that it was banned. But guess what? They are banned. In Australia. Because they are "too racy. Librarians have stripped the books from shelves in some junior schools because they believe the content is too sexual and goes against religious beliefs" (7). I actually think they are objecting to the books for the wrong reasons -- my objections are based on the fact that it shows unhealthy relationships as normal.


Maggie Goes on a Diet
by Paul M. Kramer

This book isn't yet published, but people are already making a fuss about it. In this book an obese teenage changes her habits to get into better shape: she switches to a healthier diet and begins to exercise more. By the end of the book she is a healthy weight and is playing soccer.

People object because they think it will encourage eating disorders among teens. I personally am not sure what to make of the book. I find the age range it's written for to be a little strange, since weight isn't something we would want most 4-8 year olds to be worrying about. And some of what I'm reading about this book seems good, but some seems pretty bad.

You can find out more (and there's plenty I haven't mentioned) in the links below or by Googling the title.


Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be
by Daniel Loxton
Non fiction

As no doubt you can guess by the title this is a science book about evolution. It's written for children and it is  apparently a pretty good science book because it is a Land Anderson Award Nominee in Canada.

However, it couldn't get published in the USA because publishers said it would be too controversial. Furthermore, "Loxton said that he has already received angry emails from creationists demanding to know why his book doesn't give 'equal time' to their point of view." Hello, this is a book about science, not religion.

I haven't read this book, but based on the fact that it has won an award I'm guessing that kids in the USA are missing out.


Virtual Read-Out: Bartimaeus

Here is my first contribution to the Virtual Read-Out part of Banned Books Week: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. It was removed from the recommended reading list of a middle school because of occult content, as were the other two books in the Bartimaeus trilogy.

Note: I got my info about the reasons for this book being challenged/banned here (

If you want to participate find out how to here. If you want to see more Virtual Read-Outs click here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Predictions for the final book in the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini. Be warned that they contain spoilers for the previous books.

I've provided more reasons for #4, and predictions #9 and on are new.

1) I think that Roran is a Moses figure, and that he will either a) die, or b) become king of Alagaësia and be unable to return to his former life as a farmer. Why? I explain here why I think he's a Moses figure. Also, we already know that Nasuada will die (see prediction #3) so she can't become queen, and Roran is proven to be one heck of a leader. I don't think he would want to become king, but I could see people cornering him into accepting the crown.

2) Katrina will come face to face with Galbatorix, and there will be a need for her and Roran to use the rings that Eragon gifted them with. Why? Because in Eldest she makes Roran promise "that you will never make such a request again. You must promise me that even if we faced Galbatorix himself and only one of us could escape, you would not ask me to leave" (180). This somehow looks like a foreshadowing to me. Also, if this is the case, then the rings will definitely be put to use.

3) Nasuada will die. Why? Because we already know from Angela's fortune telling that Eragon will leave Alagaësia forever...but that's something he can't do if he owes fealty to someone in Alagaësia. Therefore, Nasuada must die.

4) That in the end of the book Eragon leaves Alagaësia with a green dragon and that dragon's rider. And Roran stands on the shore screaming in despair. Or screaming in something. Why? Because of the dream Eragon had in Eragon. And I'm just guessing about the guy on the shore being Roran. Also because of two particular times that people curse Eragon. The final Ra'zac: "May you leave Alagaësia and never return!" (65) Then at the end of the book: "I curse you with all my heart! May you leave Alagaësia and never return!" (709) The second guy even uses the same wording as the Ra'zac. Oh yeah, and in Eragon Angela read the dragon bones and told Eragon that he would leave Alagaësia one day.

5) That the new green dragon hatched just outside of Ellesméra, at the Stone of Broken Eggs. Why? Because Eragon happens across "a fragment of a green dragon egg" at that location (Eldest, 449). It seems like an important detail once we know that the next dragon will be green. Besides, the new dragon won't be of much help unless they wait for it him to mature, or unless they force him to grow prematurely like Galbatorix did to Thorn. And I can't see any of the good guys doing that to a dragon.

