Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

When it comes to my blogging based activities, 2015 has been a year of good and bad news. The bad news is that I have not been blogging as much as I should have, for I have been doing a lot with Literary Gladiators, which is really beginning to come together and is only seeing the beginning of something that can be really special. I will say, though, that the good news certainly outweighs the bad. The list of books that I read in their entirety has more than doubled from the last two years, we are closing in on 62,000 page views and at least 1,000 page views each month, and on a personal note, I graduated from college with a Bachelor's in English, Summa Cum Laude. As for Caponomics, I am going to do my best to make 2016 a better year with more book reviews, poem reviews, short story reviews, play reviews, literature based discussions, and maybe even some collaborations. I had a great time having Will Hoheisel from Reviews You Can Use, Literary Gladiators' very own Kelsea Rowan, and my friend Kathryn, who was formerly a part of On the Read. Once I begin to pick up a rhythm again, I will reach out and see if there is anything that is interested.

I always enjoy this time of year on Caponomics, where I get to name my ten favorite books that I read from this year. Need I mention that I will be naming TEN books instead of five, which I am able to do for two reasons. One, I read more books. Two, I am confident with the top ten that are in this selection. In fact, every book on this list received at least a 9/10, whether a review has been written or not. Determining what was going to make it into the top ten was an intense task, for I read so many outstanding books and they were so close in what I thought that deciding what was going to make the list and what was not was bound to involve crucial choices. Nevertheless, the task was accomplished and I can now present to you my top ten...

#10- Heroes by Robert Cormier- Robert Cormier has finally made it into my top ten on Caponomics. I have read The Chocolate War, I Am The Cheese, and The Rag & The Bone Shop, and while they were all really good reads, I read them all before I set up this blog. I read this particular novel, because I was looking for inspiration for my senior thesis. While I ended up using other novels instead, this novel definitely continues to linger through my mind in a world where one can discharge from war in the physical sense, but they can never discharge from war in the mental sense. Francis Cassavant has returned home from war after he lost much of his face, leading him to wear a scarf over the lower part so that no one can see what remains. Francis was inspired by his high school mentor, Larry LaSalle, to join the military after he was able to make a greater name for himself in doing so. However, a drastic interference into Francis' very own life and that of his friend Nicole's leads him to want to kill his mentor and hero. Cormier is the kind of author that tends to grasp his readers and take them on such an emotional thrill ride with what ever he puts together. I feel that more young adult readers familiar with the likes of Lois Lowry, S.E. Hinton, and Jerry Spinelli should check out the collection of novels that were written by Cormier, for he can captivate an audience by talking about teenagers that hold out on selling chocolate, teenagers be questioned in an institution, and also teenagers that take part in a great war, and leave a mark!

#9- The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien- A major part of my senior thesis, about "telling the untellable in war," was driven by Tim O'Brien's noteworthy collection of stories about a fictional Tim O'Brien and his experiences in the Vietnam War. This has shaped itself into the defining novel about the Vietnam War and it does quite a nice job in earning the reputation as being such. The Things They Carried has little to do with the skirmishes, the schemes, and the political actions, but more so the motives, the emotions, and the common soldier that is fighting and the gritty mentality that one should be thinking when it comes to the instated glorifications of war. "How to Tell a True War Story" really breaks things down to a science, while "The Lives of the Dead" remains the story that lingers into my mind. "The Lives of the Dead" is told last, because it shapes the impression that one has about death, and how this is a building block to the story that one carries and then develops in something so drastic as war. In addition, this is the one story where any person, whether they served in war or not, has the opportunity to develop emotions about sudden loss. It is true that not every story in this collection to going to speak in the same way to one person than it will the other, but it is a great perspective that has demonstrated its relevance to what the emotions of war are like, but with an individual mentality that may or may not be repeated. Tim O'Brien certainly has shaped himself as a storyteller on the topic of what it is like to fight and tell the stories of one's own experience, in addition to those who never had that opportunity.

#8- Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell- Gordon Comstock is the young man that everyone in his age group want to be, but maybe one in a thousand have the fortitude to attempt, because even for someone like Gordon does a difficulty in rebelling against money take place. Gordon worked as a copywriter for an advertising copy before becoming a bookseller upon the realization that he did not want to take part in something he did not believe. At the same time, Gordon is living in a shabby apartment with tight restrictions and barely making ends meet. He has a great support group from his friend, Ravelston, his girlfriend, Rosemary, and a long distance sister, Julia, who is tied up in issues of her own. There is nothing special about Gordon, for he just wants to become a writer, yet is having difficulty getting his name out there AND the motivation to write. It is definitely assured that this is an anti-Capitalist novel, but it is just as much an anti-Socialist and anti-Communist novel, for Gordon finds that each of these factions are tied down in some way by the strong arm that is money. Gordon is looking for the way to accomplish this feat, but the question is this: is he willing to hurt all of the people he cares for in order to make a point? I have read Animal Farm and 1984 by Orwell and his political themes are his greatest obsession. This is the perfect example as to the mindset of society and how money has become such a driving force that it has become impossible to escape its presence, but only if you are a human being! Keep the Aspidistra Flying is an Orwell novel that needs to be explored far more often.

#7- Macbeth by William Shakespeare- Yes, I have one of Shakespeare's plays on my top ten list. I never saw myself doing this, for he has not been a writer I have read for pleasure. In this case, I read Macbeth for our discussion on Literary Gladiators. I must say, though, that this was a play that I liked from his collection. What I liked about Macbeth is that it was not over the top in the way that many of his plays can become. There is an obvious issue and Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, are clearly guilty due to their power hunger that has led to them slaying several individuals that they have found competition to their throne. I also found that there were moments of humor and self-deprecation that I really enjoyed, my favorite being a scene from the porter (knock, knock, knock). In addition to being honest and humorous, I felt that Macbeth was clever in how it thought outside of the box. In particular, there was a specific projection from the three witches, which came with it a loophole. I will say no more! I prefer watching Shakespeare's plays while I read them and this case was no different. The intent of a play is that it be performed. Looking at the strength of the work, though, the only other play of his I enjoyed just as much as this was Julius Caesar.

#6- Voices From Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich- Svetlana Alexievich is most familiar for being the Nobel Prize in Literature winner of 2015. This title was rightfully deserved, for not only did she convey such a powerful story, but she did so by allowing the real-life participants to tell it themselves. Alexievich is a Belarusian journalist that has reported on multiple accounts. This particular account involved those that were affected, whether directly, secondhand, or being within the realm of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986. The fact that these stories were told by the victims only made it more tragic and heartbreaking, with the choking up and tears included. The stories that were told by the victims were not just about death, though. They ranged from living conditions to physics to the quality of the salami, which allowed me as a reader to learn more about Belarus through these voices. The fact that Alexievich was able to weave this together was just outstanding and as a result, she deserved the Nobel Prize.

#5- Wit & Wisdom From Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin- Alongside Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin was responsible for developing America's culture. In addition to his creation of bifocals and discoveries regarding electricity, he also developed the fire department, postal service, and library in America. He also was the driving force behind Poor Richard's Almanac, which included different stories and weather reports. As a source of light-hearted entertainment, Franklin would include a proverb in the back, much like a word search or comic strip has proven to serve to the newspaper. Dover Thrift put together a reasonable collection of some of Franklin's most noteworthy proverbs, which are quite relevant when you think about it! They made me laugh and made me say to myself regarding Benjamin Franklin: "what a wise man!" Some of my favorites in this collection include:

1. "Content makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor."
2. "If passion drives, let reason hold the reins."
3. "Many foxes grow grey, but few grow good."

The reason I included this skinny book of proverbs on my top ten list is because it was a book I read during the year, specifically for an episode of Literary Gladiators featuring Dr. Frank Esposito, that I feel that everybody should take the opportunity to read at some point in their lives. Franklin's proverbs are not only informative, but they are also quite humorous! I am sure that one will react with positive emotions, whether they come out smarter or just more entertained!

#4- Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham- Thomas Jefferson was such a brilliant man! He was our third president, an innovator, an inventor, a scientist, a pioneer to meteorology in America, a political figure, the founder of the University of Virginia, a renaissance man, and perhaps the most important figure with regard to shaping the United States in the way we think of it when we think of the country that broke away from England (remember, while George Washington confirmed American freedom, he did want to keep some British customs, as did John Adams, while Jefferson felt we needed to develop our own). The reason that this book is so outstanding, though, is because Jon Meacham tells us about Thomas Jefferson exactly how we should be told about the man. He was straightforward and told of both his strengths and his weaknesses. I knew about Jefferson's marriage that ended with his wife's premature death and his affair with Sally Hemings, but the details were so specific that they proved to be efficient bits of brain food. I learned much more about the political commotion between the Federalists and the Democractic-Republicans, the members of Jefferson's cabinet (including his Secretary of Treasury, the Swiss Albert Gallatin, and how James Madison was perhaps the greatest of Jefferson's protégés. I did a thirteen-page paper on Jefferson's importance as a renaissance man that shaped America and also concluded with how I agree with the common argument that he had Asperger's syndrome. Research has shown that Jefferson had this condition and the traits shared in this book, including his position on peer pressure, social habits, and speaking habits (his only speeches were his two inaugural addresses in 1801 and 1805). In addition, his interests in various areas from keeping track of the weather and of his spending (he was in debt at the time of his death, though) to his keen interest in learning as much as possible about areas that interested him only strengthen this argument. I felt that this book was very reliable in allowing me to learn much more about our third president. It made me feel a bit more like an expert! There is no need to worry, though, because while the second book tends to leave you confused, I have read additional accounts and got some similar bits of information. The collections that talk about all of the presidents may not be as in-depth, but they are reliable at-large!

