Guy Montag lives in in a world where books are banned and any homes found to contain them are burned by the firemen. Censorship is ubiquitous, people are stimulated constantly so that they cannot and do not think. Guy sees how empty his life is after meeting Clarisse and soon after steals a book. He is found out by the chief fireman, Beatty, who is then forced to burn Guy’s house down but Guy manages to escape. He eventually joins a group of convicts (intellectuals) who have each memorized some great works. The city Montag just escaped is bombed to oblivion during the war and this group is determined to search for survivors and rebuild society.
“You always dread the unfamiliar…We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.”
“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none”
“Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”
“No, no, it’s not books at all you’re looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. Of course you couldn’t know this, of course you still can’t understand what I mean when I say all this. You are intuitively right, that’s what counts. Three things are missing. Number one: Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture…Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies…And the second? Leisure. Oh, but we’ve plenty of off-hours. Off-hours, yes. But time to think?…And number three: the right to carry out actions based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two.”
“We’re nothing more than dust jackets for books, of no significance otherwise.”
“But that’s the wonderful thing about man; he never gets so discouraged or disgusted that he gives up doing it all over again, because he knows very well it is important and worth the doing.”
What I got out of it
A prophetic book which I think describes today’s world to some degree. People take pride in always “busy” – almost often unnecessarily – that they don’t stop and think about what they’re actually doing or why. Also, there are so many different factions that need to be pleased that writing can easily become very “vanilla tapioca” as Bradbury puts it. On the other hand, Bradbury also pointed out that these different groups and interests help ensure that there never is too much censorship.
Sun Tzu’s 2,000 year old principles are as relevant today as they were back then. Whether in business, sports, war, or any other field, taking care of the small decisions as well as deception, disguise and diversion are all required for success.
Lived from 544 to 496 BC and was a very successful general even in his own time
He who relies solely on warlike measures shall be exterminated; he who relies solely on peaceful measures shall perish
Art of War was written for King Ho Lu
Sun Tzu was revered by all Chinese military leaders for centuries and used his teachings
Many think of China as the largest peace-loving nation on earth but forget about her turbulent, violent times thousands of years ago (had built the great wall and had a huge standing army before Rome’s first legion existed!)
The book is a culmination of a process, not a single event – many people
Require a different context for different strategies
Western philosophy is dualistic – creator/created – whereas Eastern is more unified. Western assumes an act of creation and a time goal, whereas Chinese think of change/continuity as equally real . All is interconnected, every thing is what it is at the pleasure of everything else
Static vs. dynamic – the world of mathematics vs. the world of dynamics – always changing and flowing, shaping and being shaped
Why need flexibility in dealing with situations – things always changing. One must find security by revisiting and redefining one’s own strength by immediate yet unannounced responsiveness to the enemy’s shifting position
There is a holism, a symbiosis where service to oneself and one’s community are the same
Shih – full concentrated release of latent energy inherent in one’s position, physical, or otherwise (strategic advantage)
War, force is always a last resort. Given that warfare is always defeat, the commander in pursuing the best possible outcome seeks to disarm the enemy without every joining him on the battlefield.
Victory must be a predetermined certainty. As a consequence, the able commander is not the one who is celebrated for daring and courage, for his victory requires neither
Victory can be anticipated, but it cannot be forced
Know the other, know yourself, And the victory will not be at risk; Know the ground, know the natural conditions, and the victory can be total
One is weak because he makes preparations against others; he has strength because he makes others prepare against him
The consummate commander is able to achieve and retain control of a military situation in a way analogous to an able ruler’s control of the civil situation and a farmer’s control of his crops: by a thorough understanding of the conditions determining the situation and the manipulation of these circumstances to his chosen end
The best military strategy is to attack strategies; the next to attack alliances; the next to attack soldiers; the next to attack walled cities
War is such that the supreme consideration is speed, speed in timing, in short duration of battle, in decision making
Yin – yin requires sensitivity to register the full range of forces that define one’s situation, and, on the basis of this awareness, to anticipate the various possibilities that can ensue. Adaptability refers to the conscious fluidity of one’s own disposition. One can only turn prevailing circumstances to account if one maintains an attitude of readiness and flexibility. One must adapt oneself to the enemy’s changing posture as naturally and as effortlessly as flowing water winding down a hillside
Harmony – It is the capacity to anticipate the patterned flow of circumstance, to encourage those dispositions most conducive to a productive harmony, and ultimately to participate in negotiating a world order that makes best advantage of its creative possibilities. Harmony is attained through the art of contextualizing
All situations consequence of a dynamic process of organically related, mutually determining conditions
To be reliable, information must be firsthand and there is a key relationship between intelligence and timing. Once the specific time has past, information loses its strategic function and importance, and at best retains only historical value. Ideally, effective intelligence provides clear discernment of the enemy’s situation and a full concealment of one’s own
The object of military management is to effect a unified standard of courage. The principle of exploiting terrain is to get value from the soft as well as the hard. Thus, the expert in using the military leads his legions as though he were leading one person by the hand. The person cannot but follow
The business of waging war lies in carefully studying the designs of the enemy
Go first for something that the enemy cannot afford to lose and do not let him know the timing of your attack. Revise your strategy according to the changing posture of the enemy to determine the course and outcome of the battle
Interesting book about the crazy and free lifestyle of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty as they travel across the US. Emphasizes living a free lifestyle that goes against society’s expectations and is very stream of consciousness without a lot of formal structure (mimics the character’s lives)
The genius and beauty of this book lies in the details and is based on Kerouac’s own travels and his friends
Known for its expressions of restless, idealistic youth who yearn for something more than the bland conformity of a generally prosperous society.
