Most Taught Texts from the Top US Universities

Adams House (Harvard): Library of
Adams House (Harvard): Library of by Paul Lowry

The Open Syllabus Project, is an effort to make the intellectual judgment embedded in syllabi relevant to broader explorations of teaching, publishing, and intellectual history.  It released the top texts taught from the top US universities over the last 15 years and Quartz released an article listing them.  This is exactly the kind of thing that I love.  I love to keep learning and the way that works best for me is reading because I also love that.  So, they only hard part is choosing the right books.  These are definitely some of them.  See the list they released below:

Rank Text Author
1 Republic Plato
2 Leviathan Hobbes, Thomas
3 The Prince Machiavelli, Niccolò
4 The Clash of Civilizations Huntington, Samuel
5 The Elements of Style Strunk, William
6 Ethics Aristotle
7 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn, Thomas
8 Democracy in America Tocqueville, Alexis De
9 The Communist Manifesto Marx, Karl
10 The Politics Aristotle

I would so love all of these books.  I’ve read only a few.  Most if not all of them are available as a penguin classic.  In their little black perfect paperback versions.  I love these.  If only you could buy all of them in one go, with of course an accompanying bookshelf!  Someday, Someday, Maybe.

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections

Star Wars The Force Awakens Incredible Cross Sections
Star Wars The Force Awakens Incredible Cross Sections by Jason Fry

Incredible cross-sections is a beautiful book!  Not only are all the images “incredible”, but there are short articles on every page.  The articles tell you a little about each vehicle.  For example, did you know that Rey built that speeder herself?  Even Han’s new freighter is in this book and so are the Rathtars.

Millennium Falcon Cross Section
Millennium Falcon Cross Section

I am very glad that my library had this book.  But honestly, if my kids were a little more into Star Wars I would not hesitate to buy this for $20.  As it is, I don’t have the room for this and I’d be the only one looking at it.  Click on the image above to see a larger version.  Can you find Finn?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross Sections Book Cover Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross Sections
Jason Fry
Juvenile Nonfiction
DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley)
December 18, 2015

See the vehicles of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in unparalleled detail with this newest addition to the Star Wars Incredible Cross Sections series. Twelve breathtaking artworks bring the new craft to life, showing all of the weapons, engines, and technology, while engaging text explains each vehicle's backstory and key features.

Reading Log

Stockholm Public Library
Stockholm Public Library by Samantha Marx

I ran across a link to May McLay Patterson’s enormously long titled I Read 164 Books in 2015 and Tracked them all in a Spreadsheet.  Here is what I learned. article.  It starts of a little too wordy for me and then the first tip is not to finish every book you start.  So far, this sounds like the same advice I’ve heard from a million other people, most notably Nancy Pearl.

I track what I’ve read and what I want to read on goodreads, but I also have a spreadsheet.  Just something simple on google sheets.  In 2015 I was interested if I read more male authors work or female.  So I started tracking it (67% male).  Patterson mentions that Amanda Nelson of Book Riot not only records their gender but also their nationality, and whether or not they identify as a person of color.  I thought this is great finally a way to better my existing system.

I loved that Patterson liked Stacy Schiff’s The Witches: Salem, 1692 because that book is on my short list of to TBR.  It drives me crazy that I haven’t read it yet.

Last year, the BBC reported that translations comprise just 2 to 3 percent of English publishing, compared with 27 percent in France and up to 70 percent in Slovenia.

Wow!  I’ve read two books this year that are translations The Stranger and Missing Person.  Both, oddly enough French translations.  Go figure!  Make that three, I didn’t realize that Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist was a translation.

I’m reading the article as I write this.  Patterson is a librarian and the more I read of this article the more my desire to be a librarian increases.  I’ve known for several years that I would like to do that kind of work, but I haven’t acted on it yet.  To many responsibilities to try to make this happen right now.  Maybe much later?

At the end of every book I loved, I felt transformed. I wanted to tell everyone about it…

I find this frustrating as none of my friends read as much as I do.  The ones that come close are not people I talk to as often as I would like.  I work with them and I’m too busy at work to have a long book conversation most days.  This is frustrating, I assume if you are a librarian you get to talk books a lot more.  Again, jealous!

I’m done now, and I feel that you would do well to read this article if you are a reader of books.  I enjoyed it.  Have fun and keep reading!

Review: The Alchemist

The Alchemist
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

34% of goodreads users gave The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 5 stars.  I’m not sure I listened to the same book as these people read.  Maybe there is some deep philosophical meaning that this book contained and my tiny mind just didn’t gasp it.  I have no idea.  To mean this book “read” like a children’s book.  It was not written poorly.  The story just didn’t appeal to me.  There was nothing that grabbed me.  There was no foreshadowing that I wanted to hang out for and see how it went.  Therefore, I fall solidly in the only 9% of goodreads users that gave this book a measly 2 stars.

