Sunday, June 26, 2011

Then and Now ~ one year later

June 2011
New City East Lake Church
June 2010

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beginning ~ with mountain climbing

I picked up a book to see if the beginning line was worth writing about.

A Change in Altitude ~ by Anita Shreve, 2009, fiction (Kenya)
'We're climbing Mount Kenya.  Not this Saturday, but the next."
It didn't grab me, so I grabbed the next book.

The English Teacher ~ by Lily King, 2005, fiction (Maine)
"That she had not killed him in her sleep was still the great relief of every morning."
Okay, this did grab me, and I kept reading.  My first assumption was that "him" was probably her husband or boyfriend.  I was wrong — it was her son. Ha, interesting!  I kept reading to the end of page two where someone named Tom arrives wearing a parka and she — the narrator — says:
"You off to climb Everest?"
That's funny!  Two books, two beginnings, and two references to climbing mountains.  In Shreve's novel, it's Mount Kenya; in King's, it's Mount Everest.  I think I'll read The English Teacher first.  Here's what it's about:
"Vida, a single mother living with her 15-year-old son on a Maine island, has tried to conceal from him the truth about his past. Then she accepts a marriage proposal, and her carefully constructed life starts to unravel."
If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.) Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A place to write

Forty-odd years ago, "Writer's Digest" published a series of amateur photos showing where writers worked.  I went into my den, camera in hand, and took a picture of the big drafting table where I did my own writing.

Years later, a newspaper photographer came to my house to get a picture to accompany an article about me, and the one that was published shows me behind that same drafting table in that same room — though, by then, I had turned it so I was surrounded by walls of my books.  From there, I was able to look across my den and out the sliding glass door over my deck and into the woods beyond.  A framed copy of that black-and-white photo (shown above) now hangs on the wall in my current house.

Nicky (Absolute Vanilla) has been doing a series asking writers where they write, why, and what they need in the way of support.  This photo shows Nicky's own "writing cave," as she calls it.
Writing Room Revelations, Part 1
Writing Room Revelations, Part 2
Writing Room Revelations, Part 3
Writing Room Revelations, Part 4
Writing Room Revelations, Part 5
Writing Room Revelations, Part 6
Writing Room Revelations, Part 7
For the record, when I write, I prefer quiet or — if I need to drown out sounds — soft instrumental music without words.  Notice in the photo of me at the top that I'm actually using pen and paper.  These days, I do my best writing on a computer, preferably a laptop that can go wherever I choose.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The demise of bookstores?

An Australian leader has predicted the end of bookstores, according to The Canberra Times:
Booksellers' jaws dropped today upon hearing that Minister for Small Business Nick Sherry had predicted that online shopping would wipe out general bookstores within five years. ... "I think in five years, other than a few specialist booksellers in capital cities we will not see a bookstore, they will cease to exist," Senator Sherry said today in Canberra.
That article was published Tuesday.  Joel Becker, chief executive of the Australian Booksellers Association, said, "I’m gobsmacked."  One more quote from the article:
The owners of Angus & Robertson and Borders in Australia ... collapsed in February ... blaming online competition as one reason for the failure.
I think he's wrong, but how sad most of us book lovers would be if there were no more bookstores to browse.  I don't want to do all my buying through online stores.  I like to pick up the books and flip through them.

Thanks to Chrisbookarama, where I found this link.  She has a more favorable link, as well, about a used bookstore success.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beginning ~ with a beard

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible ~ by A. J. Jacobs, 2007, memoir
"As I write this, I have a beard that makes me resemble Moses.  Or Abe Lincoln.  Or Ted Kaczynski.  I've been called all three."
Those first lines are from page three, where I also found this near the bottom of the page:
"The facial hair is simply the most noticeable physical manifestation of a spiritual journey I began a year ago.  My quest has been this:  to live the ultimate biblical life.  Or more precisely, to follow the Bible as literally as possible."
You can see his beard in the picture on the cover above. And the author apparently documented the whole year in photos of his face, from extremely short hair and no beard, through the stages of getting long hair and a bushy beard.  I know enough about the book from reading reviews and the dust jacket that I know I'm already interested in what he does to fulfill his self-imposed attempt to take every biblical "law" literally.

