Friday, May 7, 2010


I have been toiling away attempting to read a book consisting of 206 pages for the last 2 1/2 weeks.  I am not sure how this has happened other than to say the name of the book is Robinson Crusoe.  My thoughts on this book are many, so this post may be a bit long.  I will attempt to divide them into observations.
Robinson Crusoe (Oxford World's Classics)Observation 1:  the details.  This is often called the first English novel.  As such, it is an autobiographical novel with no chapters, no line breaks, no divisions.  The sentence structure is hypergrammatical and long.  Paragraphs feel like they go on for days and go into too much detail.  It is tedious, woefully tedious.
Observation 2: the issue of plagiarism.  I know, I know you must be thinking, "Plagiarism, how can the first English novel be plagiarized."  Well, I am not accusing anyone of plagiarism in Daniel Defoe's day, but I certainly found more than a passing similarity between Robinson Crusoe and Life of Pi (my previous review here).  I remember being outraged around page 50 at the way that Robinson Crusoe and Pi Patel's paths seemed to be running parallel.   As I read on, I discovered the themes of the books must be the same.  One must explore the process of survival in a desperate situation to an exhausting degree (for believability sake, I guess).  One must have a background in faith tested and changed over the course of the stranding.  But it was a bit disheartening to know that Yann Martel's Life of Pi was really just a restructuring of an already trod story.  As a note on this: Yann Martel was also accused of plagiarizing another book, but after speaking with the author of the other book, the other author dropped his case.  I wonder if Defoe and Martel had some sort of medium-coerced meeting that would make all claims of plagiarism of Robinson Crusoe moot, too?
Observation 3: the verdict.  So far it seems like after reading one book, I despised two books.  Well, that is not necessarily the case.  Although reading the story of Robinson Crusoe after reading the story of Pi Patel instilled in me again that everything must go in order; I actually ended up liking (to a degree) both books.  Robinson Crusoe, in particular, is filled with the most amazing quotes.  It is absolutely unbelievable in it's plot line, tedious in the telling, and a little long on ending; but there are these moments where the book shines.  I believe the book to be a cross between novel and theological treatise.  As I was a Church History (Theology) major in college, this intrigued me greatly.  I found myself wading through the waist deep, soporific story line to get to the parts where Robinson speaks of faith.
Observation 4:  the gospel.  The book is largely a book of faith (must be why they don't assign it in public schools anymore).  It tells the story of a man who is regretful of all his wrong choices, finds faith in God, lives his life according to faith's principles and shares his faith with another.  In the middle of the telling are some of the most thought-provoking statements on the nature of faith, humanity and God.  Robinson said of himself early in the book, he "was born to be [his] own destroyer," "the willful agent of all [his] own miseries."  He speaks of prodigal sons in their youth:
[T]hey are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action, for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools; but are ashamed of the returning, which can only make them be esteemed wise men.
  Thus Robinson, being youthful, travels on the sea and begins a life of many terrors.  He of, course ends up shipwrecked on a desert island and stays there under the hand of Providence for almost 30 years.  During this time, he begins to create a life around him from the things he salvaged from the wreckage of the ship.  A few years in, he discovers the work of God in providing him these things and works out the struggle to survive as a work of God: 
How mercifully can our Creator treat His creatures, even in those conditions in which they seemed to be overwhelmed in destruction! How can He sweeten the bitterest providences, and give us cause to praise Him for dungeons and prisons! What a table was here spread for me in a wilderness, where I saw nothing, at first, but to perish for hunger.
Robinson survives not because of his strength or his ingenuity, but because he works under the hand of Providence with what he has.  He lives on his island, not in a state of fear and terror, but of serenity and calm.  The disruption of his calm, by certain events, causes him to ruminate on the protection of God even from one's own thoughts: 
How infinitely good that Providence is, which has provided, in its government of mankind, such narrow bounds to his sight and knowledge of things; and though he walks in the midst of many thousand dangers, the sight of which, if discovered to him, would distract his mind and sink his spirits, he is kept serene of the dangers which surround him.
The story of Robinson is the story of redemption and sanctification.  There is a weight of sin, a realization of that weight, a Savior found, a faith placed, and a life lived in thankfulness for the removal of the weight. 
Observation 5:  If you decide, based upon this review, to pick up this book and read it; I advise you to stop reading at the point where Robinson Crusoe sails home.  The rest of the book is unnecessary and boring.  It does not further the story in any way.  But I do cut Defoe a little slack because he was writing a new form of fiction altogether.  We can't expect him to get it right the first time, can we?

