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Ten Books You Should Read in 2021

2020 has been an absolutely insane year. A lot of stuff has happened, including CoViD19, the 2020 election, BLM protests, CHAZ, and libraries being temporarily closed.

So what could be better than some good books to read? Especially if they're inspiring, insightful, and take longer than two seconds to read ;-)

1. Macbeth. This is an incredible play by William Shakespeare about a man who assassinates the King and then takes the throne. He's told by three witches that he will keep his kingdom until the forest marches against him. So he's safe, right?

2. Mao: The Real Story. This is a super huge biography of Mao Zedong, who made China communist. It's well written, insightful, and gives you a whole new point of view of the Cultural Revolution.

3. Intelligence. What if there was only one way to stop a communist alliance from taking over the world? But what if that one way is by subjecting your own people? Then what? Intelligence, Eliza DeMille Robinson's debut novel, has such deep and insightful thoughts on freedom, the fight for freedom, what it means to be free, and the individual's mission. The writing, character building, and plot weaving is outstanding. It's the first in a series (the second in the series is on the printer now but I haven't been able to read it yet) and I highly recommend Intelligence!

4. The 5000 Year Leap. W Cleon Skousen, who served in the FBI for 16 years, has incredible insights into how our nation was made, why it's survived, and how it can be fixed. This is a must-read for anyone who cares about freedom.

5. Coolidge. Calvin Coolidge is my second favorite president of the USA, and this is definitely my favorite biography of him! It's a bit long, but very insightful, detailed, and inspiring.

6. Tyrant: Shakespeare On Politics. Some people say, "those who can't do, write." I don't think this is necessarily true, and I think that Shakespeare is proof of it. His understanding of human nature is unbelievable, and sorely needed today.

7-9. The Reckoners. This fictional trilogy by Brandon Sanderson is an intriguing exploration of power, abilities, and the duty of citizens and people.

10. Glenn Beck's Common Sense. The original Common Sense, written by Patrick Henry, advocated the separation of the colonies from the British Empire. Beck's Common Sense advocates the return to sensibility, an understanding of what makes the USA the USA, and the importance of returning to what we had in the original Constitution.

And There Was Light: #TalesOfYoungHeroes

Jacques is blind, totally blind. It happened when he was seven, and changed his life forever. But despite being blind, or perhaps because of it, he was able to lead a resistance to the Nazi occupation of France at the young age of seventeen.

His autobiography, And There Was Light, is one of the most inspiring, beautiful, stories ever, and you should definitely read it!

#TalesOfYoungHeroes

Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule: A Review

While on a week-long camping trip, I took the opportunity to finally read "Defying Hitler," which I had been meaning to get around for quite some time.

Well, I finished it, and holy cow it was so good! I highly recommend it. (You can find it HERE on amazon)

It follows the stories of roughly twenty or so Germans who defied Hitler, both men and women, Jews and non-Jews, ordinary citizens and military commanders, in their quest to resist the Nazis. Some want to assassinate Hitler, some wanted to have a military coup and remove Hitler and give him a trial, and still other thought it would be impossible to remove him. Regardless, they all were united in their efforts to resist.

It's a very easy, engaging read, almost like a novel. It is full of stories about people and crazy assassination attempts gone awry.

For example, there are three extremely memorable assassination attempts in the book, although there were tons more.

One time, a guy offered to be a suicide bomber. He had a bomb on a ten-minute fuse under his vest, and was showing Hitler around... I think it was a museum? and then Hitler left abruptly in the middle of the tour, and then the guy had like two minutes to dismantle the bomb in the bathroom before it blew him up. So Hitler survived that attempt because the bomb never had the chance to go off.

Another time, there was going to have been a bomb in a military meeting, except at the last minute, it was decided that junior officers couldn't attend, and because the man with the bomb was only a junior officer, he couldn't get into the meeting and blow up Hitler. So Hitler survived that plot as well.

And another time, a bomb was smuggled into a meeting in a suitcase, and a few minutes before it was going to go off, the man who brought it in left the building, and drove home, and the bomb went off. It totally destroyed the table, and completely shredded Hitler's pants, and wounded some of his officers, but Hitler was totally fine, only a few bruises. Well, and a ruined pair of pants. But Hitler survived that attempt as well!

And guess what, after the attempt that demolished Hitler's pants, he got on the radio to assure the German people that he was still alive and well. He said that his survival must be a sign from providence that he was meant to continue with his plans! So, that plan super back-fired!

However, in the end, almost none of the conspirators survived. Almost all of them (I think all but two, but I can't exactly remember) got executed or sent to the concentration camps. They had risked everything -their fortunes, their lives, their family's lives. And they still didn't succeed.

Which makes me wonder, if a ruthless dictator took over America and started doing what Hitler did, would I be brave enough to resist? Or would I be one of those who kept their heads down and waited for it all to blow over?

And how could Hitler take over a nation? Sure there were resistors, but not enough to prevent his taking power. Not enough to prevent a second world war. Not enough to prevent the mass murder of six million Jews.

