Half a Lifetime – REVIEW TIME

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Half a Lifetime, by Judith Wright. First read 15th April to 17th April 2017.  No rating.

I’m aiming to (a) review a book every day this week (this being day two) and (b) review every book I read this month! Today’s issue – Half a Lifetime, by Judith Wright.

I had to read this book in preparation for my speech exam, and found it particularly interesting. It opened my eyes to some elements of Judith’s life that I didn’t know/hadn’t thought about before.

It’s always difficult writing reviews on autobiographies, I find. This is because I can’t critique the plot without critiquing a life. This story in particular was exceptionally personal, making my job even more difficult. Perhaps autobiographies aren’t meant to be critiqued, but rather to be pondered on!

Half a Lifetime is the story of one of Australia’s best known poets, Judith Wright. It shows her childhood, her life as a young adult before, after, and during the War, and explores her relationship with the philosopher Jack McKinney.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this book was its friendly mixture of storytelling and philosophy. Judith showed the way that her philosophy and worldview was created, and even in the beginning stages of her life she showed how that time influenced her beliefs later in life. I suppose it goes to show that even the earliest events in our life affect our mind and consequently our worldview. For Judith Wright, these events were the mistreatment of the Aboriginal people who worked for her family. It was the illness of her mother which meant she was largely left to herself, free to roam the bush and be told off for being ‘unladylike’ by her family. All of these experiences led Judith Wright to be a campaigner for Aboriginal land rights in later years, spurred on by her personal witness of prejudice.

It’s interesting to me that Judith travelled Europe several years before the outbreak of WWII, and saw what was coming. However, when trying to warn those back home in Australia of the clear future, she was ignored or laughed at. Wrapped in our comfortable bubbles of the things we know (or think we know), we don’t like to peek outside and have a look outside at the things we may not know about, at the future which we fervently ignore. Given the current unrest in the world today, it’s interesting to ponder the fact that even today we refuse to see two steps in front of us.

Yet another thing that fascinated me was how Judith knew very early on that she wanted to be a poet. She was sure of this fact. So when it came time for school, she did wonderfully in English, and not-so-good at maths. She wanted to go to Uni, so she studied several different units in literature and history, rather than a whole degree.

This book was very thought provoking and very personal. The writing style is written in Judith Wright’s unique way; there are commas where there shouldn’t be and none where there should, as well as plenty of run-on sentences. It also has large gaps and silences in places, particularly her university years. Sometimes it jumps ahead a few years, or back, but not enough to make it too confusing. However, all this serves to make it feel more like an intimate conversation than a book!

Would I recommend this book? I’m really not sure. I haven’t really touched on Judith’s worldview, which is a whole topic on itself. I suppose I would suggest reading it if you’re interested in her poetry and what influenced it. It’s certainly an interesting look into one remarkable poet’s mind!


img_0581I am a fan of Judith’s poetry, and so reading this book really was an insight into her whole world. I struggle reading her prose because of the sentence structure, but this book was so personal that I barely noticed the grammar.

Have you read any of her poetry? I’d highly recommend it!

Love, Emmeline 🙂

The Summer We Saved the Bees – REVIEW TIME

SummerWeSavedTheBeescovThe Summer We Saved the Bees, by Robin Stevenson. Read April 11th,    3 // 5 stars.

I read this book for the first time just the other day. We had to be at the library for an hour, so I picked up a book that looked doable (not too long, not too short) and read it!

In this book, Wolf has to go with his family (two twin girls, a grumpy stepsister and her boyfriend, a mother, and a stepfather) around the country to promote the idea that the bees are dying – and that the end of the world is coming. His sister is sick, and he doesn’t want to go.

This is yet another case of me picking up a book in the YA section of the library, and it turning out to be Middle Grade. I didn’t mind though – it was a nice little story that shows how to live in a frankly quite confusing world.

There was something that I particularly liked about this book, which was the overall theme of ‘it is what it is’. Given the premise of the book, ‘save the world at all costs’, this was a nice little surprise that is a lot closer to what I personally agree with, though still (of course) not all the way there.

