Saturday, February 03, 2007

Guest Blogger - Welcome, Uncle Michael!

Got a bit of a surprise the other day when I rec'd an email from my Uncle Mike expressing interest in the FIFTY BOOK CHALLENGE.
*GULP* This means that despite my alias, someone from 'the family' knows about my blog.
Note to self: watch language and stop refering to XXXX as a crazy-bitch-from-hell. *DOUBLE GULP*

Uncle Mike, who hails from High Wycombe, just outside of London (England, not Ontario!) is technically not my uncle but my husband's---but he's saner than my relatives, so I've claimed him for my very own. He's very kindly agreed to be my guest blogger with regards to the BOOK CHALLENGE. This is very exciting because Unc's taste is reading is far superior to my own!

Here is his first post. Btw - when reading, the voice in your head must be that of a very sophisticated British gentleman (right, Unc?)...

Notes & Reflections
Date: February 1, 2007
Subject: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, Scholastic Press. ISBN 0 -439 --99412 -8

Exactly what happened and why in that way?
Northern Lights is the first part of a story in three volumes. It was recommended to me by my personal trainer as a something of the spiritual tale told in a fantasy world, or more accurately worlds. After dropping hints with increasing gravity it duly arrived from Judy at Christmas, together with the second volume. I read the book in January in probably five or six sittings at home and on trains. I was travelling to York a fair amount in January. I decided after seeing Paula’s blog with her target of reading 50 books in 2007 to set myself a more modest target of 12 books in the year. I further decided to write reflection notes/reviews on each book. This particular reflection note I wrote some two weeks after finishing the book.

How did I behave, think and feel?
I approached the book with anticipation and a little trepidation as I have never read fantasy type books before, preferring the gritty realism of fast paced Special Forces novels, or the more ‘worthy’ writing of people who have something to say about life and the human condition. For example my last major read was the Sebastian Faulks Human Traces. A massive, weighty and densely written read and one that I really loved.
I enjoyed the slightly off-reality of the world in which the heroine young Lyra lived. There are the Oxford colleges and a faintly familiar London, except all with the fantastical elements added. For instance, everyone having a daemon, electricity appears to have been substituted with anbaric power, how great balloons and dirigibles appear to replace aircraft. I did engage with the plot and realise now that I accepted totally. The giant fighting bears from Scandinavia, who spoke English. I followed it all in, for me, a surprisingly accepting and understanding way. The adventures that Lyra and her daemon, with the priceless future telling alethiometer, the wicked child snatching Gobblers, led by the evil Mrs Coulter, the Gyptians and other various very interesting and assorted friends.
I sensed that there were many metaphors at work here than I could easily identify or interpret. To me the daemons represented the human soul, and there was something important for us all in the tearing asunder of the daemon and human that was somehow deeply sinister and disturbing. Was this linked to a feeling that we are all as a society or individuals losing our souls? Or somehow about us being disconnected from our souls in an increasingly materialistic and soulless society and lives. There was talk of very special dust I began to wonder if this was love.

What were the main learning points?

  • That I can enter other than explored and played with to add understanding

So what will I do differently, (is that a SMART goal?)

  • Read the second and third volumes, before end June 2007
  • Consider reading at least one more fantasy book as part of my chosen 12 books this year.


Thanks, Uncle Michael. We look forward to next month's installment.

~ Wylie

PS - apologies if the font sizes look whacky -- blogger is playing with patience today!


Vicky said...

Thanks Uncle Mike! ;) Great review.

Thanks Wylie!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading Uncle Mike's review! Thanks to Uncle Mike, and thanks to you, Wylie. :)

Christine said...

Thanks Uncle Mike! Excellent review.

And yes, we HR people are all about the SMART Goals :). I'm going to do one about Time Management for Writers soon. :)

Amy Ruttan said...

Great review Uncle Mike, and I totally heard the sophisticated British voice in my head.

And btw I am sooooooo behind on the 50 book challenge. Got to get into gear. How does it count I read three novellas in one book? So would that count as three?

Wylie Kinson said...

Amy - count 'em however you want to. There are no rules... except to read and enjoy!

Uncle Mike said...

Thank you all so much for your kind and encouraging comments. Your support will spur me on to read and review more.