#3- This Side of Time by Ko Un- Ko Un's poetry should be required reading for Eastern literature enthusiasts, those intrigued by Korean literature, and just about anyone else from any other background. Ko Un's poetry tends to remain at just one stanza, sometimes reaching the point of just one sentence. With such small space, though, Un's poetry is so remarkable! He can present an argument and you would absolutely be in line with what he is saying. The poems are sorted out into his different selections, but include just certain poems from each. You can tell that Un's Buddhism plays a heavy influence as to what he is writing, but either way, it tells the truth! The one that sticks out the most goes:

"The autumn leaves fall dancing.
I'll dance my way out too
when it's time to leave this world." (p. 26).

This connection to nature only contributes to such great beauty that is worth the money and the attention. I can guarantee that if any amount of time should be spent reading a poetry collection, this is definitely a good choice!

#2- The Human Comedy by William Saroyan- I first read Saroyan's works during a Reading class I took while I was in middle school. I was wondering where one story, "The Telegram," could be found. The story always hit home, for it told about a teenaged boy and how he delivered a telegram to a woman that held the message of her son's death in the war. This is how I was led to The Human Comedy, which told the story of the life that was occurring in a California town while World War II was taking place. It was a bit comedic in the antics that occurred, such as Ulysses getting caught in the animal trap, but the term "comedy" seems to refer to humanity in general. It is the expectation that humanity has to remain as close to their ordinary flow as possible, despite having a loved one putting their lives on the line in what has been said to be for their country. The even greater concern is whether or not they will have the opportunity to make it home alive. The idea of how this could be deemed a "comedy" has to be measured on the basis of life at-large or just the way things go at-large, for the way many people see things is with a very narrow perspective. The Human Comedy is brilliant in how it weaves these serious, tragic moments with those light-hearted moments of optimism and cheer. When all is said and done, there is so much that is bound in happen in a day in a life.

#1- East of Eden by John Steinbeck- I could not think of a more powerfully written novel in any possible area this year than I could with this magnum opus from Steinbeck's collection. East of Eden is meant to be a retelling about the Book of Genesis and I must say that after reading this novel, I am definitely convinced to pick up a bible and make my way through the Book of Genesis and how its foundation played a major impact on the Christian view and of the view that is casted by these characters among the world that they live. Not only are the characters very well developed, but Steinbeck also paints a picture of the setting so well and the plot is definitely effective in how it is used. Steinbeck is known for describing those specific details, like the turtle crossing the road in The Grapes of Wrath, but in this case he will take the opportunity in some chapters to discuss the period of time with which he is speaking, so that he can develop an idea in the reader's head regarding what kind of background they should be looking at the clearer picture. This clear picture is the Cain and Abel inspired sibling rivalries, first between Charles and Adam, then between Adam's two sons, Cal and Aron. In addition, the characters of Adam's servant, Lee, and Adam's temporary wife, Cathy, create a sense of unity and conflict, respectively. In my mind, the contrast between Lee and Cathy is the leveling factor that really creates a sense of compassion and a sense of bitter evil that is creating the struggles that take place. What East of Eden reminds us is that there is so much more to the way that one is assembled. One could be fed the idea that one person is definitely good and pure, while the other is evil and filthy. In reality, much of what dictates the status quo is what is deemed preferable by the almighty figure, whether it be God or in this novel a parent. East of Eden was the best novel I read in 2015, because it presents a timeless message that was carried over for thousands of years and recreates it in such an appropriate, but at the same time original manner. This is the novel that has made my desire to read more Steinbeck even greater.

I was hoping to complete Les Miserables by Victor Hugo by the end of the year. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but I do plan to finish it sometime during the early part of next year. My goal will be to complete it in the month of January. As for this year, it was certainly a successful year that introduced me or reintroduced me to some amazing writers. The fact that a 6/10 was my lowest verdict also says something about my reading expeditions. I hold high hope that 2016 will bring a great range of novels of top quality as well. In addition, I will be putting together a fifth season of Literary Gladiators, which will reflect my reading habits, but to good accord. I am really excited to work with Charlie, Kelsea, Larry, Kaila, Ari, Laney, and plenty of other new and familiar guests. I am also planning to invite Booktubers that live near or are interested in visiting my area, in addition to some other book and literature bloggers, literary enthusiasts, and writers. We shall see how this goes!

Regarding the top ten, I feel that every area of interest has been represented. Yes, I had many more literary reads as oppose to the horror, thriller, or speculative reads that are usually mixed in, but that does not mean that they have fallen out of my reading schedule. I read a nice batch of horror and speculative reads that just fell out of the top ten and I plan to read more in 2016. I am definitely going to make a great effort to increase my reading and definitely want to do more on my blog, on Booktube, and with my fiction writing. I feel that 2016 is going to have a lot to offer!

I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe new year; in addition to high hopes that your year is a prosperous one! I am going to do my best to make 2016 a prosperous one for myself, too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: "The Things We Keep" by Sally Hepworth

A friend of mine from Goodreads named Inge, who has two blogs, one about reading and the other about optimistic thinking, read this book and wrote a poignant review about how this novel reminded her about how her grandfather dealt with Alzheimer's and while he forgot just about everyone in his family, he continued to remember and love his wife until the day he died. This review really caught my attention and I liked and commented on it, which caught the attention of St. Martin's Press. They sent me a review copy for this novel that they plan to release in January 2016 and in exchange, I have read the book and will be presenting you with an honest review. If there is anyone that this story reminds me of most, it is my great-grandfather. He did not have late stages of Alzheimer's, but he went to live in an assisted living facility and later a nursing home before he passed away just last month. When I think of these facilities, I think of my great-grandfather's experience. He was in high spirits and in great hands during the two and a half years he spent in assisted living and few months in nursing care. It shows that this is a great elevation to when my great-great grandmother was in a nursing home, for the effort is placed heavily on making their residents feel as if their lives are still as precious, despite the fact that there is not so much life left to live.

The loved ones I recall being in assisted living or nursing care were older. In this novel, we follow two people that are younger and in need of medical assistance. The idea of premature Alzheimer's and dementia has been explored in the book Still Alice, a Lisa Genova novel that was adapted into a film, and is now being explored as a bit of a love story told by Sally Hepworth. In this case, Anna Forster enters Rosalind House in Short Hills, New Jersey at the age of thirty-eight. She does this voluntarily, after her Alzheimer's reaches a point that she becomes a danger to herself and her loved ones. Her brother, Jack, intentionally finds this home, because he heard that a younger man dealing with similar struggles resided here and she would have a peer to interact with. This peer turns out being a handsome man (to Anna's tastes) named Luke who is two years older and dealing with dementia that leaves him with a stutter. To Anna, Luke is "Young Guy," and they become closer and closer as time goes by, picking up the feeling that the other makes their life worth living.

Anna tells her story prior to when things are presently occurring. Her story begins fifteen months before and progresses month after month as her Alzheimer's becomes worse and things around her are changing. The story is told during the present day by a woman named Eve Bennett that takes on the job of chef... which includes an earmark that is maintenance and her daughter, Clementine. Anna, Eve, and Clementine switch off on chapters, though not uniformly and the former two tell most of the story. This novel is as much about Anna and the rest of the Rosalind House as it is about Eve's very own struggles. Eve's husband, Richard, was involved in a Ponzi scheme were he falsified documents in order to collect money. Knowing that he was going to get caught, Richard went into his study while his wife and daughter were away and committed suicide. Eve and Clementine were left with the burden that was Richard's "legacy" and were shunned by the school district and those around them in town. In order to make a living, Eve's only opportunity is to serve as the cook as the Rosalind House. Here, she comes across Anna and learns about the story between her and Luke and while by this time they are separated due to each family's wishes, she does what she can to encourage their unity and their love for one another.

Though she does not tell her story as often as Anna or Eve, I feel that Clementine's story was the most interesting to follow along. Hepworth does a nice job getting into the mind of a witty seven-year-old girl and her story is just as important as the others, because she is definitely feeling the struggles that are occurring in her very own life. She loved her dad and to see that those around her are bashing him is creating a great strain on her life. She does, however, express a sense of being the center of attention at a nursing home that features an interesting group of individuals. There is Clara and Laurie, who seem like an ideal couple living at the home, but there is much more to their relationship than meets the eye. Then, quite notably, there is Bert, who is still having difficulty detaching himself from his deceased wife, Myrna. He still leaves an empty seat for her and interacts with her as one may interact with an imaginary friend. Then, those that operate the facilities include Eric, who manages the place, and Angus, who is a gardener that forms a bit of a bond with Eve.

The structure of the characters in this novel prove to be a great strength on Hepworth's behalf. Just about every character has depth to them and provides a sense of importance to the novel. In some cases, though, this depth proves to overshadow the main concentration regarding the love that is shared between Anna and Luke. I feel that both Anna and Eve tells meaningful stories, but these stories are so strong that one would have trouble figuring out which one drives the novel. I feel that I could have gotten more of Anna's story while getting a relatively concrete idea as to what Anna's struggles consisted of. At the same time, Eve and Clementine's story catches my attention in a different way. It is interesting to read about direct relatives of those that committed a crime, and a high profile one at that, and then ask "is it right to blame the relatives of bad people who were not aware of what was going on, let alone did nothing wrong?" I felt a sense of sympathy for Anna, Eve, and Clementine, but I have that feeling that a different equation could have occurred.

