May Book Haul 2017 | #SmartReads

MayBookHaul

TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
June 14, 2017

Though a busy and tiring month it sure was, there was still a lot of time to feed the old addiction in May.

And as addictions go, they need sustenance.  What follows are my chosen literary drugs of choice, with some new literary spices to add additional flavor.

The Art Of Non-Fiction by Ayn Rand

Having read two books by Rand, and having them offer much for rumination, I got The Art Of Non-Fiction to dig deeper into Rand’s process of writing.  Thankfully, book offered much to glean from, and it showed what Rand’s latitude and precision can accomplish in works of non-fiction.  A review of it can be read here.

Bradbury Stories – 100 Of His Most Celebrated Tales by Ray Bradbury

Short stories are not something I usually read, although have always held an interest in.  Having ruminated upon that, the work of Bradbury, which I had held in high esteem for some time, seemed like a great place to dive in.  I am only a handful of stories in, but the book is vintage Bradbury in bite-sized chunks.  It’s definitely a book that I will take my time reading given its colossal size.

Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton

Along the same lines as the Bradbury book, this book is also features short stories.  The topics of this book are considerably different – being sci-fi, paranormal, and fantasy – but still hold great interest to me.

Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy

This book is about maximizing efficiency.  Wanting to get more done on a daily basis, centering upon Maximum Achievement was a straight forward choice.  The book was excellent for my tastes; here is a review of it.        

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Following the notion of maximizing efficiency, this book followed the same previous thread.  That said, taking a look at the title, it’s easy to be skeptical considering many books make claims but do not deliver.  Thankfully, this book was worth the effort.   With that in mind, there are various editions of this book, and after doing some research, for my purposes the first edition of the book seemed best given it covers the nuts and bolts process.  Later editions change a bit, while also adding a lot of seemingly unnecessary information.  That’s merely what I learned from reading reviews.

What I can say for sure is that the first edition offered much purchase.  Some of it common sense, but quite easy overlook as well.  Since adding more efficiency to my daily routine is paramount, this book was another no-brainer.

As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

The work of James Allen was unknown to me up until a few weeks ago.  Synchronicity being what it is, ‘out of nowhere’ the book popped up in my radar and quickly seemed like something that I was meant to read, as uncanny as it sounds.  Fortuitously, Allen’s words are not only brilliant, but they are insightful, and even poetic in a way.  I have never read a writer like him.

The book focuses on mindset and the thoughts one harbors.  Although overlooked by some, a lot of evidence is beginning to show that whatever intention and thoughts people hold in their mind does have a conscious effect on our environment.  Books like The Biology Of Belief by Bruce Lipton Ph.D., Lynne McTaggart’s The Intention Experiment, The Field, as well as many other books cover components of this idea.

In any case, Allen merely espouses being a master of the self and of your thoughts.

A dash of his work follows:

“Every thought-seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind, and to take root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or later in act, and bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstance.  Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruits.”[1 ]

Most people including myself have seen this play out on a daily basis once my attention was focused precisely on it.

Beyond that, though, the work of the author was so sensible and mindful that I sought out more of his work.  However, before purchasing one of his other books, I luckily stumbled upon a book called Mind Is Master.  This book happens to be a collection of all of the works of the author and sure saves a lot of money if one was planning to buy all of his books.  That will be featured in next month’s book haul.

Star Wars Rebel Rising by Beth Revis

Being an avid fan of Sci-Fi and Star Wars, I bought this book wanting to examine where the franchise is going considering the considerable increase in Star Wars books over these last few years.  I have attempted starting it twice, and the second time got slowly into it, only to get bogged down early on.  This book just isn’t as engaging as the other ones.  I will read it, but after a few samplings I’m not holding my breath.  I hope I am wrong though!

The Art Of Description by Mark Doty

The Art Of Description popped up within one of my streams on social media, and having liked the blurb, I got one at AbeBooks.  It is short but engaging book, and having now read it I really enjoy and appreciated the author’s unique method of examining a wide array of descriptive examples.  A review for this book will soon follow.

Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg

A few trusted friends suggested this book.  Given my penchant for wanting to know more about history, and fascism in particular (given its considerable increase over the years) this book seemed to be a great place to go to task.   Witnessing the evolving political climate over the last decade, the information in this book is becoming even more important for the future, which was also one of the leading reasons for wanting to research this further.

Fat For Fuel by Dr. Mercola

Fat For Fuel is a veritable treasure trove of information about health that’s written in a cogent and accessible manner, that also outlines the many benefits of healthy fats.  Its in-depth approach helps individuals come to terms with many of the myths that have been expounded by mainstream press and Big Pharma.  The book also offers some solutions for those with significant health problems such as cancer.  It really is a great book, and anyone with any type of disease should contemplate on reading it.  A review of this book can be seen here.

The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse

This book is a dire warning of what the future holds. The author examines many of the causes that have increasingly brought about less capable younger generations than their forefathers.  Not only is there a decline in education, but self-sufficiency is nigh non-existent; the newer generation just isn’t as robust as prior ones.  That’s only the beginning, though.  There are many other disturbing considerations.  Thankfully, the author also ruminates upon some solutions as well.  A review of this book can be seen here.

The Virtue Of Selfishness by Ayn Rand

As a strong proponent of individuality, Ayn Rand stands unlike none other.  Rand was rather outspoken in her views of the Individual against the Collective that pushes conformity.  This book examines those circumstances and analyzes them from various viewpoints.  Only about a quarter of the way through the book, but it’s been vintage Rand as one would expect.

The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand

In this particular piece Rand delves into what she believes are the key tenets of art and its role in life.  Having never read nor found anything of substance regarding this topic in Academia, I am hoping this book leaves much for rumination.   Haven’t had time to delve into it though.

Why I Write by George Orwell

This book has four parts, and only one held great interested me, which was Orwell’s insight into Politics and the English Language.  The others were useful, just not as intriguing.  The language part alone was worth the price, which wasn’t much.   Although the section wasn’t long, it was still great on substance, like one would expect from the father of DoubleThink.

Last Words by George Carlin & Tony Hendra

Throughout his life, George Carlin was known for his no-nonsense straight forward approach to various subjects.  This is one of the main reasons why I wanted to learn more about him, especially given that this approach in life is rarely seen, although it’s much needed.  A review of the book will be posted sometime in the future after having read the book.

Like last month, a handful of books were found at garage sales, which cost next to nothing.  This month also featured some rather fortuitous finds as I was able to find George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons and James Patterson’s Beach Road for mere pocket change.  There was another book, but that was commandeered by a friend.  What’s up with some people?  Sheesh.

All things considered, though the month had its fair share of obstacles, I was still able to have enough time to read quite a bit.  I am certainly looking forward to finishing these books.

In any case, how was the month for the rest of you?  Found anything intriguing and portentous lately?  Feel free to share any recommendations or insights below.  Be well!

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[1] James Allen, As A Man Thinketh, p 14.
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If you find value in this information, please share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
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About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His other blog, BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com features mainly his personal work, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information nigh always ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

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Book Review: The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien

thehobbitlotr

TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 2, 2017

“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”
John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.

“Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry.  When we consider a book, we musn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.”
– Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is one of his landmark pieces, which is part of Tolkien’s legendarium.  Tolkien’s legendarium revolves around the world of Arda.

Unknown to many, The Legendarium was created by Tolkien to serve as fictional mythology about the remote past of Earth, in which Middle Earth is the main stage.

The Legendarium is composed by phenomenal fiction such as The Lord of the Rings and also The Hobbit, as previously mentioned.  But also, the Legendarium features works such as The Silmarillion, The History of the Middle-Earth, The History Of The Hobbit, and more.

Undoubtedly one of the most significant books in the 20th Century, The Hobbit takes us through the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, whose life early on echoes predictability, comfort and simplicity.

