Currently Reading

  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • Patience & Fortitude by Nicholas A Basbanes
  • Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman
  • a People's History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn

Monday, November 17, 2008

Library Book Sales

Today was the first day of my college library's annual book sale. Being an unapologetic bibliophile, I of course had to go, which means I of course ended up spending money. A friend of mine found like fourteen volumes from one of those insanely expensive book clubs. You know, the ones that sell books that cost $50 a month for two years? Being sold for $2 each, I of course had to snatch them up before someone else got their grubby mits on 'em. I'll post the complete list later, but it includes:

John Bunyan's a Pilgrim's Progress
Robinson Crusoe
Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and other Poems by John Milton

Pilgrim's Progress and Paradise Lost & Regained were especially nice finds, as I've been looking for nice editions of them for a while. Robinson Crusoe is one of those classics that boys used to read that I never got around to picking up, and having the father that I do, who grew up as a boy scout, and read all that sort of stuff, I feel kind of lacking somehow.

[TSS} Tibetan Buddhism FTW!

Having had two big tests on Friday, I planned to spend this past weekend catching up on reading for my Buddhism class. I had a section to read in one book, and another to finish. Well, it being a "light" homework weekend, I ended up spending the majority of my time watching TV and hanging with friends. I went on a bit of a trip down memory lane watching the 1977 Hobbit, and 1980 Rerturn of the King cartoons, which I found on youtube and were awesome. If you haven't seen them yet, you should rent them sometime, they're amazing, and they include the songs Tolkien wrote, which were sadly lacking from Peter Jackson's masterworks.

Back to books, however. Planning to read the section on Tibetan Buddhism in the Buddhist Handbook, and finish a book by the XIVth Dalai Lama titled "the Buddhism of Tibet", I succeeded in only reading the section from the Handbook. I'm halfway through HH's book, but I'm utterly bogged down. I've read plenty of books on Buddhism and some on Tibetan Buddhism before, but this book makes me feel like I'm wading through cement as it dries.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Finished Wizard of Eathsea over the weekend. Its the second time I've read it, and I really enjoyed it. Le Quinn crafts an interesting character in Sparrowhawk, and she almost creates a new subgenre of fantasy with WoE. I haven't read any of the other books in the cycle yet, but WoE for me at least, reads in many parts, like an epic poem in prose. I'm currently stuck between continuing on to read the Tombs of Atuan, which I've not read yet, or starting Wizard's First Rule. So, what say you, my likely miniscule audience? Should I read Tombs, or start Wizard's First Rule? or read both at the same time? (Keeping in mind I have schoolwork to do as well.)

I realise this blog has been a bit inactive over the past weeks. I've been rather busy getting some school junk taken care of, and this sort of fell to the wayside. Fear not, however, for I plan to make posts a bit more regular from now on. I'm working on putting my thoughts on WoE down in pixels at the moment, and they should be up for you to read sometime this week.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guinn

Misses Le Guinn is considered one of the Grandmasters of the fantasy genre, and WoE demonstrates exactly why. The book is written almost like an epic poem in prose, and follows the beginning of the life of a wizard known as Sparrowhawk, or Ged. Ged has lived the first eleven years of his life on the Isle of Gont, one of many isles in the world of Earthsea, where Wizards are real.

As a child he learns from a witch who lives in the village, before using the power he has just learned to turn a group of marauders back from the village. Because of this event he is sent off to study with the wizard Ogion. Eventually he is sent to the Wizard academy on the island of Roke, where he unknowingly frees an evil force. Ged spends the rest of the book pursuing the Shadow before finally confronting it for the final time and at the end of the world.

Magic in Earthsea is like no other system you've ever seen. Very little magic is true change. There are charms that patch boats, and do any number of other things. However, most magic utilises an object's "true name" to change or summon it. We see examples of this when Ged and some of his friends are playing with magic at the academy. Springs are called up from the ground, but the water was not truly refreshing or filling. Magic is rarely made permanent, as anything that causes permanent change can possibly unbalance the world.