My other gripe involves a checklist of sorts that deals with whether or not this has what it takes to be a movie. I would say that this novel has what it takes to become a movie and I would find it quite an intriguing film adaptation. This would definitely make for an attractive movie. On the other hand, I am not necessarily interested in books that follow the "does this have what it takes to be a movie" cutout and in turn, just about every box office movie follows a cookie cutout of its particular genre. I do, however, think that this is adaptable.

I feel that for the reader that is looking for a light novel that deals with a bleak subject, but in a way that it can be taken with humor, will probably enjoy reading The Things We Keep. It has the attraction to its particular audience that The Fault in our Stars has on theirs. I preferred The Fault in our Stars not in the way that it is closer to my age group, but its area of focus is much clearer and it does not have a side story that overwhelms or overshadows. Nevertheless, it seems like Sally Hepworth definitely has the ability to create characters that possess great dimension and have stories that will certainly grab your attention and your mind.

Verdict: 7/10

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nobel Prize in Literature 2015

It has been confirmed that a Nobel Prize winner in the area of literature will be announced on Thursday, October 8th at 1 PM Swedish time. Most recent winners of this award have included French author Patrick Modiano (in 2014), Canadian short story writer Alice Munro (in 2013), Chinese novelist Mo Yan (in 2012), and the late Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer (in 2011). This year, the field of nominees is relatively large, which should not come as a shock to any. Of course, there are frontrunners, but the decision that is made by the committee remains a challenge to predict and project until the name has actually been announced. I know that in my case, Patrick Modiano was not a name I would have predicted to be the winner of the 2014 prize, but that may be due to the fact that his name is not too familiar to the American reader. I was able to pick up a book of his at Barnes & Noble during a trip following a filming session for Literary Gladiators. During the month of September, I read five novels that were written by nominees for this particular award and came out with mixed feelings. Of the five, there were two books I enjoyed, two that I felt were okay, and another that I am in the middle of completing. Nominees that I have read include Svetlana Alexievich, Ko Un, Philip Roth, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Joyce Carol Oates. I read Haruki Murakami earlier in the year.

Svetlana Alexievich and Haruki Murakami has been deemed the frontrunners according to many outlets that measure the odds that different nominees have in winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. In my mind, these statuses are rightfully so. Alexievich is a journalist from Ukraine known most for her Voices from Chernobyl, which capture statements and stories from individuals that were affected in some way, shape, or form by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986. I felt this was an amazing testament that was very well arranged so that heartbreaking stories were able to be shared next to some really witty accounts that occurred during an event that is important for people to be aware about. Murakami, a Japanese writer, is quite noteworthy in the English speaking world, which is fitting for someone whose works are heavily influenced by western culture. His novel, Norwegian Wood, has plenty of references and inspiration to The Beatles and the actions that are taken in the story reflect the title song. His elements of magical realism are recognized most to his readers, but I enjoyed reading Norwegian Wood, which did not really possess his common themes. Based on what I know and what I collect, Murakami should be the author that I would declare as the person that I feel should win the prize this year.

While I feel that Murakami should be awarded the prize, the writer I feel should receive the prize in this particular year is Ko Un, a Korean poet who was a political protester that was imprisoned during his time of doing so. Un's poetry is short, brief, but powerful. Much of what he writes reflects his Buddhist beliefs, as he was at one point a Buddhist monk. Un has been nominated on multiple occasions for this particular prize, but others were granted to prize instead. I feel that with an active life of such insightful writing on his resume, Un should be the person that is greatly considered for this particular year. Whether he receives the honor or not, I feel that he is a poet that everyone should check out.

I did mention that I read Philip Roth, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Joyce Carol Oates during the month. I felt that Goodbye, Columbus and A Grain of Wheat, written by Roth and Thiong'o respectively, were okay novels. They were very well written, but could have been better in plot structure and sequence (for Columbus) and strength of character (for Wheat), so I am not ready to declare that these would be my selections for the Nobel Prize in Literature. As for Oates, I am reading Wild Nights, which is a really interesting take on the last days of Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway in narrative form. Once I finish reading this, I need to allow it to sink in and then make a call regarding what I thought.

I am always interested in reading award winning or nominated writers, even if I feel that it is the individual's personal satisfaction that should determine what they decide to read and not read. I am sure that everyone will have a different opinion and I would be interested to hear the selections that other people may have. As for me, it was interesting to get a taste of what the great academy sees as top quality writing among those writers that are living and, in many cases, still writing. I may be interested in either doing this again or reading the works of writers that have already when notable prizes. I am definitely going to keep my eye out for the winners of these acclaimed prizes in the upcoming days and I encourage you to check out Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, and This Side of Time by Ko Un. Regardless of who wins the prize, it is just so remarkable what this acclaim and monetary prize does to deserving writers who may or may have not gotten the boost that comes with this honor.

Here is the odds site that I referred to in this post:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review: "This Side Of Time" by Ko Un

For the month of September, I have created a "to be read" pile that included works from writers that were presumed nominees for the Nobel Prize in Literature. I decided on six books that I may check out and am currently on my fourth, which is usually the pace to which I read. What makes this a delight is that there is a really good choice that I will have the opportunity to come across a writer that is rightfully renowned and I can definitely say that this is the case for Ko Un. Un is a Korean poet that has spent his life fighting for what he believes in. In 1980, as a political protester, he was accused of treason and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He was released two years later. Ko Un has proven to have a soft-spoken disposition, but an execution that brands itself in the hearts and minds of anyone that happens to cross his path. His poetry, which is separated based off of their status in his three collections, are short, but their delivery is guaranteed to make an impact. This Side of Time is a poetry collection that can leave a long lasting impression even on a non-poetic enthusiast.

Ko Un's poetry is on average about four lines long, IF that. Some of his poetry is only one line long, but at the same time leaves a lasting impression. A great example, and one that stuck out the most to me, comes from his poem titled "Father." The poem goes like this:

"Food in his kids' mouth, that's Nirvana!" (found on page 86).

Isn't this the foundation that we live on? All you need to do is let his words sink in and you will feel so enlightened by the wise words he has to deliver. If his poetry goes past one page, it is a lot and proves to be a rarity in his writing. Ko Un's poetry is sorted into three of his collections: "Little Songs from Poems Left Behind," "A Few Small Songs from Late Songs," and "More Small Songs from Full of Shame." Out of these three collections, the last one is the ONLY collection where the poems have titles. The rest of them are untitled, which means the first line would take the place of the title. This practice is often attached to the poetry of Emily Dickinson and while I am not the greatest fan of this habit, I feel that great poetry is bound to make up for this. This can definitely be said about Dickinson and certainly the same can be said for Un. In one of his poems, he writes about the questioning of whether or not one can achieve an afterlife for being remorseful or if the remorse simply becomes the swapping of places with the subject of remorse (in this case, a man and his mule) (found on page 25). Un also writes about his take on the Nazis attempt to annihilate anything and everything about the Jews that leaves far beyond the physical actions that they took (page 31).

The poem that stuck out to me the most is one that was just three lines long on page 26. While it was short, the thought lingered in my mind with how one should live their life. It goes:

"The autumn leaves fall dancing.
I'll dance my way out too
when it's time to leave this world."

What a way to embrace the inevitable! I have to agree with his message that one should walk away from what ever they are leaving on a positive, meaningful note. The image of autumn leaves catches my attention as well, for I feel that the way they gracefully break away from the trees and float onto the ground is just a pleasant way to which they demonstrate their demise. The speaker feels a similar need to break away from the body and/or from the world with which he is living in a way that he feels fitting when that particular time comes.

Ko Un has had his name constantly mentioned for the Nobel Prize in Literature. With the 2015 selections on their way, I sure hope that he is awarded or at least considered for this year's prize. I also feel that Haruki Murakami is rightfully a frontrunner for this award, but Ko Un is someone who is less familiar to the American audience, yet certainly needs to be considered. The fact that anyone can grip a reader in as little as one sentence is beyond extraordinary. Quotes have served as an inspiration to audiences across the globe. Ko Un's sentences read as being more than just quotes. They are proverbs that should serve as inspiration to anyone that comes across them. I highly suggest that you check out this collection, even if it proves to be a bit pricey. Unfortunately, poetry collections tend to be thin and expensive, but in the case of This Side of Time, you will not regret paying around the $16. If you enjoy collecting posters of inspirational messages, you will love over eighty pages worth of inspirational messages from a master poet!

You can find his collection here:

Verdict: 10/10

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Book Review: "Thomas Jefferson- The Art of Power" by Jon Meacham

While I have been able to get back into the habit of reading far more than I did in 2013 and 2014 (my list of complete finishes has already exceeded the amount I read in both of these years), I feel that I need to review far more than I have been. Here I am to bring some momentum into Caponomics, which will begin with a review of my historical nonfiction read for this year. I have been a U.S. President buff since I was seven and Thomas Jefferson is the president I feel has fascinated me more than any of the others, which led me to pick this up and enjoy it all the same. Thomas Jefferson- The Art of Power is a book I first approached when doing a paper for a British Colonies & American Revolution class I took while I was at college, but it is rare that I review something I read for class, especially when I am reading it to analyze its content. In this case, I was just looking for the statements that supported my case that Jefferson was "the great American Renaissance man" and that his contributions shaped American culture. I also tend to make the argument that he had what is diagnosed today as Asperger's syndrome and that THIS may have played a great influence, but since this is only explored through statements that are made about his personality (not mentioning Asperger's whatsoever), I will save this for another occasion. Perhaps when I read Diagnosing Jefferson by Norm Ledgin, which is an argument about this idea. Let's get back to this book. It grabbed my attention right from the beginning and gave me an objective taste of who Jefferson was as a political figure, as a founding father, and as a person. I felt that I got a lot out of this and if I already knew the subject matter, this only complimented it.

