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The End is Near

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Just as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. I’m currently a week away from finishing the semester and though I will continue to use this blog for other purposes, this means that this post will be the last for my Honors ENC 1102 class. This is sadly true as I’ve really enjoyed reading and reviewing great books as well as putting my thoughts into words in regards to other things that have transpired in my life throughout this semester. Coming into this semester my primary area of interest when it came to reading was non-fiction books, but as the semester progressed and I interacted with more novels from some of the most legendary figures in literature, I found myself with a growing appreciation for fiction books. This appreciation was produced mostly from reading books for ENC 1102, but other event over the course of this past semester also played a part. The most significant of the other events was a project I did for both my Contemporary World Religion class and the Santa Fe Research in Undergraduate Festival about the life and works of C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors. One of my favorite things about novels is actually trying to see through novels. By this I mean understanding the forces that brought a particular book to be by looking at the life of the author. I find that learning about the historical setting and the experiences that shaped the authors understanding of life enhances the reading experience allowing you to see even familiar stories in a brand new way. For example learning about how Orwell’s book Animal Farm is allegory for the Soviet Union as I was reading it changed the way I understood and read the book.

I think the most important thing I got out of this class and the readings, beyond a new found appreciation for good fiction, is that I discovered something new about my self, I discovered that I have a fascination for stories. I don’t know how important this self realization will be in the grand scheme of my life, I guess only time will tell. But what I do know is that I’m extremely grateful for the experiences that led me to it.

Thank you if you’ve been a part of this experience in any way, whether it was assigning the blog post in the first place or reading this long after it was written. I know that reading will continue to shape and impact my life and my hope is that you let it do the same for you.

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Outliers Book Review

“Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from.”
– Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

Image result for malcolm gladwell outliersAs a British born Canadian Mennonite with a Jamaican mother, Malcolm Gladwell‘s story seems just as incredible as the stories and research he often rights about. Gladwell began his career as a journalist in 1984 after having failed to be accepted into graduate school followed by a failed attempt to enter into the advertisement industry, yet by 1996 Gladwell was righting for major newspapers such as The Washington Post. Though he often writes pieces for other publications, today Gladwell is a writer for The New Yorker, as well as a best selling author. Gladwell’s focus in his writing aims at linking academic research and incredible stories to explore ideas and present findings of things that often go unnoticed. Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers (285 pages) falls perfectly into this category.

Outliers is a book that serves as an in depth look into the idea of success, an idea that Gladwell would argue is largely misunderstood. Gladwell uses a little less than 300 pages to pull back the curtain on the processes that produce success and just exactly what factors into all that. The books however is most known for one of these factors, an idea called the 10,000 hour rule that was first developed by K. Anders Ericcson, a psychologist from Florida State University. The general premise of the rule is that to become a “Great” in any field, you must first put in ten thousand hours of practice, a huge amount of hours that would take anyone years to reach. Examples of this rule range from The Beatles, to Bill Gates, to anyone playing in the NHL. The rule might be rough around the edges and has been updated by psychologist in the years after the publication of Outliers, but the central premise still holds to be true. Though the book offers a lot of information and may seem intimidating to some, all the information comes intertwined with a wide array of diverse and fascinating stories that will peek the interest of anyone who reads them.

Ultimately Outliers is a book that can prove transformative to the way you think and live. It is both a easy and a fun read which makes it a book I would recommend to all readers of all ages. Understanding the story of success might just be the key to achieving it in your own life.

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Monday, March 27th: Summer Is Near And I Love Malcolm Gladwell

In about a month the semester will finally be over and done with and I’m really excited about that. I’ll be taking classes in Gainesville for the first half of the summer and I’m still not completely sure what I’ll be doing for the second half. Im still looking into possible internships and jobs but my options are looking promising. But before I jump the gun and get into full blown summer mode its probably best I focus on the next few weeks of classes and exams. In a previous post I mentioned sending in my application to meet the deadline to transfer to UF but that deadline was actually postponed to mid April which means I still have to take care of that as well. Thankfully, if I finish the semester how I hope to finish I think I can be fairly positive about my application process.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

“Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

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I’m currently reading Malcolm Gladwell‘s Outliers, a book that analyzes what makes people and things successful. I discovered Malcolm Gladwell through my best friend in high school who had read multiple of his books and quickly became a huge fan. Gladwell is a journalist and author whose works often take academic research in sociology, economics, and psychology and combine them with captivating stories to help look at the hidden side of aspects of everyday life.

“I have two parallel things I’m interested in. One is, I’m interested in collecting interesting stories, and the other is I’m interested in collecting interesting research. What I’m looking for is cases where they overlap”

-Malcolm Gladwell

After reading his Gladwell’s bestseller Blink for myself I knew I wanted to read all his works. Knowing how fascinated I had become with Gladwell a friend bought me a copy of Outliers which has gone undisturbed on my bookshelf till now. Im currently on page 178 of 285 and it is safe to say that the very high expectations I have of Gladwell have been met so far. If you haven’t read any of Gladwell’s books go do yourself a favor and buy a copy because he is a must read author!

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Animal Farm Book Review

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equals than others.”

-George Orwell, Animal Farm

Image result for animal farm signet classics George Orwell, as I’ve written about in a previous blog post, was one of the most important authors of the last few centuries. He is best known for his book 1984, a book that is still amongst the best selling books today though it was published decades ago. His impact has been immense and it isn’t uncommon to hear things being referred to as Orwellian in todays vernacular. After reading 1984 I heard about another lesser known yet critically acclaimed Orwell book. This book turned out to be Animal Farm (176 pages) a book written by Orwell and published four years prior to his famed 1984.

