Tag Archives: LOST

Sunday, Sunday

Time for another excursus, the weekly rabbit trail, a break from our alphabetic ways.

This week I read Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie. This is a LOST book and I can see why it was referenced on that island-centric show. The murder takes place at a hotel on an island which is connected to the mainland by a causeway, which is underwater at high tide. The people at the hotel at the time of the murder all, of course, have previous, off-island lives, which play into the investigation. It is all very LOST-like in many ways. You should check it out.

I’ve also just finished re-reading Possession, Best Book Ever. The language play is phenomenal. Haven’t read it? You should. It is a literary read, there are poems, but that is part of the fun. Look at the language and the way Byatt plays with words. So Good.

Since I just closed Possession, I’m in that between-book haze where I’m still in the world of literary scholars and poets and unpublished manuscripts. I’m not quite in a place where I can even think of what I’m going to read next.

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Thinking Ahead

This year I’ve had a couple of reading projects on the go. Reading Old Books was fun and interesting. I think I’ll try to keep going with the older books for next year. Reading LOST books is ongoing. I didn’t read nearly as many as I thought I might.

I’ve been thinking about possible new projects for 2014. I came across this post, in which the author read only books by women in 2013. It might be obvious to some readers of the words in this space that I study women authors, more specifically, women who wrote about the Bible in the nineteenth century and other distant times. I’m not sure what the gender balance of the authors I read in 2013 looks like. I’ll figure it out as part of my year-end assessment on January 1. I’m not sure I’ll shift to 100% women in 2014, but I think I’ll be more intentional about looking for women authors, particularly in theological reading. That would be an interesting challenge/project.

What about you? Any reading projects happening?

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More Nostalgic Reading

I’ve been reading the summer away, not blogging the summer away, thus I have not written about some of the Older Books I’ve read recently. I’ve been doing some genre older reading — pre-1970 Science Fiction! A lot of authors who wrote SciFi in the first two-thirds of the twentieth-century would be disappointed to know that in 2013 we do not have a moon colony, nor have we sent people to Mars. We barely have an occupied space station. But we DO have the internet. I’m not sure computers are quite sentient, but they can do lots of mind-reading sorts of things.

Back in the day, the grade school and high school day, Robert Heinlein was one of the SciFi authors I read. Starship Troopers was the one I particularly liked and revisited. I tried reading it again when the movie came out and found it not as I remembered it. Sigh. I have been reluctant to pick up Heinlein’s adult SciFi. I never got into it back in the day, only reading his books that were classified as Young Adult in the library. I think I might have glanced at The Moon is A Harsh Mistress and found it uninteresting, and didn’t really give it another chance until this summer. I listened to The Moon is A Harsh Mistress on a library audioebook. I quite enjoyed it. Stranger in a Strange Land was on the LOST list so I decided to hunt for that one as well. I found Stranger in a used bookshop and also enjoyed it.

Heinlein is a very political writer. I missed or blocked that about his books when I was in high school. Now I see it very clearly. I enjoyed the political games in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress very much. Stranger in a Strange Land also has some interesting politics. Stranger is, however, more religious than political. I’m still thinking about whether Heinlein was just mocking all religion, or whether he was proposing something new. I’m slightly inclined to the skewering/mocking side — I think that is what he’s doing. It is still a good book, weird theological things and all. Going back to Heinlein has been a pleasant experience. I’m glad I did.

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More LOST reading

Earlier in the year I made a list of books featured on LOST and started reading through them. I reported on The Chosen and Fahrenheit 451. I liked The Chosen and was not so fond of Fahrenheit 451. I can see why Bradbury is admired and the book widely read. I just didn’t like it so much. I feel much the same about the books on the LOST list I’ve just finished reading, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass both by Lewis Carroll.

