Monday, October 4, 2010

Ender's Game

Author: Orson Scott Card
Edition: 1991
Read: September 2010
226 pages
Rated: 4 out of 5

This is my first Orson Scott Card book. I found it to be an engaging, science fiction novel. Story line is that humans have repelled two invasions from a race of “bugs”. The last one was repelled through the intelligence of Mazer Rackham. In preparation for the third invasion, humans have been cultivating very young kids to be the future leadership of the space fleet.

The chosen kids start their education on a battle school, in pace, learning to think in a 0G environment. The book follows Ender Wiggins as he rises from a brilliant 6 year old to master tactician and then to leader. He is promoted to fight the buggers at the young age of eleven.

This is not a deep thinking book, but one which you go along with for the ride and pick up thoughts along the way. You enter into Card's world of kids acting as demons and adults manipulating them., Kids hiding their emotions, actions, from their parents and parents giving away their children.

But there are some interesting ideas which do get talked about. Things like, what does it mean to sacrifice for others, especially for less personal concepts like nation or humanity? Even if you do not have freedom of choice saying that Ender was forced to, but more at that young age, he did not have the maturity to say no. Do we all live within narrow constraints which makes the idea of freedom non-existent? Are all freedoms only illusionary? Can you supersede them based upon need? If so, then is freedom really there? Towards the end of the book Card noted that we are only able to play the rules given to us by society. The best we can do is to be used by good people. But what about the society changers such as King, Gandhi, and Luther? While Card's view is utilitarian and probably true for most of us, it is not true for people like Ender. And towards the end of the book, Ender starts to lay the seeds for a change to society.

When does play stop being play? When is it preparation? When is it work? Or maybe this is the wrong question. Is play really serious business? It prepares us for other things—our future occupations, future circumstances, future interactions. When little kids are trained to command war machines by 11, incurring military discipline is this really play? When we “play” cards, games, …, why do we do these things?

The most troubling thought from this book is that there is no one in the book whom you would describe as being “good”--only manipulating or those being manipulated or both. Very much of a book which picks up the Calvinistic line that there is none good, no not one—Romans 3:23. There is some redemption though. At the end of the book, when the buggers are defeated, Ender starts to understand their civilization, which he destroyed.. He then leads a movement which starts to emulate some of it. The rest of the world follows this lead. Still 95% of the book shows our willingness to destroy each other. The only thing which causes us to cease from our own destruction is when someone else wants to kill us all. Once that threat is gone, we are back to self-destruction.

 While Ender's Game will never be considered great literature and probably in about 50 years will be considered a period piece, it is an entertaining book, one worth reading. At the most base level, it is fun to read about kids playing games. It is also serious and makes you wonder how we exploit children for our own ends. What effect this exploitation has scars the next generation. An example is only the young fight our wars. There are some gross themes worth exploring.

Notes from my book group:
The group pretty much liked the book. It held their interest, unexpectedly since this is a group as a whole is not into science fiction.

Good Quotes:
He could see Bonzo's anger growing hot. Hot anger was bad. Ender's anger was cold, and he could use it. Bonzo's was hot, and so it used him. (62)

Wikipedia on Ender's Game
Amazon, including a comment from the author
Spark Notes
The movie from IMDB

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wisdom Chaser – Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet

Book: Wisdom Chaser – Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet
Author: Nathan Foster
Edition: Paperback
Read: August 2010
183 pages
Rated: 4 out of 5

I got this book semi-by mistake. I liked the blurb, but was not going to order it. But I forgot to cancel out. So last weekend, it arrived. Sometimes it is the unexpected which brings joy. That is this book.

The prodigal son asks his father, Richard Foster of Celebration of Discipline fame, to climb one of Colorado's 14'ers. Two out of shape men climb mountains and start the process of bounding, reconciling with knowledge and respect for each other. That is the story, a story which shows some downfalls on both men—this is not a tell all story—but concentrates on the process of coming together so they could be a part.

