A Bookworm's Definitive Story

I hate books. It takes time and energy to read a book and finish it. Why do I join booklikes and write a blog about book? Why do you think people exercise in the gym knowing it takes time and energy to get a great body?

Traditional Irish Fairy Tales

Traditional Irish Fairy Tales - James Stephens, Arthur Rackham Fairy Tales are never meant for children, for only true adults-- that is to say-- they who have the capacity to respect and admire the amount of work that was put into writing a really good story can also grasp what it is inside fairy tales and other fantasy works that, even now, in the wake of technologies and smartphone wars, people all over the world still fell in love with fantasy genre.

This book's strength lies in the author's voice, and I have to say, it's a really good voice that reminds me of The Griffin and the Minor Canon by Frank R. Stockton.

Ever feel tired and bored by the declining numbers of worthwhile contemporary fantasy books? This one would put your hope back on fantasy writers.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc - Mark Twain First book I ever read that was written by Mark Twain. It is really hard to believe that Joan of Arc was a once a real-living human being. The more I read the book, the more I believed that she was a myth, a kind of person equal to that of Achilles or Odysseus.

Well, putting aside the question whether Joan was real or not, this book is quite entertaining. I liked the additions that were put by the author, like the poem L'ARBRE FÉE DE BOURLEMONT, the fairy trees, and of Catherine Boucher's ghost story.

Joan of Arc was a personal interest to Twain, and it was said that this book was the one he liked the most, despite his contemporaries thought otherwise.

An Essay on Criticism

An Essay on Criticism - Alexander Pope It's more like I understand the essay so little. Oh well at least I've read it. Maybe one day I'll be able to understand it better

UPDATE: this study guide helps a little

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge - Ambrose Bierce Did not really worked out. I'd like to try again someday.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland - Rene Cloke, Lewis Carroll Before I started reading, I'm well aware that this book was said to be nonsensical. But nothing I've heard truly described anything at all about this book, and knowing that it was written in 1865 just makes me confused all the more.

I've read some children books, but none really could be put in the same bookshelf as Alice in Wonderland, first and foremost for its wonderful point of view (as wonderful as you can get from a six/seven year old girl.)

This book was interesting, but since there are many things incomprehensible to me, I guess I can't give it more than 3 stars. I liked the book, but that doesn't mean it's the book I liked, if you know what I mean.

Inside Stev New Cover Reissue

Inside Stev New Cover Reissue - Kahney Leander I started using iTunes in 2011 for downloading podcasts by several pastors of USA (Joel Osteen and Erwin McManus to name some) and thinking that I owe a lot to Apple, the company that made iTunes, I decided to read Inside Apple and this book, so that I may learn a thing or two concerning the man who made Apple achieve something so significant. I'm aware of Apple due to its reputation, and since I'm a student of Information System, I want to know what impact they actually have made on the Digital Age.

Reading this book was a great experience, partly because I felt like I have read something like it before (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell,) and now that I think of it, this exploration of the man Steve Jobs and his company Apple confirmed what Gladwell has said in the Outliers, that the time when you were born matters a great deal in achieving success. Jobs' total control philosophy failed with Apple II, but it succeeded when he launched iPod. His values of design, marketing, and ease of use were unpopular at the years of early PC growth, when the main buyers of computers were geeks and corporations. Yet now, with the rise of the digital lifestyle era, things were different.

One thing that I know about Human-Computer Interaction, is that this group of human beings that we labeled as "user" is made up of all kinds of people. Some users are geeks, and they'd love to tweak their hardwares and softwares, adding this software and that graphic cards, and of course that chip and this motherboard (During the first two weeks after I bought my Samsung Galaxy Tab, I rooted the device and installed various custom ROMs and Kernels, until I decided to restore my original version of Android. Those ROMs and Kernels are confusing and unstable.) Some Users are just.. well, "normal" people. This group of user is not interested in rooting their Android devices or jailbreaking their iPhone. They just bought the device because of what it can do, like editing videos and photos, sharing their things in social media like Facebook and Twitter. Clearly, when I said they are not interested in rooting or jailbreaking, that also means they are not going to like it when their devices crash and freeze. My Tab suffered a few bugs when I rooted it, but I'm interested in computers and tablets.