“The jungle takes you over and you become it”
Dean fascinates Sal, and with their friendship begins three years of restless journeys back and forth across America
With a combination of bus rides and adventurous hitchhiking escapades, Sal goes to his much-dreamed-of west to join Dean and more friends in Denver, and then continues west by himself, working as a fieldworker in California for awhile, among other things
The next year, Dean comes east to Sal again, foiling Sal’s stable life once more, and they drive west together, with more crazy adventures on the way at Bull Lee’s in New Orleans, ending in San Francisco this time
The winter after that, Sal goes to Dean, and they ride across the country together in friendly fashion, and Dean settles in New York for awhile. In the spring, Sal goes to Denver alone, but Dean soon joins him and they go south all the way to Mexico City this time
Through all of this constant movement, there is an array of colorful characters, shifting landscapes, dramas, and personal development
Dean, a big womanizer, will have three wives and four children in the course of these three years. Perceptive Sal, who at the beginning is weakened and depressed, gains in joy and confidence and finds love at the end.
At first Sal is intrigued by Dean because Dean seems to have the active, impulsive passion that Sal lacks, but they turn out to have a lot more in common.
What I got out of it
Somewhat difficult to read at points because it is so stream of consciousness and all over the place, but that is the point of this book. Although they all have a crazy lifestyle, the type of freedom they enjoy just driving across America is often enviable
Slaughterhouse-Five is loosely based on Vonnegut’s own experience in WWII. It treats one of the most horrific massacres in European history, the World War II firebombing of Dresden in February 1945, with mock-serious humor and clear antiwar sentiment
The narrator and main character, Billy Pilgrim, a POW witnesses and survives the Allied forces’ firebombing of Dresden. His narrative jumps in time and this is done as a mechanism for dealing with the horrors he had been put through
Billy is kidnapped by two-foot-high aliens who resemble upside-down toilet plungers, who he calls Tralfamadorians. They take him in their flying saucer to the planet Tralfamadore, where they mate him with a movie actress named Montana Wildhack. She, like Billy, has been brought from Earth to live under a transparent geodesic dome in a zoo where Tralfamadorians can observe extraterrestrial curiosities
The Tralfamadorians explain to Billy their perception of time, how its entire sweep exists for them simultaneously in the fourth dimension. When someone dies, that person is simply dead at a particular time.
Tralfamadorians prefer to look at life’s nicer moments. When he returns to Earth, Billy initially says nothing of his experiences but Billy knows that his message will eventually be accepted.
Due to the alien’s ability to see all time, they possess an attitude of acceptance about their fates, figuring that they are powerless to change them. Only on Earth, according to the Tralfamadorians, is there talk of free will, since humans, they claim, mistakenly think of time as a linear progression.
The phrase “So it goes” occurs throughout the book and it reflects a comfort with the idea that although a person may be dead in a particular moment, he or she is alive in all the other moments of his or her life. However, it is used after every single death and helps the reader keep count of all the deaths that happen throughout the book
What I got out of it
Extremely different and interesting read due to the way the narration jumps around in time. Enjoyable read and would definitely recommend
Kurt Vonnegut wrote this book when science was first becoming revered but few truly asked whether the truth and knowledge being discovered by modern science were necessarily beneficial. Human stupidity is alive and well and with additional technology makes it potentially even more devastating.
