Saturday, January 6, 2018

Paradise Lost by John Milton

I finished reading this book today. I really, really liked it. I liked it more than any book that I've read in a while. I didn't expect that I would enjoy it so much. But reading this felt almost like reading scripture in a way. Obviously it's not at the level of scripture, but there was so much about this book, written in the 1600's, that felt inspired. Milton himself at one point in the poem mentions how he feels some higher power is providing him with these words and urging him to continue on with the poem. If only Milton had the full truths of the restored gospel. I would have loved to read what he would have come up with if he would have known that all of us participated in the war in heaven and we were not created only to fill the void from the departed, fallen angels. But still, there is so much truth in this book and it is beautifully portrayed. My only gripe is that there was a bit too much Greek mythology references.

I am going to share a bunch of quotes from the book. You probably won't want to read them all, because there are a lot, but please read my favorite quote, because it is awesome:

"... let it profit thee to have heard, / By terrible example, the reward / Of disobedience; firm they might have stood, / Yet fell. Remember, and fear to transgress."

Now, feel free to read over some of these other great quotes:

"... his doom / Reserv'd him to more wrath: for now the thought / Both of lost happiness and lasting pain / Torments him."

"Heap on himself damnation, while he sought / Evil to others; and enraged might see, / How all his malice served but to bring forth / Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shown / On man by him seduc'd"

"The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."

"Likening his Maker to the grazed ox, / Jehovah, who in one night when he pass'd / From Egypt marching equaled with one stroke / Both her first-born and all her bleating gods."

"Waiting revenge: cruel his eye, but cast / Signs of remorse and passion, to behold / The fellows of his crime, the followers rather, / (Far other once beheld in bliss) condemn'd / For ever now to have their lot in pain; / Millions of spirits, for his fault amerc'd / Of heaven, and from eternal splendours flung / For his revolt; yet faithful how they stood, / Their glory wither'd"

"What force effected not: that he no less / At length from us may find, who overcomes / By force, hath overcome but half his foe."

"Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell. / Not free, what proof could they have given sincere / Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love, / Where only what they needs must do, appear'd; / Not, what they would? What praise could they receive? / What pleasure I from such obedience paid, / When will and reason (reason also is choice) / Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd, / Made passive both, had serv'd necessity, / Not me? They therefore, as to right belong'd, / So were created, nor can justly accuse / Their Maker, or their making, or their fate"

"The first sort by their own suggestion fell, / Self-tempted, self-deprav'd: man falls, deceiv'd, / By th'other first: man, therefore, shall find grace, / The other none. In mercy, and justice both, / Through heaven and earth, so shall my glory excel; / But mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine."

"To prayer, repentance, and obedience due, / Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent, / Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut; / And I will place within them as a guide / My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear, / Light after light well us'd they shall attain, / And to the end persisting, safe arrive. / This my long sufferance, and my day of grace, / They who neglect and scorn shall never taste; / But hard he harden'd, blind he blinded more, / That they may stumble on, and deeper fall; / And none but such from mercy I exclude. / But yet all is not done: Man disobeying, / Disloyal breaks his fealty, and sins / Against the high supremacy of heaven, / Affecting Godhead, and so losing all, / To expiate his treason hath nought left, / But to destruction, sacred and devote, / He with his whole posterity must die; / Die he or justice must; unless for him / Some other able, and as willing pay / The rigid satisfaction, death for death. / Say, heavenly powers, where shall we find such love? / Which of ye will be mortal to redeem / Man's mortal crime, and just th'unjust to save? / Dwells in all heaven charity so dear?"

"... on me let death wreak all his rage; / Under his gloomy power I shall not long / Lie vanquish'd; thou hast given me to possess / Life in myself for ever"

"Death his death's wound shall then receive, and stoop / Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarm'd."

"... his meek aspect / Silent yet spake, and breath'd immortal love / To mortal men, above which only shone / Filial obedience: as a sacrifice / Glad to be offer'd, he attends the will / Of his great Father. Admiration seiz'd / All heaven"

"And dying rise, and rising with him raise / His brethren, ransom'd with his own dear life. / So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate, / Giving to death, and dying to redeem, / So dearly to redeem what hellish hate / So easily destroy'd, and still destroys, / In those who, when they may, accept not grace."