Jon Meacham points out right away that Jefferson had his many interests. Jefferson was a bibliophile whose collection elevated into the thousands; Jefferson was an inventor who created such devices as the swivel chair and the dumbwaiter; Jefferson loved French culture, which inspired the British inspired direction that was brought about from Federalist leaders such as John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and to an extent, George Washington; Jefferson was also a man that would keep track of the weather every morning and evening, while also keeping track of the money he spent, just for the sake of keeping track of it (he died owing so much debt). Jefferson is also described as a man that always had a pursuit to learn new things, which led to him creating the University of Virginia. His intent was to create a university that would provide students with the material that they needed to become as intelligent as they could possibly be, yet not be influenced by their instructors opinions so that they could think critically on their own.

The fact that Thomas Jefferson- The Art of Power points out both Jefferson's successes and his failures is something I deem to be really enlightening, for it should be up to the reader to decide where Jefferson's legacy should stand according to what they believe. His immediate success came when writing the Declaration of Independence that would be the foundation Americans leaned on when breaking away from Great Britain. Just a few years later, he saw little success as the Governor of Virginia. He would be an Ambassador to France until becoming the first Secretary of State during the Washington administration. His friction with the cabinet would lead to what was deemed as "retirement," but this was something he was pulled out of so quickly. What we learn is that as a Democratic-Republican, Jefferson contrasted with the Federalists in the idea that state's rights should outdo a large central government. Historians point out that when Jefferson came into power in 1801, he exercised executive power on a great deal of occasions, most notably during the Louisiana Purchase from France. These bold executive decisions were, however, beneficial in the eyes of the American citizens and were popular enough to the point that Jefferson was elected to a second term. The Embargo Act of 1807, which prohibited imports and exports to America proved to be his most controversial decision. While it was meant to make a statement to Britain and France, it hurt Americans just as bad. At the same time, this book brings up the Lewis and Clark expedition, the change in culture that involved more laid back dinners instead of a more traditional, royal ceremony, and the more positive moments in Jefferson's administration. This is the first I learned about his Secretary of the Treasury in Albert Gallatin, who was Swiss-born, but moved to America, and became the longest serving person in this position. Gallatin served into the James Madison administration, Madison himself was Jefferson's Secretary of State and perhaps his greatest protégé.

The Art of Power also gives us an idea of what his family life was like. Growing up was not too troublesome for Jefferson, but he quickly became the "man of the house" after his father, Peter Jefferson, died when he was sixteen. His mother, Jane, died a few months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson's wife, Martha, is also not mentioned on too many occasions, much of which has to do with her early death in 1782 at the age of 33. What I got out of this book was that they were a couple that was meant for one another and had the perfect chemistry. On her death bed, she did not want Jefferson to remarry the way her father did, and with the exception of some affairs, Jefferson lived up to his promise. His most notable affair was with Sally Hemings, who was Martha Jefferson's half-sister. Since Martha's father had a child with one of his slave's, Sally was mixed race, but deemed a slave. Sally Hemings would also be the mother of Thomas Jefferson's children, making it one of the more controversial moments in U.S. History. An interesting story about Hemings and her temptation to stay in France, since she would be emancipated if she did so, led Jefferson to allow her children to be free by the age of twenty-one. This particular book really explores the blurry area that was Jefferson's relationship to his slaves.

I feel that any history buff, especially one that wants to know more about Thomas Jefferson, is going to get a lot out of this book. Every area of Jefferson's life is thoroughly covered and we get an idea of not just those in depth details about those moments that we know most about him, but also those little details that get an idea of what Jefferson was like as a person. In turn, we also get an idea of those other important figures in history during that period of time through their interaction with Jefferson, most notably John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, since his relationship with Adams was clearly wishy-washy, while with Hamilton there was no admiration whatsoever. Meacham does an excellent job conveying these emotions and giving us that very idea as to why Jefferson admired or despised the men he admired or despised. I have read up on Jefferson through multiple U.S. Presidential History collections, but this is the first book I read that was strictly about Thomas Jefferson. It was a convincing way to begin and I strongly suggest that you pick it up.

Verdict: 10/10

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Literary Gladiators Season 4

This summer, we filmed the fourth season of Literary Gladiators, which will contain 38 episodes that are currently on file and six more episodes that we plan to film in December and include in the rotation. This may mean a possible 44 episodes will be released from The Phantom Tollbooth, that was released on September 3rd and go all the way until June 18th, which will be the season finale and a celebration of Kelsea Rowan's birthday. Speaking of Kelsea, she will be the assistant producer going into the fourth season of the show and we hope to have her on board for as long as she wishes to hold this position. Since bringing her along to assume a greater role with the show, we are including not just our traditional, discussion driven episodes, but also extras that include a bunch of participants in a more casual atmosphere or an individual participant conducting a discussion, review, book haul, wrap-up, TBR, book tag, or anything that pertains to the theme of the channel. So far, this is really boosting interest in the channel.

As I write this post, on the afternoon (eastern time) of September 9th, we have 153 subscribers, over 5,600 views, and over 260 likes with just four dislikes. We have not reached the heights that many other remarkable Booktubers have (and they are remarkable... not just with their videos, but also as people), but we have our eyes on reaching that goal! This fourth season is going to be filled with anything and everything you can imagine and I felt that it really came out very well. Most importantly, we have a great batch of people sitting in on the panel that seemed to have a great time partaking in our discussions. I hope to have them back for a fifth season, which I believe will be set to film in Summer 2016 if everything goes right... but let's get back to season four before we stray away too far.

Returning to the show this season include:

Josh Caporale (me)- from all three seasons and as a regular, also as producer and editor
Charlie Gulizia- from all three seasons and as a regular, also as music coordinator
Laney Burke- from seasons 2 & 3 as moderator (and will also be in an episode)
Lily Vittari- from all three seasons as a semi-regular (about half of the episodes)
Nicole Pirrella-Iacoves- from season one as a guest
Larry Romano- from season 2 as a recurring guest
Dan Marseglia- from season 2 & 3 as a guest and fill-in moderator
Jackie Wainwright- from season 2 as a guest
Bree Little- from season 2 as a guest
Kelsea Rowan- from season 3 as a recurring guest and as assistant producer
Ari S. Gans- from season 3 as a guest and composer of the outro number, "Scratched"
Ms. Cynthia Cooke- from season 3 as a guest


Dr. David Bordelon- from season 2 as a special guest

New participants on the show include:

Zach Lawless- fill-in moderator
Kim Broomall- guest
Morgen Condon- recurring guest
Kaitlyn Cook- guest
Kaila Rotsma- recurring guest
John Weeast- recurring guest


Joanne the Librarian- special guest
Dr. Frank Wetta- special guest

To specify, a "special guest" is one that participates in one episode, a guest participates in 2-4, a recurring guest participates in 5-18 episodes, while regulars appear in almost every episode. In Lily's case, she was slated to appear as a regular, but due to personal circumstances, appears in 17 episodes that have been taped. Bree will be at this December taping as well.

This is our episode plan as we speak:

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (released)
"Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost
"The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
"To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell
Banned Books Week
"Imagine" by John Lennon (Lyrical Analysis)
"A Late Encounter with the Enemy" by Flanney O'Connor
"Lady Lazarus" by Sylvia Plath
Halloween: Works That Spark a Fearful Reaction, Part 2
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
How to Define Literature
"Long Live the Weeds" by Theodore Roethke
Thanksgiving: Works That Spark an Appetite
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
"In the Waiting Room" by Elizabeth Bishop
Christmas: Works That Bring About Holiday Sentiment (to be filmed)
New Years: Works of Enlightenment
"Borges & I" by Jorge Luis Borges
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot
"Thank You, Ma'am" by Langston Hughes
The Work of Maya Angelou
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
"The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka
The Work of Dr. Seuss
"The Starry Night" by Anne Sexton (to be filmed)
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin (to be filmed)
Easter: Works of the Living Dead
"Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway
"The Emperor of Ice Cream" by Wallace Stevens
The Work of James Joyce
"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
"Little Red Riding Hood" by The Grimm Brothers
"The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (to be filmed)
"Before the Cask of Wine" by Li Po (to be filmed)
"A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto" by Czeslaw Milosz (to be filmed)
Beats Literature
The Poetry of e.e. cummings

This looks like an eventful lineup and I can assure you that these were a blast to film! Hopefully you enjoy watching them as much as we enjoyed filming them. Most episodes will be up on Fridays and extras will be up on Tuesdays, but there may be changes to the schedule, whether it be a week where we do not upload a new episode or we release an extra video on any particular week. All the best and keep reading!