Now the question is this: if a tech company decided to create a computer that would be a must-have for every single human being alive on this planet, what values must the company embedded inside the computer?

Variations of choices or stability and reliability?

This is an important question in understanding why Apple is so influential and successful in what it does. It created several products that fits the need of the people as "normal" users. People who don't really care what type of graphic cards the device has, as long as it works and they get what they want. People who just want to use computers for productivity's sake, not for tweaking and learning about all the different hardwares and softwares, and all the list of names of computers like Asus A43E , Asus A43C and Asus A43A. WHATEVER!

Computers were an integral part of life nowadays, and if people need to learn all these different names, types, and specs of computers BEFORE they could decide which one to buy, then, instead of enhancing productivity and making things simple, the IT would reduce human's productivity. It seems pretty obvious and taken for granted now, with the emergence of Android and Windows 8, and the still-in-development operating systems like Chrome and Firefox. But we have to remember these new OSes are emulations of iOS. They were possible because somebody showed that it is possible.

I think that's an important lesson in understanding how these small, rectangular things that we described best as "computer" interacts with humans. In small and subtle ways, computers changed the way we live and the way we do things little by little, yet those changes are not without explanations. There are people out there who do these research and explorations to simplify a computer, because creating a good, simple, and easy-to-use devices like iPhone and Mac is not effortless. It is created diligently and carefully by a team of dedicated people who would have a meeting at 9pm to 1am discussing their progress.

But then, how to know what these normal users want out of a computer? You can't go around and ask people what they want out of a computer when all they ever experienced with a computer are freezes, complicated instructions and data-lost. You will need a mind that could comprehend what the "normal" users would like best in a computer, and that is another thing that Steve Jobs has in his brain.

Steve was an Outlier indeed, and as with all Outliers, there is a profound, almost unbelievable story of how one achieve significant success and--sometimes--change the world.

The Bloody Crown of Conan

The Bloody Crown of Conan - Robert E. Howard, Gary Gianni, Patrice Louinet The second book of the Del Rey collections, one which contains all of the original story written by Conan's creator Robert E. Howard. The Hour of the Dragon, Conan's only novel-length story, is included.

As always, Conan's story is the sword and sorcery fantasy that's surprisingly enchanting. From the battle against the Grey Ape to the exploration of subterranean maze, Conan delivers a thrilling and exciting adventure totally unlike the movies that adapted the book.

self note: haven't finished reading the miscellaneous (synopsis, extra notes.) Will be back for 'em one day soon.

Elric of Melniboné

Elric of Melniboné - Michael Moorcock This book is COOL:

Sorcerers, elemental lords, gods of chaos and law, sentient runeblade, and magical artifacts. Reading this book feels like traveling on World of Warcraft's Azeroth. The differences are that there are no general fantasy race like elves and orcs, and the story is deeper. I've played the campaigns in Warcraft III and read The Last Guardian, and for me the plot in Warcraft is always flat. But Warcraft was originally a game franchise anyway, so of course comparing it to Elric isn't fair.

Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired--And Secretive--Company Really Works

Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired--And Secretive--Company Really Works - Adam Lashinsky Informative about the company that greatly influenced the modern world, and how much of that greatness should be attributed to Steve Jobs.

The Farthest Shore

The Farthest Shore  - Ursula K. Le Guin For quite a while, I've spent my time in reading fantasy books. From The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Harry Potter, to Eragon, Percy Jackson, and Stardust. I have to say that Earthsea is really a wonderful addition to the world of fantasy. Though what makes Earthsea outstanding is not what I expected.

One thing that I can't believe is that this book is actually published in 1972, more than three decades ago, but is still in print today. As a matter of fact, my copy was from Simon Pulse, published in 2012, less than a year ago.

The World of Earthsea is amazing. It was full of different peoples, blacks and whites. Yet one thing that makes Earthsea outstanding is it's treatment of magic and the antagonists.

Magic is not some secondary force that can be used freely by the magicians, like shooting fireballs and disarming opponents whenever the magicians wanted to. To use magic, no matter how insignificant it seems, is to add something to the balance of the world. A pretty cool concept, considering how for some books, wand and staff is just a gun in disguise. Magic here is pretty deep, just like in The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany in a way.

