Tag Archives: Aldous Huxley

WWW Wednesday, 30-July-2014

30 Jul

Some progress for MizB’s WWW meme. I’m reading too much. More accurately; I’m reading too much at once.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’ve slowed a bit on  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Mostly because the eBook had to be returned so I’m waiting for it to come back. This is a slow torture.. My carpool buddy and I are getting a slow start Looking for Alaska by John Green. We only drove together once last week because I was so busy so hopefully we can make some big progress this week. I’m speeding through  The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen. This past weekend I went camping with my husband and got to do the one thing I wanted to do more than anything else; read on the beach. It was glorious. While I wait for my next audiobook to get in, I’m listening to Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Soon this one will go on the back burner. My husband and I are listening to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs on audiobook during our recent car trips. We should finish it this weekend when we go on (another) camping trip.

Recently finished: Just one; The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I finished it on Saturday and had a book club meeting over it on Monday. It was meh. Review coming soon.

Speaking of reviews, I wrote some this past week! Check out Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

Reading Next:  I’ve put two things on hold at the library: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio and Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. The Follett is a personal challenge and the Shors is for my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

I hope to finish at least one more this week. Probably the Cullen and the Riggs. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (3/5). Finally catching up on classics

28 Jul

I was skeptical when my carpool buddy picked this title. I’ve never read this classic and frankly have never heard too many rave reviews of it. Nevertheless, I thought letting her pick the first book would be a good move as she’s never done audiobooks before.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Four hundred years from now, we’ll all be savages. The civilized people will play elevator squash instead of tennis and will be decanted instead of born. They will take Soma instead of alcohol and everyone will be happy. Or at least, that’s what Aldous Huxley believes. In his dystopian world, the relationships between men and women have changed drastically and love is considered an antiquated idea.

In this world, Lenina Crowne has found peace and what she considers a happy life. Shen her lover, Bernard, takes her to visit the savages in America, she’s more worried about the number of elevator squash courts at the hotel than how the trip will change her. Bernard and Lenina find a woman named Linda who was previously a member of civilized society but who was shamed when she became pregnant. She has raised her son, John, on the sanctuary property. Bernard decides to bring Linda and John back with him to London as a sort of social experiment. While Linda is ecstatic to return, John has trouble adjusting to civilized life. He had been the odd-one-out among the savages for his learned ways and he’s the oddball among the civilized for his savage tendencies. Needless to say, John has a hard time adjusting.

I didn’t expect this book to be so funny! Really, to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. The narrator really helped as he did a great job with the work. I think there was a lot of setup so that the reader could understand the world the way Huxley saw it and for a while I did feel it dragged. I guess there’s a fine balance to hit for this because I felt China Mieville didn’t give enough. I liked it enough, though I’m not sure I’d call it a ‘favorite’ or ‘must read.’

All of the characters were so over the top and crazy that they seemed unbelievable, but I think that was part of their charm. They come from a world that’s so incredibly different from our own, that they should seem unreal. I wish John had been a bit more relatable, but his background was different from our own. I think the story would have been more impactful if John and Linda had been raised in a setting similar to the modern world (or whenever Huxley wrote the book). Then we would have had one character to latch onto; a dog in the fight.

I didn’t particularly like any of the characters because they were so shallow. I understand they were supposed to be that way, but it doesn’t make me like any of them. I guess Helmholtz would be my favorite because he seemed more level-headed than the rest. Unlike Bernard, he indulged in some of the pleasures of the civilized world at first while keeping himself more grounded than characters like Lenina. When Bernard goes crazy with his new-found fame toward the end, Helmholtz seems like the one grounded. I liked him as a foil for Bernard.

Aldous Huxley Image from The Independant

Aldous Huxley
Image from The Independent

I liked the book best at the beginning when the reader was learning about Huxley’s London. I could laugh at the ‘sign of the T’ and decanting and all that. I think it dragged on a bit, but it was a great example of ‘show, don’t tell’ for a writer.

I didn’t like the later half of the book, after John moved to London. I felt like he was a trained animal in a cage the entire time and I felt bad for him more than anything. It wasn’t funny any more and that took away a lot of my enjoyment of the story.

I’m still trying to digest Huxley’s overall theme. I noticed a lot of little ones; nostalgia, commitment, and control seem like the biggest ones to me. Nostalgia in the form of Linda, who yearned to return to civilized London and refused to adjust to life with the savages even after being there for years. It destroyed her in the end. John’s demise was also partially due to nostalgia because he was yearning to go back to the savages by the end and wanted to live the way he’d grown up.

