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Archive for February 2014

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Genre : Dystopian novel

Pages : 243 pages

Publication Year: 1953

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

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About book – from the Kindle edition:

Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith. His wife spends all day with her television “family,” imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. Their dull, empty life sharply contrasts with that of his next-door neighbor Clarisse, a young girl thrilled by the ideas in books, and more interested in what she can see in the world around her than in the mindless chatter of the tube. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.

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Imagine a society which doesn’t have any books – no books at all! And if you found carrying a book, you will be punished and your house along with books will be burned to ashes by fireman (not usual fireman which we have today – who extinguish fire but the fireman of Fahrenheit 451 has only one task ‘burning the books’.).

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature that Bradbury understood to be the auto-ignition point of paper. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. The book is fiction but I think it’s kind of metaphor used to describe the past events which occurred around 19th century like Nazi book burning and later Joseph Stalin’s campaign of political repression, the “Great Purge”, in which writers and poets, among many others, were arrested and often executed.

The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. The society is ruled by the selected individuals who rule the thoughts of people using the ‘interactive programming that dominates the living room’ called “the family” (A kind of television). The book banning didn’t happen at one – but the government banned books over the period of time when people started complaining about books; for example: when smokers complained about the books which warns them of lung cancer – those books being banned and burned. Similarly if some other group complained about poetry – poetry books are censored and burned and over the period of time the very essence of books was destroyed.

The book revolves around Guy Montag who is a “fireman” hired to burn the possessions of those who read outlawed books. One evening while returning to home from book burning he meets a teenage girl named Clarisse McClellan, whose free-thinking ideals and liberating spirit cause him to question his life and his own perceived happiness. Clarisse McClellan finally convinces Montag that he is not happy and something is missing from the society in which they are living.

While the government has made reading the books a criminal offense but what’s really disturbing is the society itself is responsible for book burning and banning of the book. Now freethinker are considered as a threat to society and ideas/creativity has been destroyed. People are now bound to home and virtual families and systemically brainwashed by government sponsored radio’s and television shows.

And what’s more disturbing is – we are moving towards Fahrenheit 451 society. How many books have been banned since mankind started putting his thoughts into books? We still hear everyday the books are getting banned/burned and some objectionable contents are being removed. We are slowly moving towards the society portrayed in Fahrenheit 451 – censorship, books banning and removing some contents from books because some XYZ grouped has objection about those contents is everyday affair today.

Hope our society will understand the values of books before it’s too late. A must read for everyone. If you haven’t read it yet, then go ahead and read it!

GOLEM-AND-THE-JINNIName: The Golem and the Jinni (P.S.)

Author:  Helene Wecker

Genre : Fantasy

Pages : 819

Publication Year: 23 April 2013

Is Review Spoiler: Yes

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

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About book – from the Kindle edition:

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

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I heard about this book few months back and everyone was talking about this book at that time and few groups even recommended this book, everyone seeming to be well impressed with it and it’s kind of genre which I usually like to read it so finally I picked up this book last month to give it a try.

So I am bit disappointed with this book and it’s not a bad book but it’s just that it didn’t meet my expectations levels. The book is bit slow in-terms of plot, nothing much exciting happens till half of the book – I didn’t care much about other characters which has to little to contribute to the story coming and going.

Though it’s a historical fantasy fiction set in 1899 – I never felt time period, what I mean is you will never feel that you are reading a book which is set in 1899. Though the book is based on two major cultures – Jewish and Arab – you won’t find yourself immersed in these cultures considering the time the characters lived in these communities.

Story begins with Chava (Golem) a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and who’s master dies on route to America. We have ‘Ahmad’ a Jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert – who was trapped inside copper flask for over a thousand years and released by tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Slowly story builds up around these two character and many more minor characters though the two major characters doesn’t meet each other until half of the book is done. Here is where it become boring because there isn’t much going on in-terms of plot and many side character are introduced with sub-plot which doesn’t add’s any thing original plot line.

The story line at the end become really weird and looks far-fetched specially the ‘reincarnation’ stuff [Spoiler alert: the Jewish rabbi who created Golem is the reincarnation of the same guy who trapped Jinn inside copper flask and now he is bound to Jinn after a spell goes wrong – which means he will be reincarnated as long as Jinn is alive].

Ending was not really satisfactory and many threads are left open [Spoiler alert: Jinn giving the trapped rabbi soul to the fellow Jinn members to take care of it till he dies and he is still bound], may be there is second book in the series coming? And all the philosophical discussion about free will and God were unnecessary – as they don’t contribute anything to plot line.

Overall a good read but not the best.

Bill_bryson_a_short_historyName: A Short History Of Nearly Everything

Author:  Bill Bryson

Genre : Non Fiction

Pages : 672

Publication Year: 2003

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

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About book – from the Kindle edition:

From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out. To accomplish this daunting literary task, Bill Bryson uses hundreds of sources, from popular science books to interviews with luminaries in various fields. His aim is to help people like him, who rejected stale school textbooks and dry explanations, to appreciate how we have used science to understand the smallest particles and the unimaginably vast expanses of space. With his distinctive prose style and wit, Bryson succeeds admirably.

Though A Short History clocks in at a daunting 500-plus pages and covers the same material as every science book before it, it reads something like a particularly detailed novel (albeit without a plot). Each longish chapter is devoted to a topic like the age of our planet or how cells work, and these chapters are grouped into larger sections such as “The Size of the Earth” and “Life Itself.” Bryson chats with experts like Richard Fortey (author of Life and Trilobite) and these interviews are charming. But it’s when Bryson dives into some of science’s best and most embarrassing fights–Cope vs. Marsh, Conway Morris vs. Gould–that he finds literary gold.

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Well, when I saw the title of the book – I thought it will be indeed a short history of nearly everything but as I started reading, I realized that it’s not at all short history instead it’s a history of nearly everything.

What we learn in this book is apart from science is how insane or competitive were the scientist who invented most of the things in science. As titled suggested ‘A Short History of nearly everything’ not everything is covered in this book, for example philosophy, religion, economics, politics, medicines, computers etc. What actually covered in this book is – physics, atoms, big bang, quantum physics, gravitation, (so-called) evolution, dinosaurs etc.

What you learn reading this book is – what you should have learnt as a student of science. This book answers many question which we wanted to know as a child when we were in school, for example – how on earth scientist know exactly the weight of earth or how the figured to weight of atoms or how the knew the atom can be divided into quarks etc.

Overall a pretty good read for anyone who wants to know about science and beware it’s not short history – the book is very dense and you might need some long reading hours to complete it.


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