6) That in the end it will be a matter of who has the most Eldunarí and that Eragon must find the Vault of Souls. At the Vault of Souls Eragon must speak either his own true name or the true name of the Ancient Language -- probably his own true name. Why? We already know that Eragon must find a Vault of Souls, and that the Vault of Souls will hold the Eldunarí seems most likely. We also know that Eragon must speak a name, and we know that he wants to find his own name, so he will probably find his own name, and hence it seems likely that he must speak his own name.

7) Certain persons of interest will play important parts. Why and who? This is discussed further in this post.

8) Galbatorix will come dangerously close to finding the true name of the Ancient Language. Why? The last Ra'zac tells Eragon that "He has almossst found the name" (Brisingr, 65). The Ra'zac will not, or cannot, clarify what name he's talking about, but I'm sure it's a pretty important name. Elsewhere it's said that whoever knows the name of the Ancient Language will have complete power over the speakers of that language, and since Galbatorix is sort of power hungry it seems like something he'd go after. I'm pretty sure that it's also mentioned somewhere in Brisingr that he's had a project that has kept him occupied recently, and I think that project is finding the name.

9) Eragon and Arya will get together despite their age differences. Why? Arya is relatively young for an elf...and for the rest of my reasoning I'll copy and paste from this post:  We learned early in Brisingr that she was lovers with Fäolin, who was a older than her: "He was older than I, but we were kindred spirits, both curious about the world outside our forest, eager to explore and eager to strike against Galbatorix" (196). This seems like a good description of Eragon and Arya, since he manages to get a grip on himself by the end of the Brisingr and they act like good friends.

10) Eragon's true name will contain brisingr in it. Why? As Rhunön theorizes in Brisingr about the reason why Eragon's sword responds to the word brisingr, "I can think of two explanations for this marvel. One is that because you were involved with the forging, you imbued the blade with a portion of your personality and therefore it has become attuned to your wishes. My other explanation is that you have discovered the true name of your sword. Perhaps both those things are what has happened" (683). My theory is that both her ideas are correct, and that because the sword is so attuned to Eragon it contains part of his true name in its own true name. It's also a word/element that Eragon is comfortable with, and he keeps returning to it. For example, in Eragon he cast his first spell with the word. Even though he'd thought the word was merely profanity that Brom had muttered under his breath while trying to light a fire!


I finished Brisingr by Christopher Paolini this morning, and there are two major questions that I have.

Well, ok, there are more than two questions...but there are two things I want to talk about here. No wait, make that three.

If this post seems to ramble a bit that's probably because I'm just putting down ideas in a format that I would never hand in to a professor as homework. Much like certain other posts I've put on here.


First of all, what's up with the Ra'zac and dwarves whose minds Eragon couldn't sense? That's something that's a mystery to Eragon (although he does figure out with the dwarves that someone else was guarding their minds) but he doesn't ask Oromis about it when he has the chance. That's something that mystified me the first time I read it, and it continues to seem strange to me. Isn't that something that Eragon would want to know how to do himself? Knowing how to do it would help him defeat Galbatorix.

So, that's mystery one.

Mystery two, what did the Menoa tree take from Eragon? We get a hint here: "As the ore came to rest on the surface of the rich black soil, Eragon felt a slight twinge in his lower belly. He winced and rubbed at the spot, but the momentary flare of discomfort had already vanished" (659). Eragon doesn't think anything of it, and Saphira is either unaware of it or also disregards it. (I'm inclined to think that she would have paid attention to his pain, though.) So...whatever the Menoa tree wanted, she probably took it.

But what was it? As weird as it sounds, it looks to me like she took something from his body. I can't think of what she would want with anything he could give her, though, so my guess is that whatever she did we'll find out about it in the next book. And that Eragon won't like it.

Lastly...Eragon and Arya.

I'm not sure what to think about the two as a pair. On one hand it seems entirely likely that they'll become romantically involved, on the other hand it doesn't.

Reasons why they can't:
1) He's 16 years old and she's over 100 years old. That's a huge difference.

Reasons why they can/will:
1) Arya is relatively young for an elf.
2) We learned early in Brisingr that she was lovers with Fäolin, who was a older than her: "He was older than I, but we were kindred spirits, both curious about the world outside our forest, eager to explore and eager to strike against Galbatorix" (196). This seems like a good description of Eragon and Arya, since he manages to get a grip on himself by the end of the Brisingr and they act like good friends.

