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  I am a fan of the original quadrilogy, but The Cold Forge is the first book from the Alien franchise I am reading, mostly because of the Alien Theory YouTube channel which recommended this (and Into Caribdis, also by Alex White) as two of the great books in that universe. And I did like it, it is well written and using a lot of the Alien trademark items: the bleak predatory corporate world, the psychopath in love with the aliens, the isolated setting, the company stooge, the female protagonist who has to do everything and then some just in order to survive, the double crossing, the androids, the power loader robot and so on. But at the same time, it felt too familiar, like the writer was too afraid to set foot outside the established borders of the franchise, lest he stumbles and gets impregnated and eaten.

  Also, while reading the book I've got to realize that Alex White nailed it in regards to the main character. Yes, she is a woman, but physically weak. Her strengths lie in determination, smarts and high morals. It was never about the gender of the protagonist as it was about raising the stakes by following a weak character who has to overcome even more than an average person. I think Ripley is also the same, even if towards the end she was physically intimidating and powerful as well: not a strong female lead for the sake of it, but because it makes sense and brings value to the story.

  Anyway, back to the book, I felt that we got way too much of the villain and too little of the aliens, maybe even of the protagonist herself. As such, The Cold Forge is more a very detailed exploration of the mindset of a psychopath than a new perspective on the xenomorphs. We get a space station in which dozens of aliens roam around and the focus is almost always on what the antagonist thought and felt while conveniently only secondary characters had to deal with the aliens.

  Be warned that this book will make you hate humanity a little bit and get you more and more frustrated, to a point close to Stockholm Syndrome, with how paralyzed by social norms the characters are and how freely the predatory psycho navigates through those and kills anyone he wants. The parallel is clear: the worst humanity can bring is very similar to the alien drones: hidden, unexpected and brutal, uncaring of anything but their goal.

  Bottom line: I liked the book and I think it was a good introduction to the literary Alien universe, but I expect many new ideas and more focus on the aliens in following works. I don't want to read again and again about people being people while some random killer bug brings a slight element of chaos to the story.

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  Brandon Sanderson writes books set in many worlds and having to read again and again about the same characters can tire people up (probably writing about them, too). So he has this system of writing shorter books in the same universe, but featuring less significant characters, thus maintaining interest in the world, keeping it fresh in the mind of the reader and showing different perspectives on the same universe. And while in theory one could skip these, they often add some new angle to the story and expand concepts and characters, so in practice you have to read them if you like the series they are part of.

  Dawnshard features Rysn, the female trader that has lost the use of her legs in an accident. I have to admit my memory is not that extensive, so I genuinely don't remember that or who Rysn is in the main books, but it's irrelevant, because this is a somewhat standalone story. At the behest of both queens Fen and Navani she captains her ship to a remote island where mythical riches can be found, accompanied by (the) Lopen, his cousin Huio and Cord.

  What I thought was interesting is that completely new enemies have been defined in this book. Not some throwaway antagonists used solely here, but vague references to god like creatures that could destroy the entire cosmere. Adding cosmic terror to the Stormlight Archives books can only improve it! Can't wait to see where this is going.

  As usual Sanderson's writing is smooth and the reading is fast. I spend at least twice the amount of time reading other books of similar length and I often feel deep regret every time one of his books end. Dawnshard was no exception. Maybe the plot is simpler and more linear than other books, but it opens up captivating avenues.

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  I understand why people liked Mrs. BridgeEvan S. Connell's prequel to this, more. The book is fresher, the characters more introspective, the irony thick. In contrast, Mr. Bridge is more revealing while at the same time its lead character being dry and joyless and for today's readers quite "problematic". Not to mention that we already know how he will end up. I also half expected to see some of the same situations from the first book, but from Mr. Bridge's perspective, and it wasn't so. However, I hold this book to be better.

  While the first book was focused on the wife and a little on the male child, this one focuses on the husband and a little on the two daughters. Walter Bridge is what one would call a very respectable man. He loves his wife and children and feels a strong responsibility to protect and care for them, but he is also stern, stingy, authoritarian, racist without considering himself that, a conservative and a prude, which is a tad ironic because he feels an (unwanted by him) sexual attraction to one of his daughters. He always knows what's best and isn't afraid to tell you that or act on it. He could be the picture in the dictionary entry for patriarchy, in a time when such things as female empowerment and anti racism were in their infancy, if at all.