Then the antagonists. In the first two books that I've read, the antagonists presented themselves not as an arbitrary dark lord, but as a sinister, looming, cunning spiritual forces. Ain't that cool? I was quite bored with dark lords, evil witches and tyrannical king, so reading Earthsea is like some kind of holiday.

The weakness of Earthsea is that the story is told more in narratives than in actions, so sometimes it does bore me.

My conclusion is that for a fantasy book, Earthsea is quite interesting. It might lack the showier fantasy elements (noble elves, short dwarves, centaurs, etc.) but makes it up with thoughtful philosophies.

The Blue Sword

The Blue Sword  - Robin McKinley Hmm.. I read this book because Michael Moorcock mentioned it. I have to confess I am dissapointed.

The book is full of its world-building, which is okay for any High Fantasy and Epics, yet this book was supposed to be a piece of fun--pop fantasy, and it's continuous world-building is just exhausting. Furthermore, the book has some reference to the real world, as an example:

"She closed her fingers till what she suddenly felt was her brand of Cain disappeared."

Um, what's the first murderer in the world's name was doing here in this book? Isn't this supposed to be a fantasy book? In a fantasy book -- like Ursula K. Le Guin said -- language is everything. You just can't dump a reference into a character in The Bible in the middle of your book and act like its there all along. The world that the protagonist lived in was supposed to be the Homelander, and as far as I know there is no place on earth called Homelander.

Then there is Aerin, the legendary dragon-killer. She is supposed to be a heroine, but then she said something like:

"Gonturan is far older than I am, you know."

By the end of the book, I really hate that word "you know."

Then there is the evil barbarian horde, the Northerners, who seems like human but not human (Orcs, maybe?). The Northerners are barbarians divided in small tribes, until a man, or half-man half-beast, I don't really care, arise and become their leader. The name of the man/abomination/magician barbarian is Thurra Sauronson (oops!) This is Harry's nemesis, and she needs to somehow defeat him.

In the end... well, I don't want to spoil the end now, do I? I can promise though, that the end is unthinkable to me (surprise!)

True, there is the strong female protagonist who is thoughtful and strong (too strong perhaps, that she could overpower so many other warriors throughout the book by training for six weeks only). True, the desert landscape, the descriptions of many floras and faunas, and the beautiful castle with fountains are a joy in fantasy, but unfortunately that's all there is in this book.

Oh, yes there is the magical Gift, a strange and mysterious power in the blood of the Hillfolk, but what does that magic do? Commanding the king to kidnap a girl, and that's all. The Gift does not present itself again for the next hundred pages (except when the King showed Harry the fourth way to create fire, which was, in my point of view, very ridiculous and unimportant.)

To sum it up, this book promises a wonderful adventure, but completely failed in delivering it.

I guess it's my fault too, I was expecting something wonderful (I've just read the Tombs of Atuan before this book, so pardon me for the high expectations.)

The Tombs of Atuan

The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula K. Le Guin Simply put, a wonderful fantasy book without elves and dwarves, but with invisible ancient evil and a horrific labyrinth maze. Loved the way people think in this book, especially the ignorant Godking High King Priestess and the thoughtful Eaten One. Would read the third book after The Blue Sword.

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian - Robert E. Howard, Mark Schultz, Patrice Louinet adventures everywhere he goes. Haven't read the extra materials, might get back to it some time later.

A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea  - Ursula K. Le Guin The magic presented on Earthsea is not something learned by uttering simple words. Magic is not a force the characters can use at their disposal.

From Elfland to Poughkeepsie

From Elfland to Poughkeepsie - Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre An essay arguing that the most essential part of Fantasy is the language, for in the language you could easily discern the writer's style.

"The style, of course, is the book. If you remove the cake, all you have left is a recipe. If you remove the style, all you have left is a synopsis of the plot" - Ursula K. Le Guin

Arrows of the Queen

Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey An okay fantasy book set primarily in a castle that looks a little like Hogwarts

Currently reading

The Blue Fairy Book
Andrew Lang
Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy
Douglas A. Anderson, Frank R. Stockton, Johann Ludwig Tieck, Richard Garnett, H. Rider Haggard, Andrew Lang, William Hope Hodgson, E.A. Wyke-Smith, David Lindsay, Clemence Housman, George MacDonald, Arthur Machen, A. Merritt, L. Frank Baum, Kenneth Morris, William Morri