Additionally, the ending was bittersweet – my favourite type of ending. Reconciliation combined with realism makes for a good book, I feel.

While I never really got into the book enough to really feel on the edge of my seat (more my setting’s fault than the books’), there were certainly some “WHYYYYY are some people so annoying!” moments.

The story arc with the younger sister’s anxiety was good, I felt – it had mental illness representation in younger children, which I feel doesn’t happen enough. However, I am not knowledgeable enough to be able to judge whether or not the representation was realistic or not. I feel like it was … maybe … not really sure … Glad it was there at least, though!

There were some gripes that I did have with the book, however:

  • The characters were a little flat. I found myself wishing that the description focused more on the characters than the setting.
  • (okay this is slightly embarrassing but) It took me a quarter of the book to discover that (a) the main character was a boy, and (b) he was just twelve. I thought he was a she and also at least 16. Either I wasn’t paying attention oooorrrrr…..
  • The description felt very forced in places.
  • There were some odd things and inconsistencies??? In places it didn’t quite feel like they were actually a vegan all-organic family. As someone who knows many people who are actually vegan and all-organic, the inconsistencies were highly obvious to me.

But apart from these issues it was a fun little read that really picked me up for that hour at the library!


img_0581Have you read this book? What do you think of it????

Love, Emmeline 🙂

how to read scarily thick books

 

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You know when there’s a book that you really want to read, but it’s just so intimidating?? Maybe it’s really really long, or is written in a really thick style? Well, I’m here to share some tricks and tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

step one

Take a good long look at the book and tell yourself you can do it! Because you can.

And remember to keep reminding yourself that you can! If you tell yourself you can’t get through it, you’re training your brain to tell yourself that you can’t. Train your brain that you can and soon you’ll find that you have! Read the book! Clearly my rhyming skills are nonexistent right now!

step two

open the book. Sniff it. Get acquainted with it. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with it, so get used to the book itself.

step three

Set yourself a goal. Given how fast you usually read, how much time you have on your hands, and how long the actual thing is, make a goal for a time that you want to have read it by.

When I read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy last year, I aimed to finish it in two weeks. (fifty pages a day – pffffft totally achievable)

It actually took me … 17 days I think?? BuT because the goal I set for myself was so short and impossible, I was really happy with how I did! I know that if I didn’t have a goal, it would have taken farrrrrr longer to read.

ALSOOOOO … this is about knowing how you work! If you know that you won’t read the book if you set yourself a goal, then don’t set one!! Only set yourself a goal if you think it’ll work! Cannot stress this enough.

step four

Get comfortable! This includes a cup of tea or coffee or vegemite or whatever it is you like to drink, and a cozy little corner to read in. Or maybe it includes a hard little seat on a train on the way home from work or school.

Wherever it is, you need to set apart a time and place to read. Make habits!! Habits are great!

step five

read.

and read.

and read some more.

Basically, you just have to read. There’s no skipping this step. Set apart a little time a day to read it. You’ll get through it. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your progress as you inch your way through an ‘impossible’ book.


img_0581Just keep reading, just keep reading, just keep reading reading reading!! – as Dory would say 🙂

How do you motivate yourself to read long books?

love,

Emmeline 🙂

Top Ten Fandoms I’m In (yay!)

Today I’m bringing to you my Top Ten Fandoms. I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday, because it’s such a fab idea and I love it!

(and prepare yourself for some yelling & ranting, because I can get very enthusiastic about my fandoms. MY PRECIOUS.)

Without further ado, my top ten fandoms.

  1. Lord of the Rings. 

    I LOVE LORD OF THE RINGS SO MUCH. You have no idea. I’ll have to do a post one day about HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS BOOK because it’s actually ridiculous and I can go on about it for a while!!

    (also this includes pretty much everything Middle Earth related, because Tolkien is just all round amazing.)

  2. Harry Potter

    I read HP for the first time only 18 months ago now, though it feels like a lot longer. I was pretty much in love from the first page onwards. It’s such a wonderful fantasy adventure and I am quite honestly IN LOVE!!

    And who doesn’t love a good good vs. evil tale, anyway??!?

