The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, by Yukio Mishima

In this beautiful and dark novel, we read about a young man's obsession with the famous Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Mizoguchi, who is unpopular and ostracized for his stuttering, is introduced to the temple by his father, and eventually becomes an acolyte there. After seeing the temple every day, he becomes more and more …

Inferno, by Dante Alighieri

Possibly due to my lack of college education, I've for some time been under the impression that many of these very old texts are read only for education purposes, and not for enjoyment. So when I came across a copy of Inferno in a Goodwill, and looked at the first couple pages out of curiosity, …

The Handmaid’s Tale: a negative side of human adaptability

I finished this dystopian classic by Margaret Atwood and was both impressed and frustrated. I was impressed by how believable the story was. In the afterward the author talks about how she took great care to put nothing in the book that hadn't already happened somewhere in history, and no technology that didn't exist. She …

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Besides being a great story with amazingly developed characters that are intriguing to watch change over the course of the novel (well... most of them change...), this novel pointed out the giant blind spots I have about the world beyond my door step, and has encouraged me to seek out books that feature other cultures …

when you want them to fail

I've just started listening to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, which is about a missionary family traveling to the Congo. I'm only a short way in, but I'm feeling a sort of anticipation for all the horrible things I know are going to happen to these people. They are described with just the right …

Invented dangers

It seems to me, that when people have no danger or threats, they make up their own. In a country where we can prevent almost every major disease we've encountered, people decide to find danger in the cure... be it doctors, or vaccines. In a country where we produce so much food that we throw …

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders

Love, death, ghosts, and history. What a sad, funny, interesting and heart-squeezing novel. From Wikipedia: Many years ago, during a visit to Washington DC, my wife's cousin pointed out to us a crypt on a hill and mentioned that, in 1862, while Abraham Lincoln was president, his beloved son, Willie, died, and was temporarily interred …