Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wind, Sand, Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Art, love, modern life, struggle for meaning.

Submitted by dave

Monday, August 27, 2007

Black Riders by Stephen Crane

Crane's spare use of language contrasts with his rich metaphors making for short but memorable poems. An example:

I stood upon a high place,
And saw, below, many devils
Running, leaping,
and carousing in sin.
One looked up, grinning,
And said, "Comrade! Brother!"

Submitted by Greg V

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini

I don't even read much. And who wants to read a book about Afghan women written by a young guy living in America?!? But Hosseini is too incredible. I read this book in one day and then cried like a baby. Mr. Hosseini has not only single-handedly brought thousands of people to a better understanding of Afghanistan, we now care more. I passed the book on to my niece.

Submitted by Susie Ling

Sunday, August 26, 2007

1984 by George Orwell

There are many chilling scenes I'll never forget from this quintessential dystopian novel. Just when Julia and Winston feel safe in their secret double life comes the voice from behind the wall "You are the dead." Or the final line that signals a defeat more complete than any other: "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." As if these scenes weren't enough, the media reminds us of Newspeak on a daily basis.

Submitted by Greg V. (Caltech)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book still has me thinking, months after reading it, about the brutality routinely accepted as normal in our society, and about the sacrifices we allow others to be pressured into making so that we can enjoy some of the things we do.

Submitted by Jill Davis Doughtie

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Iliad by Homer

The great war poem of all time, with gory, hideous battle scenes, petty squabbles, the anguish of those who die and those whose loved ones are bereft because of their loss, the folly and heroism of leaders.

Submitted by Dr. Harry Smallenburg/PCC faculty

The Ramayana by Valmiki

This is one of the great epics of the Hindu culture. The main characters, Rama, Sita, and Hanuman, are wonderful human beings. Except for Hanuman, who is a monkey, but humane, loyal, generous, brave.

Submitted by Dr. Harry Smallenburg

Monday, August 20, 2007

Restoree by Anne McCaffrey

I had to think about this for a few days. I have always had a love of comics and science fiction. As a teen I had no great desire to read romance novels.

I wanted action, adventure and I didn't want to waste 300+ pages before there would be any action only to find out I'd have to spend x amount of time figure out exactly what that "action" was about.

Hey, It was the 1970s, I was 15 and curious.

Restoree is a story about a plain woman who is a researcher/librarian type who is kidnapped by aliens and plunked down in a new world. She finds love, adventure and she is the hero of the story.

I read it straight through as if I was drinking water.

Plus it didn't take more than 75 to 100 pages before she got some action, which was very important.

I still have the book. It is an old friend that I pick up and learn a bit more about the craft of telling a good story.

Submitted by Gena Haskett/PCC student

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Angle of Repose by Wallace Stenger

The book is about 30 years old now, but a fascinating look into the "building of the west" and the challenge of aging and incapacitation.

Submitted by Robert Eaton/
Performing and Communication Arts/PCC

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dom Casmuro by Machado de Assis

In Brazilian literary circles, the novel Dom Casmurro (1899) has been debated for more than a century. The story seems simple: childhood friends Bento and Capitu fall in love, get married, have a child, and then separate. For decades the debates questioned "did she or didn't she?": was Capitu unfaithful or did Bento destroy his own happiness out of unfounded jealousy? The writer teases the reader with enough clues to strongly justify either position. However, the narrative is told as a flashback by an old Bento, who effectively serves as gatekeeper for all information that the reader gets. The reader can never fully overcome the filter imposed by the self-serving narrator.

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (Rio de Janeiro: June 21, 1839â?"September 29, 1908) was a Brazilian realist novelist, poet and short-story writer. He is widely regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature, and his works had a great influence on Brazilian literature of the late 19th century and 20th century. José Saramago, Carlos Fuentes, Susan Sontag, Efrain Kristal and Harold Bloom are among his admirers. Kristal considers him the most important Latin American literary figure of the 19th century, and Bloom calls him "the supreme black literary artist to date."

In 1960, Helen Caldwell wrote a book comparing the Shakespearian play "Othello" to Dom Casmurro: "The Brazilian Othello of Machado de Assis - A study of Dom Casmurro". Although the main character had not killed his wife, as Othello had, both are stories of how jealousy can destroy a happy life in marriage.

One clear conclusion that can be drawn from Dom Casmurro is that to a great extent each one of us controls our own happiness - or unhappiness.

