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Well the end of the year has come and I have fallen just two books short of my goal! Either way, this was an eye opening experience no doubt. This year I read over 20,000 pages, mixed books of both fiction and nonfiction, gotten better at reading, immersed myself in interesting topics and books, and expanded my already rather large (considering I am only 25) library. I also fell only 11 or so book reviews short of my goal and I hope to remedy this next year as well. The following is my list of books read this year:

I have to say: it is one of the most intriguing novels I have ever personally read.

The plot of this whole project (I hesitate to call it merely a “book”) is this: think of leaving a treasured book on a library rack by accident one day, to pick it up the next only to find someone had written in it, admiring your notes from when you were 16. Not only this, but this particular book was written by a man with a mysterious past. He never revealed to the world who he really was. This is the premise of S.

There are two connected stories taking place: the book itself is called “the Ship of Thesus,” written by V.M. Straka. Straka’s past is veiled but there are clues to his identity from various people, including the translator of “Ship” who also writes footnotes throughout the book (that are also threaded with codes). The book reads like a normal book, but in the margins are pen marks from two different individuals talking back and forth between each other. One is disgraced graduate student Eric, who’s work was stolen by a professor and who claimed he was a fraud. He prints in block letters that are easily discernible. The other is Jen, an undergraduate student who is struggling admidst the pressures of school and life. She writes in a cursive scrawl that is sometimes hard to read. They write to each other about the solving the mystery of Straka, point out poetic lines and relate them to their lives, their parents, their backgrounds, meeting up, school, love, etc. all of this is made even more confusing because they write in different colors that represent different times. At first, Jen writes in a blue ink and Eric black. About half way, you start seeing gold (Jen) and green (Eric). Towards the end you see red (Eric) and purple (Jen). Last, you see black and black. Finally, this is not a conventional book in one other way: throughout their time corresponding together, they communicate also by including various items into the book. There are newspaper clippings, a strange device (that I

haven’t figured out yet) that seems to be some kind of de-coder, postcards (Eric goes to Brazil at one point), pictures, longer notes about their lives, etc. These are all inserted and made reference to in the margins.

Ship of Thesus is essentially about a man who wakes up and cannot remember his past at all. He is simply known as “S.” He meets up with various people throughout his travels, figuring out who he is and more importantly, trying to reconnect with a woman he see’s and feels pulled towards. Her name is “Sola.” He finds himself in the middle of a chase after a bomb explodes, only to jump into the sea and onto a strange ship. The ship’s crew has an odd air to them, made worse by the fact that they all have their mouths sewed shut. They communicate by a whistle. The ship’s captain, Maelstrom, is the only one who talks (not very well I might add). There is much more about the plot that I do not want to reveal, but suffice it to say S becomes involved in an organization that has vast implications for Jen

and Eric as their families and lives become endangered. Somehow it is all connected in an incredible

interplay that reminds me of the complexity of an orchestral masterpiece.

In short, this book is crazy. There a websites out there dedicated to carrying on the questions of the book, like this one that also features a “how to read guide.” This is a book that will probably leave you more questions than answers how ever. JJ Abrams urged the readers to “dig deep.” What is most confusing is trying to figure out wha to read. Do you read the book first and then go back and read the drama between Eric and Jen? Or do you try to do it all at once? I tried the latter because I just don’t have the time to read all of that twice. Further, you REALLY have to dig in this book. It ends with as much mystery as it began with. As you may see from the linked website, there are a lot of theories on what the resolution is. This can be a little frustrating but for our detectives out there, this might be a welcomed challenge. One more note about the book: the characters that surround Straka are often times of a heritage that is not American. This sometimes is confusing because you have all these strange words and no recollection of who is who. I must pay more attention the second read!

Please pick this book up. It is truly ingenious. Can you go wrong with JJ Abrams? (I guess we will see next December!)

This September, I took an American History class. It was.. interesting. I think I like history and I have come to accept that fact by adding a minor in history to my degree. My American History class was just one of the classes needed for my minor. And, conveniently, I just had to read a book to complete it. So I decided to add it to my 52 books list.

American History is unique in a couple of different ways. Most obviously, American history does not stretch for thousands and thousands of years like the Chinese with one solidified culture that has been built around it. The indigenous people who were here before us, Native Americans, have a consistent culture, but with immigration of Europeans from the East, they brought over their own cultures, customs, and religious beliefs. But things don’t get really interesting until the Revolutionary War, where the American colonists revolted against their British masters.

When I was at the School of Music in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I took special liberty to Texas to go to my good friends wedding. I had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina and sat down (exhausted) next to a young man. On the ground he had a book that he was reading through entitled, “The Last Stand of Fox Company” with this iconic image in it. I turned to him and asked, “are you a Marine?” Turns out, he was also on his way to Texas for a wedding, and he was a Marine Aviation Officer. When the stewardess (who saw me clutching my big browed white cover in my hand) realized I was a Marine, she told me to get up and sit in first class. I resisted at first, looking to the higher ranking individual next to me. With a nod, he smiled and said, “go ahead!” I sat in first class for the first and only time that day. The best part of the story is I left my saxophone back in the bin above my seat. As I was waiting for people to vacate the aircraft to return to claim my saxophone, I saw the man lumbering forward, weighed down by my saxophone!

Ever since that encounter, I have always wanted to read “The Last Stand Of Fox Company.” This year, I finally got it and read it some time ago (I thought I had already written a book review but I guess I was wrong!).

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