Reading Material – Novels, Astrology, I Ching

I finished a few more novels the past few months.

First, I read a two more Darkover novels – The Winds of Darkover and The Bloody Sun (expanded edition). I expected by the storyline that I might like these two stories better than Star of Danger, and I did. The Winds of Darkover is a classic “siege and hold people captive” scenario, but the telepathic abilities of the characters adds a nice twist. The Bloody Sun tells the story of a man desperate to find out about his past and who his father and mother were. On his return to Darkover, he gets an unexpected welcome by Darkovans and Terrans alike. Then I finished reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (I was halfway through it already), and read The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I found I didn’t like The Restaurant at the End of the Universe as much as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, though it was an amusing read. I did get a good chuckle regarding where… er, when… to find the “Restaurant at the End of the Universe”. I just love “space-time mucking about” ideas. 😀 I followed those books with a short novel by Andre Norton called Star Ka’at World, which is probably written for children, but is still a fun read.

I went back to reading Nightseer by Laurell K. Hamilton. It is her first novel. As it turned out, the story was quite interesting and intriguing. The pacing of her novel is excellent – it keeps moving until the end. I decided that, overall, Hamilton isn’t a bad author. Her stories are fairly intelligent and amusing, and her characters – quite amusing. Her first Anita Blake vampire hunter novel is available in graphic format now. I decided that I would read the graphic novel first to see if I liked the character, Anita Blake, or not (since I liked the art in the graphic novel it wasn’t a waste to buy it). The Anita Blake character is every bit as amusing as the female protagonist in Nightseer. It seems likely I will read Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels at some point. Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter – Guilty Pleasures is published as two graphic novels.

I found a used copy of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a short story that I’ve been meaning to read. I had it on the computer, but it hurts my eyes to read on the computer for long sprees. I was pleased to get a used copy of Heart of Darkness and I finished reading the story in one day. It has a nice narrative style and you soon find yourself in the “Heart of Darkness”. An eerie story. The movie Apocalypse Now is based on Heart of Darkness. It might be that I should watch that movie sometime plus I’ve heard about it before.

I had been reading the following three novels in rotation since they are all fairly long – The Path of Daggers (book eight of The Wheel of Time), Runelords: the Sum of All Men, and A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones. I’ve become disenchanted with Runelords for various reasons. The characters feel stereotypical to me somehow. I’ve put the book aside for now. The writing isn’t bad in the novel, but the characters don’t seem to be realistic to me. In fact, reading Runelords just made me want to read either The Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire more because they are better stories with more interesting characters. I ended up finishing The Path of Daggers (book eight of The Wheel of Time). 😀 😀 Yay! I’m almost caught up with that series – just books nine, ten, eleven, and hopefully the final book in the series will be published in the next few years.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll just list the books that I have started reading (in some random order):

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Fall of Atlantis by Marion Zimmer Bradley
A Game of Thrones (book one of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
Running with the Demon (book one of The Word and the Void) by Terry Brooks
Gormenghast (the sequel to Titus Groan) by Mervyn Peake
Dawnthief (book one of Chronicles of the Raven) by James Barclay
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin (I really want to read her book, The Left Hand of Darkness.)
The Sum of All Men (book one of Runelords) by David Farland

I started reading War and Peace because I always wanted to read it. I decided that if I can plod my way through eight of Robert Jordan’s books, I can certainly muster my way through War and Peace. It would just be a shame to never read a book I’ve wanted to read before. With the holidays coming up, I figure it was a good time to start it. War and Peace is originally a Russian novel. It was translated into English by two people Tolstoy trusted to covey his story accurately. I have to say the writing is superb and I found it easy to get absorbed into the world of War and Peace. I should mention being literate in French helps too because some dialogue is in French. At the time War and Peace was written, most literate Russians understood French. In the story, the characters converse in Russian and French as the Russian aristocracy would have during that time period. The novel is divided up into four books plus two epilogues. Book one has three parts. I’m almost finished part one of book one. I’m finding the book easy to read because the chapters are fairly short, but overall the writing keeps you captivated. One particular event in the story is quite hilarious. A young man gets drunk one night and ties a police officer to a bear, then tosses the bear into the river for a swim. The young man then gets kicked of Petersberg and sent back to his father in Moscow. (Ah… doesn’t sound too different from young men these days, although we don’t have bears in the city to which we could tie a police officer and then set afloat. ^-^ )

Aside from novels, recently I’ve gone back to studying astrology and the I Ching. I am still making my way through William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. Part three of the book deals with interpreting the birth chart and making predictions. Thus, it is easier to read when you have your horoscope at the ready. Of course, I’ve been reading the book with mine and Nathan’s horoscope in front of me and I’ve been making notes. Thus, it will take awhile to get through this section.

I’ve been meaning to study the I Ching some more. Awhile back, I got a used copy of Richard Wilhelm’s and Cary Baynes’ translation of the I Ching. It was in really good condition. Recently, I found a used copy of Alfred Huang’s translation of the I Ching, also in good condition. I had been looking for that translation used for a while now. Now that I have both these translations I decided to do a comparative study of the translations. Huang’s understanding of the I Ching and its philosophy is superb as he learned about it back in China from a taoist master. I already read Huang’s The Numerology of the I Ching, which has answered questions Western students of the I Ching have had over the years. I also had a used copy of James Legge’s translation of the I Ching, but in comparison to Huang, Legge’s understanding of the I Ching is dismally low. Legge’s translation is too literal and he fails to understand the symbology of the I Ching. Thankfully, with the help of Carl G. Jung, Baynes’ translation of Wilhelm’s translation sheds more light on the symbology of the I Ching. Huang’s knowledge of the I Ching only adds to what we already know and brings deeper understanding and clarity to it. If you are interested in studying the I Ching, I recommend Alfred Huang and the Richard Wilhelm/Cary Baynes translations. (Note Richard Wilhelm translated the I Ching from Chinese to German. Later, Jung asked Baynes to translate Wilhelm’s work into English.)

Time for some more reading! 😉

~~~C

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