In order to write a book about the dropping of the atomic bomb, Jonah reached out to Newton Hoenikker, youngest son of the man who invented the atomic bomb (Felix Hoenikker)
New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become
Felix always approached old puzzles as if they were brand new
American’s are always searching for love in forms it never takes, where it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier
Frank Hoenikker is the major general in San Lorenzo and Jonah heads there to speak with him – bumps into the other two Hoenikker siblings on the flight there
Felix invented ice-nine. A substance so powerful that even if the smallest amount gets in contact with any water, it freezes everything. He gave to his children when he died who then gave to some random people (Papa in San Lorenzo, Newt’s Ukrainian “fiancée”…)
Frank asks Jonah to be president of San Lorenzo and he agrees
Papa trying to kill Bokonon but it is not serious – religion is outlawed but everybody follows it
During a national holiday in San Lorenzo, a fly over went badly and a plane crashed into the palace and some of it went into the sea. Some of the ice-nine hit the sea and turned all water on earth into ice-nine
The vast majority of the people on the island, and the world died, but the Crosby’s, Frank and Newt survived
What I got out of it
Very satirical book which pokes fun at modern society and our reverence for science in all its wisdom. He also makes fun of how stupid, but not necessarily evil, people can be and with today’s technological power, that combination can be enough to destroy the world.
Ishmael’s narrative of Captain Ahab’s unwavering need for revenge over Moby Dick, the white sperm whale who destroyed his previous ship and took his leg. It was a commercial failure at the time of its release but has become one of the most venerated books of all time
Ishmael – the main character and narrator. Ishmael and Queequeg have a very close and unusual relationship that people in Nantucket find strange and stare at
Captain Ahab – the vengeful ship captain who cannot let go of his grudge against Moby Dick
Queequeg – cannibal friend who is one of the best whale hunters on the Pequod
Pequod – boat where story mainly takes place
Captain Peleg – an owner of the Pequod in charge of staffing the ship. loud and energetic
Captain Bildad – another owner of the Pequod, retired whaler. very hard man who worked his men hard in his days and was very proper
Starbuck – first mate
What I got out of it
A fascinating story with commentary on what life was like on a whaling vessel, good vs evil, class, social status, etc. Can’t say it was my favorite book but I’m glad to have read it
Orwell describes a farm from the barn animal’s perspective and each animal has a certain human stereotype or quality and often is tied to an important Russian figure (Lenin, Stalin, etc.). The animals on the farm form a social structure in which each is supposed to be equal and work for the the sake of the farm and their own survival but the pigs, being the smartest, eventually rise to power. The book ends with the pigs and humans playing cards and they accuse each other of cheating. They get into a fight while the rest of the animals are outside watching, and it ends with someone saying that it was impossible to tell the difference between the two. The book is meant to be a satire of how life was in Russia in the early 20th century.
Orwell does an amazing job of satirizing human nature through these animals. It is often extremely comical because everyone can relate to at least one of the characters in some way
What I got out of it
I really enjoyed this book as it shines an indirect light on human nature and makes us question and reflect on our own ambitions and tendencies
Dorian Gray is a very good looking young man who captures the attention of Basil Hallward, a famous artist. Basil decides to draw a portrait of Dorian and as Dorian takes on a new hedonistic lifestyle, he wishes to sell his soul in order to stay young. His dream comes true but every bad act reveals itself upon the portrait as a sign of aging and disfigurement.
While the consequences of your negative actions may not be immediately observable, they will always and without exception come back to bite you in some way
What I got out of it:
Really wonderful book and one that I truly enjoyed reading. I thought a lot of the themes are very relative in today’s world and thought Lord Henry Wooton had some really interesting lines and thought he brought up some interesting points. Would definitely recommend
Upton Sinclair was a journalist who focused on exposing corruption in government and business. In The Jungle, Sinclair exposes the heinous conditions in Chicago’s meatpacking district. This book led to the Food and Drug Administration being formed along with several others bills being passed.
Amazing what kind of atrocities humans can put up with in order survive and take care of their family
The work conditions in which Jurgis and his family had to endure at the meat packing plants in Chicago is unbelievable. Paid next to nothing, dark, wet, sickly, inhumane work conditions that people were dying to get since jobs were so scarce at this time
Jurgei would do anything for his family and ended up giving his life because of the conditions of the plant
Just remember how lucky you are each and every day that you are not forced to be in this type of situation
Life is not fair
Strong socialist arguments throughout this book which under these types of conditions must have seemed extremely appealing to the men working these jobs
What I got out of it:
More than anything this book taught me gratitude. The working and living conditions that these people had to endure is horrific and every time I think of this book I think of how lucky I am.