The Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower book coverI have been meaning to read Octavia Butler for some time. She is an author who I have heard about from several sources and I finally got around to reading one of her books. I started with The Parable of the Sower. I had no idea what it was really about, and I’m sure if I had known, I would probably not have read it at this time. Though I really did enjoy the book despite my reasons for saying I would have put it off a bit longer.

The Parable of the Sower is basically a pre-apocalyptic novel. The events of the story show a fairly realistic degradation of society into the fairly popular apocalyptic scenarios we see today with such shows as The Walking Dead or Mad Max (they did make a new one) or what have you. I honestly envisioned the events of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road taking place a decade or two after this story. But this book isn’t all doom and gloom. It definitely doesn’t shy away from darker material, but uses it only in a realistic way. It doesn’t contain anything simply for shock value and it is overall a compelling read that is excellently written. I kept picking it up despite the need to decompress at times.

This book is part one of a duology titled The Books of Earthseed. Though we see the world slide into chaos through young Lauren’s eyes, we see a resilient character build a community around her beliefs that may shape the future of humanity. The story begins in 2024 and spans about 4 years. This book was published in 1993 when 2024 seemed a long way off. Now, here at the start of 2021, we are close enough that the events of the book seem near impossible (but not entirely, unfortunately). Though the dates within the book began as a solemn foretelling of a potential future, it will soon become a (hopefully) alternate timeline story of what may have been. A future I hope we all avoid. Except, of course, for the part where we have settlements on the moon and Mars.

The second book is titled The Parable of the Talents. I will not be reading the sequel right away for two reasons. The first is that this first book wraps up well and can be read as a standalone novel. The second is that I hope to read something a bit more uplifting before returning to this story. Again, I really did enjoy this book despite the subject matter. I don’t often read end-of-the-world type books though I have read a few and enjoyed them. This one was no exception. If anything, it has encouraged me to read more by Octavia Butler. Her novel Kindred is more well-known and I may try it some time this year.

If you are a fan of these types of books, such as Wanderers by Chuck Wendig or Stephen King’s The Stand, then you will likely enjoy this book as well. If you have never read Octavia Butler, like I had not until now, I suggest trying her books even if you don’t choose to start with this one. I look forward to reading more by her myself.

Happy Reading.

New Year, Same Me

I think most of us are glad that 2020 is now officially in the past and we are all hopeful for what a new year may bring. Of course, things don’t magically get better with the start of a new year or a new day, but the hope that it will bring good things is the important thing and it is exactly what we need to hold on to, because that hope and our will to bring good things into the world is really all that is needed to make it so.

I’m hit or miss with new year resolutions and, though I have goals I want to achieve, I am not really making a resolution this year. I am not going to pretend that I am going to reinvent myself simply because I am happy with who I am and I only need to focus on little changes. Little, continuous improvements. Little victories is a little more optimistic way to put it. I know for certain that at least one big event will be happening this year and I am beyond excited about it. I will be sharing this news in a few months (sorry for the tease).

Another, slightly big event is that I will be completing my second graduate degree some time later this year. My classes will consume a fair amount of time I would otherwise spend reading or playing video games (both help me procrastinate with my writing but they are beneficial in many ways). Though I have renewed my goal to read at least 50 books this year. I ended last year with 53.

With all the other time this year, I plan to focus on my health, home projects, and maybe even a little writing. Last year, I set a fairly lofty goal with my writing and I accomplished a little less than half of it. This year, I am taking a different approach and simply going to see what happens.

At the end of 2019, I made a post about some things I would like to do in 2020. I started last year pretty spot on until everything shut down in March and I stayed isolated as much as possible due to the pandemic (that is still ongoing). Like most plans, mine went awry fairly quickly due to these extenuating circumstances and the unexpected need to sustain positive vibes in an altogether difficult year.

So, this year I am not making any specific plans. I am just going to do my best with what I can. Hopefully find more energy to accomplish most of what I want to do and definitely spend less energy worrying about things outside of my control. I am sending you good vibes and I wish you a happy new year. I hope you accomplish great things (or at least what will be great for you). I will be trying to do the same.

My Favorite Books This Year (2020)

2020 has been a wild, scary year, but as always, books remain a great way to escape, learn, grow, and find enjoyment. I decided to put a quick “year in review” together of what I read and enjoyed. A few of these items I’m glad to say were on my list of series to read at the beginning of the year. There is just under 3 weeks left of the year, which is plenty of time to read a few more (which I will be doing), but I figured I had plenty to put into a list.

Murderbot Series

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
I started the year off going through the first several installments of The Murderbot Diaries. The newest released in May this year, Network Effect, and the next comes out this coming April titled Fugitive Telemetry. This series is simply fantastic and I am glad I now have it on my shelf.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew QuickThe Silver Linings Playbook book cover
One of my more recent reads, I really enjoyed this one and go into detail about my thoughts on book versus movie on my post about the book.

Talking to StrangersTalking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s newest book delves into how we perceive those we do not know and how a few recent events escalated the way they did. Touching on some dark material while illuminating on how we interact to others subconsciously, this book is a great insight into how we move through society and, unfortunately, how we fall into situations of miscommunication.