  Yet he is a decent man, with flaws but good. He has strong convictions, but they are subject to reason. One can change his mind if they bring rational arguments. And while most chapters show him as the rather emotionally guarded protector of his family and dignity in general, some of them lay him bare when you least expect. The first chapter, for example, explains how he absolutely and unconditionally loves his wife and how happy she makes him; then most of the next 135 chapters show him completely ignoring that fact. As a self made man, he is acutely aware of the value of things, denying himself and others the simple luxuries of relaxing or not caring about their things and their reputation.

  Yes, Mrs. Bridge was a more entertaining book, not to mention more focused and a bit shorter. The sequel, while maintaining the same structure of many very short chapters vaguely connected, is broader, with more characters, also more clinical and cruel. The last chapter shows Mr. Bridge pondering if he ever felt joy and concluding he did not, as that is an emotion for simpler people.

  I feel it is important to read these two books today. It talks about how people lived and felt 100 years ago, how their world worked and what they considered absolute, reasonable and decent, how they raised their children and what they thought life should be. One can see what we have gained and lost in a century, while emotionally connecting with these two people.

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  Third book of the collaboration series between Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson, Evershore stars Jorgen as the guy who has to keep everything together while Spensa is doing whatever she feels like doing, Cobb is unavailable and his parents just died. Add to it having to create and maintain alliances with alien races as the Superiority just wants to kill everything. I have to say that this book went a whole level up on crazy. I know that it probably builds towards the big reveal of what Detritus really is, but things are going Boomslug and making less sense as we go along.

  Now, to be fair, Skyward was never a grounded series about realistic scenarios, but about young people doing their best in absurdly dangerous, entertaining and emotionally fulfilling situations. It's a young adult series, with adult as an afterthought, where how the characters (and by extension the reader) feel and define themselves is the only thing that matters. Yet I can't help but feel (heh!) a little disappointed as more and more characters are just doing whatever they have to in order to further a less and less believable plot. It hasn't gone full Fast and the Furious yet, but give it time.

  As the writing goes, it's the same as the other books in the series, only this time the lead character is a guy. Yet it might as well not be, as Jerkface is acting and thinking in exactly the same patterns as the previous protagonists. It almost feels like an anime: ai, mamoru, aaaaaarrrgh, Super Saiyan! Still fun, but way too mindless.

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  As I was saying in the review of Sunreach, the Skyward Flight subseries of the Skyward books by Brandon Sanderson is basically another book of the series, split into three volumes that are each written from the perspective of another character.

  The second volume, ReDawn, it written from the perspective of Allanik, the alien cytonic pilot that crashed on Detritus and which Spensa replaced as a Superiority pilot cadet. I liked that the humans are finally getting new allies and the end of the novella also brings a tragic event which will probably shape the third volume.

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  If you were curious what happened to the rest of the pilot crew during the events of Cytonic, Sunreach tells the story. I expected to get a short story that was independent of the rest of the storyline, but instead this a not so short novella which expands into a subseries (Skyward Flight) of at least three volumes. Written in collaboration with Janci Patterson, it feels just like the other books in the Skyward series: first person perspective of young female pilot fighting the Superiority, light content, only the main character is not Spensa, but Freyia (callsign FM).

  It is just as filled with adventure and easy to read as other books in the series, I've actually finished this and the next volume in the series in about two days. Can't really say anything about the plot because - let's face it - it makes little sense, and it's very similar to Spensa's arc, but it's fun. If you've read and enjoyed any of Brandon Sanderson's Skyward books, this feels just like another entry and I believe you will need to read the subseries volumes to understand things in the next full book.

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  It might sound strange to say this about a book published in 1959, but Mrs. Bridge was a refreshing read. It is made entirely of short chapters - more than 100 of them in a 246 page book - which describe little moments in the life of Mrs. Bridge, the wife of rich lawyer Walter Bridge in the 1930's America. I loved the fact that the chapters were ironic, but remained descriptive, without any judgement. There is nothing to push you in one direction or another; whatever you think of Mrs. Bridge, it's your own verdict, not the author's. The small vignettes are also disjointed, very rarely connected to each other, and although they are told in a chronological order, they shatter any semblance of a story. The book is literally a portrait.

  And as I was reading this, I was constantly thinking about this woman. Is she a victim or an abuser? Is she stupid or just simply stuck in a role she can't get out of? Am I sympathetic to her or do I despise her? Is it a tragedy or a comedy? Could and should anyone love her? I was constantly trying to cast judgement as the book kept reminding me that I don't actually need to.