There are 21 chapters-pretty short. Each usually opens with a story in the mountains. Then it explores the meaning behind the story. Such as how he and his father got caught on a ski life and came to a better understanding of how the church is affected by our culture. This leads into thoughts about the church and how in its efforts to influence its culture, it gets subverted.


  • Foster notes that his Dad was more like a mysterious icon to him than a human.(14). Interesting term. Not a real person, but more of a statue in the corner of Foster's life. You need a relationship to bring a person to life. The problem with TV.
  • In preparing to go backpacking for the first time, the Fosters read a book. Richard then boasts about what his son knows. Nathan's observation is that a little book knowledge is a common criteria for leadership in our culture. (16)
  • Foster noticed that as he was struggling with climbing his mountain, the first one, he was really enjoying himself. His body felt real, rather than drugged. The challenge, then overcoming it allowed him to have a sense of accomplishment.
  • As they summit'd, they noticed the “top of the world” feeling you get from reaching the top. This was an expected, wonderful feeling. But what surprised him was the small beauty of the flowers a t the top.  It is the beauty which we are too rushed to see—it catches us by surprise.  Annie Dillard expresses the same sentiments. (18)
  • As he got to summit various other mountains, rather than getting more focused on topping the mountains, he became more aware that he has abilities that he did not realize. Could he now go to college? Stay sober? Get to know his Dad? His dreams were starting to be allowed. The question was, it never hurts to ask.
  • Understanding limits, particularly your own, and living within them get you farther than trying to overcome those limits. Pacing yourself up the mountain gets you to the top. Racing up it, is fast, but will get you to the same place at the same time, with more pain. Just don't stop. True on mountains, true in life. (34) I now saw that few things were beyond my reach as long as I took my time. (36)
  • One of the things my brother has shared with us is a pizza place in Idaho Springs CO called Beau Jo's. Foster talked about Beau Jo's, almost poetically. For those who have experienced, it is worth reading. (37)
  • Foster notes with his Dad, it was not the accomplishment or experience which defined him. So when he was over his head, it was not a matter of default. So he could enjoy himself in being humbled. (55)
  • Being able to be unconscious of yourself leads to being able to be comfortable in your surroundings. Being able to divert attention is a way to be humble. Foster says that his father did this and being able to see this is a real gift. (69)  The gifts of a father to a son is more than money—in fact that is the least. The gift of knowing how to live is priceless.
  • Shame is rooted in self-centeredness. Love is rooted in others. (74)
  • Humility is a good thing. But few of us know how to live a humble life. We think it is the lack of self-acknowledgment. Foster points out the When we make a good choice, this should be celebrated, so as to encourage future decisions and to spur each other on toward love and good works (Heb 10:24). How can I spur you on if you won't acknowledge that you played any role in the situation? I potentially discount God's process in me when I fail to accept an appropriate compliment. (77)
  • In conversation with his father, his father said that many churches are situated in such a way to keep people from knowing God, (86)  This is a compact thought. How do we keep people from God? Has our modern church become more like the Catholic church before the Reformation? Built to protect rather than to draw in? What would an inviting church structure—not building—look like?  On the next page, Richard Foster goes on and says that What people so desperately need today is space, stillness and attentiveness. (87) Our service is about people not God-my thought, not Foster.  This stillness and space is very much a Quaker mode, the Foster's tradition.
  • On page 88 he makes several good observations. When we care, we are more included to give something a good going over and to want to change it. Those who are into power are those which cannot be criticized. Ultimately, it is being captivated by Jesus which causes use to see
  • Foster indicates a confusion on his father. When his father discusses his retirement plans and seeks advise from his son, Nathan wonders if his father is making fun of him. What is important to me is that Foster's father is seeking advice from his children. (121)
  • A mentor to Foster is Dr. Chris Wilgers. When asked how come his clients recover so well in therapy, he reply's that Wilgers sees/prays for the potential in his clients rather than for their weaknesses.  Fosters comment is that it is funny how we fall or rise on the assumption of others. This is important in how we work with those who we are in relationship with. (127)
  • Foster weaves in and out of the mountains into his personal life. A comment he makes is about the glory of being alone in the mountain, dipping your face in some cold mountain water. But the comment which I resonated with was how much richer life, and life in the mountains is, when you share it with others. The trees are greener and the mountains higher. These are things I agree with. When I am in the mountains—or any other place or time which I feel joy with, one of the first things which I do is try to find someone to share it with. Someone who will understand what I am feeling. Wandering the mountains in solitude is a wonderful feeling. But the complement of it is to be there with someone. (148)
  • Choices sometimes is not an enable, it will freeze you. Choices provide you with options. But it also provides you with a path to failure. Foster thinks that is more the problem with his generation. It is not laziness, but a fear of failure. (149)
  • The need to be needed. (151)
  • What are the outdoors for? Fosters discovery was that it was not about conquest, but about being with people and having fun.  I might add also about discovery—both self and what is out there. It is about release from our every day into something which was made by someone greater and realizing it. (169)
  • Towards the end of the book, Foster talks about going away to a job as a college professor. He says that he mostly hikes alone, but never without a thought of his father.  First, this speaks to how he has grown over the nine years of hiking. He now has an understanding of his father through his hikes and time with him. Maybe that is one of the biggest advantages of hiking—you are forced to spend time with a person. There is no escape. Consequently, you delve deeper into the person. (170)
  • Foster discover's what is father's greatness is—it is the capacity to love. (171) 
This book gives you an appreciation as a father and as a son. The son part is that we probably never really learn to love your father until after you have grown up. You see how hard it is to be good in all ways to your own children. It is this appreciation which bears the understanding how much your father has loved you as you try to love your own.  This leads to the conclusions own father's greatest attribute is his capacity to love.