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Prediction: 2015 NFL Season

It is that time of year again! Even if summer is winding down and Labor Day brings it to an unofficial end, another season of football is right on its way. In fact, this is the season that will lead to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California. Yes, the 50th Super Bowl is not being shown with its number in roman numerals. The most exciting part of what this season has to offer, though, is that the shake-ups are quite promising and it is going to make for something that everyone is going to want to watch. Coming into this summer, Tom Brady had his suspension lifted and will be coming right out of the gate to make the greatest splash possible, the Colts have a top notch batch of free agents on top of their already great team, Peyton Manning will be back at the age of 39, but whether or not for the last time is up in the air, the Chip Kelly renovation with the Eagles can either be a great hit or a great miss, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will have a great deal of attention as rookies, and so much more is in store!

I will be predicting the finishing record of each team by division. This finishing record is an estimate and was briefly considered with the schedule at hand. For the playoffs, I will be predicting the final results to each game. Last year, I picked the Broncos to beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. If I picked the Patriots in the place of the Broncos, I would have had everything from the championship onward correct. I correctly placed the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, and had the Colts and Packers going out in the AFC and NFC Championship respectively. If you wanted to see my predictions from last year, you can find them here:

Here we go with this season...

AFC East

New England Patriots (11-5)- The Patriots will have a lot to prove and a great statement to make following the possible suspension that was slap onto Tom Brady due to Deflate-gate. Do I think this is going to give them an outrageous record? Not necessarily, but they are bound to win the division yet again. Much of the team's foundation remains intact, though they have just four wide receivers. That should not be a concern, though, for Brady seems to make something out of what ever he has. Rob Gronkowski is still the elite tight end in the league and Julian Edelman and crew seem to be a reliable batch. Bill Belichick is on his way to statistically becoming the greatest NFL head coach and can surpass Chuck Noll with most Super Bowl victories with another this season (they are currently tied). Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is also mentioned frequently for another head coaching position, but this is one I am not too sure about. What I know for sure is that the Patriots will have this division wrapped up, even if the Bills and Dolphins give them a run for their money.

Buffalo Bills (9-7)- Speaking of the Bills, the ship being rowed by Rex Ryan will reflect the ship that was rowed by the Jets. Rex Ryan inherited a team that was already great on defense and had a young offense that just needed the right pieces to kick into power drive. I do continue to question the selection of Rex Ryan due to their need to address the offense and evidence that he left a mess in the Meadowlands, but it will give them the relevance that they need and the ability to kick things into gear for at least a season or two. The quarterback question between Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel will need to be addressed, but it seems like Greg Roman will be able to do something the way he did with Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. The addition of LeSean McCoy is also helpful, for he simply did not fit the Chip Kelly experiment with the Eagles. My guess is that the Bills are going to be among six teams that compete for the six wildcard spots and the results look like they will be optimistic for the first time since 1999 (the Bills hold the longest playoff drought in the league).

Miami Dolphins (8-8)- One thing that we know about Joe Philbin is that he is consistent. He was 7-9 when he joined the team in 2012 and went 8-8 the last two seasons. This season will be three times a charm as I see him going 8-8 yet again, even when competing for one of those wildcard slots. They have a growing team that has Ryan Tannehill running the offense as QB and will have a defensive that is rejuvenated by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. There is a lot of promise to this team, but unfortunately they look like they are bound to fall short. I especially believe that Joe Philbin may be let go at season's end, especially if he cannot keep the commotion under control that has occurred so many times under his watch. The Dolphins are in it to win it, but so are all of the other teams. Some are in it more than others and the Dolphins look like they will fall short.

New York Jets (4-12)- Geno Smith is out with an injury he picked up when now released player I.K. Enemkpali punched him in the jaw. This does, however, bring Ryan Fitzpatrick in as the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick is reliable, but he is simply going to be the kind of guy that keeps them in games. This is an offensive situation that still needs to be addressed and I am not sure if offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is going to be that guy to address it. What will be key, though, is whether or not new head coach Todd Bowles will be able to steer the team in the right direction. He seems to have what it takes to keep them disciplined and has proven himself as a defensive coordinator, but the Jets are certainly going to take time in what looks like an intense rebuilding process.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts (14-2)- The Colts have what it takes to be the best team in the league this year and I believe that they are going to walk away with the most wins among all 32 teams. Andrew Luck has obviously shown that he is a promising quarterback and already has a great amount of wide receivers, including T.Y. Hilton, but the addition of former 49ers running back Frank Gore and former Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson are only going to help him so much more in what looks like it will become a cast filled with Pro Bowl contenders at the very least. The offense to this team is going to be explosive, while the defense is going to be heavily improved. Pep Hamilton, the offensive coordinator, has been a future head coaching candidate that may very well get his chance following this season and rightfully so.

Houston Texans (9-7)- The Texans have gotten back on track when Bill O'Brien took over following the rebuilding of the embarrassment that was the Penn State incident. The Texans will certainly not be an embarrassment and rightfully contend for a wildcard slot. The fact that Brian Hoyer will be the starting quarterback will provide him with a chance to steer a team as he attempted to do with the Browns before that opportunity was taken away from him. Unlike the experience with the Browns, I feel that Hoyer will be able to prove himself in his pursuit to making this a better team. I do not believe that this is going to be the season where they make it, but they will be in the race up until the last week of the regular season and I could see them definitely contending for the playoffs in the 2016 season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)- The Jaguars are a team that possess a great deal of promise. They are a young team with players that are not necessarily familiar, but they are also very underrated. This will be reflected in their pursuit this season. Blake Bortles has really demonstrated that he deserves to be the starter for the Jags and Toby Gerhart is certainly an underrated running back that has had recognition during his days of backing up Adrian Peterson on the Vikings. The Jags are bound to go slightly upward, but I would say this means six wins. They will have some gritty division games, prove their worth in evenly matched games, and maybe even sneak a shocker or two. By no means should this affect Gus Bradley for at least another season, for I believe he needs at least two more seasons until they cast a verdict on whether or not he is right for the team.

Tennessee Titans (3-13)- Yes, the Titans made a great selection with Marcus Mariota, but just remember that Peyton Manning was 3-13 in his rookie season with the Colts. Also, there really is not much more to the make up of the team besides Mariota. There needs to be substance to a team and while they did pick up linebacker Brian Orakpo and wide receiver Dexter McCluster, they seem to be the kind of players that have their best days behind them. The fact that Dick LeBeau and Ray Horton are running the defense is a help, but it is not going to help them get out of the doghouse this season.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (11-5)- The Ravens are already a great team and they proved this when they won the Super Bowl in 2012. They have only gotten better with what is bound to be a rejuvenated offense and a defense that will remain one to be reckoned with. I feel that with Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator, they have someone who is in their element doing what they do best. Quarterback Joe Flacco is going to have a spectacular season with the help of what will be an important group of wide receivers, including a key resurgence of Steve Smith, Sr. and other wide receivers that are bound to gain rightful notability. On the defensive side, defensive coordinator Dean Pees is constantly overlooked, but he continues to keep the defense fresh and intact. The Ravens have been known for their relevant defense and with a fresh batch of talent, this team will continue to remain relevant and worthy of the division.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)- The Bengals have had success during the past few seasons. Marvin Lewis has the second longest tenure among head coaches, only behind Bill Belichick. The Bengals, however, have the longest postseason victory drought in the league, for the last time they won a game in the postseason was during the 1990 season. This is going to be a year where they need to prove that they can win in the playoffs, but the question is going to be whether or not they will be able to reach the playoffs. This is going to be a competitive year in the AFC and I believe more than half of the teams will reach .500 or higher. 8-8 and 9-7 records will be common and in some cases playoff worthy, but I do not see that being the case with the Bengals. I will say, though, that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson certainly deserves another chance to be a head coach and I felt that he would have been the ideal selection for the Bills job.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9)- This is a hard one, because the Steelers always have it in them to contend for a spot in the playoffs. They had a great run last season, only to lose to the Ravens in the wildcard round last season. What seemed to come out of the Steelers this past season was that they was more offensively sound after being historically a powerhouse defense. This lagging of defense led to Dick LeBeau's departure of the team, despite being perhaps the most legendary defensive coordinator in the league. The Steelers performance this season will all come down to whether or not the offense is able to remain intact and whether or not the defense is going to improve from last season. This is going to be a season where they need to see upward results and their schedule is not going to be a kind one.

Cleveland Browns (5-11)- I felt that Mike Pettine was the greatest selection for head coach the Browns made since returning to the league as an expansion team (and after seeing what the old Browns have become since moving to Baltimore and becoming the Ravens, these new Browns have been sickening). Unfortunately, these Browns were in contention for a playoff spot and quite possibly a division title last season, but the fact they gave up on Brian Hoyer and instead put their faith on Johnny Manziel, who underperformed, did them in. They are in a situation far more bleak this time around. Instead of Hoyer, the Browns have Josh McCown as their starting quarterback. While I like McCown, I believe that replacing Hoyer with McCown is like replacing a bookstore with a dollar store. Pettine is playing it safe and beginning with McCown, but it will definitely take Manziel some adjusting, and a lot of it, to make it to where he needs to go. Unfortunately, the Browns are starting over again after something interesting came about last season, including the transition that Kyle Shanahan made as offensive coordinators from the Browns to the Falcons.