  The book felt refreshing for presenting the life of a housewife in a world where women are treated more like pets than human beings, but not going into a tirade about how that's good or bad. It talks about the lives of negro servants, but doesn't shove some message down your throat. It happens before and during the first part of World War II, but it doesn't spout the virtue of Allied forces and condemn the evil of Fascism. It was just great writing which doesn't try to jam some conclusion down the throat.

  At first I thought the book was written by a woman and only at the end noticed that it was written by Evan S. Connell. He also wrote a Mr. Bridge book, which I am not sure if I want to read or not. Probably I will, because it completes the tableau. The portrait, you see, is of a couple.

  Personally, I feel  Mrs. Bridge is just trapped by her own superego. She has to look and behave as she was trained to, to maintain appearances regardless the cost to her own desires or personality. She doesn't do it for some end goal, she is not political or malicious, she isn't even two-faced, because she has suppressed any other face than the one she is showing. The few moments where her thoughts or desires come to the surface and quickly buried back are just a sign of how tragic the book is. At first I wanted to quote something from the book in the review, but there are so many quotable bits that I've decided against it.

  Bottom line: Mrs. Bridge makes you aware of how people lived in the '30s. Easy to read, the book's short chapters hide the depth of observation the author used to write them. In short, I loved it.

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  If it weren't a Brandon Sanderson book, I think I would be more critical of the outsider kid turned hero through sheer power of will and reluctantly going towards becoming a minor god plot. I mean, I've seen it before, it sells, it's fun, but it never is good quality. Yet, Sanderson manages to make Cytonic about the characters, and it's hard to not empathize with them, once you get past the "oh, god, what a mess this story has become" feeling.

  And if I had to name one thing only that makes Brandon Sanderson books so good is that he doesn't give a crap about how credible his universes are. He can make emotional phone books having romances work, if he ever chooses to. (Please don't do it, man!)

  Back to Cytonic, Spensa again does things because she feels like it, rationalizing it afterwards as "she had to, despite her feelings", discovering new powers, making new friends and being sweet and aggressive at the same time (told you Sanderson can make anything work). I don't want to spoil anything, although I feel it would be impossible. I've forgotten most of what I've read in the first two books and it didn't matter that much. Ironically, it all happens in "the nowhere", a place where people can live, but slowly lose their memories of the real world (obviously, the somewhere), so maybe I went into the story a bit too much.

  For people who don't know this, Skyward is more of a young adult/children's series of books, where a young girl discovers she has a destiny. It's Harriet Potter in space, kind of, only with more focus on what people are like and how their feelings inform their actions than a world that makes objective sense. So, yeah, like Harry Potter. The tone is light, yet engaging and entertaining, and while it is not Sanderson's best work, it's quite fun.

  Trading for a Living is a pack of four different books, but of similar design:

  • The Best Trading Lessons of Jesse Livermore
    • contains quotes from Jesse Livermore and a short translation/analysis from Frank Marshall for each
  • Expert Trader: 93 Trading Lessons of Richard Wyckoff
    • contains quotes from Richard Wyckoff and a short translation/analysis from Frank Marshall for each
  • Secrets of Trading Performance
    • a list of 10 principles to help you get in the mindset of a day trader
  • Trading Essentials
    • a list of 20 principles to help you get in the mindset of a day trader

On the surface of it, you might say that this is not a book at all, just a collection of random musings from Frank Marshall. However, it does offer a direct and clear entry in the world of trading. As a complete noob in the business, I thought it was useful, if only as a browse-through and a reference book.

While I may have the utmost respect for Livermore and Wyckoff, they were trading a century ago. Their insights, even translated by a modern trader, don't mean much, although the small explaining paragraph from Marshall at the end of each is concise and useful. However, the two small booklets at the end, with the 30 principles in total, are kind of gold. And not gold in the sense of "read those and you will get rich!", but because they are honestly telling you:

  • trading is HARD, because it depends on you finding an edge over everybody else (you only win because someone else loses)
  • trading is discipline, because you need to fight your own urges and emotions and follow an (ever evolving) strategy
  • you need to keep your own mind, body and life in balance (he even recommends meditation and therapy)
  • trading is a job, which needs to be done with the mind, not the heart
  • most people losing big (the 90% that don't make it) usually enter trading with the wrong mindset: trying to prove something, gambling, fear, wanting to get rich fast, etc.
  • trading is hard work: following the trends, interpreting the data, doing math and statistics, etc.
  • you trade because you enjoy it, otherwise you won't make it

Bottom line: Frank Marshall is telling you NOT to pick up trading unless you are really into it. Even these relatively vague advice he gives is prefaced in every book by a disclaimer that you are not to follow it with the expectation that it will automatically make you win money. You need to put in a lot of work to even start making a dent and strong discipline is required to stop yourself from going in too deep and never coming back up.

