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Never Read Passively

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The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers
Ayn Rand, Tore Boeckmann, Leonard Peikoff
The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco
David Mitchell
To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Edward Gibbon, Daniel J. Boorstin, Gian Battista Piranesi, Hans-Friedrich Mueller
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Perfect Wrong Note - Learning to Trust Your Musical Self
William Westney
The Prince
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Varieties of Religious Experience
William James
Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
G. Lee Bowie, Robert C. Solomon

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Penguin Classics)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Penguin Classics) - I keep telling myself I'm not going to read any more children's books unless I'm reading them to my children. I convince myself that I'll find more enjoyment or more utility reading grown-up books. Lately though, I've found that every time end up reading a book with a child protagonist, I prove myself wrong. Huck Finn is another case in point.The most poignant part of the book for me was when Huck was struggling with whether or not to turn Jim in. Huck knew that it was his duty to allow Jim to be returned to his master, but Huck had grown to love Jim and didn't want to hurt him. His reasoning was that he'd feel bad not turning Jim in, but then again, he'd feel much worse if he did betray him and turn him in. Faced with a no-win situation, Huck went with his heart and was true to his friend. The payoff when Jim once again shows his gratitude to Huck is powerful and moving. I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking--thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a- floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he's got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a- trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:"All right, then, I'll GO to hell"--and tore it up.Huck's simple, yet often philosophical view of the world, religion, morality and friendship is so human and appealing. It's the practical approach of a someone who values survival but also wants to do what's right and have a little fun along the way.Moments like that aside, this book is by no means all touching and moralizing. Huck Finn is an uncommonly good liar; an adept master at the art of out and out fabrication. I laughed so hard during some of the ending parts where Huck was forced to prevaricate first to convince Aunt Sally first that he was Tom then to keep her off his trail about Jim. This one's a little long, but worth it:"My goodness, and she so well only last week! Is she took bad?""It ain't no name for it. They set up with her all night, Miss Mary Jane said, and they don't think she'll last many hours.""Only think of that, now! What's the matter with her?"I couldn't think of anything reasonable, right off that way, so I says:"Mumps.""Mumps your granny! They don't set up with people that's got the mumps.""They don't, don't they? You better bet they do with THESE mumps. These mumps is different. It's a new kind, Miss Mary Jane said.""How's it a new kind?""Because it's mixed up with other things.""What other things?""Well, measles, and whooping-cough, and erysiplas, and consumption, and yaller janders, and brain-fever, and I don't know what all.""My land! And they call it the MUMPS?""That's what Miss Mary Jane said.""Well, what in the nation do they call it the MUMPS for?""Why, because it IS the mumps. That's what it starts with.""Well, ther' ain't no sense in it. A body might stump his toe, and take pison, and fall down the well, and break his neck, and bust his brains out, and somebody come along and ask what killed him, and some numskull up and say, 'Why, he stumped his TOE.' Would ther' be any sense in that? NO. And ther' ain't no sense in THIS, nuther. Is it ketching?""Is it KETCHING? Why, how you talk. Is a HARROW catching--in the dark? If you don't hitch on to one tooth, you're bound to on another, ain't you? And you can't get away with that tooth without fetching the whole harrow along, can you? Well, these kind of mumps is a kind of a harrow, as you may say--and it ain't no slouch of a harrow, nuther, you come to get it hitched on good.""Well, it's awful, I think," says the hare-lip. "I'll go to Uncle Harvey and--""Oh, yes," I says, "I WOULD. Of COURSE I would. I wouldn't lose no time."On top of all this, the setting is familiar and nostalgic for me as a displaced Southerner. Great story.