yukinoomoni: (Puppy & Books)
I ordered a bunch of books about Buddhist women in history recently, Read more... )

Also, fuck you, YouTube, for denying me access to my own account because I refuse to sign up for a Google Account. You're a fucking piece of cockshit. Go fuck yourself.
yukinoomoni: (Booklust)
Doi. I have to update here more.

I finished "Shambhala" - luckily before learning about Trungpa's more sordid past (and wow, what a past, and I've only scraped the surface). It's a good book and despite the source, I have discovered that I've taken much of it to heart. It's a very educated and interesting philosophy. I plan to read it again later.

Still haven't touched the "Lotus Sutra". Probably never will. Have also only skimmed the Pali Canon - it's hard stuff.

I also finished "Nine Gates", as well as the third book "Five Odd Honors (sic)", which is considerable harder and more graphic to read, especially near the end. Despite this the books are still good, and now that the first story arc is concluded, I look forward to more in the series.

I'm also reading "Stargate" by Pauline Gedge, her only science fiction novel - and I am addicted, surprising no one. Additionally, I'm reading "How to Teach Physics to Your Dog" by Chad Orzel, proving that I am indeed stupider than a dog, since I don't get it still.

Durrrr, I want to use this journal more, but I always forget it exists. I should probably starting crossing to LJ via DW, but again, I always forget, and doing so always messes up my tags. Argh. I dunno. I'll think about it...


Nov. 25th, 2010 01:09 pm
yukinoomoni: (Cheese)
Here's a post about books!

I'm reading "Shambhala" by Chohyam Trungpa - yes, the ever-controversial patriarch of the Shamabhala Lineage Schools. I don't know much about him, really, except that he was said to be a reincarnated lama and he left that life later when he moved to the States and took a sixteen-year-old wife. While on the surface his life seems riddled with controversy, luckily his teachers escape that. "Shambhala" is actually a really easy and informative read, divorcing itself from traditional Tibetan Buddhism and instead making a sect of its own. I'm learning much about this little book, and plan to read it over again in the near future once I'm done.

Related to Buddhism, I've picked up "Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada". While I'm only a few chapters in, the content is readable and interesting, and lacks the stuffy material that most educational books like these usually have.

I haven't actually tried reading the Lotus Sutra since I last talked about it. Whoops. I read through the first chapter of the Pali Canon, but again, I haven't gotten far. Will work on that.

I'm also reading "Nine Gates" the second book in the "Breaking the Wall" series by Jane Lindskold. Lindskold is one of my favourite authors, and I had been putting off reading the first three of these books in order to savour them. Well, I re-read the first one and got hooked again, and now I'm almost done the second. The characters are amazing and wonderful, the story complex and yet with a breath of realism. People complained that the books are a little "description-heavy", but for me that's like candy, so I dunno.

That's all there is for now! I am boring.
yukinoomoni: (Shit)
What possessed me into thinking that I could possibly read "The Lotus Sutra" (translated by Gene Reeves) without rolling my eyes and snorting out random epithets and snerking in derision? The Lotus Sutra is like a cracked parody of the Buddhist teachings, filled with mythical beings and millions of buddhas, depicting Shakyamuni Buddha himself as a seventeen-foot-tall being with a third eye that can shoot light. And I haven't even reached a hundred pages yet.

Perhaps I'm spoiled. I was drawn to The Lotus Sutra after reading "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist" by Stephen Batchelor, instantly finding myself smitten with the idea of applying the Buddhist principles without the claptrap and influence of religion-mergers. Learning about both Batchelor's struggle with the mythic properties of the majority of Buddhism, as well as the historical Buddha - who, according to the Pali Canon, wasn't even a prince. This idea intrigues me, and makes the Buddha more realistic to me.

But then I picked up The Lotus Sutra, which is Japanese Buddhism on the most expensive crack ever, and I wonder what the hell is going on. Despite this being a contemporary translation, it's still insane! I wonder if I'll even be able to struggle through it.

Luckily, I have "Alternative Alcott" by Louisa May Alcott to distract me. It's a collection of her most well-written sensation stories, and I find them absorbing and well advanced for their time. I also marvel at how things have changed, how censorship has gotten much more lax, and how authors - especially women - are able to express themselves finally without barriers. It's amazing.

