Monday, May 12, 2008

Quite an Odyssey

So I finished reading 2001: A Space Odyssey and I actually really enjoyed it. I was expecting to just make my way through it because it was on the list of classic books I wanted to read, but I was surprised at how interesting it really was. The beginning starts with "ancient man" through the evolutionary view. I found their theory that aliens gave the ape-men their leg up by showing them how to become men and leave the ape behind. For a while I wondered why that was even part of the storyline because it really didn't seem to fit, but it all comes together in the end. It was also really interesting to see what someone in 1968 thought life would be like in the year 2001, since I know what life actually was like in 2001! I was amazed at how much he had right, like some people living in space stations floating in space. However, the moon is not colonized and no one can just travel back and forth to locations throughout space. The thing I got the biggest kick out of was a section toward the beginning of the book. I thought that Ted Turner and Al Gore must have gotten their thought manuals straight out of the beginning of this book! Check out this section:

As long as he could remember, it had been not a "situation" so much as a
permanent crisis. Since the 1970's, the world had been dominated by two
problems which, ironically, tended to cancel each other out.

Though birth control was cheap, reliable, and endorsed by all the main
religions, it had come too late; the population of he world was now six billion -
a third of them in the Chinese Empire. Laws had even been passed in some
authoritarian societies limiting families to two children, but their enforcement
had proved impracticable. As a result, food was short in every country;
even the United States had meatless days, and widespread famine was predicted
within fifteen years, despite heroic efforts to farm the sea and to develop
synthetic food.

That just cracks me up! You know, he wasn't too far off on the total population, and China is only not a third of the worlds population because or their policy limiting families to one child only. That amazed me a bit!

Anyway, the ending was a bit weird for me, but still I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone.

On another note, I originally started choosing the books I am reading based on lists of what is expected knowledge for a person entering a master's program in a literature field. I was thinking about a master's degree in a literature field because it would be so very marketable. However, every time I get a chance to work with children's literature, I realize that it is my first passion, over British or American literature. My children's literature class was the class I enjoyed most in my undergraduate studies. I think that it would be short-sighted of me to pursue a degree that wasn't my primary passion. I didn't want to say I would get my master's in children's literature, because many colleges do not have a children's literature professor, and the ones that do usually only have one. But, I could also work for a publisher or try my hand at writing. And really, it is going to be so long before I can even pursue another degree that it seems ridiculous to consider it now. The long and the short of it is that I am going to add classic children's literature to my list. I am going to start by reading every Newberry Award winning book since the first year it was established. I think I will enjoy that immensely and then whatever way I decide to go years and years from now, I will be prepared. I am almost done with my next book already, so I need to head back to the library for my next installment...

11 comments:

Marie said...

I've never considered reading this book, so it was interesting to hear you discuss it. It's quite amazing that he was right on about the population and the limit of children people can have. I was just thinking the other day about what my most favorite class in college was. It's a toss-up between Intro to Lit and a history class on Japan. We read a lot of poems in the Lit class and I loved analyzing them and the short plays we read. I think it's great that you are thinking about what you want to do in the future even if it isn't immediately attainable. It seems that when you have long-term goals, it motivates you to accomplish things in the present that you wouldn't otherwise.

Joanna said...

Huh, interesting. I've never wanted to read this book. But I think you'd make a wonderful children's book author!

How about all the Henry and Beezus books? Del is in the midst of reading all those books to the girls and they thoroughly enjoy them. Some of my other favorites are Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, The Witch of Blackbird Pond and the All-of-a-kind Family series.

Lawanda said...

I love children's literature. If I were to do anything, ever, as in a degree, it would be that. :) I also love science fiction. And I have never read this book! I am going to have to now. I love old books that predict the future. I am listening to 1984 on audio book right now...well when I can without the kiddos... and it is verrrry interesting.

Marie said...

i read 1984 in high school and i liked it very much. i never did read mrs. frisby and the rats of nihm, but i did watch the movie just about everyday for 10 years. (slight exaggeration) i really liked ronald dahl books though. and the babysitters club series, but something tells me that didn't win any awards.

Johanna said...

Well, Dahl won some awards, but his books are seriously weirder than the movies made from them. I did a project in college comparing the written original of James and the Giant Peach to the movie. I was so surprised. Dahl doesn't water anything down in his books! He just writes out swear words and shocking situations that the film makers just leave out!

I love Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, and the Witch of Blackbird Pond. If you have never read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, you really need to. Also good is A Wrinkle in Time. I really liked that one too. I picked three children's books at the library this evening - all Newberry winners, but I don't remember which ones off the top of my head. But they'll be added to the "What I'm reading" thingy on the side soon...

Jo, I actaully wrote a children's book once as a project for my children's lit class and I was surprised how much harder it was than I though. I have a few ideas for others, and Jerry thinks I ought to try. Maybe someday when I can string more than two coherent thoughts together...

Joanna said...

OK, wait. Wasn't that two coherent thoughts?

I wrote a children's book once, too because for some reason even though I NEVER wanted kids, I wanted to write kids books. How dumb is that? Anyway...I threw that book away because it was so stupid.

Lawanda said...

Dahl is wonky!! LOL

Me and my kids have written books together. They like them a lot, but I have my doubts they could ever win any awards! ;)

Marie said...

what's with the dahl bashing? (i say in jest, of course) maybe i missed the books with the swear words or was too corrupted to notice them. my favorite of his was the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). seriously don't remember any bad words. maybe i should go check it out again and see what kind of stuff i was growing up on. i did read way too many V.C. Andrews book in junior high. you guys are probably too proper to know this, but those are the most twisted books and i'm ashamed to say i read them. but there it is. my confessional for the year.

Johanna said...

Wow, a confessional prompted by a literature post! Who would have thought??? I know I also read some not-so-savery books in my time. That is the problem with a person who can read a book in a day or two. There just aren't enough good books to go around! At least now my children distract me from reading so much...

Joanna said...

I think it definitely had to do something with your level of "corruption." We all know you were a big ole heathen back then, Marie. ;)

I was just thinking about the word "heathen" as it looked like it was spelled wrong. So I looked it up and one of the definitions is "One who is regarded as irreligious, uncivilized, or unenlightened." So, there you go. Heathen. Aren't you enlightened now?

Lawanda said...

hehehe Well, I may as well confess too. I read one VC Andrews. Hated it, through and through.

You never know if a book is good or bad til you read it, though!! Even if you read one book by an author and hate it, you may read another and it be good! ;)

I was not bashing Dahl, for the record, just saying he's wonky. LOL!