Rating: 4.62 out of 7


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Robert Jordan Cheat Sheet

Thought that was an interesting link on a Robert Jordan re-read section. Basically, if you don't want to spend the time to read the books yourself you can get a semi-brief synopsis from someone who is willing to read the books. I don't recommend it and I will not spend the time reading the re-read, but might be fun if you're looking for someone else's opinion.

3 Reasons Why Dragon Never Sleeps is a book.

1. Title - The Dragon Never Sleeps is a title of a collection of pages about the same topic. Books have titles so it must be a book. Oddly enough, you see the title and you might think that this is another fantasy novel, but it's actually Sci-Fi! Once you see the cover you'll get a better idea of what the dragon supposedly is. I'm not normally one for reading Sci-Fi novels. I like to stick to playing video games about space or watching movies about aliens. But, while a little out of the box, it was a refreshing story based on a similar concept.
2. Author - Glen Cook is an author, and since he wrote this then one would believe that it's a book. Author's write books! He also did a good job in using the aforementioned title for this book. I've already read the Black Company by Cook and found it more than enjoyable. This single novel still feels like Glen Cook even though the story and imagery are far removed from the fantasy aspect of the Black Company novels. It's not the novel I would recommend if you were going to try Glen out. It's unique.

3. Words - Authors write..... you get a collection of words about the same topic and you'll potentially end up with a book. Maybe an article, poem, or some other wierd thing, but this is a book and we're going to stick to that. Glen Cook did a good job on keeping the book engaging, but it also felt very disjointed. There is so much happening throughout the 250 pages that it's tough to feel the actual scope. Maybe that's what he was going for, but in such a small book years can sometimes get lost. Especially in the epic space battles, world jumping, and character development. 

So there you have it - my 3 reasons why this book was a book. Leah noticed that it appears that doing lists is the popular thing to do on a blogs. So being the most popular person on earth, I just had to try it out. =\ I doubt that you'll ever see me do another list like this. It's not very engaging(but are any of my posts?) and isn't that enlightening either. But, if you don't get the joke, or anything else just take away that Glen Cook is best enjoyed in the Black Company series and not the Dragon Never Sleeps. It's good, but confusing.

R - 6 out of 10. It would make a great movie trilogy with a little more meat added. It's definitely worth reading if you're a Glen Cook fan. Take your time re-reading certain areas that don't make enough sense. Be thankful that we don't have space travel on this type of scale.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Assouline: A Book Haven

A couple of weekends ago, we made a trip to Las Vegas for a little fun.  Little did we know, we would stumble upon one of the most amazing bookstores EVER.  We could have spent hours there. 
The store: Assouline.  It appears to be a coffee table book specialist that dabbles in rare books.  The staff was really helpful and allowed us to take pictures.  They also told us this is their flagship store in the U.S.  They also handed us a copy of their latest catalogue.  It seems (listen up Francophiles) they are a French book store with most locations in Paris.  We found a unique spot right in the heart of Sin City - imagine that.  To visit and enjoy for yourselves, go to the City Center in Vegas and check out Crystals shopping center/museum. 
We have had a request to post a picture of our library.  We may just put up one of the pictures from Assouline and pretend it is our library.  After all, it is that lovely!
For your visual enjoyment:
(ridiculously priced old book)

the carpet (must find, must own someday)

this is the dream