Blah, I guess I'll try reading The Lotus Sutra again.
yukinoomoni: (Booklust)
I finished "Antony and Cleopatra", finally. I have to say, while I usually prefer Colleen McCullough's characterisations, I found that this one fell a little flat - and annoying. While I appreciate the attempt to dispel myths and make those involved seemed more like real people, she only seemed to do it for Antony and Cleopatra - and only partially for Octavian. In fact, if I had a dime for every single time someone exulted over the greatness and perfection of Octavian, i would have at least five dollars. I was not amused.

Also found that "A Passionate Girl" was very well done, though it, too, fell a little flat by the end. While the ending was warranted, I found the loose ends annoying. Still, a good romp in history, all things considered.

I'm now on to reading "Anne of the Island", which promises so far to be wonderful. I do like this series. I still stand by what I said, how I wouldn't haven enjoyed these books as much as a child as I do now.

I'm also reading "Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime" by Mizuki Nomura, a Japanese light novel recently translated into English by the wonderful YenPress. (I am amazed by the quality of the translations offered by this company, and find them vastly superior to TokyoPop.) It's about a book-eating goblin who befriends a one-burned twice-shy wallflower novelist. It looks to be promising.

If you ever want to know about what I'm reading at the very moment, you can visit my Indigo webpage here.
yukinoomoni: (Coffee)
I don't think I would have enjoyed the Anne books as much as a child as I do as an adult now. I'm glad I never read them then. I would have missed out on so much. Granted, I probably would have - eventually - re-read them, but I think I like them better now... although they could do without the French racism. Seriously, that's not cool.

Instant coffee is okay in a pinch, but tastes dreadful without milk. In addition, 2% condensed milk tastes dreadful in general, and not at all like the sweet creamy goodness that I was expecting. Which one is the sweet kind? And now what am I supposed to do with three tins of the stuff? Blech. Idiotic.

I would update on more books, but I'm lazy. Maybe next week.
yukinoomoni: (Advice)
I finished the Dhammapada and was surprised by the amount on contradictions within it. Granted, they're not as glaring as other religious texts, but they're still there. Granted, most of the lessons within the texts are still easy to take at face value, but some of it just made me roll my eyes. Perhaps I'm just way too cynical.

I read an ebook version of Anne of Green Gables a month ago and finally understood what the fuss was about. I never could get into the books as a kid, though I did watch the mini-series, so reading them now is a pleasure, especially since, as an adult, I understand the random remarks left by Rachel Lynde and Marilla. Due to the success in liking the first novel, I've started reading its sequel, Anne of Avonlea, which so far as yet to disappoint. I bought the entire series, so I hope it all works into something amazing.

Months ago I also purchased a book from a drug store called A Passionate Girl by Thomas Fleming, about the Irish-Americans in post-Civil War America. It's a period of history that I'm ignorant of, and thus far it seems to educate enough. Some parts are stale, but the dialogue thus far has made up for it.

Lastly, it should be said that Pema Chodron's Comfortable With Uncertainty is an excellent gateway book to read. Each chapter is usually only a page and a half, and while I can hear echoes of her teacher in her words, she actually does speak to the everyperson like she is rumoured to. I'm pleasantly surprised.

And that's it for now!
yukinoomoni: (Indulge)
I finished the Pocket Buddha Reader, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. The teachings and material were concise and rewarding without being contrite. The teachings within it are general and lack the usual approach to religion and bettering yourself. While it did include some mentions of heaven and hell, gods, and rebirth, I was still able to take much away from it.

This cannot be said when it comes to the Pocket Tibetan Buddhism Reader. I have discovered that I do not like Tibetan Buddhism; it harps way too much on rebirth and heaven and hell, and often it contradicts itself in ways that really shouldn't be happening. I can't get past these hurdles, despite trying to be objective about it. I stopped reading it after two chapters.

However, I have decided to give Pema Chodron a try, since so many people seem to recommend her. Although she is a Tibetan Buddhist nun, different sources cite that she writes for the everyday layperson about how to live in kindness and compassion - which is something I seriously need to work on. I've started her "Comfortable with Uncertainty", which is a compilation of 108 different excerpts from her various work. I figured it would be a good start. From there, I'll read The Pocket Pema Chodron.

Still reading the Dhammapada. For such a small book, it sure packs a punch. It really is true what is said about it; you really do have to digest what is being said. I suspect I'll have to read it several times to fully appreciate it.