The book as a story, the mountain scenes are the most compelling. But they are just vehicles to drive home his points. Most of his points do talk about how he messed up his life and how through having a goal and a loving father he was able to work through some pretty tough periods of his life.

Good Quotes:
  • Fear leeches can come in handy,of course spite has motivated me many times. Encouragement, however is a far greater motivator. (24)
  • I have learned well how to orchestrate my days by racing from task to task. I get up and do all I can as quickly as possible, only to start again the following day. I remain too busy to really invest in anyone else. Where did I get the idea that slow equals bad?  (33)
  • With Christ's clear call to be last, you would think Christians might be different. Yet when we erect statues and name buildings after ourselves, it is evident that we're not immune from the collective sin of pride. (64)
  • The disciplined person does what needs to be done when it needs to be done. (92)-quoted Richard Foster
  • Secrets hold power. Concealed, they breed like mold. (108)
  • When failure is part of your identity, you don't worry about letting others down. You know you will, and that's that.  (121)
  • Being written into the page of some else's …. story was redemptive.  (151)


Thursday, June 10, 2010

What Is Wrong With the World

Book: What Is Wrong With the World
Author: GK Chesterton
Edition: Guntenberg
Read: June 2010
108 pages
Rated: 2 out of 5

Books about social evils start and end somewhat similar—presents statistics with anecdotally evidence. Then presents the remedy. In reality, the remedy is almost never found. Chesterton says we have the cart before the horse—we should know what the cure will be, before finding out what is the problem—I think he has gone over the edge here. At least in my mind, it sounds like you are forcing a cure for whatever problem you come across. But his point is more we usually agree about what the evil is. It is the cure or the good which we disagree about. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.(Chp 1)

Chapter 4 talks about our ideas. He indicates that rather than perfect what we have thought about in the past-we as mankind-we will retreat from these ideas because they are too big. We are not big enough people to attempts. We are afraid to look back at the huge, unfulfilled ideas, abandoning them for the lesser thoughts of the present.

