A Wrinkle in Time

“Qui plussait, plus se tait. French, you know. The more a man knows, the less he talks.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel written by American writer Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1962. It is also a first book of a Time Quintet.

Book follows the lives of the Murray family. Father of Meg and Charles Wallace has disappeared mysteriously a long time ago. One day the kids meet a new friend Calvin and three strange women named: Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which. These ladies tell children that their father is in danger and that they have to travel through time to find him.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time: With Related Readings

I had a hard time getting into this novel. I guess it had been on my TBR list for a long time because but I truly learned about the existence of this book when the movie adaptation hit the theatres. I have mixed feeling about Wrinkle in Time. I felt like the younger me would have loved it but somehow magic of this book didn’t reach me as adult. And that made me confused because I still love Narnia to death.

There were a lot of good  things in this book. First, genre is funny… it’s like science fiction except that it’s fantasy and that shows in the book. I feel like it has more emotion and less technical/ science fiction-y mumbo-jumbo. I liked W Ladies and them quoting everything and everyone because the words did not come easy for them. And I liked how simple everything was. Evil in this book is mostly described as ‘The Black Thing’ or/and ‘IT’, yet you knew exactly what it was.

“Euripedes. Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Characters were well built and Meg is an unique persona. I don’t know that many main characters who’d be like her. Homely, awkward and math loving. Fantasy elements, new worlds and creatures were entertaining.
4/5 stars but I wouldn’t read it again.

How-To Read A Wrinkle in Time
1.
Short (just over 200 pages) simple and creative, perfect read for kids. I think it also has nice lessons on how things and people and places are different and how we should always fight the evil in this world.
2. First part of a quintet so there are 3 books more for those who adored this.
3. I sensed some religion-ess in this book. A bit similar to Narnia.

“A book, too, can be a star, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,” a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Have you read this? Thoughts?
Have you seen the newest movie adaptation? I haven’t but I found cast choices interesting.

Featured image source

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

“We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is non-fiction work first published in 2003. It details the unique scientific contributions of the deceased.

Yeah. . Umm…This was a really strange book and I really liked it although I wouldn’t recommend reading my review with a cup of coffee…or anything edible.

Opening line of the book: “The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back.The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.” is probably what got me into this book. Roach has a very different approach to the topic and she’s very humorous about that approach.

Stiff covers a wide set of topics. Starting from the beginning of dissecting bodies and how body snatching occurred. Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes in the UK were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts. And this was considered fate worse than death because how can you get to heaven if you’re all chopped up? So they had to steal bodies from cemeteries. Renowned doctors would criticize this in public and support it monetarily in private… I’m glad how times have changed and how doctors and surgeons don’t have to go in blind.

“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Then, we move onto how cadavers for used as crash test dummies. You could use normal dummies but then you wouldn’t know which bones are most likely to crush in a car accident. And then all the other interesting topics like: crucifixion experiments, beating heart cadavers, decapitation, cannibalism and alternative ways to burying and cremation…

This is a terribly important book. And I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone (very much so with this one) and to think differently about some issue. I think for so many years, this was exactly the reason why dissecting humans was not allowed. Because people found it unmoral. But is it worse than letting people die? And they tried to learn by using pigs or primates and obviously unsuccessfully. Even if the dead feet here are quite disgusting…in the end, they’re just feet.

Stiff was very entertaining read. I never would have expected to like this book this much.
4/5 stars

How-To Read Stiff
1.
It’s great nonfiction. But you kind of need to stomach the topic first. Stop thinking of corpses and start thinking about cadavers who have a lot to tell us. Stop thinking about all the reasons why they are now what they are…
2. Then you will start wonder why things like dead bodies are funny. Or maybe it’s Roach’s storytelling. Either way, it’s ok. It happens.
3. I liked the audio version. Maybe reading all the “cadaver” words wasn’t as gross as hearing them?

“Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Featured image: In the morgue by Allsha Vargas (link)

Night by Elie Wiesel

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

Night, first published in 1960s is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, at the height of the Holocaust toward the end of the Second World War. 

I read Night because of my earlier read Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. In that book, Sapolsky had quoted Elie Wiesel and that quote is stuck in my mind. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” It’s unimaginably deep quote. If we do not care, if we stay silent,  if we do not pick sides, the world will fall apart. I don’t think I’ve realized it before or not to full extent of that it is a great crime to remain silent. And so I was intrigued by this book.

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Night (again I listened to it) was shocking, beautiful, torturous read. It describes undescribable horros and undescribable pain. Thinking about the book makes causes me to shiver. I felt like  crying so many times but at the same time I couldn’t stop listening to this book.

Let’s start with the title. Night. It’s not just the darkness outside but also the darkness within. It’s not a night you’d imagine at first. It’s a night so full of smoke that you cannot breathe. Despair so strong that the dawn will never come. A Night that does not end.

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

People lost hope and stopped believing in their God. Because why would God be silent through all of this. As one man describes: “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” It’s a scary read because it also describes how people lose not just their belief but also their humanity. Cruelty becomes a new norm. People turn against one another as self-preservation takes over. Words like Brother, Father, Friend are meaningless.

“One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Audio performance by acclaimed George Guidall was just a stunning one. I felt like it was Wiesel himself was telling the story as Guidall’s voice truthfully carried all the impossible pain.  My audio book also included Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and preface to new edition of the book and it made me so mad. Original version of the Night was over 800 pages long and it was cut basically every time it was published. And author had to plead and beg to get his work published in many countries. Imagine that.

I feel like I’m unworthy to review this book. I could write thrice as long review from what it already have and still I wouldn’t be able to describe this properly. I guess for me, the most important lesson from this and from Wiesel was how neutrality kills. How indifference kills.