AFC West

Denver Broncos (10-6)- This is definitely going to be a tougher season for the Broncos, but I believe they still have it in them to be contenders. John Fox was a 7/10 coach (in my mind) while he was with the Panthers, but became a 9/10 coach with the Broncos after reaching the playoffs in all four of his seasons, but having Peyton Manning as the quarterback in three of these seasons proves to be an immense help. The other season had Tim Tebow as QB and featured a great defense and a miraculous run. Now they have a similar structure in the team itself, but Gary Kubiak is now the head coach. Kubiak did a decent job with the Texans, but will have the Peyton Manning factor going for him in Denver. While Rick Dennison has been the team's offensive coordinator before during Mike Shanahan's last three seasons with the team, having Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator is going to prove to be the greatest factor. Phillips is among the best at what he does and to see what he does is going to be interesting and crucial. This may very well be the deciding factor this season. As for Peyton Manning, whether or not he says or goes at the age of 39 is going to come down to how well this season goes. I have a feeling, though, that this is going to be his last season and that once he retires, he will retire (please don't do what Brett Favre did!!!).

Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)- The Chiefs are going to improve after last season's mediocre performance. It seems like they have much more talent and this talent will be put to use. One of the more notable pickups was that of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who spent his entire career on the Eagles. His reunion with Andy Reid (who coached the Eagles until 2012) is going to be interesting to see take place with the Chiefs. The presence of quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles, and the others should definitely not be overlooked, though. While they lagged last season, things should click a bit better this time around. Not to mention that Bob Sutton is perhaps a defensive coordinator that should getting much more recognition for what he does and while he is 64 years old, he should be considered as a head coaching candidate for how well he drives this team's defense, which really kept them going during the past season. It is also worth mentioning that in three out of the last four Super Bowls, BOTH head coaches were 55 or older. What matters most, though, is that the Chiefs will definitely return to form.

San Diego Chargers (8-8)- Since Mike McCoy took over as head coach of the Chargers, the team has gotten so much better and became far more relevant than in seasons prior under Norv Turner. Quarterback Philip Rivers is seeing a resurgence in his career, while Antonio Gates remains one of the noteworthy tight ends in the league. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich and defensive coordinator John Pagano (brother of Colts coach Chuck Pagano) deserve recognition as well and should both be hot candidates for head coaching positions in the future. As for what will come out of the season for this team, the Chargers will likely contend until the last two weeks of the season, but unfortunately fall under the others that steal their thunder, including the Broncos and Chiefs. They will, however, make things really interesting in their division and I am almost certain that 2016 will be their year.

Oakland Raiders (4-12)- On one hand, I question the decision to make Jack Del Rio the head coach of the Raiders, but on the other, he did a convincing job filling in for John Fox on the Broncos when he had to go in for a heart procedure. Del Rio's performance with the Jaguars was mediocre at best (good compared to how they have performed since he left, but nothing compared to Tom Coughlin's performance when they first started), so I do not believe his performance with the Raiders is going to be spectacular. It will, however, all come down to whether or not QB Derek Carr molds into the player that the Raiders were looking for. It will be really interesting to see how he does this particular year. As for spectacular results, I do not see them for this season.

NFC East

New York Giants (10-6)- The NFC East is going to be a three-team race in my mind (everybody except the Redskins) and I feel that with a schedule that is not incredibly difficult, these three teams will reach and/or exceed .500. Most analysts are selecting the Eagles or Cowboys as their division winner, but I feel that the Giants are going to shock everyone, because they need to. If the Giants do not reach the playoffs, I am almost certain that Tom Coughlin and the entire coaching staff will be let go (something that should have happened to offensive line coach Pat Flaherty two seasons back), because despite the two Super Bowl victories, the team has missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. What I feel will happen, though, is that things will click. Bringing back Steve Spagnuolo to serve as the defensive coordinator was a good idea after seeing success during his brief tenure in 2007 and 2008. His connection to safety Jeromy Miles from the Ravens also helped bail them. If Landon Collins is healthy for the season, this will address the issue that gave them commotion. In addition, Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz will be a powerful tandem if they remain in sync, while I have a great deal of confidence in their running backs for the first time since 2008 with Rashad Jennings, Orleans Darkwa, and Shane Vereen. With familiarity to Ben McAdoo's system, Eli Manning and crew should see heavy improvement. I say they win the division by the skin of their teeth. People may say I am eccentric, but this is a team that won the Super Bowl with a 10-6 record to the 16-0 Patriots in 2007 and with a 9-7 record in 2011 after barely winning the division to make the playoffs.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)- I can see the division coming down to the Eagles and Giants on the last game of the regular season. What the Eagles did, though, is scrap what they had and rebuilt the team in order to suit head coach and offensive mastermind Chip Kelly's system. One is sure to think: Why would you trade a reliable quarterback like Nick Foles for an injury prone quarterback in Sam Bradford? Why would you trade the third best quarterback in rushing yards for a not too familiar linebacker (this to not to say that they got the running back with the most rushing yards last season with DeMarco Murray)? Why would you let Jeremy Maclin, the most notable of the remaining wide receivers, head off to the Chiefs? It does not look like it's fazing Chip Kelly in the least. The experiment can definitely explore into something incredible if everything goes right. If Sam Bradford is healthy and does not have too much weight he needs to work with, the team is going to go somewhere. This is why they are going to contend.

Dallas Cowboys (10-6)- Yes, three teams in the NFC East will reach ten wins. They are playing the lackluster NFC South and the improving AFC East, but I feel that these three teams in the NFC East will pick up wins in at half of their games in each division (if not a sweep in the NFC South). Darren McFadden is no DeMarco Murray, but I believe that if the offensive line remains strong, the team can definitely contend and pull out incredible victories like the one they had against the Seahawks IN SEATTLE! Tony Romo seems to be healthy, while Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli are among the best coordinators for offense and defense, respectively, in the league. It was a really wise decision for Jason Garrett to give up his play-calling duties after consistently finishing 8-8. My feeling is that what will do the Cowboys in is that they will be the only team within the division that loses a game to the Redskins. They will continue to have a valiant effort leading to the end of the season, but by being the team to drop one to the Skins (where I see splits among the top three) will cost them.

Washington Redskins (2-14)- I believe the Redskins will be the worst team in the league this season, winning just two games: one against the Cowboys and another against either the Buccaneers or Jets (one or the other, not both). What is going on in Landover, Maryland is a disorganized mess regarding the status of their QBs. RGIII lost his starting position to Kirk Cousins, which will definitely create a bit of friction that will in turn hurt the environment. Cousins is a good quarterback, but he needs his team to kick things into gear and with an aging atmosphere, that may be hard to come by. If there is going to be a time that Jay Gruden will need to step up and take action, it will be now, because he may very well be out of a head coaching job by the end of the season.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (9-7)- The NFC South was clearly the worst division last season, just as the NFC West was in 2010, but I found this division to be so far worse for more reasons than one. This time around, though, I see a great deal of rejuvenation for a team that was one game away from winning the division with a 7-9 record. Dan Quinn, who was the Seahawks defensive coordinator, will be the head coach to this team with Kyle Shanahan as its offensive coordinator. This will mean a possible resurgence to Matt Ryan and weapons such as Julio Jones and Roddy White, who have remained fantasy football superstars, but will need to produce a playoff run out of their talent. I believe that this will be the season where they claim the division, even if it is only with a less than flashy record.

New Orleans Saints (8-8)- The Saints seem to be playing to the same tune: remarkable at home and less than impressive on the road. The fact that they lost some talent (notably tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks) does not help them any, but they still have quarterback Drew Brees, who should remain a good quarterback as long as he is with the league. I feel that the Saints will remain contenders in such a weak division right until the time they head in Atlanta to play the Falcons during the last week of the regular season. I am not sure how long Sean Payton has left in him, probably another season or two because of his impressive record, but my bigger question is: Will offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr. be considered a head coaching candidate in the near future and will the same take place for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan? As much as I am not the greatest fan of the Ryans, I am eager to see if there is ever a day when Rex and Rob Ryan are both head coaches in the NFL.

Carolina Panthers (7-9)- I am not sure if I can say that the Panthers are going to regress, but more so the fact that the Falcons and Saints are going to improve. Head coach Ron Rivera has been able to keep the Panthers relevant for two straight seasons with two straight playoff appearances, but it only seemed like the reason being for this is that they had the least number of flaws. Cam Newton is an okay quarterback, but I feel that their defense is what really keeps things interesting with the Panthers. I see the Panthers holding up their end of the bargain, but it is not going to result in anything that we are not familiar with.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)- The Buccaneers will improve... in the way that they are not going to be the team that picks first in the 2016 NFL Draft unless they trade for that selection. I am not sure if quarterback Jameis Winston was the right selection at #1, which is what the forward drive for the team will come completely down to. The team does have a lot of potential or proven talent, so it will be a matter of getting things to click. In addition, it will be interesting to see how head coach Lovie Smith does in rejuvenating this team the way management expected when they brought him in to do so. I say this is going to be a rebuilding season for the team and 2016 will be where the Buccaneers need to prove that they are heading in the right direction.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers (11-5)- The loss of wide receiver Jordy Nelson is a bit of a stinger to their flawless offense, but I feel that with Aaron Rodgers, they can remain a flawless with names such as Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and the return of James Jones. The Packers seem to be the kind of team that have an offense that is as productive as any in the league and a defense that does what it needs to in order to hold off its opposition. While the defense has been questioned time and time again, Clay Matthews and crew seem to remain useful, while defensive coordinator Dom Capers is exactly in his element. It is hard to believe that Mike McCarthy is just one of four head coaches that has been with the same team for ten consecutive seasons or more.

