In Lieu of Books . . . Links

Last week everything I had on hold at the library came in all at once, and every single book is big and giant and something I desperately want to read (Clockwork Princess! Life After Life! The Interestings!). So right now I’m wishing I could take a few days off work to hibernate with my books. While I make way through my teetering pile of hardback novels, here are a couple of links where you can actually read new content.

I first stumbled across the Bookavore tumblr when someone linked to a series she did on getting organized. That may sound like the dullest thing you could read on the internet, but it was actually fascinating and personal and helpful. Then I realized that the the author, who used to work in a bookstore and is now at a library, is a fantastic source of book recommendations. Maybe it’s a professional requirement, but she reads a much broader range of things than I do, so when I follow her guidance I end up places I never expected. For example, I just finished reading Sum It Up, the autobiography of Pat Summitt, the incredibly successful coach of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team. Does that sounds dull? IT IS NOT. I originally read it because Bookavore said it was really a book on how to manage people, which it is, but also Pat Summit is a kind of superhero. I would highly recommend both Sum It Up and Bookavore.

The second link might be my new favorite thing on the Internet. After a friend and I had a conversation this week about The Great Gatsby, she sent me a link to an article about Zelda Fitzgerald. The article is smart and informative, but also fun, which I think comes across in its title: Zelda Fitzgerald – Just A Total Mess Or What? It’s actually part of a series called Shelved Dolls, which I believe is about misunderstood/ignored women in history, from an online magazine called The Gloss. The other Shelved Dolls articles I read were great too, including this one that is relevant to Biblio-theray: Ayn Rand – I’m Going To Make You Like Her. Now, I’ve not thoroughly vetted The Gloss, so I don’t want to make any blanket claims, but it seems like a smarter, less obnoxious version of Jezebel. Which would be a good thing, because I used to adore Jezebel but don’t read anymore, since at some point it started to feel like getting yelled at about celebrities and the worst kind of sensational news stories. I intend to read more of the Gloss and see if it can fill my need for fun, informational, feminist news source, even if I still don’t like Ayn Rand.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

AtlasShruggedAtlas Shrugged
By Ayn Rand

This is a difficult book to sum up. I have 89 pages of single-spaced, typed notes, made over the course of nine-weeks of reading. The one real strength to this book is that it makes me think. It presents a lot of ideas and a lot of arguments and it was the rare conversation in the last two months that did not involve the phrase, “that makes me think of how, in Atlas Shrugged, …”

In live-blogging our process through this book, Anna and I had a lot of thoughts.

Part I: Non-Contradiction
I.      The Theme
II.     The Chain
III.    The Top and the Bottom
IV.    The Immovable Movers
V.     The Climax of the D’Anconias
(extra bit: first impressions)
VI.    The Non-Commercial
VII.  The Exploiters and the Exploited
(extra bit: VII. The Exploiters and the Exploited)
VIII. The John Galt Line
(extra bit: Atlas Shrugged theme)
IX.    The Sacred and the Profane
X.      Wyatt’s Torch
(extra bit: Kurt Vonnegut short stories)

Part II: Either-Or
I.       The Man Who Belonged on Earth
II.     The Aristocracy of Pull
III.    White Blackmail
(extra bit: Atlas Shrugged in the news)
IV.    The Sanction of the Victim
(extra bit from President Obama)
(extra bit on John Galt)
(extra bit on Greek Mythology)
V.      Account Overdrawn
VI.    Miracle Metal
VII.  The Moratorium on Brains
VIII. By Our Love
IX.    The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt
(extra musings)
X.     The Sign of the Dollar

Part III: A is A
I.      Atlantis
II.    The Utopia of Greed
III.   Anti-Greed
IV.   Anti-Life
V.    Their Brothers’ Keepers
VI.   The Concerto of Deliverance
VII.  “This is John Galt Speaking”
VIII. The Egoist
IX.    The Generator
X.      In the Name of the Best Within Us

It would make a really fabulous book club book or the subject of a college seminar.