True confessions: while I was exposed to some illustrations and excerpts from the Carroll books this is my first time reading them. I’m not 10, so that may explain some of my general indifference to the works. I can see why Carroll’s books are classics: there are some fun games with words, the poetry is amusing, the illustrations are good, some of the characters do amusing things. The thing is, there is no plot. Both the books are framed as dreams. This gives Carroll lots of freedom in the stories. Anything can happen in a dream! Plus, dreams are notorious for vague transitions. The books are full of vague transitions in which Alice finds herself suddenly transported into a new situation. There is a typographical convention for these dream-sequence shifts in the books — a river of ****** mark them. This feels lazy. Instead of producing a plot-driven book with transitions that work, Carroll frames the stories as dreams; transitions can thus be ignored.

I can see why the dreamy quality of the book might be psychologically interesting. I can also see how the dreamy quality of the stories might be appealing if one were on drugs or drunk. I was sober and riding the bus when I read the books. Possibly this added to my indifference. Maybe if I read the books when I was 10 or read them with an 8-year-old, I’d find them more amusing. Ah well, we’ll never know.

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LOST reading, part 2nd (or so)

In a previous post I mentioned that I might use the books in LOST (the TV show) as a guide to my pre-1970 reading. So far I’ve read two from the list, The Chosen, by Chaim Potok (reported on here) and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The Chosen seems to be on the show mostly for the title. It appears in the sixth season as people are debating why they were “brought” to the island by the mysterious Jacob. Somehow they are all “chosen.” The book itself is about father and son relationships, and there are lots of father/child relationships that unravel in LOST, so I can also see it fitting in with the show based on the content, not just the title.

I’m not sure why Fahrenheit 451 is on Ben’s shelf and seen in the fifth season. That is not obvious to me. Possibly it isn’t an obvious reference. Who knows. I’m not sure what I actually think of the book. Bradbury is a bit of a misogynist. This assessment is based on an epilogue to the book written years after it was published. In this epilogue he lumps women as a unit with other minorities and special interest groups. Not impressive. This means the default setting for all humanity is white men with all others being fringe groups. The numbers do not bear this out. Setting this aside, I’m not sure the book was actually that interesting. Some of the ideas are interesting, and telling in an internet-connected world unimagined by Bradbury. But I’m not sure the telling of this particular story is all that interesting. I tried reading it before and quit. I think I made it to the end this time because I listened to an audio book. I was carried along by someone else’s actual voice, not the story itself. I realize that this is heresy to many SciFi fans, but there it is. I don’t think Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is that great. Have you read it? What do you think?

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The Complete Ideal Bookshelf

Previously I suggested five books of a possible 10 for my personalized bookshelf in the Swan station were I to be stranded there and have to push a button every 108 minutes to save the world. I have the final five, and now present the complete list. Three are non-fiction works, and seven works of literature.

Non-Fiction:

1. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought ed. Alister E. McGrath. To provoke theological thought so I don’t get bored.

2. The New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th Edition) NRSV, hardcover, with Apocrypha. With the above work, so that I remain a theologian while stranded. It is important to maintain a sense of who you are called to be while stranded on a desert island.

3. Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James. I said before that this was so I could write mystery novels while on the desert island. This is true. I thought about bringing more non-fiction to help me produce things while stranded, thinking that fiction/literature was only about consuming. I don’t think this is entirely correct. I realized that literature produces something in me that leads me to be creative. Reading literature is not just a consuming activity, but can also be a creative activity. I still want to bring James along because this reflection is not just a how-to manual but a reflection on what detective fiction is and does. If I couldn’t find my copy of James, I’d bring The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers instead.

Literature/Fiction

4. A one-volume English translation of The Divine Comedy by Dante. I figure on a desert island I’ll make time to read Dante. Right?

5. Possession by A.S. Byatt. Best Book Ever. No further explanation needed.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In print for 200 years, how can one not bring Austen? For down time.

7. Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I had a debate in my head about whether to bring Cryptonomicon or AnathemCryptonomicon is a Pacific-focused book. The Island is probably in the Pacific. (Though it moves.) But Anathem is about parallel universes, and it is very clear that parallel universes play a part in what happens on the Island.