Minnesota Vikings (10-6)- I believe the Vikings will be the dark horse team this season and rightfully so. Running back Adrian Peterson will be returning, which will really boost the team's running game, especially since Peterson truly has something to prove. At the same time, it will be interesting to see how quarterback Teddy Bridgewater evolves in his second season with the team, especially with wide receivers that include Mike Wallace, who came to the team through free agency. Mike Zimmer has done a remarkable job instilling discipline to this team and assuring that things will be going down exactly the way he feels they should, including a statement about Adrian Peterson either playing for them or for nobody when asked about letting him go. Also in their element is offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who has proven that he could do remarkable things with offenses and it will be something to see if he could do with the Vikings like he has done before with the Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s.

Chicago Bears (8-8)- The Bears simply crumbled under the lack of overall leadership Marc Trestman brought forth to this team, but I feel that it will be a different story under John Fox. While a lot of Fox's immediate success with the Broncos had to do with the massive talent he had with the team, he has also proven that he can coach and do so effectively. I feel that the Bears will return to being a .500 team and possibly reach even further as seasons go by. The question will be whether or not this will be done with quarterback Jay Cutler or with someone else that suits the team a bit better. The coordinators are also excellent selections. After mediocre selections with Aaron Kromer and Mel Tucker as offensive and defensive coordinator respectively, Fox has brought Adam Gase along to be his offensive coordinator and Vic Fangio from the 49ers to be his defensive coordinator. I hold a great deal of confidence that the Bears will become the powerhouse that they once were, but it may take a season or two and possibly a decision regarding the quarterback.

Detroit Lions (5-11)- I just have that feeling that the Lions are not going to have the season they had last time around and are bound to regress. There has been a lack of consistency with their ability to win games, even if Matthew Stafford has proven to be a great quarterback and Calvin Johnson has proven to be a top of the line wide receiver. In addition, Joe Lombardi (offensive coordinator) and Teryl Austin (defensive coordinator) has proven to be future head coaching nominees, which I feel is what this season is going to come down to. If for some reason the Lions make the playoffs (which I am not predicting), both of these men deserve consideration for the nomination, because it will reflect their ability to make something consistent out of the team (one that only made the playoffs twice in the 21st century).

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks (12-4)- The Seahawks are and will remain a team to be reckoned with at home, in their division, in the NFC, and throughout the league. After winning the Super Bowl in the 2013 season, they came quite close during the 2014 campaign. Now, they have many of their stars intact (Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, etc.) plus acquired some free agents, most notably Jimmy Graham from the Saints. It seems like this team is not missing a beat and will continue not missing a beat as long as things continue to flow the way they do. Russell Wilson is also the kind of player that has a sense of longevity in him as a runner, but can also convert into being a passer if need be, not falling into the class of Michael Vick, RGIII, Tim Tebow, or Johnny Manziel. The Seahawks generation have also produced head coaches in defensive coordinators in Gus Bradley (of the Jaguars) and Dan Quinn (of the Falcons). I expect the same to be said about offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Kris Richard (new to his position), but most notably offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable, who previously coached the Raiders and did a relatively decent job keeping them relevant (he bought them to 8-8 before not coming up with a contract to stay). Cable should definitely pick up a job for a team that looks hopeless (five wins or less on average) and see what he can do with turning them around. As far as the Seahawks are concerned, though, they have all of the pieces to go all the way!

Arizona Cardinals (10-6)- Bruce Arians is perhaps the most important head coach in the league. Since arriving with the team, he went 10-6 in his first season, barely missing the playoffs and going 11-5 and reaching the playoffs last season with a third-string quarterback (in Ryan Lindley). Aside from being really well coached, the Cardinals also benefited immensely by a rejuvenation in their defense, led by now Jets head coach Todd Bowles. At this point in time, they did not lose too much and all they have left are gains. Carson Palmer is bound to start this season and if he can complete the season and do so to the best of his ability, the Cardinals are going to finish where they left off and exceed those expectations. It will be really exciting to see how far this team can really go!

St. Louis Rams (8-8)- This team is bound to show improvement. I am not sure if they are playoff caliber, but I can say that they definitely have what it takes to reach and maybe exceed .500. The formula that Jeff Fisher put together with this team looks like that it is ready to click and whether they make it or not, the fact that this team shows upward progress should be the key focus for this team. Before Fisher, this team was going nowhere, but if they stick with his plan, I am sure they will at least contend as a wildcard come 2016. The addition of Nick Foles also proves to be a great help, for his immediate reliability should really allow the team to get things rolling quickly, which is key for the Rams. He also has an overlooked batch of receivers to throw to and a defense that will be beastly, operated by the eccentric Gregg Williams. If things click for the Rams, this is going to be the best Rams team in the last ten years!

San Francisco 49ers (4-12)- I believe that the 49ers are going to regress. They lost Jim Harbaugh at the head coaching position, followed by running back Frank Gore to the Colts and linebacker Patrick Willis to retirement. They still have Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and Vernon Davis at tight end, but the leadership lags in comparison to what they had before. Jim Tomsula is perhaps the management's opportunity to have more say on the team's choices, because I would have taken Mike Shanahan, who coordinated the offense on this team during their 1994 Super Bowl run, to have one more chance to prove that he is the coach that he was when he coached the Broncos. I am not totally bought on Geep Chryst as offensive coordinator and while Eric Mangini did a good job when he worked with the Patriots defense, I remember him most for being an ineffective head coach. Perhaps something will come out of this team, but I can only see steps backward for this team in what will be a very intense division in which the three other teams will be making great efforts and have the momentum and pieces to do so.



1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. New England Patriots
4. Denver Broncos
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Buffalo Bills


1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Green Bay Packers
3. New York Giants
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Arizona Cardinals
6. Minnesota Vikings


Bills beat Patriots, 26-24
Broncos beat Chiefs, 38-13
Giants beat Vikings, 22-16
Cardinals beat Falcons, 17-7


Colts beat Bills, 31-9
Broncos beat Ravens, 24-21 OT
Seahawks beat Cardinals, 34-27
Packers beat Giants, 35-21

AFC Championship

Colts beat Broncos, 55-42

NFC Championship

Seahawks beat Packers, 31-28

Super Bowl 50

Seahawks beat Colts, 41-27

So here you have it! I am predicting that the Seahawks will be back and they will have their eye on the Super Bowl. This 50th Super Bowl is going to be noteworthy either way, but I feel that the Seahawks are a hot team that possesses a consistency that they will keep for the next decade. The Colts are a team that has gradually gotten better since head coach Chuck Pagano took the reigns and Andrew Luck became the quarterback. I see them being the most dominant team during the regular season and I feel that they have what it takes to participate in the Super Bowl. As for my other explanations with the playoffs, I do think that Rex Ryan is going to shock people and come back with a fierce entry, eating away at an opponent he only knows too well. The Bills will just have to hope that Rex Ryan came bring a winning trend to the team, unlike his performance with the Jets during his last four seasons there. Either way, this is going to be a football season filled with excitement and possess a giant splash for the fans and I am sure they will enjoy every bit of it. I am sure I will! All there is left is to do is get ready for the season, for it is on its way!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Review: "2001- A Space Odyssey" by Arthur C. Clarke (Featuring Kathryn)


Science fiction is often described as having three masters in the genre: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke has often been named the greatest among them all and 2001: A Space Odyssey has been deemed his most notable work. Clarke wrote this novel with noteworthy director Stanley Kubrick, who would go on to direct the film version of this novel. The film was actually released first, but the novel came out soon after, but only credited Clarke. While most individuals know about the film more than they do the book, there is so much that can be taken after reading Clarke's impression on the world around him.

I will be reviewing the book, but since I have been looking to engage in some more collaborations in the form of casual discussions, I will be doing just that for this. Everyone I collaborated with before was from my home state of New Jersey and I have met them in person before collaborating. Today, I am collaborating with someone I met on Booktube. Since launching Literary Gladiators last year, I have had the great pleasure to interact with people from the Booktube community and I have nothing but nice things to say about all of them. One of my favorite channels is one that I was introduced to as On The Read, featuring two intelligent girls named Kathryn and Shannon from Great Britain. They film reviews, book hauls, wrap-ups, and anything else you could think of. This summer, due to conflicting schedules, they had to split the channel and Shannon took over. Nevertheless, it continues to be a great watch!

Today, though, I have one of my favorite people that I met from the Booktube community to talk about 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kathryn, it is a pleasure and an honor to be able to discuss this novel with you today!


Thanks Josh! Your introduction induced a twinge of sadness at my not being an active Booktuber any more - who knows, maybe this discussion will get me inspired again!

It's great to have the opportunity to discuss literature with someone who wants to say more than 'I liked it', and I think 2001 is a perfect novel for digging into the literary depths. It's an honor for me to be featured on Caponomics too, and I hope your readers enjoy what we come up with.


I, too, miss watching you on Booktube and feel a bit of sadness. However, I am sure that you will be back in no time as either a blogger or on a new channel! I hope my followers and others enjoy our discussion and I am sure that I will saying more than "I liked it." I can promise you that!

Would you like to provide us with a brief summary of the novel?


For the readers who haven't come across 2001: A Space Odyssey yet, you will most likely already know this is a sci-fi novel. So, let me get straight into a plot summary.

We start on Earth, but not as we would recognize it today. Post-dinosaur extinction, the beginnings of mankind are going about the process of evolving into the modern homo sapiens. Through Moon-Watcher's eyes (a 'man-ape'), we see a mysterious rectangular object - a monolith - interrupt the monotonous life on Earth.

