These days, everyone is focused on the science, medical, and mathematical fields. After the USSR launched Sputnik into space in 1969, the Space Race between us and them was on. NASA was founded and jobs in science and math were highly sought upon, all to produce better and faster technology that would make us unprecedented globally. Nowadays, and even locally in my own school, there are classes specifically for S.T.E.M. jobs, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These jobs, for some reason, are highly fought for. A lot of people I know are going to major in different branches of engineering. Rockwell Collins is a local industry where I live and many people need degrees that relate to S.T.E.M. jobs. However, the people racing to become physicists and chemists are trampling the people who want to be writers or historians. I would like to major in history education when I go to college and hopefully end up teaching world history to high schoolers. We need to know our roots before we create new branches. People may ask why we need to care about history or reading, and I honestly can’t answer that. I just care about them because I enjoy them and I want other people to do the same. History is so intriguing to me, you can learn all about the past, a place you can never ever travel to (unless the science people I mentioned above figure out time travel or the Tardis pays a visit). My friends at least understand my love for the past because they bought me an AP world history textbook for my birthday. But some people will never understand. This goes for writers and musicians as well; people who want to publish the next great American novel, or write a hit song that will stay at the top of the charts for weeks are looked down upon, and even scorned by society, especially by those older than us. Maybe it is because of their experience, or maybe it is because they had similar dreams that had to be given up for practicality and security. Schools also discreetly force science and math into curriculums in the hopes that it will spark something in a student who isn’t willing. Personally, I believe by the time you’re in high school or if you know for sure what you want to do, you should be able to plan your coursework accordingly. I always joke that the only math I really want to know is the history of math, not math itself. Basically, governments support and fund science because it is seen as an economic and technological gain to them. History has shown what can happen when governments get too hungry for war and defense. The Cold War is a good example of this. The USA and USSR were the superpowers of the world at the time with the nuclear means to completely obliterate each other. There were many close calls, especially with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. This is just one event that we can use to tell future generations the consequences of increased technologies used for negative purposes. In conclusion, I believe that more emphasis should be placed on history and especially the arts, like how many times do your parents get excited when a song from the 80s comes on? People remember places, events, leaders. When equations and formulas fail, history makes up for it.
We left off in Journey to the Center of the Earth with Henry and his uncle reaching the opening to the center of the earth, ready to face the unknown. When they go through the opening, they see a vast sea that seems endless, which they coin the Central Sea. The decide to try and cross it to see if there is another side to the interior of the earth. After many days in which Henry keeps a journal about their voyage on the sea, they actually end up on the same coast they started on, not taking the wind, sea monsters, and currents into consideration. The troupe decides to explore what there is on the mainland, where they see giant mushrooms, prehistoric animals that should be extinct, and the most chilling-piles of bones. They find a sign marked by Arne Saknussemm, the person who started this whole journey by writing the ancient Icelandic in the journal, and they decide to blast through the thick granite wall. However, the space behind the rock is just a giant hole, not another passageway deeper into the earth. The three travelers are swept away on their raft into the tunnels of the underground and discover that they are going to soon encounter lava. They come to find out that they are in the shaft of an active volcano that is going to be erupting soon, but the hard part is trying to deduce where they are going to land, since they have no concept of where they are under the earth. They are shot upward and outward into what they come to find out is Stromboli, Italy. I google mapped the distance between the place where they started out (Reykjavik, Iceland) to where they ended up and it is a grand total of 2,312 miles! In the end, they make their way back to Hamburg, Germany where Professor Hardwigg becomes world-renowned and Henry marries his niece, Gretchen. Yeah, his niece.
What I love in a book is when the dates or days of the week are exactly laid out and easy to follow. It is easier for me to read a book when it is in some sort of chronological order, I’m sure there are other people out there just like me, right? This novel does a fantastic job of saying the exact dates of events, you know right when they left for the journey, and the exact date they returned, no need for guesswork. I also love how this book is so scientific. At first, I didn’t think I would understand a word of it since science isn’t really a point of interest to me. However, this book takes some complicated scientific concepts and puts them in layman’s terms. The measurements (like how many miles they had traveled) were also very easy to follow, you know, until they figured out they weren’t exactly in Iceland anymore at the end. It is almost like Verne was writing this novel in the hopes people would do exactly as it said. If you read this book with an open mind and regarded it as a how-to guide to travel to the center of the earth, you would have everything you would need. Well, you would also need supplies, oh wait! Verne clearly states that in the beginning chapters! Just make sure you have a compass that points in the opposite direction. Overall, this book was spectacular. For a nerdy person like me, it hit high marks with it’s easy to understand explanations and the fact that it was made for nerdy people like me! It made me want to go on an adventure and I can see why it is my boyfriend’s favorite classic novel. I will leave you with a quote from the book, stated right before they start their journey: “Et quacunque viam dederit fortuna sequamur.” (“And whichsoever way thou goest, may fortune follow.”)
Everybody likes a little sense of adventure in their life. Maybe it might be conquering your fear of heights or going on that vacation to the other side of the world that you’ve been dreaming about. An adventure can be found in every day life. In Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, a young boy and his uncle go on the adventure of a lifetime (if you haven’t guessed where, check out the title…). This classic novel was published in 1864, a time when writing was very formal and rigid. Verne’s personality really shines through with the little comments the narrator makes, which can be pretty hilarious. The young boy Henry, a food connoisseur, is the nephew of the eccentric Professor Hardwigg. His uncle has purchased an ancient book in the old Icelandic vernacular and has tried to decipher it’s meaning. Henry (I’ve learned that if you are reading European-based novels that are probably pre-twentieth century, Harry is a nickname for Henry) stumbles across the meaning by looking at the paper backwards and using his mad language skills to discover it is directions to the center of the earth. His uncle is ecstatic and plans a trip to Iceland promptly. Along the way to their destination, they meet people who will help out with planning the trip and also the journey to the inactive volcano where the passageway to the center of the earth is believed to be. They travel for some time until they reach Mount Sneffels (pause for a giggle) and descend down the Scartaris crater, and prepare to face what’s to come in the supposed center of the earth.
This book was given to me by my boyfriend for our year anniversary because he knows I love classic novels and this is his favorite. Now I can see why! This story is full of spunk, even with the constraints of the time period it was written in. Verne was known for his futuristic stories, kind of like H.G. Wells, and you can see that in this novel. I haven’t gotten to the part where they encounter all the wonders in the center of the earth, so look out for part two of this post coming soon!