Chesterton in chapter 5 goes through a series of contradictions and makes a couple conclusions. First is the famous quotation of Christianity is an idea that has been tried and found wanting, but it has been difficult and left untried. The second concerns politics. He asks the question, why is that in the French revolution did Robespierre and others remain popular, despite the unpopular bloodshed? His conclusion is that they did not take advantage of the situation to make themselves rich. While the politicians today may start poor-few do—and end rich.

In the chapter Wisdom and the Weather, he talks about how women have it wrong considering males. This is part of his attack on feminism. Chesterton was affected by what he saw his sisters-in-law had to go through as working girls. So he considered it more appriopriate that a women be in the home rather than on the factory floor. This was the day when at the best a women could be somebody in the office. But more than likely, she would be in a sweat shop. He was particularly upset about women interfering in male conversations. He felt they were a distraction, with very little to add. But this was in contrast with how he treated his wife. In many ways, he thought that a woman was superior to a man. He talks about how a man may be only clever, but a woman has wisdom—at least wisdom which counts. He feels that a  women is kept at home so that she can become a universalist in thought and wisdom, rather than a specialist as a worker is required to be. To Chesterton, this is a large undertaking. Lets take a teacher in a classroom. The teacher needs to understand their subject matter, but does not need to go beyond it. While with your own children, you need to be able to illuminate on everything.

He talks about what is democracy.  From his perspective, it is not everyone gets to vote and the most votes wins. But that each person has justice and equal access to it. It also means that we are equally represented. One of Chesterson's concerns is that as science/technology advances, civilization becomes more individual. While we think this is good; Chesterton sees that power is more concentrated amongst a few. Consequently, science can be anti-democratic.

 What Is Wrong With the World was written over a 100 years ago. There is many parts of this book which just does not stand up very well today. We read his attack on feminism in today's lense rather than his times. Or his take on Jews-he was an anti-Semantic in many ways. But when you look at the bigger picture of what he is trying to convey, you get the impression that he still has much to say to us.

New Words:
Theodolite - a precision instrument for measuring angles in the horizontal and vertical planes. Theodolites are mainly used for surveying applications, and have been adapted for specialized purposes in fields like metrology and rocket launch technology.  Wikipediea

Good Quotes:
  • The thread of comradeship and conversation must be protected because it Is so frivolous. Dedication
  • … men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back. Chp 4 – The Fear of the Past
  • We have not only left undone those things that we ought to have done, but we have even left undone those things that we wanted to do . Chp 4 – The Fear of the Past
  • Christianity was unpopular not because of the humility, but of the arrogance of Christians. Chp 5 – The Unfinished Temple
  • The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried. Chp 5 – The Unfinished Temple
  • There is only one thing new that can be done under the sun; and that is to look at the sun. If you attempt it on a blue day in June, you will know why men do not look straight at their ideals. There is only one really startling thing to be done with the ideal, and that is to do it. Chp 6 – The Enemies of Property
  • Property is merely the art of the democracy. It means that every man should have something that he can shape in his own image, as he is shaped in the image of heaven. Chp 6 – The Enemies of Property
  • Friendship must be physically dirty if it is to be morally clean. It must be in its shirt sleeves. Part II - Wisdom and the Weather
  • Democracy in its human sense is not arbitrament by the majority; it is not even arbitrament by everybody. It can be more nearly defined as arbitrament by anybody. Part III – The Common Vision
  • what men like is not the triumph of superiors, but the struggle of equals. Part III – The Common Vision
  • Submission to a weak man is discipline. Submission to a strong man is only servility. Part IV – The Insane Necessity
  • What makes it difficult for the average man to be a universalist is that the average man has to be a specialist; he has not only to learn one trade, but to learn it so well as to uphold him in a more or less ruthless society. Chp 3.2 – The Universal Stick

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Edition: Paperback, 2009
Read: March 2010
274 pages
Rated: 3 1/2 out of 5

Society, so I shall call this book, takes place shortly after World War II. The book is a fictional account as told through a series of letters about and by Juliet Ashton. She is portrayed as a successful writer, who by chance, starts to correspond with people on the island of Guernsey. The letters are connected with people who are part of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. They go over life on the island during World War II, during the German occupation. Juliet is so infatuated, she goes over to the island for an extended time, leaving a lover to find love.

