Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shelving books ~ Where does it go?

Where does this book go?
Who can come up with the most creative response?
Is this book blue or green or red or orange?
This.
Yes, this is what's wrong with shelving books by cover.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Caturday ~ a day for snoozing

When I ran across this photo, I considered saving it for a "Tuesday Snooze Day."  However, it's been a long time since I posted anything for Caturday, and every day is a Snooze Day for cats.  She (he?) looks like a very contented cat.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Beginning ~ with a shock of recognition

Your Face in Mine ~ by Jess Row, 2014, fiction (Maryland)
It doesn't seem possible, even now, that it could begin the way it begins, in the blank light of a Sunday afternoon in February, crossing the parking lot at the Mondawmin Mall on the way to Lee's Asian Grocery, my jacket in my hand, because it's warm, the sudden, bleary, half-withheld breath of spring one gets in late winter in Baltimore, and a black man comes from the opposite direction, alone, my age or younger, still bundled in a black lambswool coat with the hood up, and as he draws nearer I feel an unmistakable shock of recognition.
If one of my writing students turned in a single sentence this long, we'd have a long talk about it.  Nevertheless, that's the first sentence of this book.  And here's what this novel is all about:
One afternoon, not long after Kelly Thorndike has moved back to his hometown of Baltimore, an African American man he doesn’t recognize calls out to him. To Kelly’s shock, the man identifies himself as Martin, who was one of Kelly’s closest friends in high school — who was skinny, white, and Jewish before his disappearance nearly twenty years before.  After years of immersing himself in black culture, Martin says, he’s had "racial reassignment surgery," altering his hair, skin, and physiognomy to allow him to pass as African American.  Unknown to his family or childhood friends, Martin has been living a new life ever since.  Now, however, Martin feels he can no longer keep his new identity a secret; he wants Kelly to help him ignite a controversy that will help sell racial reassignment surgery to the world.  Kelly, still recovering from the death of his wife and child and looking for a way to begin anew, agrees, and things quickly begin to spiral out of control.
An interesting concept, that a grieving man "reconnects with a high-school friend who has undergone racial reassignment surgery."  Let's see if it's a good story.


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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

BTT (#48) ~ unread

For today's Booking Through Thursday, Deb asks:
"What proportion of the books you own are unread?"
Oh, my goodness!  "Most of them" sounds terrible, but I have lots of nonfiction that are related to books I am studying.  Not all my reading is for distraction.  In fact, most of the books I keep are for me to use when quoting in class or to footnote what I write.  I rarely keep novels, which I read for pleasure.  Those are the ones I borrow from the library, so they don't take up space on my very full bookshelves.  The photo above shows the tall bookcase beside my desk.  It probably isn't much of an exaggeration to say I could read from my own shelves for the rest of my life!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TWOsday at the library

We Should All Be Feminists ~ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013, women's studies, 8/10
What does “feminism” mean today?  That is the question at the heart of this book, a personal, eloquently-argued essay — adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name — by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.  Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century — one rooted in inclusion and awareness.  She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help us better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics.  Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences — in the United States, in her native Nigeria, and abroad — offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.  Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today — and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.  See a discussion of this book, here:  http://socraticsalon.com/2015/04/book-breakdown-we-should-all-be-feminists-by-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie/.  Watch the YouTube (30:15 minutes) of the TEDx Talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing ~ by Marie Kondo, 2014, decluttering
This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.  Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?  She takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.  Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever.  Her method, with its category-by-category system, leads to lasting results.  In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed.
Two more books from the library.  I'm posting late in the day, but I've finished reading straight through the first one above.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Salon ~ books and great-grands

What I'm reading now
The Book of Negroes ~ by Lawrence Hill, 2007, fiction (South Carolina and Canada)
Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle — a string of slaves — Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina.  But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.”  This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.  Aminata’s eventual return to Sierra Leone — passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America — is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey.  This sweeping story transports the reader from a tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.
What I have lined up
The Ugly Little Boy ~ by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, 1992, science fiction
This science fiction classic, first published in 1958, is a chilling tale of what happens when past and present collide.  When Stasis Technologies, Ltd., plucks a Neanderthal child off the prehistoric tundra and transports it into the twenty-first century, the scientific conglomerate gives no thought to the creature's human feelings.  The nurse assigned to the case must somehow bridge the 40,000-year gap to forge an emotional bond that transcends time.  And, when Miss Fellowes learns of the intended disposition of the "Timmie experiment," it is up to her to travel back through time with the "ape-boy" as he rejoins his tribe on the cutting edge of civilization.
What I just finished
Some Luck ~ by Jane Smiley, 2014, fiction (Iowa), 8/10
My five great-grandkids



Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Beginning ~ with hard candies

Life Is So Good ~ by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman, 2000, autobiography
Wanting to enjoy every moment, I stared at the hard candies in the different wooden barrels.  The man behind the counter was white.  I could tell he didn't like me, so I let him see the penny in my hand.

