Saturday, October 31, 2015

BookTag: Mythology & Folklore

Since the 4th grade, mythology has been one of my favorite topics, and I love learning about different people, cultures, and ideas. 
I believe I have an enormous repertoire of Creation Myths, folklore, and fairy tales from around the world, so in this Tag I'd like to not only share YA mythology/folklore but mythology for all ages!

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Three relatively recent Egyptian Myths I've read include The Chaos of Stars, The Red Pyramid, and Reawakened. Out of these three, I have to say that both The Chaos of Stars and The Red Pyramid had more mythology, content-wise, than Reawakened. However, Reawakened is by far my favorite of these three, because it had awesome characters and vivid descriptions of places in Egypt.   


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Akbar and Birbal is one of my all-time favorite folktales- I came across it first when I was about 10 years old, and to this day, it remains a cherished part of my childhood. The Mahabharata is a famous Indian epic that I encountered at the same age as I did Akbar and Birbal. It is culturally, socially, and historically one of the most important epics of India. The Tiger's Curse is the first YA book I have ever read that contained Indian mythology, and it is well researched and it describes a lot of beautiful places in India. 


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I NEED more Norse Mythology. The movie Thor was ok, but it did nothing to satisfy my curiosity about the nuances of Norse mythology. Then came along Valkyrie Rising which filled me with a burning desire to know more about Valhalla, about Valkyrie, and about Loki. Know any good books on Norse mythology? If you do, please recommend below in comments.     

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Chinese folklore is fascinating. Eon is a favorite!! I love the world Alison Goodman built and the descriptions of dragons were DIVINE. Another important Chinese cultural book (it's not mythology or even folklore, but its representative of classical Chinese culture) is The Art of War which is THE book that inspired modern tactics/ strategies. It's inspirational, useful, and if I was ever stranded in the middle of a battlefield, I would pick this book over any weapon. The Empty Pot is a childhood read, and it teaches an important lesson about honesty. Although I read much more Chinese folklore as a child, this is the one I remember best. 


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This sub-genre of mythology is by far the most popular, and I give some credit to Rick Riordan's wonderful books. The only original Greek epic I've read is The Odyssey, and I absolutely loved it:) Edith Hamilton's Mythology was an EXTENSIVE trove of all types of myths and creation stories- it was beautiful and I consumed the whole book in a span of a few days. 


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Arabian mythology is beautiful. With descriptions of starry nights, deserts, and food, Aladdin is the movie that introduced the many wonders of this sub-genre. My absolute current favorite book this year is vacillating between The Queen of Shadows (not Arabian mythology) and The Wrath and the Dawn. The Wrath and the Dawn is stunningly written and is based on Arabian Nights. One story from the Arabian Nights, called Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is also a favorite. 


Emma @smartbookclub, I Tag you!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Introducing: The Hogwarts School of Blogcraft and Bookistry!

Welcome, fellow wizards, to the

Hogwarts School of Blogcraft and Bookistry!

Yup, you heard that right. The faculty of Hogwarts (AKA RED TEAM) is hosting classes for aspiring wizards, muggles, and bloggers! We have a dedicated team of professionals ready to discuss an array of topics regarding books and blogging. Be on the lookout for tutorials, recommendations, and more in these classes.

Each of our highly-trained professors will be hosting a class on one of the following topics:

(Professor Aentee is the one responsible for these beautiful graphics!)

NEXT UP: (On Friday, October 23rd @ 12 AM GMT)

Transfiguration class
Professor: Aila @ One Way or An Author

Course Description:
Do you feel like you want to shake things up a bit? Maybe drastically change your blog design? Do you feel overwhelmed juggling school, work, life, blogging, and, most importantly, books? Do you ever feel lazy and under-productive?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you, my wizarding friend, need to visit Prof. Aila’s class to learn how to transform not only your blog, but also your habits. Aila will be providing key advice as well as important book recommendations tailored to you! Who knows, maybe you’ll find the book that’ll change your life in this class! To take advantage of this valuable advice, make sure you sort yourself into one of the Houses (Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw), as Prof. Aila’s curriculum is specifically tailored to each house.

Required Materials:
All you need to attend this class is internet access, an open mind, and a wand.

We can’t wait to see you next week!