Ultimately, I think Hitler could not have come to power and did what he did if:

(1) the German people had been classically educated, instead of trained on the conveyor belt.
(2) people had not been timid in their resistance but instead have acted decisively.
(3) people would not have let Hitler get little victories, like boycotting Jewish shops, and making Jews wear arm bands. Hitler had to do the little things before he could do the big things, like killing people in the concentration camps.

In conclusion, "Defying Hitler" was a really great book that was very thought-provoking, very fun to discuss, and highly relate-able to our world today.

Camp Na-No-Wri-Mo Update

This month, I've been writing the first draft of a 65,000 word novel with ywp.nanowrimo.org, which is a really amazing writing platform that people under the age of 18 can use.

I have written 21750 words so far and am 33% of the way done. I'm super excited about this, I don't think I've ever reached past the 17,000 word mark when writing a "novel" before (at that length, it's more of a novelette than a novel or a novella).

Hero Education: A Scholar Phase Guidebook For Teens, Parents, and Mentors

If you guys didn't know... I'm going to Leadership Academy of Utah. It's this really cool, leadership-minded school that is based online but now has in-person learning centers scattered throughout Utah.

But before that, I was homeschooled. I still call myself homeschooled, BTW. LAU is so much a homeschooling community... it was even founded by homeschoolers... it's like homeschooling gone public.

Anyways, the method of homeschooling my family uses is called Thomas Jefferson Education, or, TJEd. It's founding father style "created" by the DeMille family. Well, Oliver DeMille, father of the DeMille family, wrote this really cool book called "Hero Education: A Scholar Phase Guidebook For Teens, Parents, and Mentors." It's so good!

I've taken the time to re-read it today and was once again wowed by it's simple yet profound wisdom. Okay, well, maybe I skimmed it. But as C S Lewis said, "It is a very silly idea that in reading a book you must never 'skip.' All sensible people skip freely when they come to a chapter which they find is going to be no use to them" at the present, at least.

Let me just tell you:

Our education matters. It's not about grades, college, or good-paying jobs.

It's about freedom vrs tyranny; it's about influence; it's about mission and purpose.

Education is not books and dates and facts and more facts and tests to make sure you know those facts.

It's about gaining wisdom-- knowledge, applied in your life to better you and others. As Mark Twain said, "I never let my schooling interfere with my education."

Your mission matters. And because your mission matters, your education matters.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen And The Churchill Club

Knud Pedersen was a normal boy living in Denmark. Then his whole world changed when Hitler invaded and the Danish government surrendered to the invaders the same day.

His whole world changed then. German soldiers were everywhere, Denmark captive. Knud knew this was not right. But the adults in his world made no move to stop the Germans, to free Denmark.

What was left to do? Oh, nothing really... just start his own resistance with his friends.

"The Boys Who Challenged Hitler" is a fascinating biography about the boy resistors of Denmark, boys who had been willing to risk literally everything for their country.

I highly recommend this read! It's very engaging, intense, hard to put own, and super inspiring!

"How To Stop Worrying And Start Living:Time-Tested Methods for Conquering Worry" by Dale Carnegie

The American culture has some serious issues. We eat too much junk food, have too must stuff, and stress far too much.

Well, the cure to one of those problems is found within an amazing audiobook that I recently discovered. Titled "How To Stop Worrying And Start Living:Time-Tested Methods for Conquering Worry," it is by Dale Carnegie, author of "How To Win Friends And Influence People."

I have finished listening to disc one of nine, but it's so good and there is so much wisdom that could totally change my life if I chose to act on it! (Which, ahem, I will...:-))

For those of you interested in listening to it, you can find it here.

How To Fight A Hydra

Here is another quick update for "new way to read." It's been going good, but with quarantine and everything, I do have a smaller limit on books I can check out, so #ProjectOtulissa is being put aside for now.

However, I am deciding to notch up all of my reading by approaching books with a question in mind. For this book I just barely finished (How To Fight A Hydra), the question was, "how can I combat overwhelm and start achieving my dreams?"

And yeah, I got answers. I love books! :-) :-) :-)

And yes, I highly recommend How To Fight A Hydra, it's a really quick and enjoyable read but also a super deep parable.

Here are the seven lessons I got out of it:

~Just follow your dreams! People are going to try to stop you; don't listen to them. They don't know how capable you are.

~Learn from the great people of the present/past.

~Getting a QUALITY EDUCATION matters!

~Your fears may be justified, but they are useful. Acknowledge them, then act in spite of them.

~Go slowly; don't go so fast that you get yourself "killed." Know what you're getting into. But also, don't spend your whole life planning! At some point, you have to stop researching and start doing.

~Learn to recognize your treasure and adapt your plans accordingly; it might not be exactly what you thought it would be, but it's still going to be amazing.

~And finally, take advice from those who have succeeded, not those who have failed or given up. Learn from those who know what they're talking about and use it in their own life!