"No sooner had th'Almighty ceas'd, but all / The multitude of angels, with a shout / Loud as from numbers without number, sweet, / As from bless'd voices uttering joy, heaven rung / With jubilee, and loud hosannas fill'd / Th'eternal regions."

"... a grateful mind / By owing owes not, but still pays, at once / Indebted and discharg'd"

"Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand? / Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse, / But heaven's free love dealt equally to all?"

"... of him thou art, / His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent / Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart, / Substantial life, to have thee by my side"

"... these two / Imparadis'd in one another's arms, / (The happier Eden,)"

"... That thou art happy, owe to God; / That thou continuest such, owe to thyself, / That is, to thy obedience; therein stand."

"... freely we serve, / Because we freely love"

"... what if earth / Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein, / Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?"

"Shalt thou give law to God? Shalt thou dispute / With him the points of liberty, who made / Thee what thou art, and form'd the powers of heaven / Such as he pleas'd and circumscrib'd their being?"

" ... though strange to us it seem'd / At first, that angel should with angel war, / And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet / So oft in festival of joy and love / Unanimous, as sons of one great sire"

"Reign thou in hell, thy kingdom; let me serve / In heaven God ever bless'd and his divine / Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd; / Yet chains in hell, not realms expect"

"Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain / To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope / Things not reveal'd, which th'invisible King, / Only omniscient, hath suppress'd in night, / To none communicable in earth or heaven: / Enough is left besides to search and know."

"They open to themselves at length the way / Up hither, under long obedience tried"

"... beware, / And govern well thy appetite, lest Sin / Surprise thee, and her black attendant Death."

"In loving thou dost well, in passion not, / Wherein true love consists not; love refines / The thoughts, and heart enlarges, hath his seat / In reason, and is judicious, is the scale / By which to heavenly love thou may'st ascend; / Not sunk in carnal pleasure, for which cause / Among the beasts no mate for thee was found."

"Be strong, live happy, and love; but first of all, / Him whom love is to obey, and keep / His great command"

"... Revenge, at first though sweet, / Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils"

"Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce / Angels"

"... God tow'rds thee hath done his part, do thine."

"For good unknown, sure is not had, or had / And yet unknown, is as not had at all."

"Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd, she ate; / Earth felt the wound"

"... innocence, that as a veil / Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone"

"... force upon free will hath here no place."

"... I go to judge / On earth these thy transgressors, but thou know'st, / Whoever judg'd, the worst on me must light, / When time shall be, for so I undertook / Before thee; and not repenting, this obtain / Of right, that I may mitigate their doom / On me deriv'd; yet I shall temper so / Justice with mercy, as may illustrate most / Them fully satisfied, and thee appease."

"... a passage broad, / Smooth, easy, inoffensive, down to hell."

"... miserable it is / To be to others cause of misery"

"... with labour I must earn / My bread; what harm? Idleness had been worse"

"See, Father, what first fruits on earth are sprung / From thy implanted grace in man, these sighs / And prayers, which in this golden censer, mix'd / With incense, I thy priest before thee bring, / Fruits of more pleasing savour from thy seed / Sown with contrition in his heart, than those / Which, his own hand manuring, all the trees / Of Paradise could have produc'd, ere fallen / From innocence."

"... since I sought / By prayer th'offended Deity to appease, / Kneel'd and before him humbled all my heart, / Methought I saw him placable and mild, / Bending his ear; persuasion in me grew / That I was heard with favour; peace return'd / Home to my breast"

"Eve rightly call'd, mother of all mankind, / Mother of all things living, since by thee / Man is to live, and all things live for man."

"... infinite in pardon was my Judge, / That I, who first brought death on all, am grac'd / The source of life"

"Given thee of grace, wherein thou may'st repent, / And one bad act with many deeds well done / May'st cover"

"Thy going is not lonely; with thee goes / Thy husband; him to follow thou art bound; / Where he abides, think there thy native soil."