Submitted by Ted Young/Division Dean, Languages/PCC

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I wouldn't call it a "good read," as the cliche goes. Instead, it is an intense, graphic, tender experience. It is still "under my skin" when I drink a glass of water, go to the market, or have a friendly chat about the weather with colleagues.

Submitted by Susan Clifford/Division Dean, Health Sciences/PCC

The Life of the Skin by Arthur & Loretta Balin

A very entertaining book on dermatology for even the layperson. A description struck me as familiar and led me to get a biopsy of a small bump, which turned out to be skin cancer. It's since been removed completely and is no longer "under my skin"!

Submitted by Teri Trendler/Faculty, Natural Sciences/PCC

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is one of those loveable books that makes you laugh and cry all through it. It is a woman's craving for " year of life". A year where she is free to do what she pleases and so feeling depressed and lost after a divorce, she dives into a year of travel for pure joy during which she visits three dissimilar countries, where she re-discovers herself and finds delight and joy. Italy is where she savors the food and language, India, she connects to her deeper self and purges away all the old pain, and Indonesia is where she finds her balance between her own inner joy and finding love in an unusual way. When you put this book down, you, too, will want to give yourself ..."a year of life."

Submitted by Maddie Costa/PCC

Monday, August 13, 2007

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Imagine going to college, getting through medical school, being certified as a psychologist and psychiatrist, being married only a few months, and then being arrested and sent off to a Nazi concentration camp! The last thing he was stripped of as he entered the camp was the manuscript of a book in which he had invented a new kind of psychotherapy with which to help humankind. Viktor Frankl transforms four years of unspeakable suffering into a positive contribution that helps heal the suffering of humanity. If you read no other book this year, read this one.

Submitted by Bob Doud/Social Sciences/PCC

Atlas Shrugged; The Fountainhead; We the Living by Ayn Rand

I was only about 18 when I got introduced to the works of Ayn Rand. They have influenced me greatly in how I perceive the world and relate to others. Even now, decades after she wrote them, we can see the ideas in these books resonate in the events going on in our country and in the Middle East. These books should be required reading for all college students!

Submitted by Jude Socrates/Faculty/PCC Mathematics

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

As one of the many readers who loved the story of The Kite Runner, I could hardly wait to read the new novel by Khaled Hosseini. When my daughter walked in with it one day shortly after it was released, I begged to read it first!

This is a story of two women who come together under unusual circumstances and within a society where brutality against women and subservience is fully accepted. Miriam is the illegitimate daughter of a successful businessman who is forced at the age of 15 to marry against her will. Hosseini also tells the tale of 14 year old Lalia whose life is forever changed against the backdrop of an unending war and the brutality of human abuse. The intersection of these two lives within the oppressive society of Afghanistan is unforgettable and it touches the reader in a powerful way.

I was mesmerized once again by his narrative style and his strong voice...As I read, I felt like I was eavesdropping on the complexities and challenges of their lives. And as I turned the last page and read the last line, I felt the emotion of the story fall heavy all around me. It haunted me for days and weeks as I reflected on the women, men and children who live their lives in a country torn so apart by oppression, brutality, violence and war.

Submitted by Mary Ann Laun

"Skin" at Pasadena City College (A Pasadena Arts and Ideas Festival, October 10-31, 2007)

“Skin,” is the theme adopted by the City of Pasadena for this year’s festival of Arts and Ideas and has broad implications. It will encompass and engage a wide range and aspects of human experiences and expressions. It will provide forum for the discussion of issues regarding the politics of skin, race, changing demographics, skin adornments, music performances, art exhibitions, human relationships, environmental issues, young persons’ perspectives as well as historical context of “skin,” race relationships and human rights. “Skin” is both what holds us physically together as a vessel, and also, as a membrane, keeps us apart...

The inclusion of Pasadena City College in the city-wide festival of “Arts and Ideas” will bring to the campus, for the first time, an opportunity to coordinate our activities within our own community and with the cultural institutions of our city and address from a “ground zero” community perspective, issues existing in the forefront of contemporary discourse dealing with:

1. Racial, cultural and ethnic tensions.
2. Biological, medical and health concerns,
3. Environmental, ecological and natural environment initiatives,
4. Architecture, language and other aesthetic interventions, such as, tattoos and plastic surgery.
5. Socioeconomic and political narratives.
6. Sexuality, sensuality and other tactile experiences of skin
7. Internal nature versus outward appearance explorations.
--Alex Kritselis
Dean, Visual Arts and Media Studies