"Take your time, son," my father said with a grin.  "You did a man's work this year."
As a book lover, I'm excited to read about this man who learned to read at 98 years old.
In this remarkable book that won the Christopher Award, George Dawson, a slave’s grandson who learned to read at age 98 and lived to the age of 103, reflects on his life and shares valuable lessons in living, as well as a fresh, firsthand view of America during the entire sweep of the twentieth century.  Richard Glaubman captures Dawson’s irresistible voice and view of the world, offering insights into humanity, history, hardships, and happiness.  From segregation and civil rights, to the wars and the presidents, to defining moments in history, George Dawson’s description and assessment of the last century inspires readers with the message that has sustained him through it all:  “Life is so good. I do believe it’s getting better.”


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

Thursday, April 9, 2015

BTT (#47) ~ recommended

For today's Booking Through Thursday, Deb asks:
"Do you read books recommended by friends?  Or do you prefer to find your own books to read?"
My answer is "yes" to both.  No, I don't read everything recommended by friends, not without considering how much the subject interests me.  But books my friends like are usually considered more carefully than a random book whose title I run across.  Specifically, anything recommended by my best reading buddy Donna goes to the top of my list, simply because she and I read and study the same things.  I'm sharing what she told me today that she "doesn't want to put it down."  It's that good.

The Secret of Magic ~ by Deborah Johnson, 2014, fiction (Mississippi)
In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.  Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero.  It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.  As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun's The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.  Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems.  She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past.  This book brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.
Ah, I see why Donna got this one.  She actually met Thurgood Marshall on her high school trip to Washington, DC.  Yes, I do want to read this one and will put it on reserve at my library.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TWOsday ~ children's books

Violet Goes to the Country ~ story by Melanie Cecka, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, 2007, children's, 10/10
This is the second in a series of bestselling Mitford Storybooks inspired by Cynthia Coppersmith, a character from Jan Karon’s Mitford Years series.  Violet and her owner, Alice, are off to the country for a visit.  Violet is as excited as can be, but she keeps getting in the way of Alice’s uncle Leo (who is "not much of a cat person").  Actually, the full title of this book is Jan Karon Presents Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Goes to the Country.  Cynthia Coppersmith, who is a main character in Jan Karon's novels about a place called Mitford, is a writer and illustrator of children's books.  Melanie Cecka, with approval from Jan Karon, wrote this story as if it were one of the fictional Cynthia's books.
The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury: Celebrated Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud ~ selected by Janet Schulman, 1998, children's
This splendid anthology brings together some of the most memorable and beloved children's books of our time.  Here are classics such as Madeline and Curious George; contemporary bestsellers such as Guess How Much I Love You and "The Stinky Cheese Man" story from the longer book; Caldecott Medal winners such as Make Way for Ducklings and Where the Wild Things Are; and family favorites such as Goodnight Moon, "The Sneetches" from Dr. Seuss, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and a story from Winnie-the-Pooh.  There is also a Guide to Reading Ages, showing 17 of these stories for young children, 19 for younger children, and 8 for the very youngest children.  I've done the math for you:  44 books are covered in this big 308-page book.
TWO children's books
I attended a session of storytellers week before last, and books from one of their recently deceased colleagues were spread out on tables for anyone who wanted them.  I skipped the ones for adults and chose these two children's books.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Beginning ~ with Mair's discovery

The Kashmir Shawl ~ by Rosie Thomas, 2011, fiction (India)
Mair made the discovery on the last day at home in the old house.  The three of them were upstairs in their father's bedroom.  They had come together for the melancholy business of sorting and clearing their parents' furniture and possessions, before closing up the house for the last time and handing over the keys to the estate agent.
I know, from this summary of the book, that Mair is the granddaughter of the main character from 1941:
It is the eve of 1941 and World War II is engulfing the globe. Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Britain to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India, but when he leaves her in the exotic lakeside of Srinagar to take on a complicated mission elsewhere, she discovers a new world.  Here, in the heart of Kashmir, the British dance, flirt, and gossip against the backdrop of war and Nerys soon becomes caught up in a dangerous liaison.  By the time she is reunited with her husband, she is a very different woman.

Years later, Nerys's granddaughter Mair Ellis clears out her dead father's house and finds an exquisite shawl — a kaleidoscope of silvery blues and greens.  Wrapped in the folds of this delicate object is a lock of a child's curly hair.  With nothing else to go on, Mair decides to trace her roots back to Kashmir, embarking on a quest that will change her own life forever.
Whose lock of hair is that?  I'll have to read the book to find out.  But first, here's a book trailer:



If the video quits working, view it on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOblbxEumlk
Rosie Thomas's blog:  http://rosiethomasauthor.com/


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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Theology and Joy: Jürgen Moltmann and Miroslav Volf



On June 27, 2014, Miroslav Volf engaged Jürgen Moltmann on some of the most fundamental questions of Moltmann's work.
  • Where does joy come from?
  • Whence hope?
  • Who is God?
If the video quits working, view it on YouTube.