The virtue of this book is in the story telling. Shaffer wrote the book; her neice, Annie Barrows revised it after Shaffer could not complete it. The voice is Shaffer and it is a good voice. The device of using letters to tell the story allows for many voices and perspectives to play in. She sets the letters in date order so you need to follow several threads at once. Sometimes you needs to go back and find what a particular conversation is about though.

Part of the story is talking about three romances: a broken engagement; a one-sided engagement; and the real thing. You see Juliet being willful, but also confused; clear about her actions, but oblivious to her own emotions.

The second part is telling about peoples lives on the island. As said, these people have the opportunity to express what they felt living through the occupation of English terriotories by the Germans. Their strength and their friendships. How a book society bonded strangers together,to help them make it through the occupation.

One of the problems with writing a fictional book in a historical setting is getting the tone right while not making it stilted. A lot of time Shaffer does place the tone correctly. But at other places in the book, she is so 21st century. Such as when Sidney writes Juliet and says that he wished Juliet had aimed at a much more manly location with a hot teapot. That does not seem like something which a man would write to a women 60 years ago (pg 21). Or Sidney admitting to being a homosexual to someone who he just met.

Shaffer does a good job of building up characters. Such as Dawsey Adams. An early description is that he has a rare gift of persuasion—he never asks for anything for himself, but always for others. So others are always eager to do things for him. What a great characteristic this is. Again, on page 161, Juliet notes, “I begin to see, this is what he does—that everyone depends upon him to do it.” The “it” is being helpfuil, noting places where pepole have a need.

To me, the big wondering is, what did Shaffer/or Barrows have against Christinaity? There are places in the book which make a strong religious impression:

  • Reverand Simpless, while not Juliet's guardian takes an interest in her well being after her parents die. But nothing is said about his religion. Juliet does mention that while a friend would say something is coicidnce, Simpless would say it is Grace. But in the book's definition, Grace sounds more like a word for coincidence or throwing out energy. This really lacks any approach to the Christian context of Grace.

  • Shaffer comments about Anne Bronte's Aunt's religon, which was Methodist. She wondered how Bronte was ever able to write given the strictness of the Aunt's religion (pg61). Apparently Elizabeth Branwell was strick and religious. But she had a warmth for Anne Bronte. Going so far as leaving a comfortable life to bring up the Bronte girls.

  • This is followed by a letter from Adelaide Addison to Juliet. The letter said for Juliet to stay away from the Society. The whole letter seems like a characterture of anything Christian. But from a Christian viewpoint, it sounds like societal snobbery bathed in Christian expression (page 127)

A main character is Elizabeth McKenna. Juliet never meets her—she dies in a Nazi concentration camp. But all the members of the Society thinks very highly of her—probably thinks she is a saint. While not the opposite of Addison, she is a contrast. Someone who does good by nature. She saves others at the sacrifice of herself. She is kind, caring, calming. Juliet decides at the end of the book, she will write her story.

The final letter has Juliet finding love and getting engaged. She remarks that she always thought the story ends when the girl and guy gets engaged. But that is only the beginning. She is right. The dance to engagement is a prequel to the real thing. Like in Lewis' Last Battle, going through the gate of death enters you into a bigger land, not smaller.

How do you select your next book? Juliet suggests there are three questions to ask what looks like a knowledgable person, in her case, a clerk in a book store. This is taken from page 16.