The Inheritance GamesThe Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The great start to a mystery I happily compare to Knives Out, one of my favorite films of yesteryear. Filled with intrigue and questionable family dynamics, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De ZoetThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
This was one that has been on my shelf for some time. I picked it up after enjoying Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas novel and wanted to read more of his work. I was surprised with this one, but pleasantly so. The story was much different than expected though the prose was beautiful and enticing.

Every Tool's A HammerEvery Tool’s A Hammer by Adam Savage
An enlightening look into the life of a main Mythbuster, this book was a great insight into building and what goes into creating some of the iconic films we all know and many love. I learned a lot about craft and making things and I really enjoyed Adam’s passion for what he does (even when things don’t turn out quite like he wanted). It was great to get to know more about him.

All The Light We Cannot SeeAll The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This book came as a recommendation and it was a beautiful book to read. The story was interesting as it covered some of the magical, invisible experiences of our world while centered around young characters trying to make it through World War II.

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
A series on my list and an author I had yet to read. This series opened me to Wolfe’s work and I am a fan. I enjoyed this four book series and am about to finish a collection of short stories. I wish I would have read him sooner, but I am glad to have found his work regardless. His prose is not for everyone and I liken many of his stories to a veil with an entire universe hiding beneath. I intend to read more, and I will not be surprised if he becomes one of my favorite authors.

Books of the New Sun

Vote

Time to Vote

I do not discuss politics because they often only infuriate me or sadden me with little I commonly agree with. I hate that the political climate, especially of late, has been extremely divisive. There are always those who will defend candidates and attack others with little information or simply say “well both sides do it” as a base justification. This is never an excuse. I hope we all review our choices and cast our vote for who we want to represent us as a people.

I will never tell you who to vote for as it is a choice only you can make. I will only encourage you to vote because voting matters. It is how we as a people exercise our choice of representation even if the candidate we did not vote for wins. Not voting means not participating in that selection, and I will say you have no right to complain if you did not cast a vote. I will not lump you in as a reason things may go to shit (if that should happen and I pray it doesn’t in any situation), but I will stop any complaints with a simple “well, you should have voted then” because we both know it is true.

So, again, I am not telling you who to vote for. I am simply encouraging you to vote and use your voice. I hope you do vote or already have done so. My little personal caveat is that I hope you, like me, vote with compassion and with regard to your fellow citizens no matter what race, ethnic background, sexual preference, disability, ability, religion, non-religion, etc., because empathy is what builds unification and creates a better place for everyone. I think we can all agree, regardless of political affiliation, that we as a species can do better for each other, for the planet, and all other living things that share this good Earth. We must strive to be better, always.

Happy Voting.

Mythologies

Norse MythologyI’ve always loved mythology. My favorite has always been Norse Mythology. I recently began listening to Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I’ve read it before but was in the mood for some stories and figured what was better than to have Neil read them himself. It was the perfect choice, and it got me thinking about different mythologies and some I want to learn more about.

Greek & Roman

MythosI know a decent amount about Greek and Roman mythology mainly because they are closely intertwined, taught in school, and likely the most popular mythologies in the world. Everyone knows of Zeus and Poseidon and Hercules and the many others within these pantheons. There have been dozens of movies made based on these stories and characters, but there is still much I’d like to learn. I’ve read The Odyssey but have yet to read The Illiad. I really want to read Stephen Fry’s retelling of the Greek myths in his book titled Mythos. I have a copy and just have to take the time.

Egyptian

Egyptian mythology may be my second or third favorite. I’ve always liked these characters since I was young, but I realized I don’t know too much about their actual history. I hope to find some texts that will give me a better background in this area. Ironically I can’t think of any at the moment.

Celtic

I know very little about these mythologies aside from a few characters and I only recently discovered them. I definitely want to know more and I did pick up one book to help me do so. Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis.

Chinese – Japanese – Hindu

Another few mythologies I know very little about aside from a few characters or names. I mainly learned of these characters through shows or video games. I used to play a game called Smite where you played as mythological gods from different pantheons. It was a lot of fun to play with friends and I really liked learning about the different mythologies and characters through the lore provided in the game even if it was brief.

Maori

Kia Ora. I lived in New Zealand for a brief time and was lucky enough to learn a bit about the Maori culture and their creation myths including Papatuanuku and Ranginui. Learning these stories increased my interest in mythologies around the world because there is so much and many of them have similarities despite the cultures never being in contact with each other.

Norse

Norse MythologyBack to my favorite. Of course there have also been modern retellings of these myths as well. Marvel comics (and the MCU) have made several characters popular despite only key elements remaining true to the myths themselves. Thor is my favorite Avenger even though he is quite different in the myths. I’m going through Neil Gaiman’s recent retellings of these myths. I’ve also read Myths of the Norsemen by H. A. Guerber and Snorri Sturleson’s Prose Edda. I still need to read the Poetic Edda and there are surely many stories in this pantheon I have yet to discover. I will eventually.

What are some of your favorite myths? Do you have some recommendations for me to learn more about some of the pantheons I mentioned? Or perhaps some that I did not? I’d love to learn more so let me know with a comment or message me on Twitter at @YarberWrites.