Friday, April 22, 2016

Her birthday is Earth Day

Cady, who reviewed books on this blog a few years ago, is "sweet sixteen" today.  Some of the books she reviewed were And Tango Makes Three, Kersplatypus, Goldie, and Other Goose.

Happy Birthday, Cady!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Library Loot ~ from the new-book shelves

How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln: The Story Behind the Nation's First Woman Detective ~ by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk, illustrated by Valentina Belloni, 2016, children's
In 1856, when Kate Warne went to see Allan Pinkerton, only men were detectives.  But Kate convinced Allan to hire her for his detective agency.  She explained that she could worm out secrets where men could not go ― in disguise as a society lady!  Join Kate on her most important mission ― to thwart a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration.
In Other Words ~ by Jhumpa Lahiri, 2015, translation from Italian by Ann Goldstein (2016), language
This book is at heart a love story — of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language.  For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated  and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college.  Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.  Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world.  There, she begins to read, and to write — initially in her journal — solely in Italian.  In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.
Not In God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence ~ by Jonathan Sacks, 2015, religion
Rabbi Sacks tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God.  If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution.  When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit — that is, my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong — and individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls “altruistic evil,” violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome.  By exploring the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths.  By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Rabbi Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible’s stories of sibling rivalry:  Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah.  “Abraham himself,” writes Rabbi Sacks, “sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith.  That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith.  It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief.  It is our task to be a blessing to the world. The use of religion for political ends is not righteousness but idolatry ... To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege.”
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to share the names of books we checked out of the library.  See what others got this week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

TWOsday ~ from the library

Save Me ~ by Lisa Scottoline, 2011, fiction
Rose McKenna, makes a split-second decision that alters the course of her life — and makes you wonder what you would do in her shoes.  Nobody could have foreseen what would happen the day that Rose McKenna volunteers as a lunch mom in the cafeteria of her daughter’s elementary school.  Rose does it to keep a discreet eye on her third-grader, Melly, a sweet, if shy, child who was born with a facial birthmark that has become her own personal bull’s-eye.  Melly has been targeted by the mean girl at their new school and gets bullied every day, placing Rose in a no-win position familiar to parents everywhere.  Do we step in to protect our children when they need us, or does that make things worse?  When the bully starts to tease Melly yet again.  Rose is about to leap into action — but right then, the unthinkable happens.  Rose finds herself in a nightmare, faced with an emergency decision that no mother should ever have to make.  What she decides in that split second derails Rose’s life and jeopardizes everyone she holds dear, until she takes matters into her own hands and lays her life on the line to save her child, her family, her marriage — and herself.
Who Needs God ~ by Harold Kushner, 1989, religion
If you have lost faith or have never known it, or if you have ever wondered "What can religion offer?" here are wise and thoughtful answers. Rabbi Kushner addresses a critical issue in the lives of many: a spiritual hunger that no personal success can feed. He shows how religious commitment does have a place in our daily lives, filling a need for connection, joy, and community.
I ran across these two while re-shelving books yesterday in the Crown Center library.  That second one reminds me that I also need to read and return a book by him that I borrowed from a friend:  When Children Ask About  God: A Guide for Parents Who Don't Always Have All the Answers ~ by Harold Kushner, 1971, 1989.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mailbox Monday ~ one arrived today

The Living God and the Fullness of Life ~ by Jürgen Moltmann, 2015, religion
Modern humanity has accepted a truncated, impoverished definition of life.  Focusing solely on material realities, we have forgotten that joy, purpose, and meaning come from a life that is both immersed in the temporal and alive to the transcendent.  We have, in other words, ceased to live in God.  Moltmann shows us what that life of joy and purpose looks like.  Describing how we came to live in a world devoid of the ultimate, he charts a way back to an intimate connection with the biblical God.  He counsels that we adopt a "theology of life," an orientation that sees God at work in both the mundane and the extraordinary and that pushes us to work for a world that fully reflects the life of its Creator.  Moltmann offers a telling critique of the shallow values of consumerist society and provides a compelling rationale for why spiritual sensibilities and encounter with God must lie at the heart of any life that seeks to be authentically human.
It's been 2-1/2 years since I did a Mailbox Monday post.  With my Kindle and several libraries at my disposal, I rarely order books.  This one arrived today.  Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia, is now hosted on its own blog.  It's a way for readers to share the books that arrived in the past week and explore other book blogs.  Warning:  Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Thirteen ~ Emily's visit

1.  Emily with frogs.  My friend Emily flew in for a visit, and how did I entertain her?  By taking her to my libraries.  Here she is with the reading frogs at the University City Public Library.

2.  Emily with a lion.  Around the corner from the frogs was this lion, who reminded Emily of Roary the literary lion of Lyon.  Roary became my writing partner in 2007, though he's been busy with other things for several years now.  Oh, yeah, lions are symbolic of U-City (that's University City), which has lions at the western end of "The Loop" on Delmar Boulevard.  U-City's 100 Year Birthday in 2009 was the occasion of having nine lions decorated, and this lion was decorated with pages of books.

3.  Emily in the bookstacks.  From there, we went over to the Mid-County branch of the St. Louis County Library system, located in Clayton, Missouri.  This is where I usually get my books.

4.  Emily in the history room.  The next day we went downtown to the St. Louis Public Library in the CITY of St. Louis.  I photographed Emily in front of the 1855 panorama of St. Louis that is in the history room.

5.  Emily with two books by Betty Burnett, which we found at the downtown St. Louis Public Library.  Betty is a friend of mine at the Crown Center.

6.  Emily looked up at this stained-glass skylight.  It's above the third floor of the downtown library, and I think it's beautiful.  We went to that library because I told Emily about all the wonderful architectural features in the building.

7.  Emily photographed the window over the Grand Staircase at the downtown St. Louis Public Library, but I had trouble pulling up the photo I took.

8.  Emily also visited the Crown Center's library, and I failed to get a picture of that.

9.  Emily won over my friendly little Clawdia, who likes being with people.

10.  Emily exercised inside with two Crown Center classes.  She joined me for my chair yoga class and a couple of days later attended Melissa's regular class.

11.  Emily exercised outside by walking around the Crown Center buildings when it was sunny.  She works hard at keeping her joints limber.

12.  Emily got to know some of my friends because I invited them to go with us to eat out while she was here.  And because she got to talk to them at our monthly book club meeting.  (Books, again!)

13.  Emily flew out of Lambert, the airport in St. Louis, in the early afternoon today.