Skip to content

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.

The 2020 Election

A turning point is coming. No matter what way you look at it, the 2020 election will be influential. Definitely for the US, but for the world as well. And it's more than just Donald Trump vrs Joe Biden. It's about freedom vrs socialism.

But does that matter? Is socialism really something worth worrying about? Should we be helping it along? Won't it make the US more just, more compassionate, more fair, more free?

Yes, yes, no no.

Confused?

To understand this, you really have to understand that socialism is not actually about helping the poor and the minorities. It's not about taking from the rich to give to the poor.

It's about eliminating private ownership.

And private ownership IS NOT just about things like money, cars, houses, pets, cellphones, computers, TVs, and delicious food. It's about your body, your mind, and your basic rights—in the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”— as well.

And not just for the rich, but for the poor too. Everyone.

In other words, private ownership does not exist in socialism. Everything is owned by the government to use as the government sees fit. Sometimes this means ‘giving’ to the poor (or rather, letting the poor borrow it until the government finds a better use; remember, there is not such thing as private ownership in socialism); often times, this means usage by government officials.

And there is not such thing as "part way;" socialism is a slippery slope. Once you give up a little of your freedom, the rest is speedily taken away. Once freedom is lost, it's really hard to regain.

We can't give any ground. We can't give up any freedom. We must cling to it, fight for it, preserve it.

Socialism is not "good" or "pretty". Socialism is not about taking from the rich and giving to the poor. It's about the abolition of private ownership. And once you get down to that root, socialism is not pretty. It's downright disgusting.

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.

A Letter To The World, From Elisabeta



















Dear World:

This is Elisabeta. I don't have a middle name, and I don't have a last name.

This year, Liliana has been discovering and chasing her dreams. I think it's about time I do the same.

And guess what, I love politics! And setting records! And breaking tradition! And being awesome! And making a difference!

As a result, I have decided to run for president of the USA. Don't worry, I was born in the USA, I'm thirty-five (in twenty years), and I love the American Dream. So I'm good to go!


My platform:

Stop micro-managing the economy
Lower taxes for everyone
Encourage American entrepreneurship by cutting red-tape so it's easier to start a small business
Finish the USA-Mexican wall that Trump started
Cut red-tape for educationalists
Start a trend for localism-- everything done on the most local level possible, from business to education to government to policing to corona virus management, you name it.


A little bit about me:
I'm thirty five (in twenty years); I love fashion and writing and reading and hanging out with friends, I'm super mature and responsible (ask Liliana if you don't believe me; my room is WAY cleaner than hers ;-)); I love history, government, and politics, and I'm very interested in the business that Liliana is working on starting.

My ideals are: honesty, justice, integrity, honour, freedom, entrepreneurship, private ownership, hard work, and innovation.

My favourite quote is by Mae Jemison: "Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination."


In Short:


I'm running for president of the USA.
I'm going to do a lot of awesome stuff to make America freer
You should vote for me



Sincerely,
Elisabeta


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!

Autonomy Zone: Lessons On Anarchy

I don't know if you guys have heard, but in Seattle, Washington, there is a six-block area that is called the "Autonomous Zone" and is, apparently, not a part of the USA any more (barriers around the Autonomous Zone say "leaving the USA").

Basically, people were protesting over Floyd's death and then the police retreated and now the people have taken over and it WAS anarchy over there. Problem: was.

Because that's the thing, anarchy is never permanent. Sooner or later, someone bigger, cooler, stronger, or with more thugs will come in and take over. Period.

Rapper Raz Simone has taken over the autonomous zone as his, and using his "groupies" to beat people up when they disagree with him (Article 1; Article 2)

Let this be a lesson: anarchy doesn't work. Pure democracy doesn't work. Why? Because it never stays that way. Sooner or later (and probably much, much sooner than you would have thought), someone is going to come along and seize power. It's always worked that way and it always will.

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. ;-)

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 ;-))

Antony and Cleopatra, er, Julius Caesar

As I told you earlier, I had been planning on doing Antony and Cleopatra next. However, I couldn't find a good video to follow along. Too much 'passionate kissing' (it is about an affair, so what did I expect?) and also ten minute clips of productions.

So I went with Julius Caesar, which is my second favourite Shakespeare play.

I found this video... and it was really good. Definitely a tragedy. Like, all the good guys die in the end, usually by suicide or else aided suicide. So yeah. But there's some great speeches in there!

Like Mark Antony's speech "Friends, Romans, country men, lend me your ears" ........ holy cow, what a wowzer. The way he takes a crowd hating Caesar and praising his assassins, to loving Caesar (and, of course, Antony) and going off to murder Caesar's assassins....... just wow.

And holy cow this post is gonna be long... ;-) so grab a few cookies, stretch, and settle down.

Okay, here are some of my favourite quotes from the play:

"Men at some time are masters of their fates: / the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / but in ourselves, that we are underlings."
"What you have said/ I will consider; what you have to say/ I will with patience hear"
"Awake and see thyself[!]"
"and what other oath / than honesty to honest engaged/ that this shall be, or we will fall for it?"
"Cowards die many times before their deaths;/ the valiant never taste of death but once."
"Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more."
"The evil that men do lives after them"
"A friend should bear his friend's infirmities"
"Good words are better than bad strokes"
"This was a man!"

Okay, now to my thoughts on it:



Brutus did it all wrong.

But still, let us learn from him (wow I'm waxing poetic, it must be the listening to Shakespeare for 2.5 hours straight); for in our lives, we will each be called upon to, in one way or another, stand up against tyranny.