However, after an unexpected party, Bilbo’s life changes most auspiciously.  After repeatedly stating he was not interested in being privy to an adventure, Bilbo was tricked into going by his guests, the dwarves, appealing to Bilbo’s more adventurous side – his Tookish side. There in the adventure begins.

On Bilbo’s quest to the Lonely Mountain, he and his companions traverse through Rivendel, the Misty Mountains, the dark forest of Mirkwood and even Lake Town, before anchoring at the Desolation of Smaug for the apex of the story.

On the way, Bilbo and his gang run into all sorts of folks: elves, humans, eagles, wargs, orcs, and even intricate characters such as Beorn and Gollum, all of which serve to make this phenomenal fantasy into one of the most intriguing mental escapes any fictional book has ever accomplished.

Throughout the epic, Bilbo’s journey mirrors that of the readers in the time which Tolkien published the story in 1937.  Just as Bilbo was reticent of going in the journey, being rather conservative, and being comfortable in his rather run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter everyday life, so were the people of the time of Tolkien a bit reserved about venturing on a journey into the realm of epic fantasy.  Mainstream folks weren’t interested in fantasy, and some even felt askance to it.  This was the reason why Tolkien used Bilbo as an analogy for the reader to familiarize itself with this Universe.

In fact, as medieval literature specialist and writer Corey Olsen Ph.D. puts it in his in-depth book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

“Bilbo’s initial perspective is so narrow, so domesticated, that being made late for dinner apparently counts as very serious hazard.  When Gandalf suggests sending him on an adventure, Bilbo runs into the house in panic.”[1][Emphasis On Original]

That’s how reticent Bilbo was!

These very circumstances, which mirror those of the readers of the time, are best exemplified by the following words:

“Tolkien was very aware of the artistic challenge he faced in writing a work of fantasy, especially since fantasy literature was far from the literary mainstream in the early twentieth century.  He knew that when they encountered his story in The Hobbit, his readers would have to leave their mundane and comfortable world behind and invest their imaginations in a world that contains magic and unexpected marvels.  In chapter One, Tolkien gives us a model for this very process within the story itself.  We begin in our safe and predictable world, and in the first chapter, we find ourselves in a world of wizard and dwarves and dragons.  In this transition, we find ourselves coming alongside a protagonist who is struggling through the exactly the same process, a character who himself internalizes the conflict between the mundane and the marvelous   Our first introduction to this magical, grim, and dangerous world of adventure is also his introduction, and his reluctance and difficulty in adjusting to it give us time to ease past our own discomfort and reservations.  Bilbo Baggins serves as a perfect touchstone for readers, both exploring and embodying the trickier frontier between the predictable and the unexpected.”[2]

And yet, no matter what Bilbo thought on the surface, deep down inside part of his deepest self was quite intrigued with the prospect of an adventure.  This insight is best viewed in the following passage, which takes place right when the dwarves begin an impromptu musical performance at his abode:

“Bilbo “forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill”.  He is transported into the land of the dwarves, and their song even brings him to share for a moment their own perspective and experience.  As they sing, he “felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.”  For a little while, Bilbo is moved by the music and the poetry of the dwarves, and he steps imaginatively out of his little world and into their story.  At this moment, “something Tookish woke up inside him,” and Bilbo finds that there is a part of him that desires adventure after all.”[3]

Once Bilbo’s imagination is unleashed it was like Pandora ’s Box, and there was no putting it back.

The contrast within Bilbo is best noticed when compared with Gandalf, as each represent two sides of the same coin.

As Olsen elucidates:

“Bilbo’s settled, Baggins life is like prose, plain and businesslike, and the magical world of Gandalf and the dwarves is more like poetry, full of wonder and marvels, but also strange and sorcerous like Gandalf’s smokerings. Bilbo may adhere to the Baggins point of view, but his Tookish heritage does give him a tendency toward that other, adventurous life, a tendency that is lurking beneath the surface when Bilbo meets Gandalf.”[4]

This tendency towards  what’s intriguing and portentous is what helps Bilbo grow throughout the journey as he finds the core of his Tookish side, and uses it to help himself and his newfound friends in this journey.