-Yours Truly,
The Hogwarts School of Blogcraft and Bookistry Faculty

Monday, October 5, 2015

RT: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Hello Everyone! 
Today I'm going to review my first ever non-fiction book on my blog. 
And I'm super excited to introduce this new feature that I made to fully analyze and discuss non-fictional books like Outliers! I'm going to be formatting this post as a "rhetorical triangle" and it will contain a review (pathos), analysis (logos), and discussion post (ethos). (Further explanation of this feature is provided at the end.)

Now without further ado, 

Title: Outliers
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Publication Date: November 18th 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Pathos (Review):

This book caters perfectly to the human's desire to be successful as well as their tendency to grasp for any excuse possible that would justify why they are not. What I mean by this is that people want to be successful, whether it is in business, war, love, or even religious pursuits. Yet, at the same time, we're trying to justify why we're not successful and this book gives us ample examples that will allow us to do so. 

Outliers presents success as a result of environment and culture, and in narrowing down and pin-pointing the factors that influence success, this book invokes a feeling of accomplishment at discovering the "secret to success" as well as one of relief/despair when we realize that success is dependent on circumstances out of our control. 

Personally, I didn't agree with how Mr. Gladwell credited success to the environment and not the individual. I felt as if he was trying to say that success is not in the hands of the pursuer, and I didn't like how that implied that we can't be successful unless we are born into it. 

While the examples presented in this novel (ice-hockey players, immigrant lawyers, the Beatles, and Bill Joy to name a few) were successfully (lol PUN) used to prove to the reader that one's success is majorly dependent on opportunity, I do not agree that circumstance can determine one's entire life. If an individual works hard and works smart, then he/she can achieve anything. 

Maybe I have the idealistic view of success that Gladwell warns us about at the beginning of the book, but I refuse to believe that success cannot be determined by a person's hard work and creativity. 

Logos (Analysis):

This book is highly logical and has none of the "feel good" emotions characteristic of fiction. It's constantly arguing and analyzing, and every page has some kind of rhetorical tool that further supports the author's point that society's perception of success is flawed. 

It has an abundance of both examples and illustrations, such as tables, lists, and the stories of actual successful people. 

The parallels drawn between the birthdays of the hockey players to their success was astounding and completely unbelievable, even with the presentation of undeniable facts. Did you know that if you were born closer to January 1st, you have a better chance of being a professional hockey player? Birthdays were used to explain why people like Bill Joy and Bill Gates were successful. They were used to argue that the younger a child is, the worse they perform at school (when compared to children in their grade). Initially, these claims may seem delusional and wild, but they are backed up with lots of evidence and logic. 

The list of birthdays correlates perfectly to the claim that professional hockey players have birthdays closer to January. And it makes perfect sense: if a child born on January 2nd is competing against another child born on September 2, the January-born child has 8 months longer to mature and to practice. 

Another analysis of successful computer programmers (Bill Gates, Bill Joy, Steve Jobs) correlates perfectly to who was born during the 1950s, when they could best take advantage of the developments in computer software by the time they were in high school and college.

Culure, Gladwell claims, is also a determinant of success. He effectively uses the example of pilots to show how once given the opportunity to improve as well as to analyze/understand one's culture, success is easier to achieve.
He specifically attributes the failure of the Korean pilots to how their cultural hierarchy limits direct communication. He proves that this is the reason for their failure by using multiple examples and shows how once the pilots understood that one specific part of their culture was incompatible with their vocation, they were able to change it and improve themselves.  

Ethos (Discussion Post):
(Psssst! This section is mostly for you, the reader. Feel free to respond!)

What is success? How is it defined?

Do you guys believe that it is impossible for one person, without the help of others, to achieve greatness?

Also, how long do you believe it takes a person to become an expert at a given subject? A lifetime? Or do you agree with Gladwell's claim that it takes 10,000 hours of practice that enables mastery?

Do you guys remember that English class where you first learned of Aristotle's appeals? Logos, ethos, and pathos? These words describe the methods by which authors get their point across and their opinion understood. Pathos describes how the author makes us feel and how he appeals to our emotions; the Pathos section is pretty much a compilation of my thoughts and responses to the many ideas in the book. Logos is how the author uses logic to sway the reader; in my RT post, Logos is the section where I break apart and analyze how exactly the author attempts to prove his/her point by using facts and logic. Ethos is the author's credibility, trustworthiness, morality- it is how his/her character influences how we, the readers, perceive the book. Instead of citing the author's many achievements/merits, I used this Ethos section to bring up the major ethical/philosophical issues that the book addresses so that I may gain insight as to what other readers think.