What I Read: Ishmael | My Triumphant Return!

Welcome back to posts with Leeann! You might have forgotten about me, but I’m the junior who foolishly thought majoring in two reading-heavy departments wouldn’t kill me. Needless to say, I was wrong.

Anyway, this triumphant return is not a permanent return :(. Promising I’m back to my regular posting would just be a lie. I have large assignments due at least once a week until the end of this semester, and I know they’re going to be taking a bunch of my time. But I will do my best.

BUT! Do not be grieved! In light of my busy schedule, I’m going to ask some of my friends to write some posts for you all. Coming next week: a post from future-librarian and book-reading fiend Amanda.

Now, let’s get into Ishmael, or the book that will change your worldview life.

5/5 Pineapples

What I Read: Ishmael | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn is a dialogue between a teacher and his student. Only the twist is–the teacher is a gorilla. Together the narrator and the gorilla talk through humanity’s history, break down Genesis, and result in a “program” that can save humanity from certain extinction.

First of all, disclaimer: I read this for my Environmental Crisis Literature class, so a lot of how I understand this book comes from class discussion. If I start getting into any theory that doesn’t make sense, just skip it. I barely understand it myself :)

It’s hard to explain just what I loved about this book. It’s not your typical novel and what I love about it is the course of the entire conversation (or, you know, the whole book). You have to move from start to finish in order to understand what Quinn is saying. Plus, with the promise of learning how the save the world, you must be patient and read until the very end of the novel.

Ishmael is also a very deep read, one it took class discussions and writing a paper on it for me to fully understand. You have to sit down for a period of time to read it. While it doesn’t have to be read all at once, chapter by chapter is really helpful to understanding and staying on track with the conversation.

But the main reason this book is amazing is because it makes you think about how we treat nature. Yes, climate change is a current threat, and we can no longer continue to act the way we do and expect to survive. Change has to happen if the world can make it the next 100, 50, 20 years. Ishmael explains how we’ve reached this point and what we can do to remove ourselves from the doomed trajectory we’re on.

Basically, I highly recommend anyone and everyone to read this book. Then will you definitely understand what I am talking about, and I think you’ll find it well worth your time.

What books have made you think before? Any that had an impact on your actions?


Below the Line:

  • Two weeks until Fall Break!
  • I’ve been eating popcorn like nobody’s business. Just take one look at the popcorn carcasses under my desk and you’ll understand just how intense this snack love has become.
  • My Rho Gamma (Recruitment Guide) life has fully kicked in. If anyone wants me to do a post on Greek life or being a Rho Gamma, just let me know. I wasn’t planning on doing anything until I can reveal my affiliation but I’d be happy to do a generic post now!
  • This is the first time I’ve been caught up on my schoolwork in two (three?) weeks. Hopefully I’ll hang on to it, but with the two papers, discussion leader assignment, and test I have coming up, it seems unlikely.
  • Don’t forget, guest post next week! Get excited!

2 thoughts on “What I Read: Ishmael | My Triumphant Return!

  1. I loved Ishmael when I read it nearly…gulp…20 years ago! I found it life-altering also, but in the years since I have often wondered how much I allowed it to change my life. Sadly, I don’t think I allowed it to change as much as it should have!


    • I also find it challenging to remember what a book has taught you as the years go by. Especially in this class where I’m reminded of how doomed we are every day, it’s difficult to see how what I do can make any difference. At least with the book I feel like I better understand what’s happening now :)


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