  3. Star Wars

    EXCUSE ME WHILE I CRY. Star Wars was my first fandom that I appreciated as a Fandom and it’s been with me for years – my ‘gateway’ fandom!! The fourth is my favourite, I have a heart for the prequels, number 7 made me cry, and everything about Rogue One makes me happy 🙂

    (except the ending, obviously.)

  4. Sherlock Holmes

    This fandom is in two parts for me. One, my deep and sincere love of the books, which I first read when I was ten and have reread at least six times since so that I now know the entire plot of each mystery and each has an immense amount of nostalgia attached.

    And two – the BBC series, which is all the perfection, essentially. I just can’t. It’s perfect. I can’t fault it. It changes the books in a way that I am (unusually) okay with. This is ridiculous. BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH OKAY. xx

  5. The How To Train Your Dragon books

    Let me just emphasise that again. I LOVE THE BOOKS. The books were essentially MY CHILDHOOD. I borrowed them every single library visit and devoured them. The movies on the other hand – they’re COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. The movies change EVERYTHING. WHERE WAS CAMICAZI? ALVIN? THE SUITORS?? MY BRAIN IS CONFUSED??!?!?

    (clearly I’m going to have to do a post on this because I have a lot of built up rants prepared 🙂 )

  6. Narnia

    I have a very clear memory of my mother reading me The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was four. Ever since then it’s been kind of … there?? It’s been a part of my whole life, although I’m not obsessed with it. But it definitely deserves an honourable mention. The books are beautiful perfection. All movies except The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe make me cry because they changed too much.

    (The Horse and his Boy is definitely my fave, because of talking horses and watermelons)

  7. Disney/Pixar

    I will be the first to admit that I’m not a crazy Disnerd. It’s not my favourite fandom. That said, I cried during Finding Dory purely because nostalgia??? Tangled and both Cinderellas are some of my favourite movies??? I still watch the old animated Cinderalla because I love it and the new one is pure and utter perfection??? I cried during the trailer for Beauty and the Beast???

    Clearly I like Disney more than I thought 😀

    (I think it’s actually a little like Narnia for me – it’s kind of always been there. So much beautiful. I wish I could sing. *sigh*)

  8. Doctor Who

    I’m kind of a lowkey fan of DW. I know the story line, have watched up to season 7 I think (I’m still planning to finish it though, just hanging out for the holidays!!), and llloooooovvvve the concept/characters. But I don’t know – I watched it because of my friend and I feel like while I love it, it doesn’t have the same nostalgic value that some of my other fandoms have.

    BUT I STILL LOVE IT OKAY.

  9. Classics

    This fandom is basically a combination of all the books that were written before 1899. Jane Austen, John Buchan, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc etc etc. Jane Austen was the best writer of ever, John Buchan is down to earth, Dickens makes me nice and depressed, and Doyle is perfect for a good adventure. Then there’re the books like Swiss Family Robinson, Little House on the Prairie (yes i know that was 1935 okay sssshhhh), Coral Island, and so so many more.

    (and then there’s Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Winne the Pooh … excuse me while I cry from nostalgia.)

  10. Anne of Green Gables

    I love these books to pieces – every single one of them (there are 8). I always say I love the first and the last – Anne of Green Gables is perfection, and Rilla of Ingleside is the best WWI book I’ve ever read. Seriously, the movies don’t do them justice (don’t get me started on the third one ……. urghhhh).

 

img_0581So those were my ten favourite fandoms! I’m absolutely in love with all of them and I just can’t get over their brilliance.

What’s your favourite fandom?? (if you can choose haha)

Keep smiling!!

–Emmeline 🙂

my notebooks – chit chat 2

A slightly un-book related post, but it still has to do with words and pages! I’m going to be showing you all the notebooks I use almost daily, because whhhyyyever not.

Notebooks are some of my favourite things ever. Traditionally as a family we’ve always made wishlists for our birthdays, and without fail from age five ‘notebooks’ have been present on mine.

As such, I have accumulated perhaps too many notebooks over the course of my life. Yet I use them – at least, most of them – almost every day.