I'm inclined to think that they'll get together.

Virtual Read-Out

I wanted to share something that I just learned about.

Every year since the beginning of Banned Books Week (BBW) people have read excerpts from banned books as part of BBW activities. This year it's taken a new twist.

This year is the first year of the Virtual Read-Out, during which people will post videos of themselves to YouTube reading from banned books.

I think that this is totally awesome, and I wanted to share it here. I think I'll participate, even. I'm not so sure that I want to post my face for the world to see (even though I've sort of done that on Facebook...but in a slightly round about way...maybe, sorta...) but I don't have to point the camera at my face while I read, do I?

If you want more info check out these links:

Virtual Readout | Banned Books Week
bannedbook's Channel -- YouTube

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

In reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice I find myself thinking of the movies and play that I have seen, and considering which portrayal of which characters I like best in which productions. And although my favorite adaptation is the 1995 film, my favorite portrayal of certain characters are not all in that film.

First I'll list which adaptations I've seen, and then I'll share what I think of particular characters in the different thingies.

1995 TV series -- BBC -- my favorite overall
2005 film -- I came away disliking it
2010 stage production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival -- I loved it!!!
Lost in Austen 2008 film -- a young woman from modern times gets transported into Austen's novel -- interesting take on things

Elizabeth Bennet 

BBC 1995 -- My favorite portrayal of Elizabeth is right here. She is awesome.

2005 film -- Not quite how I envisioned her, and at times she reminded me a little too much of Elizabeth Swan from another of Keira Knightly's roles.

Stage production -- Awesome. Not quite the same as the BBC version, but I didn't have any complaints.

Lost in Austen -- Of course we don't see Elizabeth very much in this one. What we do see of her was...surprising. But the whole movie was surprising with interesting twists thrown in all over the place.

Mr. Darcy
I'm not 100% happy with how he's portrayed in any of the adaptations.

BBC 1995 -- This is what most closely fits my idea of him, although I envision him as slightly less severe.

2005 film -- No. No. No.

Stage production -- Pretty good. I especially liked how he was so adorably awkward with Elizabeth at the end. That wasn't how I had read it at all, but it worked for me.

Lost in Austen -- No. No. No.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

BBC 1995 -- Perfect.

2005 film -- Perfect. She's the one character in this film who matched up with my idea of what the character is like.

Stage production -- I don't remember...and of course I can't exactly go back and re-watch it. *sigh*

Lost in Austen -- Again, I don't remember my opinion of her.


BBC 1995 -- Almost perfect. Maybe perfect.

2005 film -- Not sure...I can't remember her that well.

Stage production -- A little over the top, but pretty darn good.

Lost in Austen -- Did we see much of her...?


BBC 1995 -- Not at all how I envision her. I mean, yes, she's a book nerd and likes to show of her (poor) musicianship skills...but it's not quite right.

2005 film -- I don't remember...

Stage production -- I think she's the character I remember the best from the stage production, and she was pretty much perfect. She was usually too busy reading or making music to speak up, but she wasn't shy about putting her opinions out there. Certain members of the Bennet family kept taking books away from her, and others (mainly Jane and Lizzy, I think) kept giving her her books back.

Lost in Austen -- Don't remember...


BBC 1995 -- My only complaint is to point out that Jane is supposed to be more beautiful than Lizzy, and that Lizzy is by far the prettiest of the sisters in this production.

2005 film -- ...? Can't remember it that well.

Stage production -- I don't remember particularly, but I liked her.

Lost in Austen  -- No. She seems a little too fragile.

Mr. Collins

I don't really like how he's portrayed in any of the productions, actually.

BBC 1995 -- I'm not overfond of their portrayal of him, actually.

2005 film -- Can't remember how he's done in this...

Stage production -- *sigh* Again, can't remember...

Lost in Austen -- No.

Mr. Bennet

BBC 1995 -- Good. Perfect, I think.

2005 film -- No. No. No.

Stage production -- I don't remember him particularly, but I liked how they did him.