Lenina and John had a misunderstanding of commitment that led to the sad ending of the story. In Lenina’s world, there were no commitments. Men and women didn’t commit to each other and it seemed that anyone can change their mind over their decisions at any time with minimal consequences. John came from a world where a decision was hard to go back from and he didn’t trust Lenina’s commitment to him. Oops.

Control is an obvious theme of this book where people aren’t trusted enough to have children and the government has a say in almost every facet of life. To one point, there was very little that people had to worry about and Lenina and Bernard’s greatest fears were not food, water, and shelter, but rather the sport facilities at hotels and how their apartments smelled. On the other hand the characters became interchangeable because they were so alike. They’d been conditioned to not have personalities and without personalities and passions, there’s less room for innovation and creative change.

Writer’s Takeaway: Wow, there’s so much to go on with this book. Huxley wrote this book in 1931 so before anyone thinks this is part of a ‘dystopian trend,’ consider that Huxley defined this genre more than followed it. His imagination is a bit different from Panem or the Divergent experiments, but it’s unique and original. As writers we shouldn’t be afraid to write something radical and new. Huxley wrote during the great depression when people were yearning for a happier, better future. It’s been argued that dystopian is popular today due to the ‘Great Recession’ and unrest with the political and economic situation in the current economy. What a wonderful parallel.

I do think the exposition in this story was a bit drawn out, but that’s really my only complaint. It was very well-balanced and written.

Enjoyable, but not something I’d re-read. Three out of five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
“Brave New World” Aldous Huxley | inesawolf
Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” Inspires Iron Maiden | From Novels to Notes
Book Review: “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley | The Z-Axis

WWW Wednesday, 25-June-2014

25 Jun

As expected, not much to report for MizB’s WWW though I’ve been progressing nicely!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve slowed down just a bit onThe Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s good, but not so gripping that I can’t put it down.. I’m at the final stopping point of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’ll remain there until after the 4th of July holiday so don’t expect any movement there. And please be a dear (unlike Nicole) and don’t tell me who dies at the end. On audiobook I started Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser but I’m still on the first disk. I guess I haven’t driven anywhere alone in a while. My carpool buddy and I are almost done with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Final disk! I’m getting close to finishing A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. It’s very unlike his other book that I’ve read but I’m really enjoying it so far!

Recently finished: Nothing finished. This gives me a sad face because I’ve made so much progress with all of my books! I did review Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan which you can enjoy.

Reading Next:  I have  The Coward by Kyle R Bullock next on my shelf. After that I’m going to seriously attack my When Are You Reading? Challenge and try to knock out the remaining time periods as fast as I can! I’m starting to get nervous on this one.

I should have some progress to report next week! Possibly two books. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-June-2014

18 Jun

Thanks to MizB’s WWW, I’ve been motivated to power through some books!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m slowly continuing The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Still not sure if I’ll finish it before it’s due, but I’m at 70% now and making decent progress forward. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner so no new progress there. On audiobook I started Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve been told it will make me never eat fast food again. Yay? My carpool buddy is back so we’re still working on  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I started a new book last night; A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I enjoyed the other Eggers book I read and this one sounds really interesting. It’s for my book club that doesn’t meet again until August so I’ll have some time to take it leisurely.

Recently finished: Two! I finished two! The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian was an audiobook and I really enjoyed it. I met Bohjalian a few weeks ago and found him inspiring. I’m glad I got to read this gem so soon. I also just finished O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn which was an ARC I won on First Reads. I wasn’t a huge fan, to be honest, but enjoyed the setting. I’ll work on a review in the next week or so. Also, I posted a review for The Language of Flowers which I’m sure will have a Book Club Reflection coming soon!

Reading Next:  I have one more ARC on my shelf to clear off which is The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. Kyle contacted me on my Facebook Fan Page and I’m so honored that he was the first to do so! I’ll be glad to get his book read this summer.

I’m hoping there will be some progress next week, too! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-June-2014

11 Jun

One down! But know I’m working on each of the other books; just not enough to finish any of them. I wish there was more to report for MizB’s WWW .

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson came in and I’ve been able to make more progress on it. I don’t think I’ll finish it again before it’s due, but I’ve made a lot of progress. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’m not sure how I picked such a cliffhanger of a stopping point but DANG. I can’t wait to keep going.  On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. My carpool buddy is on vacation so I’m plowing through this on my commute. I think I’m a little over half way and I’m loving it. Since carpool buddy is on vacation,  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is on hold this week. My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m only reading it at lunch so I’m making slow progress but I’ll take it on vacation this weekend and see what I can do. Yes, that’s right, I’m going on vacation! We’re taking the bus so I’ll have plenty of time to read.