"... if by prayer / Incessant I could hope to change the will / Of him who all things can, I would not cease / To weary him with my assiduous cries: / But prayer against his absolute decree / No more avails than breath against the wind, / Blown stifling back on him that breathes it forth: / Therefore to his great bidding I submit."

"... what thou liv'st / Live well, how long or short permit to heaven"

"O pity and shame! that they who to live well / Enter'd so fair, should turn aside to tread / Paths indirect, or in the midway faint!"

"... God attributes to place / No sanctity, if none be thither brought / By men who there frequent, or therein dwell."

"The blood of bulls and goats, they may conclude / Some blood more precious must be paid for man, / Just for unjust, that in such righteousness, / To them by faith imputed, they may find / Justification towards God, and peace / Of conscience, which the law by ceremonies / Cannot appease, nor man the moral part / Perform, and, not performing, cannot live. / So law appears imperfect, and but given / With purpose to resign them in full time / Up to a better covenant, disciplin'd / From shadowy types to truth, from flesh to spirit, / From imposition of strict laws to free / Acceptance of large grace, from servile fear / To filial, works of law to works of faith."

"... slain for bringing life; / But to the cross he nails thy enemies, / ... the sins / Of all mankind, with him there crucified"

"His death for man, as many as offer'd life / Neglect not, and the benefit embrace / By faith not void of works."

"... for then the earth / Shall all be Paradise, far happier place / Than this of Eden, and far happier days."

"He to his own a Comforter will send, / The promise of the Father, who shall dwell / His Spirit within them, and the law of faith / Working through love, upon their hearts shall write, / To guide them in all truth, and also arm / With spiritual armour, able to resist / Satan's assaults, and quench his fiery darts"

"... add / Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add faith, / Add virtue, patience, temperance, add love, / By name to come call'd charity, the soul / Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath / To leave this Paradise but shalt possess / A Paradise within thee, happier far."

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I finished reading this to my 7-year old daughter tonight. We both loved it immensely. It was a little touch and go at first as it appeared she was not really into it, Fred Savage style. But the story sucked her in (because it's amazing) and she couldn't get enough of it. I even overheard her recently explaining to her younger brother about how Prince Humperdinck is trying to start a war with Guilder. We're going to watch the movie tomorrow. She can hardly wait.

Speaking of which, I was surprised at how similar the book is to the movie since the movies usually change a bunch of stuff. But the book is pretty much the same thing as the movie, which made me love the book since the movie is perfect as we all know. I guess it helps that the author of the book also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Seems like that should happen more often. The biggest difference, that I could tell, was that Inigo and Fezzik had to fight their way through the "Zoo of Death" to get to where Westley was being tortured by Count Rugen and Prince Humperdinck.

I liked how Goldman pretends that he is abridging a much longer book originally written by an author named S. Morgenstern. It was a nice touch. His intro explaining why he is making an abridgment is pretty genius.

There's also this awesome part where Goldman does an aside (as he does a handful of times throughout the book) during the reunion scene between Westley and Buttercup right after Buttercup shoves Westley down the ravine, realizes it's her Westley, and jumps down into the ravine after him. During his aside, he mentions that S. Morgenstern just moves forward with the story without writing more about the reunion between Westley and Buttercup at the bottom of the ravine. He felt that there should be more and said that he wrote a reunion scene but his publisher would not let him add it to the book because he is abridging S. Morgenstern's book and an abridger is not supposed to add material. So Goldman says that if you want to read the reunion scene then just send a letter to the publisher. He provides an exact address and everything. My daughter really wanted to send in a letter. But since the book was written decades (plural) ago, I figured I'd check the ol' trusty internet to see what the deal is with requesting this reunion scene. You can read here for details on what happened when people sent in such a request:

Anyway, this book was great and my girl and I are very excited to watch the movie tomorrow.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Eight by Katherine Neville

I finished this book yesterday. This book was given to me years ago as a birthday gift from a good friend of mine who does not enjoy reading but wanted me to read this because it is his Dad's favorite book. I mostly enjoyed it. Who knew chess was so intense?