The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

Review: The Stranger

The Stranger
The Stranger by Albert Camus

This was a strange book.  The Stranger (aka The Outsider) by Albert Camus is an odd book.  The main character seems completely apathetic.  I gave this book 3 stars.  It was well written and the story was interesting, but that was the extent of it.  I’m not sure what the author wanted us to take away on this novel.  In trying to review this book I ran across this video review.  You have to watch it.

Review: The Power of Reading

The Power of Reading
The Power of Reading by Stephen D. Krashen

The Power of Reading by Stephen D. Krashen is a very through book.  I first got interested in reading books about books when I read Book Lust by Nancy Pearl, which by the way is worth having a copy.  I can’t recommend Book Lust enough!  But, back to The Power of Reading.

This has tons of citations from studies conducted in the 1990s and 2000s.  Because there are no recent studies the book is a little dated in its citations.  The copy I read was published in 2004, but the book was first published in 1993 and it seems not a lot of the references have been kept as up-to-date as a reader like me would have liked.

This book reads like a research paper so be prepared for that.  If you want something that is a little easier to read I would highly suggest you read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  His book is mentioned in any good study of reading books and the positive effects.

I gave The Power of Reading 3 out of 5 stars.  Not great, but if you are doing a paper on the importance of reading or reading to improve english as a second language (ESL) then this is the book you need to check-out, but I wouldn’t recommend buying it.

Review: Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Liked this classic a lot.  It is on my BBC100 challenge list.  I thought at first it was going to be a great romantic novel, but it turns into a sad depressing novel.  While I still liked this book, I was disappointed in the sadness of the novel.  I was looking at reviews online about this book and Mark Goacher nails it with this you tube video review on Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.

I think this is a great classic and worth reading.  I like the drive that Jude shows throughout the novel. I listened to this novel read by David Case on audio.  Mark in the above video even talks about the films that were made of the book including the 1996 film Jude.  I can’t wait to watch this movie and hopefully do a review on the movie part of the book.  I’ve always like Kate Winslet and she plays Sue in the movie.

Review: Anthem

Anthem by Ayn Rand

This is a very original novel.  It is super short.  My copy was only 105 pages.  Anthem, originally called Ego, by Ayn Rand is a dystopian story.  It follows one person who has a hard time falling in line with other people.  The story is in the future but somehow humans have fallen back into the dark ages.  They use candles and all technology is no longer used.

I was curious how other people were reviewing this book so I did a quick search and found this very interesting take on the book:

I really like the book and would recommend if for other lovers of post-apocalyptic stories.  A great place to find more post-apocalyptic books is a goodreads book club that I belong to.

On Schedule to 100 Books

Book Stack
4 books from the library on my to read list

Here is the short list for the rest of the month.  I hope to read these all by the end of the month.  I’m starting The Stranger today.  The rest will follow in the order they are in the picture.  Most of these are from my reading list, but The Stranger is a suggestion from a great virtual book club on goodreads called Catching up on the Classics.

Here I am going on and on and totally forgot to get to the point.  I just finished my 9th book of the month (review coming soon).  You know what that means?  I’m on track to read 100 books this year.  I need to read at least 8 books each month (8.2 really).  So I am very excited to be on track and can’t wait to dive into The Stranger.

The group does a few reads every month.  They have a new school read, which is a modern classic.  An old school classic which is what you think it is.  They also have a long read, usually over 500 pages and a short read under 200.  February’s short read is The Stranger, weighing in at only 123 pages in the paperback pictured above.

I hope they can forgive me for starting it early, but I have already read The Little Prince which is January’s pick.  By the way, if you haven’t seen the 2015 movie, you should.  It is really fantastic and lets you re-think the book entirely.  I’m putting the trailer in here below.

I have another review coming soon, but for now, I really need to get back to my reading.  See you in the stacks!

Placentia, a Pleasant Place

Placentia, A Pleasant Place by Virginia L. Carpentar
Placentia, A Pleasant Place by Virginia L. Carpenter

This is a story that should prove why your local library is so important.  I found a video on my twitter feed from the city of Placentia.  The video reminded me of a book that I found at the Placentia Library, Placentia, A Pleasant Place by Virginia L. Carpenter.  She literally wrote the book on Placentia.  I stubbled upon this browsing through the books in the Friends of the library section of the Placentia Library.  They were asking $20 for the book.  At first, I thought this was a little steep, but being new to the city, I wanted to lear about the history of it.  After all I am a history buff.

I was wondering a little more about Virginia today as well.  I’m not finding much about her except links to her book, now selling for $95 most places!  I did find a little on the Placentia Library website.  She was hired as a librarian there in August 1953.  In April 1978, she helped dedicate the California room in the library where she signed copies of her book.  I have the revised edition pictured above that was published in 1988.

I also found some 1984 minutes from the city where the then major Richard Buck presented a proclamation that July 17, 1984 be Virginia Carpenter Day in Placentia.

Finally, I tweeted to the Placentia Library to find out more.  They have reached out but only to schedule time in the history room.  I’m a little disappointed in that, because I just wanted a simple answer.  Hopefully, I’ll learn more when I have time to schedule time with them.