Recently finished: With the push of having to make this update, I stayed up and finished reading my NaNo last night! Woooo. Nothing to add to my Goodreads challenge, but hey! I did review The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker but that’s all.

Reading Next:  As my book club doesn’t meet until August, I might have time for something in between. I want to concentrate on finishing O, Africa! next, but there could be one more ARC in line. On audio, I have Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on reserve at the library. Stay tuned!

Let’s see if I can finish my audiobook by next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-June-2014

4 Jun

SO MUCH PROGRESS!!! It feels good to participate in MizB’s WWW and be able to brag about it.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m making more steady progress on my NaNo. I’m about 3/4 of the way done with it and I’ve realized there’s a lot of filler I need to cut out. It will be an interesting revision process. I’m still on hold for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson but I am next on the list. I’ll start on The Maze Runner by James Dashner again this weekend. I bet I’m done with the next section by the time I report back.. On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. It was the first book on my long list that the library had in non-CD-but-still-audio form. Go figure. My carpool buddy and I are still working on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I’m not sure how I feel about it still and we go long times without listening to it so I’m not sure how long this will take! My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m still trying to figure out the voice of the narrator and it’s making it hard for me to get into, but I’m excited about something rooted in the 1920s!

Recently finished: Two! I finished two books! The first is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is for my informal work book club and I was the first to read it so I could pass it on. We’ll meet to discuss when the third woman has finished it. I also finished  Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan on audio. This was for one of my book clubs as well and I liked it a lot. The writing was a good mix of scientific fact and memoir. Look for reviews soon.

I’ve posted a review for I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak yesterday. Enjoy!

Reading Next:  It’s going to be A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers for my ‘edgy’ book club. This book sounds really cool so I’m excited to get started on it!

My goal is to finish reading my NaNo in the next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-May-2014

28 May

So there’s progress to report for MizB’s WWW but no finished books. I guess you win some and you lose some, eh?

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve made slow progress on my NaNo novel. I try to read it when I’m not really tired and can devote my whole brain to critiquing it, so I guess I’m saying I haven’t been reading it a lot. Still working on it. My other physical book is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is my work-book club book and I’ve got to read it first so I can pass it on to the next person.

I’m still on hold for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Update pending. I finished the third part of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. This book is getting hard to put down which makes it difficult to stick with the Read Along timing. I’m doing my darndest! On audiobook I’m listening to Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. I’m really enjoying it so far! The narrator is good and the story is really moving. It’s a great mix of medical study and human interest story. My carpool buddy and I are still working on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It’s a bit slow going because we don’t carpool every day and I had a call-in meeting last week, but we’ll get there.

Recently finished: Nothing finished, but my review for The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa went up last week. Enjoy!

Reading Next:  I’m really hesitant to say anything right now. I’m in the middle of so many that I’m not ready to look forward to another just yet. It might be a book club selection, but I’m hoping it’s an ARC!

Hopefully I can get one or two of these finished in the next week! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 21-May-2014

21 May

I’m so glad to have progress to report for MizB’s WWW after having so little last week. I think this spurred me into action.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m finally reading my own book! It’s the really really rough draft of the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It’s in rough shape, believe me. Hopefully I can gain some semblance of a structure and consistent characters when I do a re-write.

I’m on hold with The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Someone put a hold on it and I didn’t know, so I have to wait three weeks to start back on it. Those bastards. I finished the second part of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. My first Read-Along post went up on Thursday last week. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’re just starting chapters 10-19 and will be done with them by 26-May. On audiobook I’m listening to Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. It’s a true story about a reporter who was almost institutionalized while suffering from a rare disease. This is my book club selection for June. In a lovely turn of events, my carpool buddy agreed to try some audiobooks! After day one, she’s fallen asleep and I’m pleased. We settled on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which she’s read and enjoyed and I’ll be reading for the first time.

Recently finished: Two books finished!  The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker is an ARC I’ve been wanting to read for months. I’m glad I finally did. The memoir focuses on Walker’s mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s; a similar battle to the one my protagonist faces in my NaNo. I also finished I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak on audio. The narrator was great, but I’m confused about the ending. I’m not sure I really understood it.

Reading Next:  I’m going to take a jump on these ARCs. Next up is O, Africa by Andrew Lewis Conn. It’s set in the 1920s, so you can judge my excitement from that.

I’m feeling better about books moving forward. I see a bright light full of words and libraries. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!