Fast forward to the age of space exploration, and another mysterious discovery is made - this time on the moon. I certainly don't want to spoil the novel completely for new readers, so I won't reveal too much. What I can say, however, is that the narrative soon jumps to life onboard the spaceship 'Discovery', captained and operated by David Bowman, Frank Poole, and their omnipresent AI companion, Hal, a HAL 9000 computer. Their mission: Saturn.

When unusual, sinister happenings begin to occur onboard 'Discovery', Bowman begins to question the role and motives of the AI that is responsible for the lives of him and his crew, eventually leading him to make discoveries about the universe that no scientist back on Earth could ever have predicted. One of mankind's most pondered questions is brought to the fore: are we alone in the universe?


I really think that Clarke does an outstanding job describing the universe around him, because we have difficulty realizing... or more so just accepting... that all we really are is a grain of substance in a universe that is so greater and, if you are listening to Clarke's argument, more naturalistic. I took an Astronomy class during college and my instructor brought up some interesting points, including humanity making up such a short period of time in the "calendar year of time" and what living organisms really are.

It is just so fitting to begin with life before the Common Era, but after the reign of the dinosaurs. In Primeval Night, the first part of the novel, he comes to the conclusion that it is our "genius" that leads to our extinction. This "road to extinction" featured on the first page begins with the realization that man has the opportunity to advance by taking its resources to use in their favor. This is shown clearest when Moon-Watcher took pride in killing the leopard.

The most fascinating thing about this novel, in my mind, is not necessarily the universal discoveries, but that of human nature and the flaws that make up what is often seen as the greatest creature. It is just so spectacular that man does what he can to inflict his power onto the computer. Little does man know that with all of the good traits that come with a computer that can think for itself come those other traits that make it hungry for power. At the same time, they do not possess the physical incentives that humans desire most.


I totally agree. It can be scary if you truly start to think about the so-called insignificance of humanity and our lifespans in particular. But I have always found it oddly comforting to know that this universe we belong to is capable of so much more; it always has been, and will be, for a length of time that we cannot comprehend. In my reading, I felt that this sentiment is what Clarke was trying to express in 2001. The ending of the novel, and the transcendence of human reality, captures this in a way that truly pushes the reader's imagination.

I actually found Moon-Watcher's delight in the discovery of a carnivorous diet somewhat repulsive! Maybe that is because I personally am vegan, but on a deeper level, it was the discovery of killing that haunted me. When Moon-Watcher realizes his physical power, and sees how he can assert it over the other tribe of man-apes, the social commentary really stands out. Clarke's ability to write on these themes without overtly passing judgment is great; he highlights them enough for the reader to form their own opinions, without authorial intention dominating their interpretation.

Artificial Intelligence is certainly a hot topic at the moment. With some scientists, such as Stephen Hawking, warning that AI has the potential to overtake humanity, it's amazing to reflect upon the fact this novel was first published in 1968. Hal certainly isn't posited as an 'enemy' to begin with; in fact, the respect and friendliness exchanged between human and computer borders on eerie unnaturalness.


There are three more books that make up this series, beginning with one that is set in 2010. Either way, though, I felt there was a statement that was being made with how the novel ended.

I believe the leopard was seen as a resource, which is unfortunate, but it demonstrated that humanity would begin advancing himself into a more carnivorous diet and that it would begin to eliminate its many resources... or the lives in general. Several species of leopards have since been placed on the endangered species list, which is a very eerie prediction made by Clarke through his choice of animal. I am not a vegan, but the idea of hunting to obtain food was painted quite boldly. It is just incredible how this can be traced as the beginning to a species and its pursuit for power and dominance.

Artificial Intelligence is clearly taking over. It starts off as an object of desire, progresses into something so spectacular, and is turning into and will become something that human's will be dependent on. Without it, humanity will be unable to function. The only mode of prevention is to find alternate activities and ways of life without the use of electronics (contradictory given our discussion, but we still engage in non-electronic activities). Back to this story, Hal is meant to serve humanity by engaging in human tasks and thinking like a human. As a servant, computers can overtake humans, because they do not fancy income. On the other hand, if they think like a human and do not need the human resources to function, they can come together with the needs to overtake them and have nothing to lose. It is really creepy!

As for what I thought of this novel, the futuristic world that Arthur C. Clarke puts together is brilliant. I really got a lot out of his commentary on human nature, where he believed human extinction began, and some of the results to a world dominated by Artificial Intelligence. My criticism lies in the basic substance that makes up the novel. I do not feel there is much character development and I only felt the humans were there to serve the purpose as being a species in pursuit of something greater. We know what they are leaving behind, but do not feel a lot of their emotion. I may also sound like a tough customer when I say that I wish Hal got some more time in the book.


I hadn't thought about the leopard in that respect - another example of Clarke's creepy accuracy!

Whilst I had 2001 on the go, I decided to watch the film 'Ex Machina', released just this year, which also focuses on AI's place amongst humans. I was intrigued because of the similar themes with 2001, and although they are obviously very different in terms of plot and characterization, it was interesting to see an up-to-the-minute take on the issues Clarke addressed. As you have pointed out, Josh, our growing dependency on technology is already alarming.

Bowman's courage in the face of pure, open space is admirable, but I would agree that his emotional responses are somewhat limited. He dismisses his own hopes that he is not too far from home as 'childish'; I see this as an instinctual response. After all, the man-apes of the first section of the novel return each night to their cave dwellings, and Clarke has already demonstrated that, relatively speaking in the grand schemes of the universe, the human species has not moved so far from those times. Bowman becomes almost as (supposedly) passive as Hal!

Speaking of Hal, would you have liked to have felt his presence a little more directly in the narrative? Or just to have seen him engage more with the human characters?


I believe that if anything, I would have liked to have seen him engage more with the human characters. I believe we really get a good idea of who he is and how he possesses human traits. One example is that he is programmed to lose fifty percent of the games that he participates, so that his thought-process is a bit more reasonable. Going into the novel, I thought we were going to get a greater idea about how Artificial Intelligence was beginning to dominate humanity. Hal leaves his mark, but I thought he could have been more ferocious with what he wanted and all humanity would be able to blame is themselves. It makes sense that Bowman and Hal held similar emotions of denial, because they were meant to have the same development, but these flaws would allow the rest of this expedition to head forward.

I agree with your idea about instinct. Every animal has a strength and a weakness. For Homo sapiens, we really only pay attention to our strengths. We most certainly have our weaknesses, one of which being our instinctual response and the need to return home. Of course, we have the power to move from point A to point B, but there is this sense of what is "home" planted in our minds and we are willing to do what can be done to ease the pain that comes from distance. Even if it means stretching the truth.

I still felt that 2001: A Space Odyssey was a good book and one that I can recommend. I would rate it 8/10, because it could have been better developed with the dimension of the characters and the impact of Artificial Intelligence, but it excels at presenting what the world may very well become and how it was brought about by the humans themselves. It really does address an area that we tend to think about, but will now really think about after reading.


Hal's reticence was a little unexpected. I thought his 'enthusiasm for the mission' was a little vague as his motivation to mutiny. I too would have liked to see him engage with Bowman and Poole a little more. From what I can remember of Kubrick's version, Hal is more present and developed as a character, and certainly more sinister.

Bowman definitely lets go of his sense of 'home' fairly quickly, which I did not find entirely convincing. Maybe this was inspired by the hopelessness of the situation Clarke placed him in, but I suppose the answer lies with Clarke's authorial intention, which, if my degree in English has taught me anything, we cannot be sure of.

I think I'll be generous and give this novel a 9/10, largely for the fact it really blew me away in terms of the extent to which it made me think about those 'big questions' concerning humanity, the universe, etc. However I'm not well-read in the sci-fi genre, so I can't make comparisons; perhaps relative to other sci-fi novels I might not score this so highly - who knows? All in all though, I did thoroughly enjoy this read, and on a final literary note: Clarke's prose is eerily beautiful, and I found the structure of the novel to be expertly precise and readable. I would definitely recommend.


I suppose that it was Hal's presence in the movie that made me expect him to play a larger role in this novel. It is quite something how we bring authorial intent into the picture, for the authorial intent can be changed at any point in time. Being a writer, I have not even considered confirming certain details, for my intent was to leave it up to the reader to decide. Perhaps Clarke is doing the same here.

I think that I will agree with your final note regarding the beauty and how strangely beautiful Clarke's prose happens to be. This is exactly why he walks away as the legend that he is to science fiction. If you can make it through the many details, you should definitely get something out of this!

Kathryn, I want to thank you once again for taking time to participate in this discussion. I truly enjoy discussing books and literature with you and I really hope that your upcoming year at uni is a good one. I would definitely love to have you back on Caponomics and I really hope you make your way to blogging or back to vlogging as well.


I'm definitely going to re-watch the film just to compare. I may even pick up the next in Clarke's series, just to see where he takes the ideas of 2001.

It really has been fun to talk literature with you Josh, I'm glad you enjoyed it too. I would always be happy to take part in more discussions! I suppose on this occasion we can thank our technology for allowing us to connect and share our thoughts with not only each other, but your readers too. All the best with your Booktube channel and blog.


That is true. We have technology to thank for this spectacular discussion. Thank you so much for your kinds wishes as well!
You can find Kathryn's videos made with Shannon on the channel now known as Shannon Rose Reads. I encourage you to check all of these out, for everything that comes from this channel is so good! : Shannon Rose Reads Channel