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  There is an issue with American science fiction, where the stakes have to be raised all the time. Everything has to become different, bigger, flashier, louder, until it becomes so ridiculous that you just have to start over. My greatest regret is that the Expanse series didn't focus more on the Sol world, so carefully crafted in the first books only to be discarded for (cheap?) alien cosmic horror. Perhaps there was never a market for that, but when the series ended, it is the complex interaction between Inners and Belters and the larger than life characters there I missed the most.

  Leviathan Falls doesn't address all of the open threads, loses focus on the world and stays on the crew of the Rocinante: victims, heroes, rebels, guardians of the Universe. It then unequivocally cuts all of those threads and ends the entire series with terrible finality.

  But the book is great, like most of the series, a page turner that I couldn't let go until I had finished it. Stakes were never higher, heroes never this heroic, villains never more terrifying and yet relatable. To me, at this moment, biggest villain(s) is still James S. A. Corey for killing my world.

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 So you clicked on this post because you thought that:

  • I was smart enough to know how to be better than anybody else
  • I could summarize all the ways to become so
  • I would generously share them with you
  • You would understand what I am telling you in 3 minutes or whatever your attention span is now

While I appreciate the sentiment, no, I am not that smart, nor am I that stupid. There are no shortcuts. Just start thinking for yourself and explore the world with care and terror and hope, like the rest of us. And most of all, stop clicking on "N ways to..." links.

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  Stranger in a Strange Land is mainly satire. It tries to shake the reader from stasis and make them ask questions and think for themselves. For Robert A. Heinlein, science, freedom of thought and critical thinking were really important and it shows in how he approaches the story. However, the book is also philosophy, pulp fiction, religious experimentation, erotica, science fiction and pure lunacy. Also, if you are one of the social justice people, don't read this book, especially feminists.

  First published in 1961, it both shows its age and is way ahead of its times. The book immensely influenced culture to the point that it added a new word to the English dictionary: "grok", which is used throughout the book as a synonym to "comprehend", although apparently it means a lot more.

  The book is pretty damn large, split into five parts which each felt like a different story. Probably today it would have been published as a pentalogy. The first part is pure science fiction satire. A young man, raised by Martians, returns to Earth, where he has to confront the reality of our culture. Shots are fired towards everything: politics, law, religion, capitalism, culture. 

  The second part is about him finding some allies which protect him and allow him to have the time to evolve. Here it kind of transforms to the normal kind of pulp published at the time (and since).

  From the third part on, Heinlein gives agency to his character. People interact with him, teach him about the world while he starts "spreading his wings". A lot of discussion about how he naively perceives the world. More focus is put on his superpowers: he can not only make stuff (and people) disappear forever, but he can control his body, move things with his mind, is capable of telepathy.

  In the fourth part, Mike the Martian becomes a cult leader. He establishes a church, starts filtering people through a number of "circles" and at the end he has them speaking and thinking in Martian, which gives them the same powers that he has. His church is all about free love, communal ownership (if it even matters), group telepathy and so on. At this point I was reminded of The Center of the Cyclone, which started as a scientist's journal on LSD experimentation and ended as a complete mental breakdown of a person communing with extraterrestrial beings.

  The fifth part just wraps it all up in a biblical allegory, with Mike the God sacrificing himself for his church and humanity as a whole.

  It took me forever to finish the book. Partly because I was focused on other stuff, but also because the book is filled with random stuff. You might think that as Mike is the primary character, he is also the protagonist, but instead this old man Jubal is the carrier of the reader's point of view. The man is cultured, intelligent, arrogant, likes to hear himself speak, condescends to everybody and is generally grumpy - which is presented as being endearing, but in fact it's pretty annoying. He lives in a grand mansion with four young girls, which are his secretaries. When he permits them, they are quite lively and opinionated :) Apparently, many considered Jubal as a stand in for Heinlein himself.

