Thursday, December 29, 2011

100 Books in a Year

Call me crazy, but I'm going to do it. Reading 100 books in a year has become my new year's resolution. Hopefully (if time allows) I'll write up a short review of each of the books I read and post them here. Of course, I've told myself in the past that I will blog and it has never happened, so we'll see. Anyway, here is my list of 100 books if anyone is interested:

A Little Princess
Pride and Prejudice
Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King
Jane Eyre
Wuthering Heights
Gone with the Wind
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
War and Peace
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Wind in the Willows
The Grapes of Wrath
The Count of Monte Cristo
Golden Compass
Subtle Knife
Amber Spyglass
Robinson Crusoe
All Creatures Great and Small
All Things Bright and Beautiful
All Things Wise and Wonderful
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones
The Mortal Instruments - City of Ashes
The Mortal Instruments - City of Glass
The Mortal Instruments - City of Fallen Angels
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Anthem by Ayn Rand
Copper Sun by Sharron Draper
Growing Up Christian
Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
The Arabian Nights
Brave New World
Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abbey
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe
The Hidden Hand
Leaves of Grass
David Copperfield
Treasure Island
Artemis Fowl
The Alchemist
The Iliad
The Aeneid
The Book Theif
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
The Chosen One
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Clash of Kings
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Storm of Swords
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Feast for Crows
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Dance with Dragons
A Song of Ice and Fire - The Winds of Winter
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Divine Comedy by Dante
Vanity Fair
Redeeming Love
Paradise Lost
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Talented Mr Ripley
Das Kapital
The Kite Runner
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Crime and Punishment
The Idiot
The Picture of Dorian Grey
The Importance of Being Ernest
Born Free
Out of My Mind
Thirteen Reasons Why
The Lamplighter
The Adventures of Augie March
Absalom, Absalom!
On the Road
Lord of the Flies
Tender is the Night
Ethan Frome
Little Women
The Help
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
A Room with a View
Waiting for Godot
Water for Elephants
The Red Badge of Courage
The Death of the Heart
The Wonderful WIzard of Oz
War Horse
The Hearts of Horses
Pippi Longstocking
The Last of the Mohicans

Quote of the Day:
"Energy and persistence conquer all things." ~Benjamin Franklin

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Benefit of Understanding

Many schools teach foreign languages as a chance to widen one’s cultural knowledge. They teach languages such as Spanish, French and German because they are spoken in countries and will benefit the learner. But what about the classical languages – Latin and Greek? Very rarely is a school found that teaches these so called “dead languages”. Yet they are not as ‘dead’ as the world supposes. Winston Churchill once wrote in an autobiography “I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honor, and Greek as a treat.” The benefits of studying the classical languages of Latin and Greek are many.
Languages that are derived from Latin are known as the romance languages. This group includes languages such as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and as many as twenty other lesser known languages. Over fifty thousand English words are derived from the Greek language, and as many from Latin. For this reason alone, the studying of the classical languages can be considered beneficial. As one who has studied Latin since the fifth grade, I can confidently state that my knowledge of the Latin language has aided me in the studies of other areas, especially in other languages.
Many may say that the studying of the classical languages is pointless. They may claim that since they are no longer spoken, they are no longer of any use. However, the opposite is true. Almost all of the languages spoken today have derived from the classical languages of Latin and Greek. As I stated before, modern languages such as Spanish and French came from the ancient Latin language. Both Latin and Greek contributed to the languages of German and Russian. With the knowledge of the classical languages come the ability to better understand the romance
languages, and therefore be able to learn and speak them easily.
The studying of the classical languages will also help keep the mind active and thinking in a different way. When having to translate from any language, an understanding of how the native speakers think is required. This forces the mind to think in a way in which it is not comfortable. It is often challenging to translate the classical languages, but the rewards of it are great. Being able to manipulate the mind into understanding different ways of thought process is helpful in not only merely broadening the mind, but exercising it as well.
The study of the classical languages aids in the understanding of the English grammar. Many people will ignore grammar when they speak or write. Sometimes they understand it so well that they no longer need to keep it in mind. When studying Latin or Greek, however, the only way to understand the idea the writer is trying to convey is to carefully evaluate their uses of grammar. If the different elements of the sentence are not observed correctly, the meaning of the passage can be obscured or misinterpreted. Deciphering Latin or Greek sentences can help one develop skills at recognizing patterns and analyzing language with almost a mathematical perspective. It is therefore beneficial to know grammar well, and through studying the classical languages one will develop a better understanding of the English grammar system.
Studying the classical languages gives one the benefit of understanding. Anybody can read a book that tells of the history of a culture that has died out centuries ago, but to actually read a firsthand account of that culture provides the reader with an entirely different experience. Instead of just being a history lesson told by a scholar, the reader himself becomes the scholar. Through the classical languages one can become part of history. No longer does one become a slave to the historians and translators, forced to rely on their interpretations. Instead, one can read it for himself and determine his own interpretation. The knowledge of the classical languages and ability to read manuscripts written in those languages removes any faulty prejudices or biased that are implemented by the translators.
As I have mentioned before, many people say that classical languages are dead languages. I disagree. They may be ‘dead’ in the sense that they are not spoken any more, but Latin and Greek are just as much alive as the modern languages, if not more so. Many do not realize that they use Latin and Greek in their own language. Countless words have been derived from the classical languages. Penelope Lively, and author of both children and adult fiction, once wrote “We are all walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse; we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.” Latin and Greek live through the languages they have influenced. The languages themself may not be spoken anymore, but the classical languages have left a definite mark on culture.
Another common excuse for not wanting to study Latin or Greek is that they are not useful for future tasks. Again, I disagree. Latin students have proven to perform exceptionally well on tests such as the SAT and standardized tests. This is due to the fact that Latin increases the vocabulary of the student as well as increases the knowledge of grammar of the student. Between the years of 1997 and 2006, Latin students scored around 150 points higher than the average student on the verbal portion of the SAT. It is commonly known that higher scores open doors to scholarships for colleges. And again, the study of classical languages will make it much easier to learn the grammar and vocabulary of the modern romance languages. Latin and Greek are the key to the modern languages.
In conclusion, the studying of the classical languages in high school or college will increase the knowledge of the English vocabulary and the knowledge of English grammar, as well as the ability to learn other romantic languages. But the most important benefit of studying Latin and Greek is that it will provide an appreciation for the ancient cultures that cannot be found elsewhere.