Intriguingly, as Bilbo grows accustomed to the wondrous and imaginative changes that magic brings about, so did the readers of the time.

The best part of this The Hobbit is that it’s so in depth and profound that there’s much to be had from it.

Truth be told, as Louis Markos Ph.D. notes in his book, On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis:

“So greatly did The Hobbit delight adults and children hungry for the lost realm of fairy tales that the cried out for a sequel.  In response, Tolkien spent the next decade and a half crafting a far richer and more mature work that would ratchet up its predecessor from a humble fairy tale to a full-scale epic in the tradition of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Beowulf.”[5]

The Hobbit is truly an upper echelon book.  This book resides within a class of books that belongs in an entirely different realm.  Some of the greatest books of all literature treat life as a journey, and this book is no different.  Moreover, not only that, but the book is so in depth, and offers so many subtle themes, that people for ages will be learning from it.

Touching upon this very subject, Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren speak about these type of books in their own touchstone piece, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:

“There is a second class of books from which you can learn – both how to read and how to live.  Less than one out of every hundred books belongs in this class – probably it is more like one in a thousand, or even one in ten thousand.  These are the good books, the ones that were carefully wrought by the authors, the ones that convey to the reader significant insights about subjects of enduring interest to human beings.  There are in all probably no more than a few thousand of such books.”[6]

The Hobbit offers many profound lessons of life.  Through fantasy fiction Tolkien creates a story which is analogous to what each of our own journeys are individually.  And just as life offers us countless lessons from which to learn from, so offers The Hobbit many germane gems of wisdom that are for the taking which are woven throughout the story.

In sum, the best reason to read this book is encapsulated in the following words by Markos:

“All ages at all times need stories, but our needs them so much more…The stories that we need are precisely those that will beckon us to follow their heroes along the Road; that will embody for us the true nature of good and evil, virtue and vice, and then challenge us to engage the struggle between the two…”[7]

And The Hobbit, for those very salient reasons, and more, is just one of those stories.

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Sources:

[1] Corey Olsen Ph.D., Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, p. 21.
[2] Ibid., p. 35.
[3] Ibid., p. 24.
[4] Ibid., p. 23.
[5] Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, pp. 13-14.
[6] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, pp. 332-333.
[7]Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, p. 187.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

Book Review: Paradise Lost by John Milton

A Veritable Milestone In Literature

paradiselost
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
January 24, 2017

Paradise Lost by John Milton is a veritable landmark book within the chronicles of humanity’s past.

Milton’s imagination was as boundless as it was incisive, and he paints a masterful world in which good and evil battle for the fate of the world.

Undoubtedly one of the best epics of all-time, Milton’s Paradise Lost, features a plethora of allusions the likes of which haven’t been replicated since, and just might not be replicated ever.

Milton’s constant inferences to theological and classical underpinnings of society are one of the greatest components of this masterpiece.  Every line is incisively thought out, and weaves seamlessly into the next manifesting a masterpiece of literature that’s as thought-provoking as it is deep.

The diction used in Milton’s time might be something that could turn certain readers off, but the notations at the bottom of each page of this particular version help the reader traverse through this fascinating and fierce fictional world that Milton crafted rather seamlessly.

Admittedly, an epic like this will demand a lot from the reader, and rightly so.  It’s a quintessential milestone in history.

Given the complex range of characters it employs [Adam, Eve, Satan, God, Michael, etc.] and fuses with philosophical underpinnings of what many of humanity’s deeper yearnings and concerns are, only helps catapult this work beyond the rest in its field.

Ruminating upon its breadth, scope and complexity, it’s a pity that more works aren’t as well thought out as this.  The standards Milton set upon himself to accomplish this piece should be held in high respect, for it is a testament to what human creativity can achieve when it sets its mind to it.  And that is priceless, just like this book is.