Brutus started out doing okay: he considered the matter instead of rushing into it rashly; he refused to form a secret combination ("No, not an oath!... do not stain the even virtue of our enterprise.").

And then from there it went all wrong.

1. He participated in cold blooded murder (okay... maybe this is an exception to the rule... I'm still thinking about it).
2. He attacked other people offensively, instead of defensively
3. He did the same thing expecting different results
4. He gave up and committed suicide

So what should he have done?

1. Persuaded the Senate to give a trial to Caesar (with his "power of speech" I'm sure he could have managed something; plus, he had quite a few friends in the Senate)
2. Allow the enemy to attack first (fight defensively)
3. Tried new, innovative ways to fight the wars
4. Had the end in mind- like, how will government be organized/ who will rule when this is over/ etc
5. Never give up! It is never as hopeless as it seems...

Okay, but now I want to point out something else.

The American colonies rebelled against Britain; the French rebelled against their king.

One revolution worked; the other failed spectacularly.

WHY?

Allow me to point out a few things that determine the success or failure of any revolution.

1- The rebelling citizenry have a classical education! In other words, they have read all the great books, discussed all the great books, and they are great thinkers! In the American revolution, it wasn't just the founders who had an amazing education, it was, to a large extent, everybody!

2- Bring God into it. The French were, at that time, a people who 'worshipped' science and atheism. The American colonists knew there was a Supreme Being, worshipped that Supreme Being, and believe (to a large extent) that he was involved in the affairs of man.

3- Have the end in mind. The French wanted to not be ruled by a king. The American people wanted to live in a free society. Big difference there, and that difference is clearly spelled out in their results: the French lived without a king (at least for a while); the American people lived in a free society.

So, going through those three things: do you think that the revolution Brutus helped spark had that classical education; a belief and worship of a Supreme Being; and had the end in mind?

I don't know about how it actually played in real life, but it is my opinion, that in the version of events that Shakespeare lays out for us, that he had none of those things.

And that, is why he failed.

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice has been the most interesting of tales from Shakespeare Bootcamp...

Basically, this young man (Bassanio) is in love with this girl (Portia) who is condemned by her late father's will to pick her husband by a queer method: to have three chests (one of silver, one of gold, one of lead) and one will have her likeness in it, and her suitors have to guess which chest has her likeness in it, and if they guess right, then wedding, if not, kick them out.

Bassanio has a friend of his borrow a large sum of money, Bassanio wins his lady but gets news that his friend has failed to pay the debt back and must give, as his penalty, of pound of the flesh closest to his heart (yuck!). And then... No. I'm not telling what happens next.

It is maybe my third favourite Shakespeare play. Macbeth is definitely #1, the Julius Caesar is #2 (because Brutus' speech is the coolest speech ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)), and Merchant of Venice might be #3.

So here are some cool tidbits I got from this play:

"Let none presume to wear an undeserved dignity"
"O! that estates, degrees, and offices/ were not deriv'd corruptly, and that clear honour/ were purchased by the merit of the wearer!"
"Some there that be that shadows kiss/ shall have but a shadow's bliss"
"There is no vice so simple that assumes/ some mark or virtue on his outward parts"
"You that choose not by view..." (to paraphrase) shall get the better part.
"He is well paid that is well satisfied."

Yeah... this play is super good. I highly recommend it!

Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Two Gentlemen of Verona was a very interesting Shakespeare play to read.

It's basically this really 'complicated' loves story.

Guy #1 falls in love with Girl #1; Guy #2 falls in love with Girl #2; Guy #1 goes to visit Guy #2 and falls in love with Girl #2. Guy #1 betrays his friend, Guy #2, and woos Girl #2; meanwhile, Girl #1 decides to surprise Guy #1 by going to visit him (in guys clothes, which is a huge deal in the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century), and learns that Guy #1 is wooing another woman; Girl #2 absolutely scorns Guy #1; and then, somehow, Guy#2 and Girl#2 and Guy#1 and Girl#1 fall in love they way they were in love at the beginning and live happily ever after.

One thing that ticks me off: Guy #2 freely forgives Guy #1 for getting him exiled, and for slandering him. Like, what? How?!?!?!?! I guess forgiveness is a different matter than trust... one can forgive without trusting... right???

I think it was really interesting to see their allegiances.

Guy #1 (Proteus): Self
Guy #2 (Valentine): Good/God
Girl #1 (Julia): Good/God with maybe a tiny bit of self in there?
Girl #2 (Silvia): Good/God
the Duke of Milan, and father to Silvia: Money/wealth/power

Shakespeare Bootcamp: Report

I've told you about Elisabeta and I going to boot camp? Well, we are right in the think of it.... safe at home on my very cozy bed!

The first Shakespeare play I read was Henry V, then Two Gentlemen of Verona, and just yesterday, the Merchant of Venice, which I really enjoyed.

How I did the Two Gentlemen of Verona and the Merchant of Venice was, I found a production on youtube and then played it while following along in my book. So much easier to understand when you do it that way, you should definitely try it out!

Oh, and here are the links to the videos in case you want to do the same:

Two Gentlemen of Verona And holy cow the actors do a good job! Especially whoever it is who played Julia... just wow!
Merchant of Venice One problem here? They totally skip the last scene! Which is a really important scene! So make sure you read the rest of the play as well... if you read it aloud it's way easier to understand that if you read it in your mind. ;-)

And today I'm going to do Antony and Cleopatra.