No offense to ebooks and Kindle, which have their place, but there’s no substitute for a book that has an actual history, that takes up space on a shelf, that has been somewhere, strapped to the back of a bike, that was being read in a British boys’ school library while Lewis was still teaching at Oxford.
Thank you, Lord, for books. Not just the words, but actual physical books you can hold in your hand and touch and smell, and ponder where they have been and what lives they may have touched.
Spencer: Political correctness would have us believe that the Koran is a book of peace, and that anyone who says otherwise is “bigoted,” “hateful,” and “Islamophobic.” But is it, really? What the Koran really says can easily be verified. If the Koran really curses Jews and Christians (9:30) and calls for warfare against them in order to bring about their subjugation (9:29), it is not “Islamophobic” to forewarn Infidels by pointing this out. It is simply a fact. And it should go without saying that it is not a fact that should move any reader of my book to hate anyone. The fact that the Koran counsels warfare against unbelievers should move readers to act in defense of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the legal equality of all people, before it is too late.
But most government and media analysts dare not even question the assumption that the Koran is peaceful, for they believe that any insinuation to the contrary is racist, bigoted, and effectively brands all Muslims as terrorists. In other words, they think the implications of the possibility that the Koran teaches warfare against unbelievers are too terrible to even contemplate. Thus, many policymakers simply assume the Koran teaches peace without bothering to study the text. They do this to their own peril — and ours.
Tony Woodlief (yes, again):
Isaiah loves books. He loves to read them, loves it when people read them to him, loves to hit his brother Isaac upside the head with them. The boy hearts books. I hope he never stops loving them, even as the world around him transitions into a post-modern funk of hyper-links and text messages and overstimulating audio-visual mind sludge. Then one day he can visit me wherever he and his brothers have finally put me out to pasture, and maybe read to me there.
Davis is getting to this point, too. At times he will decide that he’s had enough playing with his Star Wars Galactic Heroes™ figures, or pretending to duel a dragon, or building with Lincoln Logs™ or LEGO™ pieces, and he’ll plop down in the play room and “read”.
My parents instilled a deep love of reading in my sister and I when we were growing up. Weekly visits to the local library (which was about as big as the downstairs area of our current home, minus the garage) were the norm. While we’re not going weekly, Kelly and I have both taken Davis to our local library (which is larger than the downstairs area of our house, including the garage), and he loves it.
Davis will often ask for a second or even third book to be read before going to bed, although I suspect this is as much about staying up as late as possible as it is about loving books.
I’d hoped to pass on this love of reading to both our boys, and so far, it’s looking pretty good.
Taking a cue from my good friend Brent, I’ve been tracking what I read, and here’s the list of 19 books from 2008 (in reverse chronological order):
- The Christmas Sweater – Glenn Beck
- Ceremony in Death – J.D. Robb
- Rapture in Death – J.D. Robb
- Battle Ready – Tom Clancy, with Tony Zinni, and Tony Koltz
- Immortal in Death – J.D. Robb
- Glory in Death – J.D. Robb
- The Shack – William P. Young
- Patriot Acts – Greg Rucka
- The Last Patriot – Brad Thor
- Nothing To Lose – Lee Child
- Naked in Death – J.D. Robb
- Stone Cold – David Baldacci
- The Collectors – David Baldacci
- The Camel Club – David Baldacci
- Prayers for the Assassin – Robert Ferrigno
- The Hundredth Man – Jack Kerley
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
- It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium: Football and the Game of Life – John Ed Bradley
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling (hardcover)
My goal for 2009 is 26 books, one every two weeks. You can see what I’m currently reading, as well as what I read in 2007 and prior (from what I could remember reading), over on the Read page.
Glenn Beck, in the epilogue of The Christmas Sweater:
My mom gave me the sweater, but the greatest gift was given to all of us by a loving Father in Heaven. It is the only true gift ever given to all and yet opened or appreciated by so few. It is the gift of redemption and atonement, and it sits on the top shelf, largely untouched, in the closets of our soul.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, but by doing so, sometimes we miss the real meaning of the season. It is what that infant, boy, and then perfect man did at the end of His ministry that makes the birth so special.
Without His death, the birth is meaningless.
Yesterday, I put to good use the Barnes & Noble gift cards I received for Christmas and my birthday. (I get at least a couple every year.) The “big” card was used online a few days before, to purchase two other items which were on my wish list:
+ Planet Earth – The Complete BBC Series, narrated by David Attenborough. I’ve wondered how many HDTV sets this series is responsible for the sales thereof.
+ Blade Runner (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition)
The in-store Barnes & Noble shopping resulted in:
+ The Shooters, by W.E.B. Griffin. The fourth in Griffin’s Presidential Agent series, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed to date. W.E.B. Griffin writes some of the best military fiction out there, and this current-day, antiterrorism series is no exception.
+ Spirit of the Wolf by Shaun Ellis and photographer Monty Sloan. Wolves are among my favorite animals, and I believe a lot can be learned from their pack behavior. (Especially when you have a dog, and therefore a pack, of your own.) Sloan’s got some stunning photos in this coffee-table book, and I’m looking forward to reading Ellis’s commentary.
+ Star Wars Jesus – A spiritual commentary on the reality of the Force by Caleb Grimes. Any book that combines the movie franchise which impacted, informed, and defined my tweener childhood (and which continues to impact and inform my son’s childhood), and the Author and Finisher of my faith, well, that’s just something I’ve got to give a whirl. I think all of my other book reading just went on hold…
So my thanks to my family members who were very generous this year with the gift cards. They were well invested, I assure you.
