Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Suggestions Please!

My sweet sister and her family

So, I have a favor to ask. I need some book ideas as a gift for my sister. Let me back up a bit to explain why I'm asking. My sister is my absolute best friend in the world, aside from my husband. I talk to her almost every day. Her husband is in the army infantry, and is leaving for his first deployment to Iraq. He will be gone for at least a year. She has six children ranging from ages 11 to 1. Her husband is an amazing father, and his children were devastated when he left for basic training. It's going to be a tough time for her emotionally, dealing with her own fears and trying to comfort her children.

I'm in Scotland currently, and  there is no feasible way for me to go and visit her to help. My heart aches for her so one little way I thought of to cheer her up is with some movies and books for both her and her children. Here is where you come in. I'm looking for books that are light, easy reads. Definitely steering clear of anything depressing. She's pretty conservative in her tastes so books free of graphic language, violence, and sex would be ideal. Any books that you've read and loved that fit that description? I'd love any suggestions!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Whip Up Something New--May

I'll be hosting Whip Up Something New for the month of May! If you need more information about the challenge, click here for the introductory post.

In order to participate, you need to find a recipe that is new, and try it out. Create a post with the recipe. Make sure to include how it turned out, and whether you would recommend it. Even if you haven't participated in previous months, you're welcome to join in the fun. 

Please list your link in the comments below and I will update this post as the recipes come in. Please submit recipes by May 31st. I'll do a wrap-up post soon after. I hope you will join us. Get cooking!

Participant Recipe Links
Carol (Egg Crepes with Spinach and Mushrooms)
Elise (Lemon Frosting)
Joanna (Tahini and Cider Vinegar Dressing)

JoAnn (Greek Lentil Salad)
Uniflame (Homemade Veggie Burgers)
Kristina (Jalapeno Hummus)
Gnoe (Rhubarb-Coconut Tarts)
Elise (Creamy Caprese Pasta)
Carol (Breakfast Tortillas)
Kristi (Dark Chocolate Cake)

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand
published 1957
completed March 2011

Life has been absolutely crazy for the past few months so I haven't posted for a month and a half. Hopefully I still have a few readers. I'm a little rusty so we'll see how it goes.

Atlas Shrugged begins in a world where the government is continually extending it's reach. Regulations on business are increasing, and laws are being passed based on back room deals. It's difficult to tell who can be trusted. The economy is collapsing, and unemployment is skyrocketing.

I'm a bit nervous writing about Atlas Shrugged. Discussions are generally politically charged so I'm going to try to come to it objectively. Not necessarily easy since we all have inherent biases. Political ideology aside, I was surprised to find that it read like a thriller. At points it was a real page turner. I was not necessarily shocked at how it ended, but I was surprised to see the journey that Rand took the reader through to get there.

One huge issue that I had with the novel was that Rand didn't trust her readers. I rolled my eyes more times than I can count when the characters would start their speeches.  My goodness.  Show me Rand; don't tell me. I'm intelligent enough to understand what you are saying without you having to spell everything out to the letter. Ugh. It was so tiresome, and I will admit that by the end, I skimmed through John Galt's speech. Was that really necessary? I just wanted to get back to the action.

I really loved the idea of some of the characters, but I felt they were a little flat. Hank Rearden, by the end, was my favorite. I started out hating him, but he made an amazing transformation in the book. Dagny was amazing in her strength and willingness to fight against the government. My one issue was that there was no characters that were in the middle. There were the gorgeous, fabulous good guys, and the ugly, fat evil guys. I don't think real life is like that. It's a little too simplistic.

As for her ideology, I don't want to get into it too much, but there is both good and bad. I'm all for capitalism. I'd rather the government not over-regulate. My issue with objectivism is that it completely eliminates the human element. I don't think you have to be cold to be successful in business. Rand treats everything as if it should be a equal arms-length trade, even personal interactions outside of business (including sex). She seems to think that those offering or accepting charity are weak. I whole-heartedly disagree. I think there is a fine line. People should learn to take care of themselves, but I don't think there should be any problem with helping people to get there.

Overall, I'm glad that I read it. It was interesting to read. I was caught up in the thriller aspect of the story and was really excited to see how it ended. I didn't necessarily agree with the ideology, but I think Rand makes some valid points. I just think her theory is a bit idealistic. I don't know if I would recommend it to someone who wasn't already interested in reading it. It is a huge time investment.

I read this as part of the readalong with Allie at A Literary Odyssey. Visit here, for more posts on Atlas Shrugged.