It was a tougher read than I was expecting. The author frequently weaves in historical figures and events into the story which made her story seem more realistic. The parts I enjoyed most were when she would use the aforementioned historical figures and events in a way to show that these real-life historical characters' motives were driven by pursuit of an ancient, magical chess set and historical events were caused by those involved in pursuing this chess set. Nine times out of ten it worked and made her unbelievable story about a magical chess set seem more believable. One times out of ten another introduction of a famous figure's involvement with the magical chess set came across as a bit too absurd and over the top. But most of the time it flowed within the story and felt natural. Also, I think I would have enjoyed the book even more if I knew more about the French Revolution, Napoleon, and some of the other historical figures and events referenced because I would have been more aware of the creative ways in which she played with history.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I finished this a few nights ago. I had been reading it all summer to my 6-year old Mallory and my 5-year old Trevor would sit in for parts of it as well. I haven't had too much success with getting Mallory interested in some adult chapter books. Probably because she is 6. And I thought this one was not going to go very well but she was the one insisting on reading this. And much to my surprise she loved this book like crazy. It was a bit slow and had boring parts for sure but she was never phased. Her enjoyment and excitement for the book made me like it more than I otherwise likely would have if I read this book myself. My kids also enjoyed that I tried doing a lot of different English accents for the characters throughout but they always came off sounding like U.S. Southerner accents.

It was a nice book. I enjoyed seeing the two crabby, misbehaved youngsters change their attitudes and improve themselves. They sure do worship pulling weeds. I must say that the last chapter is really quite beautiful. It's a happy book and I was glad to enjoy reading it with my young 'uns.

There's good quotes to share I am sure but this book is currently in Mallory's room and she is sound asleep for the night.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Promised Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie

I finished reading this last night. It was pretty good. It was loaded with scripture quotations and references as Bruce R. is wont to do. And boy is he thorough. This often reads a lot like an encyclopedia or dictionary since it is so heavily loaded with scripture quotes one after another. It makes it feel like the book is better served as a reference book more so than a book to read from cover to cover.

He is at his best when he ties different scriptures together to make his point. He did an excellent job demonstrating dozens of ways in which the scriptures prove that Jehovah of the Old Testament is Christ. The book did seem to go a little long and go beyond the scope of the book by discussing quite a bit about Christ's mortal ministry rather than just focusing on his premortal ministry and prophecies about his eventual birth and mission. But it was a good book and I am glad that I read it.

I could probably find some good quotes but it's late and nothing immediately jumps to my recollection as a quote that I must share. So my whims dictate that there shall be no quotes shared.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

I finished reading this yesterday. It is the second book in the series. I had read the first one only a few months prior and liked it enough to get to this second book more quickly than I thought I would.

I liked this one, probably a little bit more than the first one. The mystery plot in the first one was better and more interesting, but the first one also had a pretty boring sub-plot and the girl on which the books are titled ended up being more unlikable in the first one than she is in the second one. The plot in this second book makes her a much more sympathetic character.

The story methodically develops and progresses (sometimes a little too slowly or with too much repetition) up until the exciting conclusion. Some of the stuff that happens seems a little too far-fetched, especially at the end, almost as though Larsson realized that the book was dragging on too long and he had to hurry up and get to the conclusion, but it's certainly entertaining and I enjoyed reading this novel (even though Larsson periodically goes into way too much detail about mundane things, like listing off every single item that the girl purchases during her day long shopping trip).

Hopefully I'll finish off the series by reading the third book soon, but I will probably mix in a few books before I eventually get to it. And then, true to form, never actually get to it and fail to finish the series like I do with all series' that I attempt.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

I finished reading this tonight. It sucked a big one. The book was so-so for the majority of the time, but it easily has one of the worst endings of all time. Just laughably stupid. So dumb and ridiculous. The characters are unlikable and their stories are uninteresting for the most part. At least McEwan took pity on his readers and limited this to only 193 pages, thank goodness.

This is my third McEwan. Here are my rankings of his books:

1. Atonement (really good)
2. Saturday (average)
3. Amsterdam (below average)

I wonder if I'll ever read a McEwan book again. Probably not anytime soon. Maybe once it has been long enough that I have forgotten how terrible the ending was in this book.