Book Review: Water For Elephants

Water for Elephants

By: Sarah Gruen

I had no expectations before reading this book by Sarah Gruen. I discovered it on the New York Times Best Seller List and thought it sounded like a good premise for a story. It takes place in the United States during the Great Depression when some of the poorest of the poor ended up in traveling circuses. A situation which is bad for people but just as bad for the animals, like elephants and tigers, which should never be enslaved for our amusement.

Sarah Gruen is not only a master in developing the character of people, she is also a just as adept at developing the non-human characters in the story. This is one of the few books outside of science-fiction that I have read with such excellent and realistic non-human characters in it.

The very day I finished reading it I found out it had been made into a motion picture staring Robert Pattinson and the movie version was just being released. However, the book was so good, watching the movie could only cheapen the story no matter how good the movie.

Book Review: The God Delusion

The God Delusion

By: Richard Dawkins

It has been a bit of an exercise in self-torture for me to have read this book. It is something I have to be in the mood to read for the reason, that even at the best of times, I feel the pressure of religious ignorance. At lesser times, reading about the numerous examples about how religious faith hurts people is way to emotional for me.

Still, I’m glad I read it. As usual, Dawkins presents his arguments with an abundance of evidence and examples. This is not a book about over-the-top nutters who blow themselves up or run around with “God Hates Fags” signs, and it is not about any particular religion. It is clearly about the phenomena of religion itself.

The take home message is that religion, by promoting faith as a virtue, leads to not allowing ourselves to question an authority. Unquestioned authority is always a bad thing, especially if the authoritarian message ranges from love thy neighbour (if of the same tribe) to genocide (if not of the same tribe/faith). Of course some religions stand out more than others in this respect.

Despite being well versed in the need to stand up for human rights and reason from my personal experiences, I was impressed with the range and depth of the arguments presented in The God Delusion. It was somewhat therapeutic to read well thought out arguments about why religion does what it does and why it can lead to no good on so many levels. I have been the recipient of many of those levels.

Richard of course makes the point that religion can inspire people to do good things for a variety of reasons and he does not shy away from complex answers.

If you can only think in black and white then I will warn you that this book is in full colour and you may miss the point.

Dr. Who – An English Way of Death

Dr. Who – An English Way of Death

By: Gareth Roberts

For most, Tom Baker is the most charismatic Doctor. In, An English Way of Death, Roberts has captured the personality and mannerisms of this, the 4th Doctor, very effectively. Here we find the Doctor, and his equally famous companion, Romana, on Earth. Of course, things are not all rosy on Earth when the two time travelers arrive. There is a matter of an unshielded time corridor to look into. An apparatus which “shouldn’t be on Earth during this time period”.

In Gothic fashion, a ghostly green mist seems to be possessing people and generally wreaking havoc after having sneaked through the time corridor. With his faithful robot dog, K9, the Doctor and Romana confront the leader of a bunch of retired-to-the-past time travellers. They band together to fight the green mist who, of course, wants to destroy the Earth using the possessed body of a prominent business man. And on a Tuesday no less!

Needless to say this story is witty, creepy and very wonderfully Dr. Who.