Lost in Austen -- Not exactly how I envision him, but pretty good.

Mrs. Bennet

BBC 1995 -- Pretty darn good. I like what they did.

2005 film -- Didn't quite fit with how I envisioned her.

Stage production -- Awesomeness. Yes, awesomeness.

Lost in Austen -- No. No. She seems a little too smart in this movie.

Miss Bingly

BBC 1995 -- The character is right, just seems like they needed a different actress. Or maybe it was the hair style and clothing that didn't quite seem to fit.

2005 film -- Don't remember...

Stage production -- Don't remember...

Lost in Austen -- Petite, beautiful, great voice, and nasty. Almost perfect. Up until the line "Your secret is also my secret..." You'll have to see the movie to know what I mean. It's a twist that Austen definitely would NOT have written in. lol But which is quite entertaining.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I'm reading

It's been ages since I've done a "what I'm reading" post, so I figured I may as well do one now.

As for what I'm reading...I'm trying to read too many things all at once!!

The Burning Island
by Pamela Frierson

I started reading this earlier this year, and I think I've spent most of the year on it. It's not that it's a big book, it's just that I keep getting side tracked from it.

Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
historical fiction

I've been reading it on my iPhone. Neat book, better than Tom Sawyer, I think.

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen
historical fiction

I just started last night. I have it on my iPhone and as a book book that I got at Powell's recently. It was on my list of must read books for 2011, and I've read it before. :)

by Christopher Paolini

I'm listening to this as an audio book. I've read it before, and am looking forward to the release of the final Inheritance book in a couple months. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading the book first

For ages I have been stubborn about reading a book before watching the movie based on it. In fact, I refused to see The Fellowship of the Ring in theaters because I was (mistakenly) under the impression that it covered more than the first book, and insisted on reading all of The Lord of the Rings before watching The Fellowship of the Ring.

Because I have been a long time fan of reading the book first, I was delighted to learn about ReadIt1st, at

ReadIt1st was thought up by the awesome Hank Green, and on the homepage are two possible pledges. One reads:


The other one reads:


Believe it or not, I took the second pledge. After all, I can always take the first pledge later, right? And it's already something I do, right?

If you sign the pledge you have the option of signing up for a newsletter which will talk about upcoming movies based on books.

If you are interested in how ReadIt1st came about, check out this vlog video:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mysterious paper sculptures

Mysterious sculptures are appearing in libraries and at book events in Scotland. These sculptures have taken many shapes...

...some are trees... is a battle... is a dragon... is a coffee and cupcake...

...all are created from books.

The most intriguing thing? Even though notes are always left with these beauties, no one knows who is making them.

To tell the truth, I'm a little envious. I think someone should be doing that here in Portland.

You can click here to see photos, or use the following url: Googling "mysterious paper sculptures" also works. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hands getting chopped off

Well that's a lovely title for this post, isn't it?

I just watched a very interesting video about how often hands get chopped off in Star Wars. I'm not sure what to make of the hands-getting-chopped-off phenomena, but I thought it worth passing along. I also find it quite interesting that Darth Vader loses his hands three times.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Named vs. nameless

Again, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. This time though I'm examining references to having names vs. being nameless.

I decided to do this because I thought it would be interesting to look at this subject. However, I don't seem to have found any answers in the process (not that I really had any questions, which may have been a mistake), and I have come up with a bunch of questions. Mission accomplished?


"That name I lay on this Hearth as a curse, and with it my shame. Keep that for me. Now nameless I will go seek my death" (24).

Chapter 2, "The Place Inside the Blizzard.

Getheren (sounds a lot like Gethen...) curses his people with his name.

"And now you cannot say my name.

This was true. Hode moved his white lips, but could not say his brother's name" (25).

CH2 still.

I guess this means that Getheren well and truly discarded his name? No, because people talked about him and say his name later.

"He himself denied that his name was Getheren" (26).


"I am Getheren of Shath, [. . .] Tell them at Shath that I take back my name and my shadow" (26).

Shortly thereafter he dies. And Shath begins to prosper again.

Why? Why was his name a curse? And why did taking it back kill him?

"[...] my name is Genly, but Karhiders can't say l [...]" (30).