Night touched me to the very core. It’s brutal but necessary read. One of the best reads of my life. I loved it and I will be haunted by it.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Night

1. Just 120 pages but it feels like 1000 pages long.  It’s a heart-wrenching book and even though I would like to urge everyone to read this, it’s a difficult book and I know some will find it hard to stomach. Then again, you have no right not to know.  We must take responsibility for humanity’s sake.
2.
Night is a trilogy so there are two more books to read: Dawn and Day. I’ve heard they’re more fragmented than Night but I cannot not leave them unread.
3.
It’s a beautiful book. Yes, it’s about holocaust but Wiesel’s thoughts on all his experiences are  uniquely expressed. So many lines make you stop and think.

“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Have you read this? Thoughts?

Featured image: Smoke (Public Domain)

The National Library of Finland

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”
― Mark Twain

Yesterday I visited Kansalliskirjasto, The Nationa Library of Finland for the first time in my life. There I sat for many hours absorbing the wisdom of these gorgeous books. I just love libraries, don’t you?

Best Nonfiction I’ve Read In 2017 So Far

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “ Best Books You’ve Read In 2017 So Far (break it down however you want — by genre, strictly 2017 releases, whatever!) ” And I want to share with you the best nonfiction I’ve read this year so far because I rarely review these great works on my blog. If you want to read more of my reviews, please follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/stasialbean

1. The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America’s Courtrooms by Kevin Davis

Can a tumor or a brain injury cause someone to commit a murder or to rape someone? Can they diminish culpability? When does someone plead for insanity and why it makes sense. I think doctors say that all tumors are individuals and that they have very different effects on people so I think Davis chose a very interesting topic to write a book about. Davis also uses good examples, different bizarre and horrific stories of Phineas Cage, Charles Whitman, Herbert Weinstein & Ronnie Cordell among other.  I gave this book rating of 5/5 stars.

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

This book contains everything you need to know on this topic. It’s very well and very clearly written. And it’s stunning to think that this was written about 80 years ago. All information is there if you’re truly ready for it. 5/5 stars

3.  Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal 

What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future—all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition.

I think I was familiar with a lot of topics which de Waal explored, yet it was a really good read. 4/5 stars.

4. Think Like a Freak (Freakonomics #3) by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner 

“Why do so many frown so sternly at the idea of having fun? Perhaps out of fear that it connotes you aren’t serious. But best as we can tell, there is no correlation between appearing to be serious and actually being good at what you do. In fact an argument can be made that the opposite is true.”
― Steven D. Levitt, Think Like a Freak

I think that if I would have read two previous parts first, then this would have made more sense with the constant references to the previous books but that’s okay. A useful book about what you should and shouldn’t do in your life and how to do it. 4/5 stars

5. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

“I’m the girl who is lost in space, the girl who is disappearing always, forever fading away and receding farther and farther into the background. Just like the Cheshire cat, someday I will suddenly leave, but the artificial warmth of my smile, that phony, clownish curve, the kind you see on miserably sad people and villains in Disney movies, will remain behind as an ironic remnant. I am the girl you see in the photograph from some party someplace or some picnic in the park, the one who is in fact soon to be gone. When you look at the picture again, I want to assure you, I will no longer be there. I will be erased from history, like a traitor in the Soviet Union. Because with every day that goes by, I feel myself becoming more and more invisible…”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

This is what depression feels like. I don’t think anyone has nailed it better than Wurtzel in her book Prozac Nation. It’s a messy autobiography with a lot of important messages. 5/5 stars

6. Pyhät, pahat ja pelokkaat : pelko ja itsetuhoisuus hengellisissä yhteisöissä by Aila Ruoho
In Finnish only sorry. Shortly, the book is about unhealthy religious communities.

Kun olisin saanut vaikka verensiirron niin muuttuisin vähän kuin kauhuleffassa. Eikä tietysti pääsisi paratiisiin, vaikka katuisi kuinka. Jos vaikka saisi jonkun suurrikollisen verta saatanan toimesta!


Ruohon mestarillinen uutuusteos epäterveistä hengellisistä yhteisöistä. Asiallinen, kattava ja taidolla kirjoitettu. Ihannoin kirjailijoita, jotka tekevät näin laajaa tutkimustyötä teoksensa eteen. Tietty gradumaisuus läsnä edelleen kuten Vartiotornin varjossa-teoksessakin. Kuulunee kirjailijan tyyliin. 5/5 tähteä

7. My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive by Julissa Arce

What does an undocumented immigrant look like? What kind of family must she come from? How could she get into this country? What is the true price she must pay to remain in the United States? Interesting & inspiring biography. 5/5 stars

8. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.  Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space…

I accidentally watched the film first and didn’t even realize it was based on a book…Both film and the book were incredible! Again, a piece of history that I didn’t know about, a piece that I think would have been muchly unknown without this book and the film adaptation. 5/5 stars

9. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.

Smart, honest and witty book where Gay  writes about various topics from a feminist perspective. 5/5 stars

10.  WTF?!: What the French by Olivier Magny

In France, the simple act of eating bread is an exercise in creative problem solving and attempting to spell requires a degree of masochism. But that’s just how the French like it—and in WTF, Oliver Magny reveals the France only the French know. From the latest trends in baby names, to the religiously observed division of church and state, prepare yourself for an insider’s look at French culture that is surprising, insightful, and chock full of bons mots.

This was a funny book that explained a lot about French culture: the meaning and the trends with the names, income levels, politics, food: Nutella…5/5 stars

Happy TTT! What have been your best reads this year? Have you read any of these?