  1. What is the book about?

  2. Have you read the book?

  3. Was it any good?
Of course, the last one is more of a preference of the reader. A person who detests romance books will not find books in this gendre very interesting. But this does get into the question of what makes a book good? In my case, does it cause me to either examine my world, makes me think, or written in a way to peak my personal interests.

Why does Juliet make the statement that she would prefer suitors in books than in front of her? (pg 121) What does it say about her character? In the rest of the book, she seems rather personable, even though we know her through letters. She does well at book groupings and in front of strangers. The two romanaces we know about, Rob and Mark, both are self-absorbed mean. See Mark's statement on page 154 about you make me happy, you never bore me, … it is all about him. The same with Rob's trophy's taking precendent over Juliet's books. What about her draws her to these type of men? But what about Dawsey? Is he another one of these?

This is a good book, one which I would not mind recommending someone to read. It reads quickly and flows nicely. Do not expect great truths to appear.
First Line:
Susan Scott is a wonder.
Maybe its because that I know Susan Scott—not this one—but this line really drew me in to wondering about who this Susan Scott is. Of course, the rest of the book is not about her. So this line is only a teaser.

Cast of Characters:

  • Juliet Ashton – main character. Successful writer. Attractive and intelligent.
  • Elizabeth McKenna- Died in concentration camp, so we never meet this character, except in what others write
  • Sidney Stark – Good friend of Juliet, but not a romantic interest.
  • Sophie (Stark) – Good friend of Juliet. Went to school. Juliet's confidant.
  • Dawsey Adams – First person on Guernsey to make contact with Juliet
  • Susan Scott-Administrative Assistant. Minor character, sets things right.
  • Isola Pheen. An eccentric personality. Single person. Shaffer seems to have an interest in Oscar Wilde. In Isola's possession, Juliet found 8 letters from OFOFWW, which turned out to be Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde had a sister by the name of Isola.

Notes from my book group:
What about this book drew you in?

Do you think this is a book which had a homing instinct for you? (pg 10)

What endears you to this book?

Will Thisbee describes what he would have missed if he did not belong to the Society. What would you have missed? (pg 102) Mildred in Fahrenheit 451 says that books are not people. Which has a better perspective? Why?

How do you evaluate a good? How would you recommend this book, based upon Shaffer's criteria? (pg 16)

For those of you who bought the book, is this a keeper? For those who borrowed it-do you buy it?

New Words:

  • golliwog: an animated doll in children's fiction by Bertha Upton †1912 American writer

  • antiquarian ironmonger: we call an antique dealer today

  • rag-and-bone man: the original recyclers. People who would go throug streets collecting rags,

  • fulsome: characterized by abundance

  • Pictish Ambush: An ambush where the Picts feigned a retreat, then overwhelmed their opponets in Scotland

  • prime: earliest stage, or the most active, thriving or satisfying stage

  • metier: vocation or trade, activity which a person excells in

  • German, meaning 'camp street'; It was the main street of the death camps.

  • Nosy-Parker: an officious annoying person who interferes with others

Good Quotes:

  • Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that bring them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true. (pg10)

  • Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books (pg 53)


Book References:

  • Charles Lamb, The Essays of Elia , also on Google

  • Charles Lamb, Selected Letters

  • Seneca, The Letters of Seneca: Translated from Latin in One Volume with Appendix

  • Thomas Carlye, Past and Present

  • Anne Bronte, Sir Roger de Coverly Papers

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fahrenheit 451

Book: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Edition: Paperback, 1953
Read: February 2010
190 pages
Rated: 4 out of 5

The classic book burning book. Pictures a time when firemen no longer put out fires, but start fires—particularly houses which house books. People have gotten mentally soft and complacent. Rather than work out a thought, they would rather be entertained; rather than seek knowledge, they rather have someone else think. As such, Bradbury understands our future, anticipating the effects of TV,video games and other electronic stimulation. We no longer live, but function.