So they call him Genry Ai. (Which I find amusing since I have trouble saying r.) I'm not sure what to make of this -- Genly doesn't really have his name when he is in Karhide. But does have it in Orgoreyn.

" ' Genry,' I said, abandoning my 'l' " (57).

Why does it choose to abandon it here?

"I stumbled out behind the rest and was mechanically following them when I heard my name. I had not recognized it; for one thing the Orgota could say l. [. . . .] I was set apart from those nameless ones with whom I had fled down a dark road and whose lack of identity I had shared all night in a dark room. I was named, known, recognized; I existed. It was an intense relief" (112).

So he finally gets it back in Orgoreyn...might this have something to do with lightness and shadows? That things are so bright in Orgoreyn that he finally gets his name back, and that because things are dark in Karhide they can't say his name properly there?

"[...] and he called me by my given name. I did not cut his tongue out, because since I left Estre I don't carry a knife" (156).

So apparently the use of a person's given name is highly improper unless you're very close.

"I never learned the name of any of them in the truck" (170-1).

I guess a person's identity ceased to be relevant in there?

"To wear a false name galls me, but nothing else would save me, or get me clear across the width of Orgoreyn to the coast of the Western Sea" (185).

Therem doesn't like using a false name. Why not?

Page 212

I don't feel like typing it out. This is where Genly and Therem aren't sure what to call each other, and Therem explains that friends or hearth brothers use first names. They wind up calling each other Ai and Harth.

"If I wrote a new Yomesh Canon I should send thieves here after death. Thieves who steal sacks of food by night in Turuf. Thieves who steal a man's hearth and name from him and send him out ashamed and exiled" (230).

Not sure what to make of this.

Obviously he's referring to himself when he's talking about food. But I think he's talking about Tibe when it comes to the name and hearth. He's obviously not very happy, to put it mildly.

"No, call me by name. If you can speak inside my skull with a dead man's voice then you can call me by my name! Would he have called my 'Hearth'?" (253).

...not sure what to say, really.

"Even mindspeaking he could never say 'l' properly" (254).

This raises interesting questions about how a person might think their language...but that's totally off topic.

I guess this means that Therem is never able to name Genly properly.

"We never told our names to our hosts in Kurkurast. Estraven was very reluctant to use a false name, and our true ones could not be avowed" (273-4).

We see again that Therem doesn't want to use a false name, but this time he refuses to use one. Why not now, when he did before?

"It wouldn't be hard, he said, if Estraven would take a false name [...]" (279).

Apparently Therem is willing to take a false name if it means he can stay in Karhide?

Patriotism in LHoD_1

In Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness there are two ideas about what patriotism is, and both of them are vastly different. That's not to say that one is right and the other is wrong. Rather, I think they are two different kinds of patriotism: a patriotism based on hate, and a patriotism based on love.

In this post I'll take a look at both of them. I'll refer to my notes I took on this subject in these two posts:

Patriotism -- Tibe and others
Therem on patriotism


Patriotism based on hate

The king is "in his own eyes is Karhide" (19) and therefore also "the perfect patriot" (19). At the same time, "Death walks behind the king" (3). Therefore the king is patriotism incarnate (wow that sounds weird) and therefore if death walks behind him, death also walks behind patriotism.

Why? Why would death be connected to patriotism? Perhaps because of fear...when discussing patriotism with Genly, Therem states "No, I don't mean love, when I say patriotism. I mean fear. The fear of the other" (19). Fear can easily lead to hate, and destruction. And therefore, death.

This is definitely the kind of patriotism that the Karhide government runs on. The king himself says "I fear those who sent you. I fear liars, and I fear tricksters, and worst I fear the bitter truth. And so I rule my country well. Because only fear rules men. Nothing else works" (40). Later on Tibe uses fear as a tool to pull the country together in an attempt to being a war (102).

To sum it up in a list, this kind of patriotism plays on:

*Us vs. Them
*Not given in to outsider's demands

Additionally, it seems worth noting that it is apparently impossible to have war unless one is patriotic (49).