I finished Deepak Chopra's Buddha. I found the first two parts - Siddhartha and Gautama - enthralling and amazing, but the last part - Buddha - was actually rather dull and dragged on. It really seemed implausible to me that suddenly the desperate man who was painted so well in the first parts of the novel suddenly became such a stale and blank being. I wasn't very impressed with the ending.

I also finished the Song of the Lioness quartet, and I find I still enjoy them. The entire story as a whole really interesting and powerful, and I enjoyed Pierce's descriptions of magic and cultures in her created world. I found George and Alanna's romantic conclusion to be oddly rushed - especially so soon after Liam's death - but I suppose I could look at it that they had practically been courting since George found out that Alanna was female, so whatever. I'm going to take a break on Tortall for a while, I think.

Oddly enough I'm still working on Antony and Cleopatra. While I enjoy McCullough's writing and find her version of Cleopatra more plausible than any other version I've read, I somehow can't get past my hatred of Octavian - whom she paints as some kind of wonderful saint - and it makes for slow reading.

And lastly, I've started reading Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I haven't read this book in high school, and even then I skimmed it, so it should be interesting to revisit now that I'm an adult.

Phew. That's a lot of books...
yukinoomoni: (Survival)
I'm also reading - in addition to Colleen McCullough's "Antony and Cleopatra" and "War and Peace" - The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. I read these books well over five years ago and have little memory of them, so I thought I would try them again.

I find them engaging enough, as far as stories go. They're written in a prose that is easy to understand, although the author doesn't talk down to the reader. She describes love and sex in addition to gender identity, and while she does it well enough, I find it would have been more interesting if she had taken different turns in different ways. For example, when Jonathan starts to return Alanna's affections in the second book, it would have been more interesting if he had done so when she was dressed as a squire, and not a lady. Or, better yet - have Jonathan fall for Alanna while still thinking that she's male. That would have been interesting, especially if that affection carried over still when her gender is revealed.

While I'm only the third book so far, I still find some of the story a little wince-worthy, since Pierce tends to fall into tropes and uses language that seems to be somewhat misplaced and ignorant for the time it was written (calling someone a "yellow man" in the 80s seems a little much), and while Alanna herself falls dangerously close to Mary Sue territory, I still find the story interesting and well worth a second read.

I've also oddly found myself reading books about Buddhism again, despite renouncing faith and declaring myself an atheist just under a year ago. I find Buddhism fascinating and rich with intriguing life-lessons, lessons that shouldn't need a conversion to religion to follow and adhere to. I'm tied into three books on the subject: Deepak Chopra's "Buddha", Thomas Byrom's rendering of the "Dhammapada", and Anne Bancroft's "Pocket Buddha Reader". All three offer insight and interesting perspectives into the religion that I find alluring, especially when it comes to the Buddha's own words. It's hard to accept these words as what the Buddha may or may not have said - or if he even existed as they all say he did. (I fancy an idea that maybe the Buddha was an invention, a character created to uphold several ideas of a mass of intelligent people, a mass that knew their words could only be understood if appearing to be spoken out of the mouth of one, and not the many. But this is merely an unpopular idea of my own invention.) While the words upon the paper I read are probably mutations vastly grown throughout hundreds of thousands of years of retelling, I still find that their archaic meanings are provoking. I find if I take it all with a step back and a divorce from the fantastical exposure, I have much to learn and think about.

Yes, I'm aware that I'm reading six books at once. Seven, if you count the fact that I'm also reading "Little Women" for the third time when I have trouble sleeping, and nine if you count the ebooks "Grimms' Fairy Tales" and "Japanese Fairy Tales" I have on my Kobo. Yes, I'm very sick. So sue me.
yukinoomoni: (Laugh)
I've started to read Tolstoy's "War and Peace" again. I tried to read it over six years ago and got halfway through before becoming distracted by less classy things. Now that I have it on my Kobo for free, and not as a troublesome tome of weight, it'll be much easier to read - and it's the same translation as the original copy that I had started, the one that Tolstoy approved himself before he died.

Most people find Tolstoy trying at times, but I tend to agree with the viewpoint that he truly did write for the masses. Even with the approved translation, it's still an easy and lyrical read. While I'm only on chapter two at the moment, I find myself remembering my keen frustration at the way most of the names sounded similar, and how the cast list kept getting longer and longer by the second. But the language itself is actually really easy and flowing. I don't get people.

So let the record show I started today. I wonder how long it will take me to finish? My money's on a year.
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