Saturday, January 24, 2015

National Readathon Day ~ my report

I did it.  I had my own little readathon day, and got little read between the hours of 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm.  Here's why.

Having slept late, I didn't get online until nearly noon.  When I checked email, I saw that my friend Donna had suggested:  "Shall we read in the library?"  I hadn't thought of that, but what a great idea!  So I looked for an illustration of reading, found this colorful elephant, printed off three copies with the words shown below, and got ready to go downstairs to our library here in the Crown Center.

Today, take part in National Readathon Day
by reading in the Crown FCenter Library
between 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm to help
"create, promote and sustain a lifelong love of reading."

When I reached the library, Donna wasn't there, and she wasn't hearing her cell phone when I called.  So there I was in the library, trying to read

Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement (2013), while hearing two Chinese women conversing loudly in the nearby laundry room.  (Appropriate, I thought, since that novel is set in Shanghai.)  I was alone until a man came in and went to the shelves holding the books in Russian.  He found a book and left.  Later, a Chinese man I've seen there before sat down at his usual table to read.  Either he doesn't speak English or doesn't want to talk, but for awhile I had another reader in the small library with me.  Then a Chinese woman came in and said, "Good to see you again!"  I didn't remember her name, but I'd seen her before.  It turned out that she didn't remember my name, either, but she wanted to talk:
"Do you have time to hear my story?"
I figured I wasn't getting much reading done, so okay.  I went over and sat in the chair beside her, as she told her story in broken English and much pantomiming.  The best I could tell, May was born in Burma, her father was Chinese, they were refugees in China, returned to Burma, and she lived 29 years in India where she married an Indian man.  When she left, I returned to my book.

After two hours in the library, however, I had managed to read only 17 pages.  I picked up my phone and my book and left, first to check on Donna (whose phone was in the other room and turned down low) and then back to my apartment where I could actually read.  I put aside Amy Tan's novel and went back to reading Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most by Marcus J. Borg, 2014.  It was his last book.  He died on Wednesday the 21st.  It's easier to read where it's quiet.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Beginning ~ after the verdict

Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey ~ by Alison Weir, 2006, historical fiction (England)
14th November 1553
It is over.  My trial has ended, and I am now back in the Tower of London, this place that was once my palace and is now my prison.
Sounds interesting to me.  I assume the story will tell me about her palace, her trial, and why she's in prison.  I've enjoyed novels by Alison Weir before, and I look forward to this one.  Summary:
"I am now a condemned traitor ... I am to die when I have hardly begun to live" (p. 3).  Lady Jane Grey — "the Nine Days' Queen" — is a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the sixteenth century.  The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn's beheading and the demise of Jane's infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII.  With the premature passing of Jane's adolescent cousin, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor.  Honest and exceptionally intelligent, Jane has no ambitions to rule, preferring to immerse herself in books and religious studies.  She is forced to accept the crown, setting off a firestorm of intrigue, betrayal, and tragedy.  Power-grabbing swirls around Lady Jane Grey from the day of her birth to her unbearably poignant death.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Funny Friday

This is even funnier if you have read the book by Yann Martel.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marcus J. Borg (1942-2015)

This photo shows Marcus Borg on Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast of Ireland in 2005.  John Dominic Crossan, who co-wrote some books with him and took the photo above, posted on Facebook today:
"And the future, including what is beyond our lives? We leave that up to God" (last sentence of Marcus' last book, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most).  Marcus died yesterday.
In March 2006, I heard Marcus Borg speak at First-Centenary United Methodist Church in Chattanooga.  Sherry Boles and Donna Carey were also there that day.  I taught Borg's book The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith (2003) at St. Luke UMC and have facilitated classes and discussions of several other books by Marcus Borg.  I am currently reading his most recent book Convictions (2014), the one Dom Crossan mentioned.  What a loss, but what a blessing his life has been to scholars and seekers of understanding.

National Readathon Day ~ this Saturday

On January 24th, I plan to take part in National Readathon Day for the four hours between 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm.  This readathon is to help "create, promote, and sustain a lifelong love of reading."  Do you want to join me?  What will you be reading?

And tell me, please, "Where is your book while you sleep?"  Mine can be found in all of these places:  A, B, D, and E.  Yes, all of those places, since I usually am in the middle of more than one book at a time.  Kiki died in 2012 and I don't think she ever slept on a book, so never as illustrated in C.  The most likely place for whatever book I was reading when I fell asleep, however, is on my chest with my finger marking the place where I stopped reading.  Yes, the light would still be shining in my face.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's wonderful about Wednesday?

Full of Grace ~ by Dorothea Benton Frank, 2006, fiction (South Carolina)
The move from New Jersey to Hilton Head, South Carolina, wasn't easy for the Russo family — difficult enough for Big Al and Connie, but even harder for their daughter Maria Graziella, who insists on being called Grace.  At thirty-two and still unmarried, Grace has scandalized her staunchly traditional Italian family by moving in with her boyfriend Michael — who, though a truly great guy, is agnostic, commitment-phobic, a scientist, and (horror of horrors) Irish!  Grace adores her parents even though they drive her crazy — and she knows they'd love Michael if they got to know him, but Big Al won't let him into their house.  And so the stage is set for a major showdown — which, along with a devastating, unexpected crisis and, perhaps, a miracle or two, just might change Grace's outlook on love, family, and her new life in the new South.
The Book of Strange New Things ~ by Michel Faber, 2014, fiction
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea.  Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC.  His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings — his Bible is their "book of strange new things."  But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate:  typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling.  Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.  Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance — and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse — is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable.  While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival.  Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.
What's wonderful about Wednesday?  Two more books!  I returned from the library with one book, stopped at my mailbox, and discovered another book had arrived from my daughter.  What a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TWOsday ~ how to books

In a sense, these two books are "how to" books.  The first tells Christians how to serve the common good, and the second tells Buddhists how to have a meaningful life.  The Dalai Lama isn't focused on religion, but on how to make life meaningful.  The authors of both books are trying to make the world a better place for all of us.
A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good ~ by Miroslav Volf, 2011
Debates rage today about the role of religion in public life.  As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, various religions come to inhabit the same space.  But how do they live together, especially when each wants to shape the public realm according to the dictates of its own sacred texts and traditions?  How does the Christian faith relate in the religious pluralism of contemporary public life?  Renowned theologian Miroslav Volf argues that there is no single way Christian faith relates to culture as a whole.  He explores major issues on the frontlines of faith today, addressing questions such as:
  • In what way does the Christian faith come to malfunction in the contemporary world, and how should we counter these malfunctions?
  • What should a Christian's main concern be when it comes to living well in the world today?
  • How should we go about realizing a vision for human flourishing in relation to other faiths and under the roof of a single state?
Covering such timely issues as witness in a multifaith society and political engagement in a pluralistic world, this compelling book highlights things Christians can do to serve the common good.

How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life ~ by the Dalai Lama, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, 2002
As human beings, we all share the desire for happiness and meaning in our lives.  According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the ability to find true fulfillment lies within each of us.  He helps readers embark upon the path to enlightenment with a stunning illumination of the timeless wisdom and an easy-access reference for daily practice.  Divided into a series of distinct steps that will lead spiritual seekers toward enlightenment, How to Practice is a constant companion in the quest to practice morality, meditation, and wisdom.  This accessible book will guide you toward opening your heart, refraining from doing harm, and maintiaining mental tranquility as the Dalai Lama shows you how to overcome everyday obstacles, from feelings of anger and mistrust to jealousy, insecurity, and counterproductive thinking.