Patriotism based on love

First, I'd like to start this section off with something that Therem says:

"Hate Orgoreyn? No, how should I? How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one mustn't make a virtue of it, or a profession. . . . Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate" (211-2).

In this kind of patriotism a person loves people, "towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks" (211). And unlike the fear based patriotism, there is no "us vs. them" attitude. At the same time, there is definitely a distinction between the two countries, as we see when Therem says "But I'd rather be in Karhide . . . if you really think it could be managed. . . ." (279). Those are the words of someone who truly loves his country, or at any rate loves his people and land...which is what makes up a country.

Summing up what this kind of patriotism is:

*Acting in the interest of individuals, rather than the country


As I think on this, and reread the book later, I might alter or expound on what I've written here.

Therem on patriotism

In this post I'll take a look at what Therem has to say on patriotism in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.


"But that's not a patriotic idea. In fact it's a cowardly one, and impugns the shifgrethor of the king himself" (16).

Therem admits that his idea of taking trying to keep people safe in the dispute is not particularly patriotic. Meaning that patriotism is:

*Not giving in

Patriotism is not:

*Allowing your "enemy" an inch of land in order to save lives

"I forgot what a king is, forgot that the king in his own eyes is Karhide, forgot what patriotism is and that he is, of necessity, the perfect patriot. [. . . .] No, I don't mean love, when I say patriotism. I mean fear. The fear of the other. And its expressions are political, not poetical: hate, rivalry, aggression. [. . . .] I'm not acting patriotically. There are, after all, other nations on Gethen" (19).

Patriotism is:

*Us vs. them

Patriotism is not:


Of course, even though Therem is telling us what other's definition of patriotism is, he's demonstrating a different kind of patriotism. His patriotism is concern for the welfare of mankind, not just his own people.

"The prestige-competition, heretofore mostly economic, might force Karhide to emulate its larger neighbor, to become a nation instead of a family quarrel, as Estraven had said; to become, as Estraven had also said, patriotic. If this occurred the Gethenians might have an excellent chance of achieving the condition of war" (49). have war one must be patriotic.

"[...] perhaps I do not really want Orgoreyn to prove more enlightened than Karhide, to take the risk and win the praise and leave Karhide in the shadow. If this envy be patriotic, it comes too late [...]" (150)

So, in the fear based patriotism a person puts their own country first, always...which Therem is only now beginning to think of, too late.

"What does it matter which country wakens first, so long as we waken?" (198)

Again, Therem is not putting his own country first.

"Hate Orgoreyn? No, how should I? How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one mustn't make a virtue of it, or a profession. . . . Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope" (211-2).

Quite a speech!

To sum it up, Therem's idea of patriotism is love, and putting the welfare of the people and land he loves first.

"A man who doesn't detest a bad government is a fool. And if there were such a thing as a good government on earth, it would be a great joy to serve it" (212).

So, does Therem hate the government of Karhide?

"But I'd rather be in Karhide . . . if you really think it could be managed. . . ." (279).

Therem definitely does love his land.

"Therefore for the first time it came plainly to me that, my friend being dead, I must accomplish the thing he died for. I must set the keystone in the arch" (289).

I'm not sure if this is patriotism on Genly's part. It does show that Therem gave his life for the good of the many, which I think can be called patriotic.

Pulling things together_1

In this post I'm going to try to figure out what all my previous notes about shadow references in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness mean.


The posts covered are:

Darkness in intro
More on darkness!
LHoD -- Shadows!
LHoD -- darkness and shadows
LHoD, darkness 

First of all, I'm going to quote from the intro, because it's pretty important:

"Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number -- Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don't look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysios, every now and then."

So we see that light, or lack of shadows is:


So, dark must be:


Light should enlighten things, and darkness make things unclear. But we Le Guin tells us that there is such a thing as too much, I guess we need a middle ground.

Now, moving on!



