Posts Tagged ‘To kill a mockingbird’

8. The Wonderful Wizard of OZ – L. Frank Baum, 23/4/2012

Sometimes, I envy children born in western countries. They do what children should do at their age, not like their Asian friends. More importantly, they always have suitable stories for them. I believe there are ancient stories in every culture. However, in the west, people aren’t self-satisfied what they inherited from their ancestors, they create new legendary stories. “The wonderful wizard of OZ” is one of such stories, which was published in 1900.

I believe this story is appealing to most juveniles. I even found it interesting to me as well. Quite often, it would make me laugh. For example, it was very funny that Dorothy’s house was caught up in a cyclone and accidentally killed a wicked witch when it landed in Munchkin Country. The story is full of things that I had never heard before. I also enjoyed it a lot because it makes sense, well, most of the time. I like things that make sense. So I think western kids are very fortunate. When the world is so much globalised today, certainly eastern kids can read western stories. However, I believe it would be even better if they can read stories stemming from their own cultures. Eastern people like to borrow certain things. Maybe they should contribute some occasionally.

7. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe, 19/4/2012

Firstly, this book is really long. And I found it not very easy to ready sometimes. Now I’m very glad I finally finished it.

The first part of the book wasn’t very interesting to me. Robinson had some other misfortunes before he escaped from a devastating storm and started living on a remote island. His descriptions of things were lack of details. It made me think that the things he talked about were not real. Gradually, it became more interesting. He described his life on the island, alone. Such as how he grew barley, how he tamed sheep and so on. That was kind of new to me. So I think it is like a handbook, very useful for people who will live in a remote place. While he was on the island, it seems his belief in god helped him a lot. His talks with his man Friday about the religion were interesting sometimes. For example, Friday asked Robinson if God is so omnipotent, why didn’t he kill the devils? However, since I’m not a religious person, I didn’t quite enjoy it when pages and pages of what I read were about God. Finally, I found the last part wasn’t quite necessary. The only part that intrigues people would be his life on that island. Once he was rescued, then it could just end there I reckon.

All in all, I found the book a bit interesting since I never read anything like this before. And I realised I could live a similar life like his if I was him.

6. How to stop worrying and start living – Dale Carnegie, 25/3/2012

I am not a person who worries a lot. This is because I’ve seen what worries can do to me long time ago. When I was bothered by something, I found it hard to get to sleep. I would toss and turn over and not feel refreshed in the morning. What made it worse was that I would get more gray hair very soon. Nobody wants gray hair when they are not at that age. So I tried to control my emotions and not to worry. Over the years, I found a few ways very helpful in overcoming worry:

1. Never burden myself with the past. Actually I learnt this from a TV series. I learnt that the past is the past. No matter it was good or bad, I would just forget it. Over the years, I have had the habit of forgetting the past. It just can be done naturally.

2. Also, I don’t worry about the future. Whenever I’m worried about something that is yet to happen and I find that this worry will take me nowhere. Then I will just ask myself to stop. It makes more sense to focus on something that is happening today than something that may or may not happen tomorrow.

3. Sometimes, I think of the people who are fighting for a living, like those in Africa. I also pity poor children living in the countries of China who not only lacks sufficient food, they also don’t get proper education. And they will never get a better life. Compared to their problems, you will also come to the conclusion that: my problem is nothing.

4. Look at the bright side. When I failed in doing something, I would tell myself that good luck is coming since there is a balance between good lucks and bad lucks. And if I really can’t look at it positively, I try not to look at it negatively. What do people say this? Fortune and misfortune are two buckets in the same well. Nothing can be all good or all bad.

Even so, I still found this book very helpful, because there are more techniques to conquer worry. For example, in the future I can do some pep talks. Also, I learnt some ways to relax. Even I finished reading it today, I will still read it again. Like a reader said: this is not a reading book in the ordinary sense; it is written as a guide book-to a new way of life!

5. 生活的艺术 (The importance of living) – 林语堂, 1/3/2012







4. To kill a mockingbird – Harper Lee, 2/2/2012

When I tried to borrow this book from the library of the university, I found that it was available in the social science library and also in the law library. So I thought: this book must be very good.

The first part of the book was very enjoyable. The narrator was a little girl, Scout. She, her older brother Jem and their widowed father (Atticus) lived in a fictional town called Maycomb in Alabama. Every summer, a boy called Dill about Scout’s age would come to Maycome and play with them. They did some silly stuff, like every little kid would do. The things told in the book were so real and believable. The author is really a great story teller. It seems that all she did when she was little was writing down the thing that happened each day. Or else, how could she remember all those things? Somehow, it made me bring all my past memories back. I remembered all the stupid things I did long time ago. And it was really nice to remember all those things.