Last night (this morning?), I finished reading I Am Legend. Well, re-reading would be more of an accurate statement. And yet…
This is the I Am Legend I recall from many years before, and at the same time, it’s not the I Am Legend I recall from many years before. For clarification, I have not seen The Last Man on Earth or The Omega Man, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I’ve read some homage to Matheson’s original work. Here’s some of what I recall, in the hopes that a reader can point me to the story I remember:
(Oh, and if you haven’t read I Am Legend and you plan to go see the Will Smith movie, there are some potential plot spoilers ahead, so you may want to stop reading now, since it’s likely you cannot help me anyway. Thanks for stopping by, though!)
+ as in the book, the story I remember takes place in Los Angeles, only the Neville character is living in a house on a hill, and has an actual moat in front of the place, so deep the vampires can’t cross it. I want to say he even bulldozed the dead vampire bodies in to the moat.
+ I recall the story mentioning the vampires having blue tattoos.
+ the story was obviously more recent than Matheson’s, since it has the Neville character watching a video of a plague victim, the Ben Cortman character, actually becoming one of the vampire creatures.
+ the Neville character has a dog that goes around with him, as we’ve seen in the trailers of the Will Smith movie adaptation, as opposed to the dog Neville tries to befriend in the book, but which ends up attacked by the vampires.
+ the Neville character, while foraging/hunting in the city, is trapped by a snare attached to a light pole. He spends a lot of time trying to get free, so much so that the sun begins to set, and vampire dogs come out. The Neville character’s dog defends him while he frees himself, and is mortally wounded. This also looks like it will be in the Will Smith movie, and seeing this split-second snare bit in the trailer is one of the memories that jostled me to re-read Matheson’s book.
+ the Neville character goes to a park to wait for any survivors who might still be alive; he leaves signs tacked up all over the city with the when and where.
+ the Neville character discovers a female survivor, very much like Ruth in Matheson’s book; except in this story, instead of hitting him with a mallet, she drugs him after learning how to turn off/undo all of his house’s defense mechanisms, letting the vampires in.
+ the Neville character is taken by the vampires to their underground lair, a miniature city below the real city, where he is somewhat put on display, and some of the vampires feed off of him. The Ruth character has a son or little brother, and the Neville character feels somewhat sorry for them, wants to help them, etc.
+ the Ruth character, and maybe others, help him escape, and they leave the city by a sailboat.
That’s the stuff I remember, and that stuff is not in the Matheson book. So where did I read it? I’ve spent a couple of hours searching the Internet for answers, all to no avail. Perhaps my Google fu isn’t strong enough. Perhaps I just don’t know what I should be searching for. But I know I’ve read this story as I’ve described above. Help me, scifi/horror readers. You’re my only hope.
Another nugget from Sheriff Bell:
Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that. I aint even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the sayin goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that’s a high compliment in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I dont like the way the country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she’ll be able to have an abortion. I’m goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she’ll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.
Some keen cultural insight, courtesy of Sheriff Bell in Cormac McCarthry’s No Country For Old Men (complete with McCarthy’s trademark non-punctuation):
I read in the papers here a while back some teachers come across a survey that was sent out back in the thirties to a number of schools around the country. Had this questionnaire about what was the problems with teachin in the schools. And they come across these forms, they’d been filled out and sent in from around the country answerin these questions. And the biggest problems they could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. So they got one of them forums that was blank and printed up a bunch of em and sent em back out to the same schools. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide. So I think about that. Because a lot of the time ever when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I’m gettin old. That it’s one of the symptoms. But my feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem than what I’ve got. Forty years is not a long time neither. Maybe the next forty of it will bring some of em out from under the ether. If it aint too late.
[Emphasis added. –R]
Earlier this evening, in an attempt to drown our sorrows over the Tigers blowing their national title shot, the family dined at Rockfish, then did a little shopping. Normally, I try to avoid frequenting retail establishments on Black Friday, but by dinner time things had quieted considerably in our little corner of the metroplex. Part of the shopping involved an excursion to Barnes & Noble.
I’d been wanting to read No Country For Old Men for quite a while, more so after Nathan told me his impressions of it, as well as my own reading of Cormac McCarthy’s more recent bestseller, The Road. Now that the movie is out, and I, like Nathan, am jonesing to see it, I figured it would behoove me to read the book from whence it came.
(Seriously, what is the deal with McCarthy and dialogue? Does the guy just not believe in the use of quotation marks? All three of his books which I’ve undertaken to read have been bereft of this usual aspect of literature, and while it seemed to work well in The Road, at least for me, it’s made reading Blood Meridian quite a slog. I’m only 19 pages in to No Country as of this writing, and it’s not a problem so far, but geez.)
I first read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend in…gosh, I really don’t recall, but it was late middle school, early high school. I really enjoyed it at the time, read it once or twice more before leaving college and getting married. After that, I didn’t give it much thought until, some time in the `90s, I learned that Tom Cruise’s production company had optioned it for a motion picture. I was worried about what Cruise’s involvement, notably as the star of the movie, might do to Matheson’s work. Of the myriad actors in Hollywood, Cruise is certainly not one I could picture as Robert Neville.
I’m somewhat apprehensive about the 2007 film release, even though I’ve yet to see it. I have no problem with Will Smith as Neville; from the teaser and trailer I’ve seen, he seems to bring the right elements to the character. I am disappointed with the film’s movement of the plot location from Los Angeles to New York City, mostly because I don’t really see the point; it seems to be a change simply for change’s sake. I totally understand updating the story for our modern time: the book was written in 1954, and the story takes place in the mid- to late-1970s. There are minor tweaks to the main character–Smith’s Neville is currently in the military, rather than formerly, and is a scientist, whilst Matheson’s Neville is more of an everyman–and those are also understandable and digestable. But the change in the plot location… I guess I’ll just have to see the film to make a final, informed judgment. Until then, another rereading of what I consider to be a classic is in order.