*Shifgrethor is closely related to shadows (20, 247,

*Orgoreyn is portrayed as being a light filled place of reason and harmony and all that stuff, but it's actually so blinding that it may as well be pitch black dark (120, 146, 147, 167-8, 174)

*Genly is shown as bringing light (200)

*Volcanoes seem to balance the light and the dark (225, 226, 231,

*Sometimes letting in a little light creates more shadows than clarity (255)

*Unshadow -- when you have no shadows you can't see. Therefore, you have to have some uncertainty in life in order to keep going. (260-7)

*It seems significant that the journey across the ice ends when they see a light (271)

*Death is described as darkness (284)

*The coming of the Ekumen seems to bring balance between light and dark (295)


*Therem embodies darkness throughout some of the book at least, as we see in the many references to his dark figure (122, 131, 145, 200, 215,
***I'd like to note that I didn't see any references to Therem being dark until he got to Orgoreyn. Maybe Orgoreyn brings out the darkness in him?

*Therem seems to seek a middle ground between dark and light (150, 151, 200, 267, 274,


*The Handdara seek, or anyways work with, the darkness (43, 55, 60, 68, 71, 159, 193, 196, 246, 250,
*They also work with the light, especially the weavers (57, 58, 66, 67,

The weaver (57, 58, 66, 67, 71,

Things to ponder

*Snow and footsteps in the snow -- which is light, which is shadow?? (57, 159-60, 225,

*Possible references to shifgrethor (26, 70, 75, 79, 81, 85, 124, 147, 150, 151, 273, 288,

*There's a suggestion that darkness might be connected to stress (153-4)

*Suggestion that fear and shadows might be related (267)

*Page 164
*Page 239
Pages 260-7 -- unshadow

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Patriotism -- Tibe and others

So, here I'm looking at patriotism in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

Different characters have different ideas of what patriotism is.


"Death walks behind the king" (3).

And the king is the perfect patriot (19), so therefore death walks behind patriotism? Or patriotism involves sacrifice?

"I fear those who sent you. I fear liars, and I fear tricksters, and worst I fear the bitter truth. And so I rule my country well. Because only fear rules men. Nothing else works. Nothing else lasts long enough. You are what you say, yet you're a joke, a hoax. There's nothing in between the stars but void and terror and darkness, and you come out of that all alone trying to frighten me. But I am already afraid, and I am the king. Fear is king!" (40)

Well, the king of Karhide is of the opinion that fear must be used to rule...and that patriotism involves fear?

" 'What the devil, I know what you were exiled for, my dear: for liking Karhide better than its king.'

'Rather for liking the king better than his cousin, perhaps.'

'Or for liking Karhide better than Orgoreyn,' said Yegey" (84).

Not sure if this has to do with patriotism, but it might...

"Argaven was not sane; the sinister coherence of his mind darkened the mood of his capital; he fed on fear" (101).

Again, not sure if this is to do with patriotism...

"He wanted his hearers to be frightened and angry. His themes were not pride and love at all, though he used the words perpetually; as he used them they meant self-praise and hate" (102).

This is just a small part of a whole paragraph about Tibe's opinion of patriotism. The gist -- Tibe's opinion is that proper patriotism is hate and fear of anything outside of one's country.  There's also a little bit, perhaps, on page 103.

"If you play against your own side you'll lose the whole game. That's what these fellows with no patriotism, only self-love, can't see" (146).

So we don't know what Shusgis' definition of patriotism is, but we know that it doesn't include self-love.

"If Tibe had known any good reason to fear you, he would have accused you of serving a faction, and Argaven, who is very easily moved by fear, would likely have had you murdered" (197).

Well at any rate it's about how politics work.

"And I wondered, not for the first time, what patriotism is, what the love of country truly consists of, how that yearning loyalty that had shaken my friend's voice arises: and how so real a love can become, too often, so foolish and vile a bigotry. Where does it go wrong?" (280)

So, patriotism can mean love, though it can also mean hate. Depending on who you ask.

" 'He loved his country very dearly, sir, but he did not serve it, or you. He served the master I serve. [. . .] Mankind.'

As I spoke I did not know if what I said was true. True, in part; an aspect of the truth. It would be no less true to say that Estraven's acts had risen out of pure personal loyalty, a sense of responsibility and friendship towards one single human being, myself. Nor would that be the whole truth" (293).

I've got this here instead of saving it for Therem's post because although it's about Therem (as is the previous one) it's not said by Therem.

Basically, patriotism here would mean:

*love to individuals
*love to something bigger?


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