Shakespeare Bootcamp Done

Sadly, the 2020 Spring Shakespeare Bootcamp is over. I had a lot of fun, understood a lot more Shakespeare, and had some god bonding time with Elisabeta. ;-)

Due to the success of the bootcamp, I think I am going to do something similar every year, although they might not all be Shakespeare based. For example, one year I could read something by Aristotle everyday; another year, I could sight-read through an original Beethoven piece everyday.

And my bootcamps will ALWAYS be in the first weeks of summer... because that's the best time to do it.

Twelfth Night

Elisabeta and I just finished another Shakespeare play... which she approved of more than the last (All's Well That Ends Well). Basically, it's another big tangled romance..... that ends happily.....

Honestly, it's hilarious! I'm not going to tell you plot.... you should just go watch it. I watched THIS production. The actors etc are AMAZING!

So... my favourite lines......

"Methink you are a fool."

"O time, thou must untangle this, not I; It is too hard a knot for me to untie."

"Ay, he does well enough if he be disposed"

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

"Be not afraid of greatness."

"There is no darkness but in ignorance."



And yeah, this play is such a comical mess.... :-) It's sooo funny.

All's Well That Ends Well

It all starts with a forlorn maiden... one of lowly class... who is desperately in love with one of high status. After having received her love's mother's blessing in her effort to find a way to make the match work, she heals the king of a terrible malady and demands as payment her choice of husband. She, of course, picks her love.

However, her love disdains her for her lack of noble title. After much threatening from the king, he agrees to marriage.

~pauses in telling plot to rant~
FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, is this maiden (Helena) DAFT? Marrying someone who has been forced to marry you is a recipe for disaster. Resentment, anger, and frustration and going to build up and explode into divorce or worse. BAD IDEA!
~continuing on in telling the plot~

Screenshot By ME
Her love, Bertram, hating his new wife, flees to fight in the war, leaving his wife at his mother's house. Realizing what happened, Helena feels horribly guilty for chasing him "from thy country," and decides to leave in hopes that he will return home and be spared from the horrible war, though knowing that she could never be a beloved wife of his.

Knowing that her husband would not call her wife until she had born him a child, and swearing that would never happen, Helena tricks her husband, bears him a child, confronts him, and says she is his wife.

It's a bit of a confusing romance... and also kinda boring. The best line is at the very end: "Mine eyes smell onion, and I weep anon." Other than that, it was just okay.

And here is Elisabeta's two cents: "We keep doing romances." (rolls eyes here...) "I'm sick of them. We need to do something FUN like Macbeth... or maybe we can go do Julius Caesar again..."

Soon, Elisabeta. ;-)

The Merry Widows of Windsor

I just barely finished the Merry Wives of Windsor and am two days behind in my Shakespeare reading! I'll have to do a second play today and two tomorrow, but that's fine. I really enjoy Shakespeare.

Anyways, The Merry Wives of Windsor is a tangled mess of attempted affairs, thwarted affairs, and humor. All in all, it was enjoyable but one of the harder ones for me to understand.

Moving on....

Here are my favourite lines:

"All of his successors, gone before him, hath done't; and all his ancestors, that come after him, may..." XD

"Why sir, for my part, I say the gentleman had drunk himself out of his five sentences" (and then the next line, by another Mr, is, "It is his 'five senses'; fie, what the ignorance is!)

"All is in His hands above."

"Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour."

"Sheath your impatience."

"You were wont to be a follower, but now you are a leader."

Romeo and Juliet: A Tragically Tragic Romance

I just barely finished Romeo and Juliet.

Wowza, wowza, wow.

I mean, almost-fourteen and seventeen is WAY too young to marry............. But I guess Juliet's father was determined to get her married anyways.... BUT STILL.

So here are my thoughts on it...

It's all going well, according to plan, etc., until Romeo shouts "I defy you, stars!" Then his actions get himself and his tragically young wife killed.

Stupid Romeo. (To go on a tangent, at one point, Romeo was totally out of control and had given up all hope and the friar demands, "art thou a man?" My answer: "Romeo art not a man... for he hath the immaturity of a boy." Poor Juliet... she got way less that she deserved.:-()

The friar (a representation of God) had everything perfectly under control, the perfect plan to heal their families and allow them a "happily ever after." But then came the tragic line: "I defy you, stars!" It is at that point that Romeo abandons the plan, and kills himself, causing his distraught wife to kill herself as well.

So basically, everything was running smoothly until Romeo defied God.

Likewise... God has everything in control in our lives. It is all going to plan and it will come out perfectly wonderful in the end if we do not defy his will and try to take fate into our own hands. As we are not all-knowing, we are just going to ruin everything and "kill" ourselves and those we love.

Shakespeare Bootcamp: Challenge Accepted

I just decided to make a change to how Shakespeare Bootcamp works. In addition to reading a play every school day for two weeks (ten plays total), participants also need to memorize a passage, speech, or stanza from one of the plays they read.

Elisabeta is going to do the poem in the leaden casket in the Merchant of Venice; I am going to memorize Mark Antony's speech in Julius Caesar.

And then we are going to recite it... and record our recitations... and post it on here! So start looking for it in about a week... maybe a week and a half.

Yay! Hooray for challenges! (I love challenges... if you couldn't tell already ;-))