Guy Montag is a fireman who is awaken by three incidents-an old man in a park; a young neighbor girl who opens his eyes to the world around him; and his wife over dosing on sleeping pills. He questions why people would want to die for their books when an old lady intentionally ignites her house, her books and herself. All of this causes Montag to awaken his sense of wanting to live instead of exist.

This leads him to being a fugitive, joining with a band of scholars who will be around to build a new civilization.

Bradbury's book is not a beautiful book. The prose are of a beginning nature. But his insight into our times is great. His ability to force us to deal with the importance of being alive in our thought is what makes the book worth reading. Book burning, while important, is not the main point. The point is the loss of thought, the loss of difference, the loss of individuality as we throw away everything which makes us unique. This gets replaced by brain-numbing chatter by fake families—on TV.

  • Kerosene is nothing but perfume to me. The modern mind, worshiping the tool. (pg 6)
  • Clairesse notices that Montag laughs when there is nothing funny, without knowing why he is laughing. I know of several people this way. Indicates a nervousness of being able to live within your own skin. (pg 8)
  • This is one of the best lines in the book—How like a mirror her face. Impossible for how many people did you know who refracted your own light to you? How much like God and how humble when you can shine other people's light back without knowing you are. (pg 11)
  • Montag recognizes his own unhappiness, his own dis-quietness. Then thinks, He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask. Sometimes a person comes along and we can no longer hide. They unmask us and show us for what we are. (pg 12)
  • In the story, there is a Mechanical hound which is a relentless killer. Montaq wonders, does the Hound think? Is the hound becoming alive? When the Captian says it is just mechanical, Montag responds that it is said because all which it ever will know is hunting, finding and killing. (pg 27)
  • Are our conversations meaningful? Do we ask questions? This is different than the current saying of Question Everything. Asking questions is a thirst for knowledge, a thirst for wisdom. But Question Everything indicates lack of trust, lack of respect. A lack of questions is another indication of lack of stimulation, or at least lack of meaningful stimulation. (pg 31)
  • That's my family. Mildred, Montag's wife says about the TV program. She is saying this to her husband who is sick. Substituting the safe fake for the real thing. How said, how safe. (pg 49)
  • Being bothered is uncomfortable. It is easier, safer to to avoid being bothered. How do we know when we are alive, unless we are bothered? (pg 52)
  • The Captain notes that even something as small as a zipper replacing buttons can have a profound effect. He more labor saving devices, the less time we have to think, to take a step back. Is progress always better? (pg 56)
  • The bigger the market, the less you want to offend. The small man can afford to offend. The large corporations, the successful authors wilt away, do not confront, do not offend. You no longer want to stir up controversy. Everything becomes vanilla tapioca. (pg 57)
  • Bradbury notes that people's chief goal is to be happy. It is not being right, it is not progress, but being happy. Implications are enormous. (pg59)
  • On page 73, Mildred, Montag's wife, at least in name, hits the problem of reading spot on. “Books aren't people. You read and I look all around, but there isn't anybody!” I think that I am having a dialogue with the author by reading his book. Even Mortimer Adler says that. But it tends to be a one-way conversation-the author presents his thoughts. I can question, react, think about what is being said. But this is not a conversation. The work is on my part, not something mutual.
  • Also on page 73, Montag says, “Why doesn't someone want to talk about it!? That is an impending war. As much as the talk radio shows are out there, we wave a tendency to scream at each other, not hear each other. We are not discussing; we bludgeon each other
  • .Mildred says, whats more important, the Bible or me (pg 76). I do not think Bradbury is making a religious point here. But I think the point could be made that Mildred did not even think of herself as much as Montag thought that a book could contain. Hy should Montag hold her in higher esteem than she held herself. Of course, Montag when he came to know the Bible might find that he was to love Mildred even more than she loved herself. Sort of ironic statement isn't? Of course, it is not every book which is as important as any other book.
  • We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren't happy. Something's missing. Bradbury understands that we individually and as a society need more than just money and things. We need to understand ourselves. We need depth to ourselves. We need a soul. What deepens us? (pg 82)
  • Faber, the retired English Lit professor who Montag turns to, says that there are three points that counts in Montag's search for understanding:
    • Importance of Books. Not so much in themselves, but because of the quality they posses. Good writers touch life often. They provide fresh and telling detail, of our lives.
    • Leisure. Bradbury differentiates between off-hours and leisure. He falls back that the purpose of leisure is to understand, to think. We are moving to a place where our time needs to be filled rather than emptied. Of course, a thinking people will be harder to govern, need reason. So instead of emptying our time to be filled with thought, we prefer to fill it with the “real”.
    • Action. Thought leads to action. It is the action which brings the thought to full blossom. Thought is not inaction, but action with meaning.
  • Bradbury calls the TV screens, idiot monsters. Not sure why. But my take on it is that the TV's were monsters because they made idiots out of people. Of course, today there are many more things which can made idiots out of us. By the way, even books, without thought, can fill in the void of thought.(pg117)
  • When a person know there is life outside of a cage, is it better to go on living? Even if the cage is very comfortable and satisfies everything which you would want? Montag realized that Beatty, his captain wanted to die. Beatty I think realized his trap, but could not kill himself. So he let Montag do the work for him. Is this what happens when we get too comfortable, we die? (pg 122)
  • I loved this phrase, the only man proving his legs! It came from a longer section where Montag is running away after murdering Beatty. All of the TV screens had been turned to his chase. Bradbury says He couldn't be missed! The only man running alone in the night city, the only man proving his legs! Strikes me as showing us what we devolve into mindless droids. Our bodies goes as well.
  • Interesting statement—Montag is looking for acceptance from the world, outside of the city. Even simple senses-a glass of milk, an apple,... (pg 143)
  • Everyone must leave something behind when he dies. (pg 150)


