Siddhartha is a novel that may convince you the mind is a superpower. Ironically, his namesake becomes Godlike when he masters introspection over salvation. Originally, one of my childhood friends gave me a copy of this little book as a teenager. I hadn't read it until now (albeit a library copy), but it was well worth the wait.
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Phoebe, the main character, is a free spirit and a bit scatterbrained; but it's she who the cult is impressionable. Perhaps the poetic style of prose and multiple points of view were necessary to connect the two, but it made the book slow to digest. It became readable much later, but the author R.O. Kwon didn't disappoint; I finished The Incendiaries well satisfied.
Readers of The Incendiaries might be interested in This Life or the Next by the Norwegian Demian Vitanza.
A review of The Incendiaries (R.O. Kwon).
Originally published to a different social media account on the date above.
Recommender/Reference: Midtown Scholar Bookstore
Note: I was able to meet Kwon during her book signing in Harrisburg prior to my reading the book.
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I finished Transparent Language -- specifically, the Essentials Course in Modern Standard Arabic. It certifies proficiency in 450-plus words and phrases. The curriculum has 11 units comprised each of multiple lessons. Each lesson, in turn, has a list of exercises.
Despite what the certificate says, I started the Course during the last week of December. Except for the days I was out-of-town or moving, I practiced an average of 35 minutes a day.
The timestamp on the certificate wasn't the only glitch. By the time I got halfway through the curriculum, a real-time glitch or two occurred almost every session. A simple page refresh would remedy the error or a similar message, but it sometimes required me to restart the exercise I was working on. This was especially annoying during one of the 11 end-of-unit assessments. However, I appreciated the challenge of retaking a different version of that assessment.
What I Liked.
My favorite feature was the "Learned" section, which tracks your number of "stale" vocabulary to review via Quizlet-like flashcards. On the other hand, my favorite exercises were "Four Square" (a drill on short-term memory and reading comprehension) and "Pronunciation Practice" (which measures your pronunciation against that of a native speaker). In addition, the "Dictation" exercise was especially useful because it allowed me to identify my mispronunciations.
What I Disliked.
One of my least-favorite aspects of the Course was the lack of emphasis on basic grammar. There were vignettes that accompanied phrases from time to time, but I think it serves the Arabic learner to acclimate to the elementary rules dissimilar from English as soon as possible. Root consonants, demonstrative pronouns, and sun and moon letters (noted but not emphasized) come to mind. There were, however, supplementary grammar resources, so I took it that grammar was outside the Course's scope.
My other least-favorite aspect was the emphasis on phrases over parts of speech or vocabulary. Without a working knowledge of its elements, the phrases were unchangeable and bare-bone "survival" words unidentifiable. I also assumed vocabulary was outside the Course curriculum, as supplementary vocabulary materials were available.
I do recommend Transparent Language for the independent, motivated Arabic learner. Aside from the personalizable curriculum, it provides a mobile app and additional resources (i.e. grammar) to help you gain a foundation in the language. I had free access to the entire platform -- which includes dozens of languages -- through my public library. If not, I'd consider the USD $45.95 monthly subscription for the same (USD $24.95 includes a single language).
I don't, however, recommend the platform as an introduction to Arabic pronunciation (or grammar). There's an option to slow down the native speaker's voice, but there's no video instruction to visualize his or her phonetic cues. The instruction is auditory- and reading-based.
A review of Transparent Language Online - Essentials Course: Modern Standard Arabic.
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