The book Animal Farm centers around a group of animals who overthrow the oppressive humans who reap the reward of the animals labor while they sit back and do nothing. The animals, now in control of the farm, begin to establish rules and values by which they will rule the farm. As this happens two pigs grow in popularity and leadership as they both aim to gain control of the farm. Eventually one of the pigs drives out the other and proceeds to lead the pigs into battle verse humans from a neighboring farm. Though the animas ultimately win, the corrupt leadership only ends up making life for the animals on the farm more miserable.

This books has some very interesting themes and perspectives but ultimately the books is an allegory of the soviet revolution. I did not know that going into the reading but discovered it over the time I read the book and it made the reading even more interesting. Being from a country like Venezuela, where a marxist socialist regime has brought the country to ruins, I can relate strongly to this book.

I loved reading this book and I think most readers would enjoy it as well!

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To Kill a Mockingbird Book Review

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Image result for to kill a mockingbird book coverOn February 19th of 2016, a little over a year ago, the world lost one of the most important American novelist in history. Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama in the mid 1920’s and in 1960 her award winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (281 pages) was first published. The book is inspired by events that transpired in Lee’s hometown when she was a child, many of the characters and plot points are inspired by real people and events. After writing To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee reportedly started a handful of projects but never finished any of them. However, in the summer of 2015 a previously unreleased book, written before To Kill a Mockingbird, named Go Set a Watchman was published.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a story that revolves around a court trial in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression. The plot follows a lawyer, his kids, their friend, a wrongfully accused black man, and a reclusive neighbor. The book is known for its themes of empathy, race, morality, prejudice, etc. Perhaps the most significant theme however is the loss of innocence, innocence often represented by the symbol of a mockingbird.

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but . . . sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

I thoroughly enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird and definitely would recommend reading it if you haven’t already. The two reasons I decided to read it was because all my friends had read it and for the most part enjoyed the read, and because it was ranked number one on a list of all time 100 best novels made by Time Magazine. I now understand exactly why the book is so popular amongst teachers, students, avid readers, and those who seldom read alike, and regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, I hope you’ll read it as well.

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Monday, February 20th: Pre-Spring Break School Stress and More Classic Novels

February will be over soon and that means spring break! The past few weeks have been incredibly busy with school but its been good none the less. I will admit that this semester has been pretty tough and it can feel like no matter how hard I try Im not doing as well as I wish I would be in my classes. Hopefully the second half of the semester will be a different story and my hard work will start to pay off. My UF application is due next week so thats been another source of stress as of recent, so once thats turned in I think things will be going a bit smoother. I’ve also been traveling a lot recently, I traveled to Atlanta last weekend to see my parents and I had to travel to Orlando yesterday on last minute notice and it seems like Im going to have too drive to southern Georgia, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando again all in the next three weeks so its safe to say I hope to be staying put in Gainesville for a while after that.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Image result for to kill a mockingbird book coverI’m currently reading through Harper Lee‘s 1960 classic novel To Kill a MockingbirdUnfortunately I’m behind in my reading as Im only at page 50 of 281. I really had no idea what the book is about before I began reading it but after reading 50 pages, doing a little research, and talking to my friend about it I have somewhat of a grasp on the plot. It all centers around a widowed lawyer named Atticus, his two kids named Jem and Scout, their friend Dill, and an african american man accused of rape. Atticus is appointed to defend Tom at his trial despite the disapproval from the town, a town set in Alabama in the early 1900’s, an area with a long history of racism. I’ve enjoyed the read so far albeit it can be somewhat difficult at times due to the early 20th century southern vernacular it often uses.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

-Atticus

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

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1984 Book Review

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”

– George Orwell, 1984

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George Orwell didn’t write to create stories or works of art, he wrote to expose lies. Born in British ruled India in 1903, Eric Arthur Blair, known as George Orwell, was one of the most influential authors, essayist, and journalist of the early 20th century. Though he died young at the age of 56, Orwell’s influence has stood the test of time as even this year his famed novel 1984 (312 pages) is one of the number one selling books worldwide. 1984 is often considered Orwell’s masterpiece, surpassing his previous acclaimed work Animal Farm. Orwell was a political activist and was inspired by the things he saw over the course of his life (such as World War I, World War II, and the rise of Communism) to denounce Fascism, Stalinism, and most notably, Totalitarianism.

1984 is a dystopian novel written to warn against the danger of Totalitarianism. Written in 1949, the book takes place in a future where the political regime known as Ingsoc governs Airstrip One, formerly known as Great Britain, which is a province of Oceania. The infamous Big Brother is the omnipresent leader of the regime who carefully surveils his citizens, yet some believe he may not even exist. The plot centers around Winston, a government employee who grows more and more resentful of the Government he works for. Winston works in the Ministry of Truth and is an editor responsible for revising text from the past to fit Ingsoc’s agenda. As the plot moves forward it deals with themes of oppression, love, loyalty, mind control, censorship, war, etc., which all funnel back into the central idea of totalitarianism.

I had a great experience reading 1984 and is a book I would recommend without hesitation. Something I really appreciate about Orwell’s writing is how he is able to always remain relevant. The book has a lot interesting components to it such as “newspeak” which is the language enforced by the government that essentially eliminates expressing opposing views as well as personal expression. I also found the well developed ideology and philosophy of the government in the book to be fascinating. I’d definitely say that 1984 is a book that everyone should read at some point in their life, especially in todays world.

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