Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Animal Farm is a book that I’ve seen everywhere—libraries, bookstores, book lists—and it is difficult to fathom now why it take me so long to read it. I’ve also come to associate the picture of pig on the cover as Animal Farm and sorry to say, I had never bother to find out the meaning of the pig. Heck, I’d never be bothered to read the summary of the book. Then, my brother bought the book for me and everything changed.

This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read! It is knowingly funny, deceptively simple, and deftly ridiculing the hypocrisies and twisted logics of Communism (or any known society is more like it). For a simple tale, it makes me think a lot! It speaks to me and holds timeless truths. For example, Orwell wrote this to satire the Stalinism / Communism in Russia, but whoever read this book presently still can see clearly the parallel between Animal Farm and the modern society. The leaders said one thing today and contradicted it the next day. Then there are the people who blindly followed the so called leaders, putting their faith on them, only to be betrayed by these people, such as in the case of Boxer. Then there is people as represented by Benjamin, who despite possessing the knowledge and noticing things, refused to actively participate because deep down, he already sensed the unpleasant outcome. 
“Life will go on as it has always gone on—that is, badly”, he said.

After the rebellion, the animals put up seven commandments on the barn wall as the rules of their newly established society. Yet over time, the rules are amended to the advantage of the pigs until one rule emerged, the now famous: 
“All animals are equal; some animals are more equals than others” 
And then there is the slogan that is constantly shouted by the goats “Four legs good, two legs bad” that changed to “four legs good, two legs better” once the pigs have mastered the skill to walk with two legs. I remember I laughed hard when I read that despite not wanting to because I was extremely disgusted by the pigs behaviour. The diversion from one major issue to a minor one by a skilled manipulator as depicted by Squealer hit too close to home I felt uncomfortable. Orwell’s observation on human behaviour and condition is sadly true and it can be observed on every level of human interactions no matter the classes.

When I read the last word from the last page, I was left with sadness and awe. I’d hope for things to turn out differently, that maybe the animals will find their courage and strength to fight for their rights and subsequently establish an ideal society. Instead, all I got is this: 
“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Friday, 13 March 2015

Reading Update #1

Currently reading Gulliver’s Travels and Selected Stories of Katherine Mansfield

It’s such a relief to be able to pick up Gulliver’s Travels again after putting it down a few weeks ago. I have made a notable progress by reading through book 2 in only one day. 

I started Selected Stories of Katherine Mansfield a few days ago, on account of it being recommended to me by one of my favourite bookish person on the net. So far I have read three of the stories and kinda like them.

Anyhow, I hope I’ll be able to finish these books and others by 31st of March. I’ve been so busy with works; having to mark over a hundred exam papers, with  each paper consisted of 20 pages is no easy task. 

What is your current read?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Library Haul #1

Few days ago, I took the time to visit the school library. Despite the lack of titles I wanted, I managed to snatch a couple of books that sounded interesting enough from the summaries. Besides, I've told myself to read more of local (Malaysian) literature starting this year, and the school library is just the place to find such books. Without further ado, here's the library haul.

Library haul:

  • Budak Beca by Ishak Haji Muhammad
  • Glimpses: Cameos of Malaysian Life by Adibah Amin
I have started Glimpses but have yet to finish it since I've been reading another book. Besides, it's an anthology so I've decided to take my time with it.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Opposite Book Tag: Classics Edition

1.      The first book in your collection

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

2.      The last book you bought

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

3.      A cheap book

The Portable Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton

4.      Expensive book

The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Barnes & Noble Hardcover Edition)

5.      A book with a male protagonist

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

6.      A book with a female protagonist

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

7.      A book you read quickly

Evelina by Fanny Burney

8.      A book that took you a long time to read

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 

9.      A pretty cover

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

10.   An ugly cover

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

11.   A national book

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

12.   An international book

Dracula by Bram Stoker

13.   A thin book

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

14.   A thick book

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

15.   A fiction book

Lady Audley’s Secret by M.E. Braddon

16.   A non-fiction book

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

17.   A romantic book

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

18.   An action book

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

19.   A book that made you happy

Emma by Jane Austen

20.   A book that made you sad

The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins