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Reflections on Twenty-ten

I'm going to list the things that I've learned over the year, so that whenever I come back to this post, in case I forgot my lessons, I'd remember them with (hopefully) a smile (:
I will post something similar on my other blog, but since it's more personal, let's stick to the general points here and the personal ones there.

Reflections:
1- Patience (ongoing).
2- Not judge according to one side of the story.
3- Depression is not what we go through in our daily life (Check this post).
4- The things I have mentioned in the books reviews I have read this year, including the quotes. In other words, to read more!
5- Persistence is what will always keep us going.
6- At the end of the tunnel you'll find what you choose to see.
7- I have learned to live with my imperfections and try to fix what could be fixed.
8- To pray more. The feeling I get when I pray now is so much different than before..
9- It only takes a leap of courage to do it (:
10- Pain is an awfully good teacher to the "be stronger" lessons.
11- When you accept your end, you'll actually start to be even more positive than before!
12- Reading is an addiction that only the crazy will appreciate.
13- Friends, I keep learning that friends are the most dazzling gift Allah has given us.
14- At the hour of breakdown you will still remember the people who love you, and it will make you feel better.
15- You are never, ever, EVER...alone.
16- Nothing can stop you if you want to and can do it!
17- There are too many people who need your heart to sympathize with them, you do that and you'll be rewarded sooner or later.
18- Pretense sometimes is an awesome way to deal with whom you have no escape but to deal with.
19- Crying actually makes us stronger, on the long run though.
20- Love will never perish =)


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A totally random post





















The concept, I like it. Even though I would not find the exact word for each hour, it's fun.
Let's give it a shot: eight and eleven a.m are "nightmares or sudden awakening for no apparent reason" (just noticed this a moment ago btw). Nine and ten are "the deep sleep". Twelve is "the re-organizing-of thoughts". One and two are "imprisonment". Three and four are "preparation-for-salvation". Five is "ponder". Six is "Freedom". Seven is "indulging". Eight is the same as image, or shall I say, the climax. Nine is "blankness". Ten is "the wish upon tomorrow". Eleven is "stay with me". And twelve is "Tell me more".

I think that will make me reconsider how to use my hours more!
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"B"robability!



ya3ni bsra7a such creative ad =D Love the facial expressions haha.
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Dwell in thought..





























I thought this photo is breathtaking :)


"If you’re feeling frightened about what comes next… Don’t. Embrace the uncertainty. Allow it to lead you places. Be brave as it challenges you to exercise both your heart and your mind as you create your own path towards happiness. Don’t waste time with regret. Spin wildly into your next action. Enjoy the present - each moment as it comes - because you’ll never get another one quite like it. And if you should ever look up and find yourself lost, simply take a breath and start over. Retrace your steps and go back to the purest place in your heart, where your hope lives. You’ll find your way again…" -Julia Brown, Everwood


"Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen, And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears." -Khalil Gibran
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Lost Symbol [Full Review]






























Quoting
: "So many twists—all satisfying, most unexpected...Let's just say that if this novel doesn't get your pulse racing, you need to check your meds." —San Francicso Chronicle.

Spoiler Alert

Although this novel can be described in a thousand words, I can't find the exact words to describe it. From the very Prologue to the last chapter, it was deep-cave dark, mystifying. The twist and suspense were the main factors that kept me going. I loved so many things in this novel so I'll try as hard as possible to pen at least half of them.

Point: It felt so real that I could hardly tell I'm reading a sci-fi novel, I thought I was reading a pure science book. I got to learn so many things. Enlightenment!
Point: The end of each chapter provoked me to read another one even when I was too sleepy to concentrate, something triggered me to continue reading, and, with full attention.
Point: The symbols were so very well-chosen to perfectly serve the plot of the novel. I thought it was intelligent!
Point: I loved the fact that most of the science explained in this novel is actually real science, which proves that Brown is not just a novelist, he's way more than that.
Point: The history of the son was intriguing, it was...almost perfect for the novel.
Point: I now know more Latin words (YAY!) which is a language I've always wanted to learn, for some reason I still cannot figure out.
Point: Something I learned from this novel is to not take things literally as read, and to search for a thousand hidden meaning within one word. Which is also what poetry teaches me.

Some general points:
Point: At some point, I thought the novel was gory and outrageous, Mal'akh's parts, some descriptions were disgusting, especially the sexual ones. The description of him, however, was well enough to be pictured even by poor imagination.
Point: Some chapters were sort of lame for the suspense, because as a reader, and a regular Dan Brown reader (I'm not, I've only seen the movies Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons) you'd know that he would never kill the protagonist, Robert Langdon, even though the way he used science to prove the opposite I have to say was impressive.
Point: Sometimes I couldn't fathom the meanings of some words because of the intensity of the novel's plot that at first I thought of giving up on reading. And I actually have some parts that I didn't understand. I'm definitely googling some of them!

Things I learned from this novel:
* Some Noetic science facts.
* Stoicism.
* Total Liquid Ventilation.
* Rosicrucian Philosophy.
* The origin of many words such as Revelation.
* TGA (Thermal gravimetic analysis).
* Dura mater and Pia mater.

Some facts I liked:

"Since the days of Michelangelo, sculptors had been hiding the flaws in their work by smearing hot wax and then dabbing the wax with stone dust. The method was considered cheating, and therefore, any sculpture without wax—literally sine cera— was considered a "sincere" piece of art. The phrase stuck. To this day we still sign our letters "sincerely" as a promise that we have written "without wax" and that our words are true."

"Robert Langdon had often heard it said that an animal, when cornered, was capable of miraculous feats of strength. Nonetheless, when he threw his full force into the underside of his crate, nothing budged at all."

"Perhaps you've heard about the brain scans taken for yogis while they meditate? The human brain, in advanced states of focus, will physically create a waxlike substance from the pineal gland. This brain secretion is unlike anything else in the body. It has an incredible healing effect, can literally regenerate cells, and may be one of the reasons yogis live so long. The substance has inconceivable properties and can be created only by a mind that is highly tuned to a deeply focused state"

"If I hand you a violin and say you have the capability to use it to make incredible music, I am not lying. You do have the capability, but you'll need enormous amounts of practice to manifest it. This is no different from learning to use your mind, Robert. Well-directed thought is a learned skill. To manifest an intention requires a laser-like focus, full sensory visualisation, and a profound belief"


Some Quotes to remember:

"If enough people begin thinking the same thing, then the gravitational force of that thought becomes tangible"

"Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity"

"I beg you to remember that wealth without wisdom can often end in disaster"

"If the infinite had not desired man to be wise, he would not have bestowed upon him the faculty of knowing" Philosopher Manly P.Hall.


Final note: I would not recommend this novel to anyone, only the people I know who are wise enough to fathom the info in it the way it is, some parts were just too dark for say a beginner reader, or an innocent mind. Unless, they'll take it as just a book.
So if you're familiar with conspiracy theories and theorists, go for it!
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On Appreciation

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create —so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating." -Pearl S. Buck


"Who has never killed an hour? Not casually or without thought, but carefully: a premeditated murder of minutes. The violence comes from a combination of giving up, not caring, and a resignation that getting past it is all you can hope to accomplish. So you kill the hour. You do not work, you do not read, you do not daydream. If you sleep it is not because you need to sleep. And when at last it is over, there is no evidence: no weapon, no blood, and no body. The only clue might be the shadows beneath your eyes or a terribly thin line near the corner of your mouth indicating something has been suffered, that in the privacy of your life you have lost something and the loss is too empty to share." -Mark Z. Danielewski
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It's not JUST Déjà Vu!

Dutch psychiatrist Hermon Sno proposed the idea that memories are like holograms, meaning that you can recreate the entire three-dimensional image from any fragment of the whole. The smaller the fragment, however, the fuzzier the ultimate picture. Déjà vu, he says, happens when some detail in the environment we are currently in (a sight, sound, smell, et cetera) is similar to some remnant of a memory of our past and our brain recreates an entire scene from that fragment.


Below are names for some of the many ways in which the déjà experience may manifest:

* déjà entendu - already heard
* déjà éprouvé - already experienced
* déjà fait - already done
* déjà pensé - already thought
* déjà raconté - already recounted
* déjà senti - already felt, smelt
* déjà su - already known (intellectually)
* déjà trouvé - already found (met)
* déjà vécu - already lived
* déjà voulu - already desired

Neppe (in conjunction with Prof. B. G. Rogers, Professor of French, University of the Witwatersrand) in 1981 suggested the following additional terms:

* déjà arrivé - already happened
* déjà connu - already known (personal knowing)
* déjà dit - already said/spoken (content of speech)
* déjà gouté - already tasted
* déjà lu - already read
* déjà parlé - already spoken (act of speech)
* déjà pressenti - already sensed
* déjà rencontré - already met
* déjà rêvé - already dreamt
* déjà visité - already visited

Déjà rencontré appears preferable to déjà trouvé for the already met experience because it specifically relates to interpersonal situations.


-Source: How Stuff Works.

Blogger note: I must say I don't pay attention to the type of the experience. Now I shall do!
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Planning Fallacy





























The Planning fallacy is the tendency to underestimate the time needed to complete tasks. The planning fallacy actually stems from another error, The Optimism Bias, which is the tendency for individuals to be overly positive about the outcome of planned actions. People are more susceptible to the planning fallacy when the task is something they have never done before. The reason for this is because we estimate based on past experiences. For example, if I asked you how long it takes you to grocery shop, you will consider how long it has taken you in the past, and you will have a reasonable answer. If I ask you how long it will take you to do something you have never done before, like completing a thesis or climbing Mount Everest, you have no experience to reference, and because of your inherent optimism, you will guesstimate less time than you really need. To help you with this fallacy, remember Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

Interesting Fact: “Realistic pessimism” is a phenomenon where depressed or overly pessimistic people more accurately predict task completion estimations.


Source: Listverse again!

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And..this feeling..

"No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.
Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day.
This is all practice"
... Chuck Palahniuk.
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On the True Self..








"Even now I’m not really sure which parts of myself are real and which parts are things I’ve gotten from books."
... Go Ask Alice, Anonymous


















"The hardest thing is facing yourself. It’s easier to shout ‘revolution’ and ‘power to the people’ than it is to look at yourself and try and find out what’s real inside you and what isn’t when you pull the wool over your own eyes. Your own hypocrisy, that’s the hardest thing, and that’s what I’m involved in."
... John Lennon





Source: I took a deep breath
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Do not stand at my grave and weep

This is one of the poems that resemble the beauty in meaningful simplicity. I just love it.

By Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
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Inscription on a Tomb- Jorge Borges

"Let not the rash marble risk
garrulous breaches of oblivion's omnipotence,
in many words recalling
name, renown, events, birthplace.
All those glass jewels are best left in the dark.
Let not the marble say what men do not.
The essentials of the dead man's life--
the trembling hope,
the implacable miracle of pain, the wonder of sensual delight--
will abide forever.
Blindly the uncertain soul asks to continue
when it is the lives of others that will make that happen,
as you yourself are the mirror and image
of those who did not live as long as you
and others will be (and are) your immortality on earth."

— Jorge Luis Borges
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Pareidolia





















Pareidolia is when random images or sounds are perceived as significant. Seeing clouds in the shapes of dinosaurs, Jesus on a hot pocket, or hearing messages when a record is played backward are common examples of pareidolia. The common element is that the stimulus is neutral, it does not have intentional meaning; the meaning is in the viewer’s perception.


Note: This gets funnier when they mess up your mind to awaken the pervert side of you. [Bam, this sucks!]
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You Who Never Arrived-Rainer Maria Rilke

I love this poem..

[ You Who Never Arrived ]


You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods--
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.


You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced
upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back
my too-sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
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Like the Gentle Wind..

"Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life." — Bob Marley
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Availability Heuristic






















The availability heuristic is a phenomenon (which can result in a cognitive bias) in which people predict the frequency of an event, or a proportion within a population, based on how easily an example can be brought to mind.
This phenomenon was first reported by psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, who also identified the representativeness heuristic. To see how availability differs from related terms vividness and salience, see availability, salience and vividness.

The Availability heuristic is gauging what is more likely based on vivid memories. The problem is individuals tend to remember unusual events more than everyday, commonplace events. For example, airplane crashes receive lots of national media coverage. Fatal car crashes do not. However, more people are afraid of flying than driving a car, even though statistically airplane travel is safer. Media coverage feeds into this bias; because rare or unusual events such as medical errors, animal attacks and natural disasters are highly publicized, people perceive these events as having a higher probability of happening.

Source: Listverse and Wiki.
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Inner World

"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe."
Neil Gaiman.

Question is: How brave are you to show this world to people around you?
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The Nevers!


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Modern Reading Habits!

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Inspired by Life

I created this list to basically inspire me, you and everyone and to tell those who feel bad about their lives that you just need to ponder more. You'll find at least one thing in common, make sure to smile while reading 3shan aksab thawab =D

The best things in life:
1- A warm cup of tea/coffee/cocoa with an inspiration-soaked heart.
2- A phone call from an old friend, expressing how much they have missed you, and you forgiving that person with honest understanding.
3- A morning text message from a loved one (be it a relative, a friend or a lover).
4- Finding the book you've been looking for, in your favorite bookstore.
5- Getting a job and being wholeheartedly appreciated.
6- A friend telling you "I understand" when they really do.
7- A mother's hug.
8- Long walks at dusk/dawn even while badly wanting some rest.
9- A random song with your mood all over it.
10- Prayers answered at the last minutes.
11- Petrichor (The scent of rain on dry earth).
12- The feeling you get right after finishing a book/novel.
13- Being told beautiful (from the inside).
14- The willingness to forgive.
15- Reviving a dead rose (Metaphorically).
16- A smile from deep within.
17- Looking at a couple from afar and knowing that they truly are in love.
18- The first payment after a long, tiring month at work.
19- Singing your favorite childish songs/finding your old box stuffed and breathing innocence.
20- An in-depth conversation.
21- A silent look that expresses a thousand words.
22- A letter from someone you've never met and will probably never do.
23- Being deadly tired after an awesomely spent day.
24- A comeback after a period of complete dormancy.
25- Being strong enough to let go.
26- Accepting the end.


And...The feeling I got while writing this (=
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When quotes shape your life!

Couple of good quotes:

“People think depression is about being sad. They think it’s just when you ‘feel down’. It’s not. It’s like a darkness that creeps over you and fills you. It drains all your emotions. It takes everything from you, and leaves you feeling hollow and numb. It’s not sadness, it’s not anger, it’s hopelessness. Imagine waking up and there being no colour. Walking outside and feeling no wind. Eating a meal and tasting nothing. Holding somone and feeling completely alone at the same time. When you’re depressed, it’s not a bad mood. It’s a numb, empty, hollowness that seems to never leave. It’s feeling alone in a room full of people. You feel like there’s no hope left.”
Source: A blogger friend

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
— Apple Inc.
Source: Goodreads
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Entry #3

Quote:
"Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you" --Aldous Huxley
Source: Aphids

Topic:
Should statements (Cognitive distortion): Patterns of thought which imply the way things "should" or "ought to be" rather than the actual situation the patient is faced with, or having rigid rules which the patient believes will "always apply" no matter what the circumstances are.
Source: Wikipedia.
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Entry #2

Quote:
"People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past."
-Milan Kundera

Shorty:
What is it that takes you to really learn?

Site to check:
The Future of Our World

Quotage:


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Wisdom, Captured


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Varied Entry #1

Quote:
"The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours." -Alan Bennett

Site to check:
PetaPixel

Wikindom:
Phatic: In linguistics, it is an expression whose only function is to perform a social task, as opposed to conveying information.
Example: the question "how are you?" is usually an automatic component of a social encounter. Although there are times when "how are you?" is asked in a sincere, concerned manner, needs to be pragmatically inferred from context and intonation.
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Broken April (Full Review)

(Yes yes Finally a book review hehe)

The plot: I can't really argue on this much, because everyone who read the novel agreed that the story itself is disturbing and dark, yet strangely captivating to the reader.
Briefly, the human life in this novel is naught, more than naught, though the idea of being killed because you killed would seem fair. Vengeance, the bessa*, the Kanun**..all these are things Kadare knew pretty well how to use. The idea of vengeance itself wasn't new to me, nor to anyone I guess, but the extinction of families was!

Gjorg: The protagonist: I guess the author likes to give life to loads of mysteriousness in his protagonists; the calmness, the serenity, yet the clarity of his case to be so. However, I wasn't drawn by his personality like the protagonists of other novels for Kadare.
The characters of this novel seriously confused me! Diana, Bessian. Ali Binak..all of them had a fateful touch of mysteriousness.

Language and Metaphors:The language was pretty simple and clear, I didn't have much difficulty, I remember I had more difficulty reading Chronicle in Stone than this one. No points raised on this.
The metaphors are undoubtedly the thing I enjoyed the most in this novel. I enjoyed every description, even harsh ones, he put beauty in ugly things very poetically.
I loved the description of April breaking and relinquishing the short life of Gjorg, the description of the old woman talking, how he described the dirt coming from her mouth, it was ugly yet beautiful.

Quotes:
Not much to mention here, a crazy novel would not really withstand wisdom, but here are some descriptions that I found lovely to pen:

"We're entering the shadow-land. The place where the laws of death prevail over the laws of life"

"That fragments of sleep tried to fill in disorder, as a few stars try to people a dark autumn sky"

"It remained there, at his very center, a lost jewel in whose making all the light of the world had been consumed"






















*The pledged word, faith, truth.
**The law
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Ponder this!

L'esprit de l'escalier :
Thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late.
The phenomenon is usually accompanied by a feeling of regret at not having thought of it when it was most needed or suitable.

Source: Wiki
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Imagination means Responsibility

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." -Benjamin Franklin
Being a reader, I thought writers were so very lucky, they got the whole dictionary of feelings and sentiments in their own hands, striving to create, from their imagination, into the real world, an image that comes to life as the reader goes by. But being a writer, I envied readers, because they take what I never took, each time they read something they thought they understood in a way, next time the interpretation will most probably differ, while mine..it stays the same. However, I carry the responsibility of writing what I am writing, now, and every single day I write, and if you think about it..it's applicable to every kind of art.
You can never really run away from responsibility, if you want to be an artist, you have to be responsible because the whole world will be watching you; scrutinizing, criticizing, doing everything they can to find your flaws-oh and you thought it was easy!
What's written never really dies with time unless you choose to kill it with your own weakness..but once it had its effect on somebody-and I mean negative effect-know that YOU are the one carrying this burden. I'm often picky when it comes to writing, especially articles, because whenever I want to waste someone's precious time on reading, it should be worth it, at least the idea, even if I'm the ugliest writer in the whole world.
Most people in our society think artists are dreamy, unreasonable and idealist. Despite the fact that all artists search for perfection and immortality-or at least most of them-if you're not being dreamy, you're not being reasonable; it only means you're unimaginative and ungifted, and we all know everyone's gifted until they stop to think.
Bottom line is: If you want to be gifted, you have to be responsible, every beautiful thing can get ugly because you never knew how to take full advantage of it, and your gift isn't yours, don't be selfish for it all will come down on you. Speak to the world while you create!
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What happens with the Naive

Those little wishes when we were kids, like dreaming of getting married, getting a job- which to most of us was a doctor- and basically the wish to just 'grow up'.
I remember because Mums always used to give us one single and common reaction: a sigh followed by "We've also wanted that but took our wishes back when we did become grown-ups".
So, to get to the main point, some of us wanted this so that they'd get freedom, either of choice or of speech, or even both. Others wanted it to be able to understand things almost perfectly-I was of the latter. I wasn't extraordinary nor smart enough to even understand why I wanted this, maybe I wanted to feel smart though. I hated being naive and I've always hated asking questions, because like many of us thought, I didn't want to look dumb or stupid; I've always cared about how others saw me.
That wasn't the main reason though, I loved discovering things on my own, and feeling that I did something just GREAT! I loved the feeling of knowing something and thinking I was the first in the world to find out about it, I would often be disappointed, however, knowing it on my own always made me feel..something!
I hated being dependent, I hated it when someone told me new things and in my mind I'd go like "Oh, I never knew about that!". I wanted to find things on my own, getting information while you're sitting relaxed on your couch just sucks!
Being a kid to me was like being a bird in a cage, you're only allowed to see, but you cannot break free and get the explanations yourself. The world was what others have drawn to you, what others have implanted for you. And you..? You were just a bystander, a naive, innocent bystander.
I want to read this post years from now, smile and say "I thank you God for what you have granted me, and I shall live whatever phase completely".
I just don't want to be a kid again, I don't want to wish for a past, but a future yet to be.
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The Splendid Thief!

Few people do realize the difference between the art of stealing and plagiarism. For a starter, let me simply add that plagiarism, to whoever doesn't know, means stealing the works of an artist, whether a musician, a poet, a photographer or a painter.
Let's try to point out few factors that are perhaps causing this phenomenon to grow:
First and foremost, the Internet; one of the main drawbacks of the Internet is that you can find anything and everything you need online, it's like everything is provided, but nothing about the real author is given credit to.
Second, we have the withdrawal of the appreciation of art in some societies, that some people steal without knowing that stealing art is just like stealing money, it's worse; your ideas are spread with no credit, you're an astonishing, robbed artist. How poor is that?
In a better society, stealing art can get you sued. See? Think about it. Think about your likeness to the things you see, hear or read, they impress you, right? Think about the effort done in this.
I never realized how plagiarism would feel until I saw couple of my friends struggling to prove the ownership to their works. It pissed me off, as if I were the author, I read their work in other sites, given no name to, I could put myself in their shoes-if I did that, I'm going to feel raged!
However, the art of stealing isn't hard to master. It implies stealing but not stealing, taking ideas to inspire, making them your muse, only to help you. Or giving credit to things that need it-either way, the author must be named, even if unknown or forgotten to you, it's not hard to say "copied", "inspired" or even "stolen".
Whatever silly thing you do and publish online will get credit, even if you don't believe in it, and when it is plagiarized, you will love it, you will appreciate it, because after all you're the master of your own ideas.
Bottom line is, be a proud, splendid thief!
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I Breathe Writing!

I'm writing. I'm writing like a crazy writer who is overflowing with muse, who writes like tomorrow is not coming, as if I need to tell the world the things that matter, and the things that don't.
I write because I want to, not because I have something to say-and wisdom only comes as I go by. Because I believe a pen is mightier than a sword. Because, life? I can portray it in the emotions I write with, and the words I spell. I can create something right now that will change the world, and if I want to, I will, I can, because I believe!
Words are my best friend, they run in my veins like blood, rushing so hard at times of inspiration, and at times of writers' block they're still there, assuring me that there's always muse to come, I just need to open up my heart so that my blood will be flowing again with powerful words. Even words that resemble silence and stillness speak to me more powerfully than words that resemble destruction and misery.
I write because I believe in Charles Peguy's words: A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.
I write as if I sing, as if I paint, as if I live..I breathe words that only resemble me.
I write because I'm alive, and I'm alive...because I write!
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Able Was I!

I found this to be pretty damn smart!


One French Republican, by writing and analyzing, has produced the following:–












Which, being arranged in the form of a sentence, gives,

"Napoleon on o leon leon eon apoleon poleon"–which is the Greek for

"Napoleon, being the lion of the people, was marching on, destroying the cities!"

– Appleton Morgan, Macaronic Poetry, 1872

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Between bottled water and tap water

Ever since the phenomenon of the Dasani bottled water was on, I actually started suspecting, but not because of the water, because of the bottle itself. Plastic bottles are usually not healthy when used a lot, since many of them are actually recycled. So anyway the question is on: Bottled water or tap water?


Here's the article I found online about both..


Bottled water does not contain any harmful chemicals, but some people (especially environmentalists) are wondering if the production process puts unnecessary strain on the world resources. That’s because bottled water production uses a lot of fossil fuels. The bottle is made of plastic, which must be melted at a high temperature (using machines powered by electricity or gas) and then once it has been filled, it must be delivered (a process that once again relies on fossil fuels. Many bottled water cases are also made of plastic wrap and cardboard which help prevent the contents from being crushed or developing leaks during the transportation process.

Furthermore, the plastic bottles are often discarded and are rarely sent to recycling centers. So there are millions of plastic water bottles that are left in landfills, or even more sadly, thrown into the oceans and rivers by trekkers or vacationers. Like most plastics these bottles take a long time to degrade and will often release toxic fumes.

Environmentalists feel that this is an environmental hazard that can be completely avoided if people did not buy into the marketing myths sold to them by manufacturers, who claim that their water is safer and better than what people would get from the tap. However tests show that whether the water was from some Swiss spring or from the faucet in the kitchen there is hardly any difference in the taste or the quality. Tap water is also very safe because groups like the Environmental Protection Agency have strict rules about water safety and they make sure that water treatment plants are regularly tested.

Source: Brainz
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If you hate reading, Read this!

Few days ago I was talking with a friend about people who hate reading; it's just so sad that some people prefer going out with friends and receive more fun than to read a book and learn how to give and inspire others.
So, I picked some reasons that would make you indulge with the world of readers:

1) The smell of a book to a reader is like the smell of the rain to a dancer.
G.R Gissing said: "I know every book of mine by its smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things. "

2) A book is about words and emotions: words are for the brain and emotions are for the heart. It will teach you how to use your brain once, but never neglect your heart's desires.

3) At least there is one beautiful idea, in every book, that needs to be spread, if you want to change the world, a book is one of your guides to it!

4) If you find relish in reading, you'll find relish in writing (Of course if you try).

5) A book teaches you to look into the details of everything, be it ugly or beautiful. It will teach you to describe every tiny thing in the world, with a thousand words.

6) It will also teach you how to look at the big picture. E.g if it's a novel, the descriptions of the protagonist, the eyes, the walk, the body figure, the attitude and etc. will help you visualize the character, each person according to their imagination.

7) If a book resembled a part of your life, be it bad or good, your one thought will be "I'm not alone".

8) Buying an expensive book will force you to read it, and you'll gradually fall in love with it, and finally learn the beauty of spending money on things other than technology.

9) It's the most useful hobby that will broaden your imagination and the way you look at the world around you.

10) And finally, sharing a good book is like sharing your life's lessons written on paper, by someone else, who doesn't know about you, but who somehow felt the same way you did while writing.

Remember this: "Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. "
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Here's something to remember

I'm here to talk about the Gulf War and the Depleted Uranium Effect, so for a starter:
"To be exposed to radiation from uranium, you have to eat, drink, or breathe it, or get it on your skin."

I don't know why but I really want to talk about this issue, that has been long, long forgotten.
I don't know why do we, Egyptians, hate Iraqi people that much, if it's for something then it's because we're shallow and could never be more superficial. How can you even say these words "ya 3am da America 7alal feehom"..? I mean..what?? Are you by any means serious?
Okay here's a thing: We're on the borders with Palestine..when was the last time we sent them aids? Did we ever try? Look at what people are calling us. Karma is always there you know!
Let's take this Iraqi issue as briefly as possible :
1-Effect of Uranium:
Normal functioning of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, and numerous other systems can be affected by uranium exposure, because in addition to being weakly radioactive, uranium is a toxic metal.
That's in addition to causing cancer, vomiting, diarrhea, albuminuria, chronic fatigue, rash, ear and eye infections, hair and weight loss, cough. May be due to combined chemical exposure rather than DU alone.
Worst of all: DU remains radioactive for about 4.5 billion years.

2-Consequences of the war:
  • On May 2002, 159,238 veterans have been awarded service-connected disability by the Department of Veterans Affairs for health effects collectively known as the Gulf War Syndrome.
  • There were photos of infants born without brains, with their internal organs outside their bodies, without sexual organs, without spines, and the list of deformities went on and on. There also were photos of cancer patients.

Take a look..
  • Cancer has increased dramatically in southern Iraq. In 1988, 34 people died of cancer; in 1998, 450 died of cancer; in 2001 there were 603 cancer deaths. Boys and girls were suffering from leukemia. Most of the children die, the doctors said, because there are insufficient drugs available for their treatment.
3- Geneva Convention and International Humanitarian Law:

  • The fourth Geneva Convention affords protection to civilians, including in occupied territory.
(The bulk of the Convention deals with the status and treatment of protected persons, distinguishing between the situation of foreigners on the territory of one of the parties to the conflict and that of civilians in occupied territory. It spells out the obligations of the Occupying Power vis-à-vis the civilian population and contains detailed provisions on humanitarian relief for populations in occupied territory)

International Humanitarian Law:
  • A lawyer with the International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project said: there are four rules derived from all of humanitarian law regarding weapons:
  1. Weapons may only be used in the legal field of battle, defined as legal military targets of the enemy in war. Weapons may not have an adverse effect off the legal field of battle.
  2. Weapons can only be used for the duration of an armed conflict. A weapon that is used or continues to act after the war is over violates this criterion.
  3. Weapons may not be unduly inhumane.
  4. Weapons may not have an unduly negative effect on the natural environment.

"Depleted uranium fails all four of these rules."



And here is the map of the places of DU testing, victims and misuse.
And lastly:
  • "The cause of all of these cancers and deformities remains theoretical because we can't confirm the presence of uranium in tissue or urine with the equipment we have." Said a British-trained oncologist in Iraq.
So do you really want to remember something? There are a thousand forgotten casualties on our Earth.
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End War?

Here's something I couldn't actually fathom, nor does it convince me. But it's quite interesting that someone had all this hatred for war.
Check it out..a little long but very intriguing!

Tesla inherited from his father a deep hatred of war. Throughout his life, he sought a technological way to end warfare. He thought that war could be converted into, "a mere spectacle of machines."

In 1931 Tesla announced to reporters at a press conference that he was on the verge of discovering an entirely new source of energy. Asked to explain the nature of the power, he replied, "The idea first came upon me as a tremendous shock... I can only say at this time that it will come from an entirely new and unsuspected source."

War clouds were again darkening Europe. On 11 July 1934 the headline on the front page of the New York Times read, "TESLA, AT 78, BARES NEW 'DEATH BEAM.'" The article reported that the new invention "will send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles..." Tesla stated that the death beam would make war impossible by offering every country an "invisible Chinese wall."

The idea generated considerable interest and controversy. Tesla went immediately to J. P. Morgan, Jr. in search of financing to build a prototype of his invention. Morgan was unconvinced. Tesla also attempted to deal directly with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain. But when Chamberlain resigned upon discovering that he had been out-maneuvered by Hitler at Munich, interest in Tesla's anti-war weapon eventually collapsed.

By 1937 it was clear that war would soon break out in Europe. Frustrated in his attempts to generate interest and financing for his "peace beam," he sent an elaborate technical paper, including diagrams, to a number of Allied nations including the United States, Canada, England, France, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. Titled "New Art of Projecting Concentrated Non-Dispersive Energy Through Natural Media," the paper provided the first technical description of what is today called a charged particle beam weapon.

What set Tesla's proposal apart from the usual run of fantasy "death rays" was a unique vacuum chamber with one end open to the atmosphere. Tesla devised a unique vacuum seal by directing a high-velocity air stream at the tip of his gun to maintain "high vacua." The necessary pumping action would be accomplished with a large Tesla turbine.

Of all the countries to receive Tesla's proposal, the greatest interest came from the Soviet Union. In 1937 Tesla presented a plan to the Amtorg Trading Corporation, an alleged Soviet arms front in New York City. Two years later, in 1939, one stage of the plan was tested in the USSR and Tesla received a check for $25,000.

Tesla hoped that his invention would be used for purely defensive purposes, and thus would become an anti-war machine. His system required a series of power plants located along a country's coast that would scan the skies in search of enemy aircraft. Since the beam was projected in a straight line, it was only effective for about 200 miles — the distance of the curvature of the earth.

Tesla also contemplated peacetime applications for his particle beam, one being to transmit power without wires over long distances. Another radical notion he proposed was to heat up portions of the upper atmosphere to light the sky at night — a man-made aurora borealis.

Whether Tesla's idea was ever taken seriously is still a mater of conjecture. Most experts today consider his idea infeasible. Though, his death beam bears an uncanny resemblance to the charged-particle beam weapon developed by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war.

Nonetheless, Tesla's dream for a technological means to end war seems as impossible now as it did when he proposed the idea in the 1930s.


Source: A Weapon To End War
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22 Mind-provoking Movie Quotes!

This list is what I've been making out of boredom, and it turned out to be fun! You might be familiar with most, if not all, of them.
Enjoy!

*"T: Who is the judge?
S: The judge is God.
T: Why is he God?
S: Because he decides who wins or loses. Not my opponent.
T: Who is your opponent?
S: He does not exist.
T: Why does he not exist?
S: Because he is a mere dissenting voice of the truth I speak! "
-The Great Debaters (2007).

*"We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do."
-The Great Debaters (2007).

*" There can be no triumph without loss. No victory without suffering. No freedom without sacrifice"
-The Lord of the Rings (The Return of the King) (2003).

*"bad art is more tragically beautiful than good art 'cause it documents human failure."

–Stay (2005).

*"Sometimes life can only really begin with the knowledge of death. That it can all end, even when you least want it to. And when you die, there's only one thing you want to happen. You wanna come back"

-The Jacket (2005).

*"you were born with it. So don't cop out behind "I didn't ask for this". "

–Good Will Hunting (1997).

*"Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!"

–Forest Gump (1994).

*"Stupid is as stupid does"

–Forest Gump (1994).

*"If you're tangled up, just tango on."

–Scent of a woman. (1992).

*"How do you wake up from a nightmare, when you're not asleep?"

-The Machinist (2004).

*"Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof."

–V for Vendetta (2005).

*"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything"

–Fight Club (1999).

*"One to kill and one to cover"

–State of Play (2009).

*"They cast a spell on you, you know, the Jews. When you work closely with them, like I do, you see this. They have this power. It's like a virus. Some of my men are infected with this virus. They should be pitied, not punished. They should receive treatment because this is as real as typhus. I see it all the time. It's a matter of money? Hmm?"

–Schindler's list (1993).

*"Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."

- Schindler's list (1993).

*" Life Is In Their Hands -- Death Is On Their Minds!"

-12 Angry Men (1957).

*" You die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain"

–The Dark Knight (2008).

*"The mission is a man."

–Saving Private Ryan (1998).

*" Music was his passion. Survival was his masterpiece."

–The Pianist (2002).

*" Don't whisper. When you whisper, anyone could hear you a block away."

–Shadow of a Doubt (1943).

*"
The only thing worse than a loser is someone who won't admit he played badly. "
-21 (2008).

*"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."

-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).
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Life of Pi [An old review]



I loved this book, thanks to Noor, she was the one who recommended it.
At first it won't draw you in that much, and that's what happened with me, I was like "So?" what is it about? and such..
I thought the sinking of the ship was like so rapid and sudden, I didn't get it until he went on with details, I kind of got distracted out there.
The parts explaining his name Piscine (piss) were hilarious :D, also how sometimes he talked about his misery with some humor. I really liked these parts.
The part about his religious views got me REALLY interested, I thought it was too cute to think this way (I'm not going to spoil it in case you want to read), but this was one of the new things in the book.
I loved the facts about animals' behaviors, I never knew human beings could understand animals this way..it was brilliant.
Pi's intelligence was amazing, and the chapter before the last was amusing and mind-catching.

I actually liked the same part Noor liked lol..so here's it (Forgive me Noor for taking the easy way and copying it) :D :

"So you want another story?"
"Uhh... no. We would like to know what really happened."
"Doesn't the telling of something always become a story?"
"Uhh... perhaps in English. In Japanese a story would have an element of invention in it. We don't want any invention. We want 'straight facts', as u say in English."
''Isn't telling about something - using words, English or Japanese - already something of an invention? Isn't just looking upon this world already something of an invention?"
"Uhh..."
"The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make life a story?"
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Chronicle In Stone Review



Plot and thoughts on the read: War, the war scenes are once again drawn in my mind. This time differently, wholly differently. There was teenage love that took place in a tiny part of the novel (which is something I REALLY liked), there was lust, sexuality and homosexuality. The scenes were perfectly portrayed in my mind like a huge movie, I love that I could visualize every single thing in the novel, everything was described amazingly, not to mention the poetic part I'll come to later on..
The ending was kind of abrupt, but I think I got used to that from the first novel I read for him. Wasn't bad though.
The protagonist: That crazy, little young man who craves for the things adults do, he has the brain of an adult, but the heart of a little boy. Loved the comedy parts in his scenes..and I definitely enjoyed accompanying him as a reader and imagining what he's going through.

The names: The only thing I didn't like about the novel; the names were uncountable and seemed endless, the complicated-looking names like for example "Mane Voco" or "Xivo Gavo" confused me so much that in the middle of the novel I was pretty lost and did not know who is who to who and when did this appear to be his Grandpa and such..

The Translator: Thank you again, thank you for being honest with your translation, thank you for the introduction you left for us, it really did help me understand things about the novel, before reading, that I would've never understood , thank you for not changing the names of the town's people-despite how hard to read they were-and most of all thank you for caring to translate such an awesome novel.

The images: Undoubtedly the best thing in this novel: I cannot believe the amount of dazzle Kadare brought to me when he came up with such images and metaphors. I'm simply in love with his imagination. I will surely mention some of them, although if I could, I would've mentioned them all for each one deserves to be mentioned. Here we go:

-"It was a slanted city, set at a sharper angel than perhaps any other city on earth, and it defied the laws of architecture and city planning. The top of one house might graze the foundation of another, and it was surely the only place in the world where if you slipped and fell in the street, you might well land on the roof of a house - a peculiarity known most intimately to drunks."

-"I tried especially hard to remember his lips, which had caught my eye that day more than anything else about his face. They were special lips: lips that had already kissed."

-"Thick clouds like wet, muddy sponges had settled over the city. The sky was black as pitch. A supernatural light spilled in through the rent in the cloud cover. It slid over the grey roofs and came to rest on a white house"

-"In our eyes that field had something sacred about it. It had been a kind of sister or bride to the sky"

-Some other comments: Kako pino's favorite saying "It's the end of the world" impressed me each time it was said. Not because of the sentence itself, it was rather because of the emotions I was imagining she's holding, while talking.
-The beard that was a metaphor for a girl being lesbian could not be comprehended if one didn't read the translator's introduction. I didn't understand it until I went back and read the introduction. It was very clever!


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100 Novels That Let You Travel The World Without Leaving Home

Travel

These novels touch down in multiple countries or are more about the journey itself.

  1. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne: This action-packed classic will take you everywhere from India to the American frontier.
  2. The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain: While not a novel in the strictest sense, this book tells the story of Twain as he travels from New York to Europe to the Holy Land.
  3. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano: Beginning in Mexico, this novel spans several continents to tell the story of a group of young poets, based largely on the life of Bolano himself.
  4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: Follow a young boy in this fable as he travels from Spain the the pyramids in search of his dreams.
  5. The Epic of Gilgamesh: Check out this book to hear a tale thousands of years old about King Gilgamesh and his travels throughout his kingdom and beyond, giving you a peek not only at a different culture, but a different time as well.
  6. The Names by Don DeLillo: In The Names, DeLillo takes readers on a journey through Greece, the Middle East and India.
  7. The Odyssey by Homer: Travel back to ancient Greece as this fictional novel details the trials of Odysseus as he attempts to return home to his wife.

North America

Read these novels to explore Canada and the United States.

  1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac: A classic of the beat generation, in this novel you'll take a road trip with some artsy types back and forth across America.
  2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thomson: While much of this novel takes place in a drug-addled daze, that isn't much different than many people's experiences of this frenetic and sometimes sin-indulging city.
  3. The Call of the Wild by Jack London: Told from the perspective of a dog, this story gives readers a glimpse into the wild parts of the American wilderness.
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Check out this classic book to travel down the Mississippi.
  5. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler: This detective noir novel explores the dark underbelly of Los Angeles in the 1930s.
  6. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy: Follow the lives of outcasts, robbers and ne'er do wells in this novel set in 1950s Knoxville, TN.
  7. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx: One of the reasons this Pulitzer-winning novel was so well-regarded was its depiction of a sleepy fishing town in Newfoundland.
  8. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Travel to the American South during the Civil War era in this engaging tale.
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Through this novel you'll not only get a taste of life in the South but also the struggles many people faced before and during the Civil Rights movement.
  10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: The Great Depression was a hard time for many American families. In this novel you'll be able to travel from the dusty state of Oklahoma out to the promised wealth of California.
  11. The Meadow by James Galvin: This novel depicts over 100 years of ranch life along the Wyoming-Colorado border.

Europe

Set in both the past and present and set everywhere from Greece to London, these books are a great way to learn more about Europe.

  1. Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway: Learn more about the culture of Spain and the sport of bullfighting in one of Hemingway's classic novels.
  2. A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke: This fictional story follows an English man as he moves and attempts to adapt to life in Paris.
  3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: Aside from the engaging mystery, you'll also stay entertained by the travels of this train from Paris to Constantinople in this novel.
  4. The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert: This novel takes place in Nazi Germany, and gives readers not only a slice of life during those times, but a view of the beauty of Bavaria and the city of Hamburg.
  5. Colomba de Prosper Mérimée by Patrick Berthier: Check out this novel for a frank look at life in Corsica.
  6. Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin: This mystery novel will take you through the canals, back alleys and homes of Venice.
  7. The Day of Judgment by Salvatorre Satta: In this novel you will learn much about the people, culture and land of the ancient town of Nuoro in Sardinia.
  8. A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter: The ill-fated love story of this novel is set against the rich background of several small French towns.
  9. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann: This novel capitalizes on the decaying city of Venice, almost creating another character out of the city itself.
  10. Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys: In this book — one of a series — the author's fictionalized life is depicted, taking her from Dominica to the quite different climes of England.
  11. Little Infamies by Panos Karnezi: Explore a nameless Greek village in this collection of charming stories.
  12. Dubliners by James Joyce: Curious about Dublin? Check out these acclaimed short stories to learn more.
  13. The Information by Martin Amis: This semi-autobiographical novel will give you a taste of life in London.

Russia

Take off to the chilly reaches of Russia through these novels.

  1. Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart: This novel documents a wealthy Russian who has been living in America as he tries but fails to get a visa back to the US.
  2. Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak: Check out this great literary work to gain a better understanding of Soviet-era Russia.
  3. Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman: In this novel you'll get an epic account of the siege of Stalingrad during WWII.
  4. The Odessa Tales by Isaac Babel: Through these stories, you'll gain a better pictures of the Ukraine under Soviet control.
  5. Chapaev and Pustota by Viktor Pelevin: Also called The Clay Machine Gun this prize-winning novel is a strange read indeed, but will still give you insights into what life is like for those living in St. Petersberg.
  6. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol: This novel was never truly finished, but in the pages that were completed, Gogol gives readers a great picture of Russian society in the mid-1800's.

Central and South America

These novels will give you a sense of the culture and landscape of Central and South America.

  1. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: This epic tale of patient love spans decades and provides an interesting peek into a city that is suggestively located in Colombia, where García Márquez spent his early years.
  2. The Lighthouse at the End of the World by Jules Verne: Check out this book for a tale of crime and intrigue that takes place at the far southern tip of South America.
  3. The Pearl by John Steinbeck: In this fable, a fisherman in a small Mexican village finds a pearl of great value, teaching lessons not only about peace and happiness but about the Mexico of the past as well.
  4. Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado: This novel about a widowed woman falling in love again will help bring the vibrancy of Brazil to life for readers.
  5. I, The Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos: Banned from print and causing his exile, this novel skewers Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, Paraguay's dictator for life. The story depicts his fictitious deathbed reminiscences, covering years of Paraguayan history.
  6. Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa: Use this novel to travel to a remote area of the Andes where mysterious disappearances have sparked an official inquiry.
  7. The Dark Bride by Laura Restrepo: Through this novel you can gain insights into the city of Tora, Colombia–known for producing oil and servicing the often rough men who work at extracting it.
  8. Santa Evita by Tomás Eloy Martínez: Most readers will be familiar with Argentinean leader Eva Peron, but in this novel you will get a unique and fictionalized look at the transportation of her body after death.
  9. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende: This dramatic saga takes place in Chile, offering a taste of Chilean history as well as a fictional tale of one family.
  10. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: In this novel, readers can travel back to turn-of-the-century Mexico.

Africa

If a trip to Africa is out of the question, consider these novels to learn about the continent without leaving home.