8. Children of Men by P.D. James. This is not detective fiction, but speculative fiction by James. It is about the end of civilization, or the end of the world as we know it. This seems appropriate reading for the Island somehow.

9. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. This is literary detective fiction, not at all brain candy. It is about an island of women in the sea of men at Oxford in the early twentieth century. Again, somehow appropriate.

10. Mystical Paths by Susan Howatch. Howatch wrote a set of books about the Church of England in the twentieth centuryMP is the one I’ve re-read the most. There are ways that some of the action in this book speaks to some of the people and things that happen on the Island in the LOST series.

Clearly I’ve been watching too much LOST. But it is so much fun and full of twists and turns and people running through the jungle yelling each other’s names! And it has lots of books and the potential to talk about ideas and books. Good times.

Do you have a top ten desert island list? You don’t have to put yourself in the LOST series, but which books would you want with you on a desert island?

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Ideal Bookshelf part 2

I said that I’d come back to the idea of an ideal bookshelf later in the week after I thought a little. I’ve thought some. If this is a bookshelf for me in the Swan station, I’m allowed 10 books, because according to all the LOST lists, there are ten books on the Swan shelf in the LOST show. I’ve already chosen two books, Possession and an unspecified reference work. Let me specify the reference work: The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought edited by Alistair E. McGrath. To these let me add the following:

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th Ed’n) hardcover, NRSV with Apocrypha. This and the theological reference listed above are for the theologian in me.

A single volume translation of The Divine Comedy by Dante, I’d like the Sayers translation but am not sure if that comes in a single volume or not. This is on my to be read list, and there’s nothing like a desert island to get you to read Dante, right?

Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James. There is no point to bringing mysteries to the Island, I might as well bring Baroness James’s thoughts on writing mysteries and attempt to write my own.

I’m still working on the final five (no Battlestar Galactica reference intended). Stay tuned.

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LOST Reading, Part First

I mentioned earlier this year that I was re-watching LOST and noticing the books. I dug up a LOST booklist or two, and thought that I could easily find reading material on the lists. I’ve started reading from the LOST-inspired list that now sits on my desk top. As I tick books off the list I’ll tell you about them. I started with a book I already owned and have read, but I read The Chosen by Chaim Potok a long time ago. I have fond memories of it, and recommend it to people regularly, but it has been several years since I read it. I started it again today. It certainly evokes a particular time and place, Brooklyn at the end of the second world war. I’m finding the re-read fascinating and enjoyable so far. I’m sure there will be much more to say later. I do like the main characters and the way they become friends. You should read it too.

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Ideal Bookshelves

Here is an article on the pleasures of owning physical (not digital) books. Ah, the truth to the pleasures inherent in gazing at bookshelves of read and yet-to-be read treasures. I’m thinking about my desert island picks, my ideal bookshelf as described in the article. I’ll post it later in the week. In the meantime, which two books would have to be on your ideal bookshelf list? My top two? Possession by A.S. Byatt. And a reference book of some kind. I’ll pick a specific one out for my ideal shelf list later in the week. I’m defining my ideal bookshelf as the set of books I’d like to have with me in the Hatch if I had to push a button every 108 minutes to save the world.

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Tenth Day: LOST in a good book

I’ve been re-watching LOST because MBro got me seasons 3 & 4 for Christmas. I knew from previous voyages with these characters that there are a lot of book references in the show, but I’d forgotten just how many. To top it off, I realized last night that many of the books referenced on LOST meet my criteria for old books! I can just jump into the LOST reading list if I am at a loss.

Now there are many lists of books referenced on LOST. So far I’ve noticed explicit references to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, and Watership Down. Alice meets my old book criteria, but Watership Down just misses it. Oh well, there are other references that make the cut, not the least of which is Our Mutual Friend.

I think I’ve just figured out at least part of my winter reading list. In addition to Christmas books of course. I will not neglect those.

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