  I admit that I loved the first part of the book. I thought it was humorous and poignant, laying bare the hypocrisy of the modern world. Also it had a good pace, it was presenting new information and there was no Jubal. Then things started to feel a bit weird, but I kept at it. The ending was almost like having to listen to one of those convinced hippies telling everybody how God is love and therefore you should let him fuck you. There are entire chapters about Jubal explaining someone how things truly are and why that person is wrong in their thoughts or beliefs. And then there is the church of love thing, where everybody groks and drinks deep and calls everybody "dear", while smugly announcing that they have the answer to everything.

  As far as I know Heinlein specifically tried to piss off people with the book, to shake things up. It all started from a idea of his wife's to write a Mowgli book, but where the kid has been raised by Martians. more than a decade later, this is the result. I think the Strugatskys did a better and more concise job in Space Mowgli, yet Heinlein managed to inspire whole generations with this book. To this day there is an actual church that follows the principles in the book and a Heinlein Society dedicated to encouraging critical thinking. Who am I to criticize it? But it was damn hard to finish.

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  Can we use the scientific method as a guide for life? Let's find out!

  In these times science is either misunderstood or maligned (more often both), but what do you think science actually is? The "simple" Wikipedia definition is "a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe", which is a criminally roundabout way of saying it's the result of the scientific method, the one that you see in the picture there. No matter how little you know or how stupid you think you are, the scientific method is a way of acquiring knowledge and then building upon that knowledge. It has nothing to do with nomenclatures, hard mathematics, quantum mechanics or complex lab equipment. Those are results of science, not components. One may build upon them, but might as well decide they want to go another direction.

  Why am I writing this? Because I am not a scientist, but I feel inspired by the scientific method. It provides a sure algorithmic way of improving... well, anything! All you have to do is repeatedly follow four simple steps:

  • Observe
  • Predict
  • Test
  • Analyze

 And while discussing this with anyone is something I enjoy, this post is not about the entire process, but just about the first step: Observation. I strongly believe that what is missing most from our collective lives is observing the world around us. I was reading something about a plant today and I realize that I have no idea what the plants I see are called, what they are useful for, and furthermore I rarely pay any attention to them in the rare cases I do go out and find some. My wife is different. Her life is based on observation and, while I don't always agree with her conclusions, I begrudgingly have you admit that I mostly analyze her observations rather than make my own.

Imagine you are in a biology class in school, let's say primary school and they have to learn botany. Are you seeing it, in your mind's eye? Where are the students? How does the teacher enter the class? What does he do? What do the pupils do then? What tools are they using?

Now tell me, where did you imagine this class taking place? Because when I did it, I imagined a room at the first floor inside a concrete building. The teacher enters the room and writes something on the blackboard and the children open some textbook. Perhaps it's a whiteboard and children have tablets, because it's the future and I am fucking old. But where are the plants under study? If we are lucky, there are some in the window behind the teacher's desk, because they have a small, but higher chance of surviving there than anywhere else in the classroom. If the school has a high enough budget one can imagine an occasional field trip with the kids, using a bus to go to a botanic garden and walk around for a bit. An artificial and abstract representation of something that is never observed.

How can one study anything without observing it? In an average class what pupils are observing are the opinions of other people, translated into text and pictures in books. They move from subject to subject, always basing their learning on what someone else saw and abstracted away. They are taught, in a consistent and constant way, to base their thinking on what people in authority have chewed and regurgitated for them. It doesn't matter if those people are right or wrong, that's not the argument I am making, it's about what we are actually learning, in schools and then later in everything we do. It only takes one moment of disconnect, of betrayal of trust, for the foundation of entire lives to be shattered, because if you suddenly learn you may not get the right information from the people you thought of as experts and authority figures, then your entire life experience so far may be a lie.

Most people dislike and distrust science because it is presented in an abstract manner, removed from day to day experience. But that's not science! Science is based on *your* experience. The very word means knowledge. And while you are bombarded with information every minute of every day, that's not knowledge unless it fits in your chain of experiences.

Now tell me another thing: what do you want to improve? Your life, probably. How do you define it, what are its components, how do you measure its quality? In the end (or is it the start), how well are you observing your life? How do you observe yourself, the people around you, the world in which you live?

Let's start there, with defining ourselves and our place in the world, let's observe the immediate reality of our existence. We'll wing it from there. It won't be science until we make testable predictions, actually test them and then adapt to what the analysis tells us, but it's a start. The alternative is to try to fix something without understanding how it works. Or worse, waiting for someone else to do it for us and hoping they understand it better than we. We will end up hitting something repeatedly, expecting it to start working as we want.

