From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne

20 Books of Summer 2023: Book 3

Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon is the first book in a two-part series. It mocks American gun culture as it was in the late 1860s by depicting the “Gun Club” sitting around, bored, at the end of the Civil War. Most members are missing at least one limb, but they remain passionate about guns, cannons, and explosives. The club’s president, Impey Barbicane, comes up with an idea to shoot a projectile to the moon. Eventually, it’s determined that people will travel to the moon inside the projectile. Part 1 ends shortly after launch, and since I haven’t read part two, I have no idea how it turns out.

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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

20 Books of Summer 2023: Book 2

Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front is one of those classics that doesn’t seem quite worth reading because you think you already know what it’s about. It takes place in the trenches of World War I where Paul and other young Germans have been pushed into the war because “at that time even one’s parents were ready with the word ‘coward’; no one had the vaguest idea what we were in for.” (7) Like all books centered around WWI and the horrors of trench warfare, there are many bleak and violent scenes, but quiet moments and philosophizing help the book coalesce into a moving narrative. read more

Review: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

20 Books of Summer 2023: Book 1

I’m not into plays generally; had I realized The Importance of Being Earnest was a play, it would probably have been left off my queue. However, the dialog is so bright and lively that it reads more easily than most plays I’ve read. I’ve always struggled to visualize plays since there’s rarely much description of the physical scenes. Here though, there’s no vague “Elsinore. A platform before the castle” to imagine. There are minimal stage directions, and most describe the tone or gesticulations of the characters. Since the play is more about delivering a string of witticisms than a heavy plot, it’s easy to imagine. The only issue is that much of the play revolves around a single joke, but it wraps up before this joke turns stale. read more

Review: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

The idea of dreams changing reality isn’t unique, but its presentation in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven is inventive and disquieting. The Lathe of Heaven follows George Orr as he seeks treatment for a sleep disorder. Some of Orr’s dreams impact the real world, so he has been abusing medication to alternately stay awake or sleep dreamlessly. His drug use lands him in “Voluntary Therapeutic Treatment,” which becomes less voluntary when his doctor, William Haber, finds a way to control Orr’s dreams to his own benefit. read more