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This is my journal. I’ve consistently written in one since age five (this is number six), and it’s honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. I write all sorts of things in there – hopes, dreams, fears, experience, rants – and no we’re not going to look inside.

Moving right along!

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This is my quotes book. (I did an instagram post on this agesss ago) When I read and come across a particularly gorgeous sentence, or a particularly relatable piece of dialogue, then I’ll write it down in this little book.

I’ve so far collected quite an array of lovely quotes to look back on 🙂

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AHA. Here we have the most exciting of all the notebooks … my story ideas. Inside, it has absolutely no rhyme, reason, order, or any variation of neat handwriting, but it makes sense to me.

Kind of.

I’ve used this to *loosely* draft two of my stories, and I’ve found it much easier than doing it on the computer – there’s more room for scribbles and explanation marks and heavy underlining. That said, there’s no doubt that it’s faster on the laptop.

Now onto the next one …

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This is where I plan my insta posts (tags etc. and when will I ever be organised with this who can know) and my blog posts. I’m planning on using this notebook more for its intended purpose over the next year!

^^^^ explanation: This notebook started out as a whole bunch of random notes that didn’t fit anywhere else. Over a few months it finally evolved to the Social Media book. Hopefully it stays that way!

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I use this notebook for my bible studies – writing down any particular verses that I love, or that stood out to me that day. It’s half full of verses now, and I can’t wait to fill it up completely! I find that writing down the verses helps me to retain them better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis notebook has seen three outdoor camps (soon to be four) and is full of doodles/ emails/ prayers as well as Bible verses, which just makes it all the more precious to me.

AND LOOK!!! The previous three notebooks are all the same size, and I bought/wasgiventhem over a three year period!! (I love it when these things work out like that??? A gazillion yeses.)

Now for the final one …..

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My diary. I’ve gone through many over the years, but this has been the best one yet. It has a page for each day, and it’s actually perfect. It’s thick without being too heavy, large without being too large, and I’m in love with the cover. It even has a little pocket for stickers.

I also find that I’ve been using it almost every day, and it’s really helped me to be more productive and stay on top of my due dates (to a certain extent). As seen on the right, I’ve put in sticky notes for each due date and because it’s got a page to a day, it really helps me to keep track of assignments and events and things-that-I-can’t-miss.

I love it I love it I love it!!



img_0581So those are the six notebook that I’m currently using almost every day.

What notebooks do you use??

Keep smiling,

–Emmeline 🙂

 

March 2017 WRAPUP

What a busy month I’ve had! Full of school assignments, dramas and general busyness. That said, I did get little inbetween moments to read some delightful books!

I read 16 books this month.

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The Gipsy Queen (Emma Leslie) – 4 // 5

Reread: Walk in My Shoes (Alwyn Evans) – 4 // 5

The Enchanted Castle (E. Nesbit) – 3 // 5

The Time Machine (H. G. Wells) – 3 // 5

The Elite (Kiera Cass) – 2 // 5

The Selection (Kiera Cass) – 3 // 5

The One (Kiera Cass) – 2 // 5

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Nothing in my Hand I Bring (Ray Galea) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did at School (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: What Katy Did Next (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Reread: Mary Poppins (P. L. Travers) – 4 // 5

Reread: Clover (Susan Coolidge) – 5 // 5

Beastkeeper (Cat Hellisen) – 4 // 5

In the High Valley (Susan Coolidge) – 4 // 5

Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell) – 3 // 5


about the books…

Sometimes it annoys me how many books I reread each month – but at the same time, I do love revisiting old friends that I’ve known for years and years! The What Katy Did series is like that for me. I’ve reread it countless times and haven’t had enough yet.

I finally got around to the Selection series – and let’s just say that I’ll be stopping after the third book. It wasn’t really my kind of series. I disliked the writing style, and honestly, when that happens I automatically greatly dislike the book. Unfortunately this happened with The Selection series. That said, I understand if you like it! It certainly has its good points, and there’s no doubt that it’s a page turner 😉


in other news…

I’ve been rolling along semi-steadily this month. A lot of personal stuff has happened but I’m trying not to let it get to me??? At least not if it doesn’t have to. Sometimes I worry about the fact that I don’t stress over dramas a lot, but at the same time I’m just too lazy to stress. It’s just too much work.

