Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Get Lost In A Book

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown was an interesting quick read.  At 509 pages it was a bit longer than a paperback, but for those who know me, I killed it within a handful of hours, and that was getting up and moving around when I got restless.  

For those of you familiar with The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons this book welcomes back his character Robert Langdon (played by the wonderful Tom Hanks in the films).  I was pleased, since although I have liked his other books, this character by far is my favorite.  

This book was a fun read for me since we just moved to the D.C. area.  It takes place in D.C. and so getting to hear about historical monuments and little known facts about the area made me a little more determined to get to see these places soon.  I'm a big history nut, and who doesn't love the random fun conspiracy theory (that Dan Brown's books always seem to involve)?  

This book involves a lot to do with the Freemasons.  I don't know a lot about them other than my mother's father was one, and my father-in-law is one now.  My mother-in-law cracks me up, because she too likes to bug my FIL and another lodge member with asking them about things like National Treasure. (If you haven't seen the movie with Nicholas Cage, do, immediately.  It will get your kids interested in the history of the founding of our country).  But in this book there are once again a lot of conspiracy theories about the freemasons, the ultimate super secret keepers.  So, if their ceremonies interest you, it describes some of them in the book, and Dan Brown claims they're accurate.

Another major plot point has to do with Noetic Sciences.  I personally had to google and wiki it, only to realize I had heard of it before.  You can read all about the Institute of Noetic Science, as well as googling to find out more in depth.  Basically it involves the study of the human mind, and our ability to do things with thoughts.  I am afraid if I try to explain too in depth I will just confuse you.  According to the wikipedia article I linked to, the Institute deals with "research into topics such as spontaneous remission, meditation, consciousness, alternative healing practices, spirituality, human potential, psychic abilities, and survival of consciousness after bodily death, among others."  It's obviously considered a little more out there, but I think we can all say there are things that happen that cannot be explained, so if someone wants to try to study things and figure it out, more power to them.

As for the book, I have to say I liked it, but I didn't love it.  It may be one of those I just need to read again, but I think the problem was really I didn't feel as if it was as in depth a novel as say The Da Vinci Code.  There wasn't as much information about the history of our country, the masons, or noetic science as I would have liked.  I felt like even Langdon seemed to have less to "say".  I will credit Brown in that while I figured out one of the major plot twists early, it was not as early as I usually do.  

Essentially, if you do not like a book that brings into question any Christian beliefs, then Brown's books are never going to be a good fit for you.  A big thing in this book is discussing the idea of God in each individual.  As a Catholic, this doesn't bother me whatsoever.  We have it emphasized every week as we cross ourselves in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  We are taught that the Holy Spirit is the part of God in all of us.   Luke 17:21 says that "the kingdom of God is within you."  The book takes that a bit further, but it doesn't bother me.  I love the chance to be made to think about my faith and what scripture actually meant versus the literal translation.  But that's me. 

However, even if the books are not a good fit for you, I always urge people to read books that they might disagree with.  I think it is unhealthy to only read things that are consistent with your very beliefs.  For myself I have read books and articles that have me shaking my head, but I am glad to have read them if for no other reason that they reaffirm that I do not agree with that particular standpoint.

So, to conclude my rambling little review, I would say it's a pretty good book.  If you are not sure it's for you, borrow it from a friend or a library.  I personally found it a good place to start for me researching more about D.C. and also things in my faith.  And if you end up buying it but not liking it, please remember you can always donate it to your local library.  Books like these are always hard to get ahold of, so extra copies are always welcome.


  1. I have to admit to being a bit of a literary snob. If I read fiction( which I rarely do) I try to read classics. That said, I have had a lalapalooza of a stressful month( for good and bad) and I could use a book that lets me escape. Even though I have never read Dan Brown before, I am actually thinking this may be the book I want to read next I used to be obsessed by the secrets of the freemasons so this might be perfect for me.
    Thanks for the review!!!

  2. Oh, and I made G call his father to grill him about the accuracy. He knew what we were talking about but said he could neither confirm nor deny. You'll have to let me know what you think!