I was reading an article a few days suggesting that he have evolved to hold opinions that make us "win" not that are necessarily true, that those opinions are there to define our belonging to a social group and not to inform our actions according to reality. The scientific method appears to do away with emotions and instinct, thus feel unnatural, but in the things we choose observe we find ourselves, in the predictions we make we put our hopes and in the effort to test and improve our understanding we enforce our will.

Do you feel lacking control over things? Are you angry and frustrated? You might not have much power, but *this* you can do no matter who you are, where you are and who stands with or against you. Science: see, think, try, choose.

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  Mirage is inspired by the "Years of Lead" in Morocco's 1960s history and its underlying message about the terrors of colonialism is quite important. At first I thought it was inspired by the plight of Arabs in Palestine, so it's also very timely. That is why it pains me to say that I couldn't go more than several chapters in. The writing is amateurish, the lead teen character inconsistent and annoying and this is clearly a YA book written by a woman for other women.

  That may sound misogynistic, but everyone who has ever hunted for a good book to read knows what I mean: you get to something that has rave recommendations, raised to the level of masterpiece by a few articles, but then when you start reading and you look closer at those reviews you see that they are mostly from women writing those five star animated GIF capital letter emoji filled things. And all the men give two stars and wonder how did they get to read the book in the first place, just like you.

  I don't want to be unfair to Somaiya Daud - this is her debut novel and I am sure her writing will get better with time - but for me reading through the rest of the book and knowing that it's yet another trilogy in the making, so having to wait even more to even get to the end of the story, was too much. It also addresses issues of personal helplessness, which is probably my Achilles' heel. If I ever want to get to those good books that I want to find, I have to fail fast and cut my losses early.

  Bottom line: I couldn't even begin to start reading the book. A combination of subject, debut writing style and aggressive and misleading advertising made me abandon it immediately.

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  I have heard about Jack Kerouac and his most famous book On the Road for as long as I can remember, but I had never read it until now. I did watch the 2012 movie with the same name, though, and I gave it the highest rating. I still believe Garrett Hedlund was amazing in it and that the guy needs more great roles like that. So, while whole books have been written about the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac and his friends and about On the Road itself, what did I, greatest book critic ever, think of it?

  I liked it. I can say that parts of it were lovely and parts of it boring. But consider this: Kerouac wrote this as a "scroll", based on a stream of thoughts randomly thrown on whatever paper he could find on his travels, shaped by whatever place he was in and what mood he was having and which people he was with and what substances coursed through his body. The scroll itself is twice as big as the book he eventually published and On the Road is considered part of the Duluoz Legend series, which spans 13 books. The thing to look for in his writing cannot be about specific details, but about the overall philosophy, the experience.

  That is why I can safely and with certainty say: I will not read the scroll version, I liked the book, but I loved the movie. And while this is not a review of the film, I did notice that many of its critics were mainly focused on "it's not like the book". Gentlemen, if the film would have been about other people doing other things, but in the same spirit as the book, it would still have been On the Road and just as entertaining. Because, while this is based on actual people and actual experiences, the specifics are quite irrelevant. Once you capture the spirit of the thing, the rest is just filler.

  So what is the book about? Jack and his buddy Dean spend the entire time moving from New York to San Francisco and back, using their own cars, car sharing, hitching, jumping on trains, buses, or however they could, enjoying each other's company and the feeling of being on the road and meeting interesting people and living life at its fullest. The film has a great female cast, but you will notice that they are barely doing anything. They are there in the background, because while the story contains them, it is not focused on them. It's even more so in the book, where characters jump in and out of the story: travel companions, drink and drug buddies, random sex, true love, marriages, children, people who let them sleep in their houses with or without pleasure. And while everything is told from the perspective of the writer and Dean has the next more important role, even then you cannot say the story is about them.

  The effect that both book and movie had on me was quite an antisocial one. They made me dream of travelling light, experiencing all kinds of adventures while caring about nothing and nobody, just living in the moment. It's a nice fantasy, one that breaks easily under the weight of my own nature and the oppressive organization of the present, but nice nonetheless. On the Road gives us a glimpse of what was gained and what got lost in 70 years from the perspective of people doing the living back then. There is no hero, no villain, no moral to the story and no mystery to solve. Just people being as free as the world lets them to.

Bottom line: not the best book that I have ever read, but also great, fresh, honest, worth reading, with characters worth knowing. It is important to know that in order to get to the curated, safe, stale world we live in, others had to try all kinds of other things, that freedom is something you feel rather than something given to you. This is a fantasy and an autobiography all at once. That's the part that I loved most.