Uni is happening. That’s all I have to say on that. Also, IT’S FINALLY THE HOLIDAYS. That means no more school/math!!! *throws confetti in celebration*

I’m currently trying to put all of the books we own into a database. I’m just using googledocs, because I’m too poor to buy an actual program. It’s working well so far. I’ve been told that we (as a family) should open a library! A far off dream – (but I’m starting by making a database, sssshhh).

I started up my bookstagram account again! I went on an unannounced hiatus because of busy school and no motivation to take photos. But I’m back!!!


march highlights ….

  • Starting to read again!
  • It’s the holidays, aayyyyyy
  • long chats with best friends and remembering how blessed I am to have them xx
  • scavenger hunts in shopping centres with fellow buddies 🙂
  • taking photos for bookstagram again!!
  • not dying/getting flooded from cyclones and intense rain

img_0581What did you do in March?

keep smiling,

— em 🙂

As We Sweep Through the Deep – REVIEW TIME

downloadAs We Sweep Through the Deep, by Gordon Stables.
Read February 15th,      3 // 5 stars.

I’ve been swamped under with school/uni work for the past week, but I thought I’d take a moment out from assignments and study to write a little review on this rollicking book!

This book is the height of swashbucklers. It surrounds two families, one of which has a mortgage on their old mansion, and the other of which has control of the mortgage. There is a see travelling young man, a feisty sister, a loving love interest, and kind friends.

There were many things that I enjoyed about this book! Namely:

  • The sweetness and innocence of the romance
  • Sea battles and (hopefully) accurate historical content
  • Sweet sisters with sweet characters
  • Friends that stick up for you
  • The gorgeous writing style!!!

That said, there were some iffy things with this book. The book had a clear plot from the beginning – BUT WHERE DID IT GO?? I was sooo confused in the middle of the book because the plot had packed up and left. It barely returned for a little wrap at the end.

So what did it do instead of follow the plot? Well, it…..

  • Took us through numerous sea battles
  • PIRATES
  • Death (seriously though, so many soldiers died and I was sooo surprised at the death toll)
  • There was a scene where smugglers were captured
  • Basically ships.
  • And sea fighting.
  • So … it’s essentially England vs France on the water.
  • England wins!!

(and now we return for the finale where everyone and everything ends up happy!)

I hope that wasn’t too spoiler-ly for you, but to be perfectly honest, there isn’t much to spoil. As I said, this book seemed far more interested in taking us through sea battles than following through with the plot that it had promised from the beginning. The reason I ended up rating it so high was because I enjoyed the reading experience so much! The writing was delightful and the characters were delightful and even the sea battles were delightful. Just the lack of a consistent plot irritated me.

img_0581My ancient hardcover edition of this book was found for one dollar at a second hand book sale. You can read a free eBook at Project Gutenberg here!

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

February 2017 WRAPUP

I’m late – dear me I’m late – but I’m finally getting round to my wrapup for last month!

I read 8 books this month.

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Reread: Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Caroll) –  4 // 5

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell) –  4 // 5

Reread: The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater) –  4 // 5

As We Sweep Through the Deep (Gordon Staples) –  3 // 5

Words in Deep Blue (Cath Crowley) –  4 // 5

No Matter When (Karen Kingsbury) –  1 // 5

1984 (George Orwell) –  4 // 5

Reread: They Came on Viking Ships (Jackie French) –  3 // 5

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I am actually happy with my reading this month. I’ve been ridiculously busy and had barely any time to read, so I’m happy with the books I did finish.

What did you read in February?

love,

Emmeline 🙂

what is a good book? – chit chat 1

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Here I am, starting a new blog series, chit chats! I’m hoping to number them so as to keep track.

This particular post is all about how I personally rate books – what I think a good book should contain. And if you think about it, books are so objective! Someone will love a book, and someone else will hate it. It purely depends on the reader.

So then we have to wonder, are there actually any bad books?? How do we know if a book is actually good?