 This is a good read. It has excitement, it has good thoughts to think on. Its weakness is its prose. But this is a book I recommend. Even among the unbelievers-those who do not like to read—this should be a good read.

Notes from my book group:
  • A little too descriptive. Reminds me of someone who had a descriptive writing class.
  • Why the name of Beetle? Car, Helmet
  • pg 7. Does the girl make him aware of things others than himself? Is this true of any awakenings?
  • How long has Montag been saving books? Before Clarrise? Is this inconsistant with his profession? 20 books in the vent system?
  • Pg 10. Could this be a primer on evangelism?anhumility.other person. Definition of
  • Pg 11. Reflecting your own light by
  • Why the salamander?
  • Numerous legends have developed around the salamander over the centuries, many related to fire. This connection likely originates from the tendency of many salamanders to dwell inside rotting logs. When placed into a fire, the salamander would attempt to escape from the log, lending to the belief that salamanders were created from flames - a belief that gave the creature its name.[9]
  • Associations of the salamander with fire appear in the Talmud as well as in the writings of Aristotle, Pliny, Conrad Lycosthenes, Benvenuto Cellini, Ray Bradbury, David Weber, Paracelsus and Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Why so much suicide and violent death in a content and happy society?
  • pg 24. What was the mechanical hound sensing? The books? Changes in Montag? Or the sent of Clairisse?
  • Pg 25. The quote from GK on how we treat animals.
  • Pg29. Emphasis on sports—to take away our thoughts?
  • Pg 49. What is a family?
  • Pg 52. How long has it been since you have been really bothered? Why would bothersome things be ignored in a happy society?
  • Pg 56. Why does labor saving have unexected consequences? Zipper instead of button.
  • Pg 59. Is the pursuit of happiness supreme?

Good Quotes:
  • We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real? (pg 52)
  • That is the good part of dying, when you have nothing to lose, you run any risk you want. (pg 85)
  • Those who don't build must burn. (pg 89)