However, when her father, a middle-age lawyer, was appointed to defend a crippled black man, who was accused of raping a young white girl, everything changed. Note that it was when black people were slaves. So her father would be often laughed at and called a “nigger-lover”. Even her father did his best, the black man was found guilty, just as always. There was not much fun in reading anymore. All the incidents happened and conversations between the kids and their father were telling people or implying how to be a decent man, how to treat people equally, how to consider things from other people’s point of view etc. More importantly, her father also set a good example for lawyers.

This book was recommended as one of the books that people should read before they die, ranked even before Bible. For me, I really admired the way Atticus raised his children. Scout and Jem were lucky to have Atticus as their father. On the other hand, they also made their father proud.

3. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain, 18/1/2012

This book was published in 1884. I’ve never finished an English book published before that I guess. And I had no idea what it would be like. Reading this book was like torture sometimes. The differently-spelled words and different grammars made me never stop guessing, trying to figure out the meanings of some sentences. And the accent of black slaves was even worse. Sometimes, I could only get the meaning of one or two sentences of a paragraph. It was even more frustrating when the slave said more than one paragraph. All these troubles made me enjoy less of the book. People whose native language is English will enjoy more.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the adventures of Huck Finn, especially when he and a runaway slave Jim followed the Mississippi River. They had interesting experiences and were later joined with two poor con men, the king and the duke. The novel presents a morally flawed world, when black people were slaves and people were not so civilized. It reminds me that in the movie “Gone with the wind”, the black woman was not just a servant, she was a slave. Tell me if I was wrong. Back to the novel, I didn’t enjoy the last part of it very much, when the very melodramatic prank Tom Sawyer showed up. He and Huck worked together to set the slave free and Tom really messed it up.

All and all, I liked this novel. I will like it more if I can understand every word of it. Twain seemed to have a quick mind and humorous. I laughed now and then while reading this book.

2. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger, 5/1/2012

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me.  And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.  That’s all I do all day.  I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.”

Before I read this book, I thought it was about a catcher or the rye or something like that. Then I would be very interested. However, after a few pages, I started wondering what I was really reading about. So I did a search about the book and found the words above said by the character Holden Caulfield.

The book is about this 16 year old Holden Caulfield, who was expelled from another school after failing four subjects out of five. He decided to leave the school a few days early before the end of term. He could take a short holiday before returning home. By then, he expected his parents to be able to accept the expulsion more calmly. So this book describes what happened to him during a few days, actually three days, from Saturday to Monday. He talked about the activities and the thoughts he had. It seems he had a lot of difficulties adapting to the adult world. He found most people were phony (superficial, hypocritical, or pretentious). He hated that. He hated it all. A few bad experiences that happened to him made it worse. And finally he had a mental collapse.

It kind of drove me crazy knowing that this guy, this good guy would go insane while I was reading. I shouldn’t have read the introduction to this book beforehand. I mean he was a good guy. He would rub off the F word on the walls in his sister’s school. However, he was confused about the environment that he was living in. He couldn’t understand all different human behaviours very well. Teenagers are confused about that kind of stuff. However, most of us went past that phase. It doesn’t mean we all turn completely phony. We just got to know that there aren’t only good and bad people. And most importantly, no one is perfect. We can understand now what we couldn’t when we were teenagers.

The writing style of this book seems a bit different. You would think a book of 70,000 words describing activities happening within three days would be tedious. However, it wasn’t boring to read. Most people will find it depressing though.

1. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers, 1/1/2012

I was amazed by the writing talent of the author. She finished this masterpiece when she was only 23. I can’t remember what I was good at when I was at that age. Probably I couldn’t get my writing assignment done well. It seems that she didn’t like to waste any ink on anything, anyone or any events. She could use one sentence to kill one character and then start talking about something else. Yet it doesn’t make you feel strange. She presented a vivid dark world in the 1940s in the South of US. There was no justice, no hope and no change. No one knew how this started. And most importantly no one really knew how to end all this. For all sorts of reasons, the characters were all lonely. They tried to fight their loneliness, but that was just in vain. Yet life still continued. The world she presented was so real that I didn’t feel I was just reading a story. I felt I was seeing that world. Yet it didn’t make me feel desperate, which is very strange. I guess McCullers wanted to make people think rather than just sorrow.

By the way, I got to know from the book that the Americans would buy stuff on installment plans in the 1940s. Oh man, they really know how to live a life.

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