I personally believe that yes, there are bad books, and yes, there are many of them. It’s taken years of thought to come to this conclusion, but if we don’t have bad books, then we can’t have good books, and so all our rants on how good our favourite books are are then deemed pointless.

What I think makes a book bad.

  • poor writing. There is a bad use of description, either too much or too little. The dialogue is poorly handled; too much, too little, too descriptive, not natural, not enough context. Weak verbs are used, such as ‘grabbed’, when something more specific would suffice (though I am a fan of ‘said’). Too many adverbs. Sentences that are too short; sentences that are too long. When the writing does not have a good poetic flow.

 

  • when the characters are one dimensional. Characters that are stereotypes. Characters that are predictable. Characters with no personality. Characters that don’t change throughout the story. Characters that are simply words on a page, not springing to life at any point.
    • (note) sometimes it’s okay to have supporting characters that are one dimensional, depending on the book and the style. However, the main characters should always be 3D.

 

  • when the plot is all over the place (or nowhere to be found). While books do not necessarily have to be tightly plotted, it is important to have some sort of problem, that then has some sort of resolution.
    • (note) sometimes books don’t have much of a resolution, and often that is okay. But I think that as long as the problem is dealt with in some way, then it’s fine.

 

  • when the story endorses immorality. When main characters rape each other, and the plot doesn’t tell it’s bad in some subtle way (to use an extreme example). When people swear and slap each other and the plot tells them it’s fine.
    • (note 1) it’s a whole new topic when you start thinking about what IS scriptural morality and why are some Christians okay with things in books while others aren’t! That’s a topic for another time, though I think that the endorsement of basic immorality (lying, stealing, murdering, etc.) really degrades the book’s quality.
    • (note 2) I personally think that it is okay for the main character of a book to be a murderer (for example), as long as there is some sort of resolution that includes the consequences of murder. However, this should not be done in a predictable, ‘murdering is bad’ happy ending, where all is forgiven. Does that make sense? The ending of this particular story should be realistic, and poignant, and thoughtful.

 

Those are just some scattered thoughts, but I think that it’s certainly interesting to think about. This topic has been debated for centuries, but it’s something that I’m very interested in.

Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Chit chat with me down below!

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

1984 – REVIEW TIME

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1984 by George Orwell
Read 27th February 2017.     4 // 5 stars.

I’ve been gone for a little, studying and assignment-ing away. However, I took a little break to record my thoughts on this stunning book, one that I’d been wanting to read for a very long time.

This book is a stunning commentary on humanity. I read it in one sitting, and I’m still slightly in awe of its power??? I was quite honestly glued to the page.

My favourite thing about this book was undoubtedly the fact that it makes one think – about the human condition. It presents a very negative view on humanity. Thankfully, as a Christian I know that should I be put in the same situations as Winston was, I would stand my ground. However it was still good to read this book and see life from another’s point of view.

This book is powerful. It made me question my own reality. For a moment there I caught myself wondering if, after all, we would be a stronger society without love. It is a question that Lauren Oliver tried to answer in her Delerium series, and one that many others have also tried to answer. 1984 says that we would be. We would be stronger. We would be completely united as one. Our only loyalty would be to the Government. While (of course) I disagree with this view of humanity, I do agree that we would be stronger.

I suppose as humans we have to decide between retaining our individuality, and being strong as a society. I choose retaining our individuality. But, if a group of people (such as there are, in the world today) were to choose the latter, it would require uniting together to oppose with them. In the end, then, life goes on. And we go on with it.

If it weren’t for the fact that I believe in a God who is greater than the human condition, I would be quite discouraged by this book. But in some sense it was just reaffirming what I already believed; that humanity is messed up.

So those are just a few of the scattered thoughts that I had whilst reading this great book. There were a couple of things that brought the rating down from five to four stars; namely the emphasis on sexual pleasure. Maybe I just can’t relate to this, but it did seem to me a little unnecessary that there was such a large emphasis placed on it.

img_0581Additionally, I think that this book is not really meant to be read as a story. I think that the author intended us to think when we read it, to discuss it, to ponder it and the themes it presents.

Have you read this book?

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