  1. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles: In this well-known novel, a couple and their friend travel to North Africa, falling into trouble because they are unaware of the many dangers that surround them.
  2. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: Travel to the depths of the Congo with this classic novella.
  3. The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell: These lush and imaginative novels are set in Alexandria, Egypt during the 1940s.
  4. Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage by Maria Thoma: Read this collection of stories to get a glimpse into the world of East Africa.
  5. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith: In these charming detective stories, you'll learn more about life in Botswana.
  6. What is the What by Dave Eggers: This book tells the heartwrenching true tale of a boy forced from his home by violence in Sudan. Throughout the story you'll learn more about the region today and in the past.
  7. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: In reading this novel you can learn about native Nigerian culture as well as the impact colonialism had on the region.
  8. The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover: Kingslover's novel follows a family of missionaries in the Belgian Congo–a trip not good either for the natives or the family themselves.
  9. Whiteman by Tony D'Souza: This novel takes a frank approach to many of the issues that affect the real Ivory Coast every day, telling the tale of Jack Diaz, a young American relief worker in a Muslim village in the Ivory Coast.
  10. True at First Light by Ernest Hemingway: This fictionalized memoir has readers on a safari hunting for big game in East Africa with Hemingway and his wife.

Caribbean

In these works you'll travel to the warm but sometimes tumultuous Caribbean islands.

  1. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: While much of this book takes place in the U.S., readers will still find it an engaging read for learning more about the history and culture of the Dominican Republic.
  2. Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau: This Caribbean epic mixes time, languages and styles to tell the story of Martinique and a family of freed slaves.
  3. Far Tortuga by Peter Matthiessen: In this stark novel, readers will follow a small turtle-hunting vessel and its crew as they travel around the Bahamas and through the Caribbean.
  4. A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes: With pirates, horror and drama aplenty, this novel will show you not only Jamaica, but the Caribbean at large.
  5. The Dragon Can't Dance by Earl Lovelace: In this novel you will learn a great deal about the culture and society of Trinidad.
  6. A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul: Many may not know that as a British colony Trinidad became the home for many Indian immigrants. This novel tells the story of one such man, searching for his place in an adopted land.
  7. Brother Man by Roger Mais: One of the better known Caribbean novels, this story follows a young Rastafarian as he gets caught up in various intrigues in Kingston, Jamaica.

Asia

In these books you can learn more about Thailand, Vietnam and China.

  1. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham: This novel offers readers the chance to see life in rural China during a time of a cholera outbreak while also offering a compelling tale of one woman's spiritual journey.
  2. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck: Check out this Pulitzer Prize winning novel about life in rural China when the last emperor reigned, before many of the modern upheavals were to change life forever.
  3. The Beach by Alex Garland: Search for a utopian island off the coast of Thailand along with the main character in this intriguing and mysterious novel.
  4. The Quiet American by Graham Greene: This classic story about the turbulent decades of conflict in Indo-China suggests that even good intentions can lead to bad results.

India

Check out these novels to travel vicariously to India.

  1. The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott: This series of books will show you a window into the last years of British rule in India, the remnants of which still survive today.
  2. Kim by Rudyard Kipling: Like many of Kipling's novels, this one is set in India, bringing to life the sights, smells and culture of the country.
  3. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse: This classic novel creates a fictionalized version of the life of the Buddha, taking readers on a spiritual and cultural journey.
  4. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie While much of this novel is highly fantastical, readers can still enjoy the Indian setting in Bombay, exposing many of the challenges faced by the newly independent nation.
  5. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry: If you'd like to learn more about the lives of everyday people in contemporary India, then you can't do much better than Mistry's compelling tale in this novel.
  6. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster: See colonialism and the bitter tensions between native Indians and the British at their best and worst in this classic novel.
  7. Of Marriageable Age by Sharon Maas: In this book, you'll follow three people across three decades and three continents, exploring India, England and Guyana along the way.
  8. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: Set in India, this award-winning novel is at once a mystery, a drama and a completely innovative work in the English language.
  9. Bombay Time: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar: This story brings to life the middle-class denizens of a Bombay apartment complex.
  10. What the Body Remembers: A Novel by Shauna Singh Baldwin: Here you'll take a trip to the Punjab to see the violent 1947 partition of India.

Japan

These novels share intimate portraits of what life is like in Japan.

  1. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata: Read this novel to spend time in the mountainous slopes of Western Japan while watching a doomed love affair unfold.
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami: Like most of Murakami's work, this novel has a dreamlike quality. At the same time, readers will get a crash course in Japanese WWII history.
  3. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto: Learn more about the food and culture of contemporary Japan in this novel.
  4. The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki: Follow four sisters who are part of the fading Japanese aristocracy in years leading up to WWII, offering great insights to both domestic and social life at the time.
  5. The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel by Liza Dalby: Check out this novel to learn more about the life and times of 11th-century Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu.
  6. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: Become party to the exotic world of the geisha in this compelling novel.
  7. The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki: Written in the 11th century, this novel will show you the enduring qualities of human nature across time and space.
  8. Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki: Amidst a disintegrating marriage you'll get a glimpse into Japanese culture and aesthetics in this novel.

Middle East

From Israel to Afghanistan, these novels will allow you to peek into Middle Eastern life.

  1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: For those who know little of Afghanistan in the years prior to 9/11, this novel reveals a compelling history and a beautiful story of friendship.
  2. A Woman in Jerusalem by Abraham B. Yehoshua: While set in Jerusalem, this the themes of this novel often transcend national boundaries.
  3. Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa: Through this novel you'll get to hear about the creation of the Israeli state from the Palestinian perspective.
  4. Adventures in the Galilee by Yehoash Biber: Think the Middle East has always been a place of conflict? These stories tell the tales of the Galilee area of Palestine before 1948, when Arab, Druse, and Jewish farmers and bedouins lived together in peace and goodwill.
  5. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres: Set in a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, this novel represents the great changes that took place as Turkey entered the modern world.
  6. The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra: Through this novel you will see the effects of the Taliban regime.
  7. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali: While this novel is not set in the Middle East, the conflicts it represents–those between Muslims and Christians–have been at issue for centuries.
  8. Cities of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif: Passing through numerous Middle Eastern countries, this novel brings to life many of the political issues that have plagued the Mideast for most of this century.

Australia

Even if you can't afford a real trip down under you can get an hint of the continent's beauty in these books.

  1. Eucalyptus by Murray Bail: This modern fable is set in New South Wales, pitting true love against a father's scheme to find a suitor.
  2. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton: This sometimes dark novel tells the story of a family struggling for survival in WWII era Australia.
  3. Tree of Man by Patrick White: In this Noble Prize winning book, readers will travel to the wilderness of Australia.
  4. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay: Through this book, readers can gain a real sense of the era and landscape of Australia.
  5. 1915 by Roger McDonald: Follow two young men as they set out to war, only to get a disastrous result at Gallipoli.
  6. The Second Bridegroom by Rodney Hall: In this story you'll learn about a man exiled as a convict to Australia, where he escapes and joins the Aborigine.

Source: Online Degrees