That said, it is also a book in desperate need of an editor to smooth out some of the rough patches and it showcases a conflict between two sets of irrational idiots: spoiled children on one side and vengeful true-believers on the other side. For the most part, I didn’t like or respect any of the characters. Both sides would come out with statements, some of which I agreed with, most of which I disagreed with, but would then back them up with the wrong arguments. Continue reading

Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapters 8-10)

By Ayn Rand

Cover: Atlas ShruggedChapter 7 broke me, people. I only got through it with a generous bribe of Starbucks. I would go into the Starbucks, get my mocha, and force myself to sit there and read Chapter 7 until I’d finished at least 15 pages. You are lucky that Rebecca recapped that section because my idea was to just post:

Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 7): tl;dr

Anyway, I’ve gathered the shards of my broken psyche together enough to just get through the final three chapters for you, dear readers. They were actually pretty fast-paced and action-filled, and I would have enjoyed them a lot more before my aforementioned breakdown. Continue reading

Atlas Shrugged, part 3, chapter 7

AtlasShruggedSection 3, Chapter 7: “This is John Galt Speaking”

Writing up this chapter gave me a sharp reminder that this blog is a book-review blog rather than a philosophy forum. Anna has had to hold me back from writing a 500-page response rebutting this chapter, line by line. Reading this chapter was an exercise in patience, allowing a mixture of irrationality, hypocrisy, and lies to just pass on by me.

Continue reading

Atlas Shrugged, part 3, chapter 6

AtlasShruggedSection 3, Chapter 6: The Concerto of Deliverance

This chapter is a lot more palatable than the last one. The bad guys are just as irrationally hypocritical as the good guys, but they are acknowledged as bad guys, and someone finally addresses their logical flaws directly, verbally, and to their faces. Thank you! Reading this book and being inundated by irrational philosophy from all sides has really increased my argumentativeness (rarely in short supply to begin with.) This chapter, though, successfully refutes a lot of the proposed idiocy by itself without needing me to do so. For the first time in the whole book, there is a serious demonstration of someone promoting rationality and logic. I approve.

I think the first two-thirds of this chapter go up there with the scenes of the first train ride on the John Galt line and of Dagny’s aerial chase as being parts of this book that I actively enjoyed.

So, without further ado:

A summary of the events of the chapter, and then some brief discussion of a few specific points.

Continue reading

Atlas Shrugged, part 3, chapter 5

AtlasShruggedPart 3, Chapter 5: Their Brother’s Keepers

The sheer hypocrisy of this book is wearing me down. The reader is given in-depth looks at the thought-processes of our protagonists. The protagonists have full-life backstories and motivations and ambitions. The lack of similar detail for the antagonists and secondary/tertiary characters is not only reasonable but necessary given the limits of a book. But to then denigrate and scorn the antagonists/secondary/tertiary characters FOR THE EXACT SAME ACTIONS as the protagonists BECAUSE THEY LACK ANY STATED MOTIVE infuriates me.

Arg! This chapter is an illustration of the phrase: “We judge others by their actions but judge ourselves by our intentions.”

Anyway, first there is a description of the events of this chapter, and then a series of five brief rants, mostly centered around hypocrisy.

Continue reading

Atlas Shrugged (Section 3, Chapters 3 and 4)

By Ayn Rand

Cover: Atlas ShruggedMuch appreciation for Rebecca, who took over for me for Chapter 2 this week since I fell so far behind in my reading because of my head cold. Also, I found Section 3’s first two chapters, set in Galt’s Gulch (yeah, that’s what they call it – try it out loud) almost unbearable. You know how hearing someone describe a dream is pretty much the most tedious thing ever? It was that for over a hundred pages.

This weekend, however, I was on a strict schedule of reading in order to catch up, and I’ve plowed through Chapters 3 and 4, which were thankfully back in the quickly decaying outside world and much more to my liking. Continue reading