If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.) Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Here's what I chose

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that, as a Day 5 Giveaway Winner during Armchair BEA, I was to choose from a huge list of giveaways, which I had narrowed down to seven books.  I have now received my prize and want to tell you what I got.  All of the books in that post were among my choices, but the first three were a package deal.  And that's what I received.  These three children's books arrived in yesterday's mail:

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace ~ by Jen Cullerton Johnson, 2010, biography (Wangari Maathai, Kenya)

Bird ~ by Zetta Elliott, 2008, children's

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty ~ by G. Neri, 2010, graphic novel (Illinois)

Same same?

left hemisphere
right hemisphere
same brain

left wing
right wing
same bird

(Thanks to Colleen at Loose Leaf Notes.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Plague Ship ~ by Frank G. Slaughter, 1976

Plague Ship ~ by Frank G. Slaughter, 1976, fiction (Peru)
One reviewer said, "Buried deep under the Andes mountains of Peru, a 5000-year-old plague waits to [be] unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. ... In an age of global concern about the possibility (or certainty) of a future pandemic similar to pandemics that have ravaged human populations in the past, a thirty-plus-year-old book about an ancient plague serves as a reminder that these fears are nothing new."  The other two reviewers weren't much impressed with the book, and one of them said, "My advice -- do not set sail on The Plague Ship."
Have any of you read any books by this author? What's your verdict?  I may not read it, but I picked up the book because one of my bookstore customers bought just about every Frank Slaughter book I could find for him, if he didn't already have it.

Library Loot ~ June 15-21

The Bird Sisters ~ by Rebecca Rasmussen, 2011, fiction (Wisconsin)
From the dust jacket:  "When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. These spinster sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.  But back in the summer of 1947, Milly and Twiss knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn't change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn't exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly's eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever."
I got the next two books because of a comment Claire (The Captive Reader) left on someone else's blog:
"If you enjoy The Year of Living Biblically, I'd also recommend trying to find a copy of The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose. Roose was Jacobs' intern/slave while he was working on The Year of Living Biblically and his book chronicles his time 'undercover' while on exchange at an evangelical Christian university. It's quite excellent."
Actually, I already own this next one, having won it from Dewey in 2008.  Since I let my friend Donna borrow it, I went ahead and got this copy from the library.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible ~ by A. J. Jacobs, 2007, memoir
From the dust jacket:  "Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also, to obey the hundreds of less-publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers. To grow his beard. To stone adulterers. The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal. Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally, including the Amish and the Hasidim. He discovers ancient Biblical wisdom of startling relevance. And he wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the 21st-century brain."
The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University ~ by Kevin Roose, 2009
From the dust jacket:  "No drinking.  No smoking.  No cursing.  No dancing.  No R-rated movies.  Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an a cappella group, and fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.  Liberty is the late Reverend Jerry Falwell's 'Bible Boot Camp' for young evangelicals, his training ground for the next generation of America's Religious Right. Liberty's ten thousand undergraduates take courses like Evangelism 101, hear from guest speakers like Sean Hannity and Karl Rove, and follow a forty-six-page code of conduct that regulates every aspect of their social lives. Hoping to connect with his evangelical peers, Roose decides to enroll at Liberty as a new transfer student, leaping across the God Divide and chronicling his adventures in this daring report from the front lines of America's culture war.  His journey takes him from an evangelical hip-hop concert to choir practice at Falwell's legendary Thomas Road Baptist Church. He experiments with prayer, participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach (where he learns to preach the gospel to partying coeds), and pays a visit to Every Man's Battle, an on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. He meets pastors' kids, closet doubters, Christian rebels, and conducts what would be the last print interview of Rev. Falwell's life."
The Coming Global Superstorm ~ by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, 2000, nonfiction
Summary:   The authors "bring environmentalism to the masses tabloid-style in The Coming Global Superstorm, a quick look at global warming and its potentially catastrophic effects.  Like Old Testament prophets, Bell and Strieber embrace lovingly detailed depictions of global cataclysm; unlike them, our modern-day doomsayers have more to go on than that old-time religion.  Their writing is clear and straightforward, interspersing hard data with dramatization and speculation to create an engaging, enjoyable, but thoroughly spooky warning of the next Ice Age."
Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  Marg has the Mister Linky this week, if you'd like to share a list of the loot you brought home.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost ~ and a burglary

Someone came into my house during the night and took my laptop while I was there asleep.  I had been awake more than an hour before I decided to check my email and discovered my computer was missing.  After calling 9-1-1, while waiting for the police to arrive, I figured I wouldn't make it to church this morning.  However, when the officer left, I decided I could possibly get there, even if a bit late.

I arrived at St. Marks United Methodist Church just after the first hymn.  Here are the children singing, on this Pentecost Sunday.  See all the red people are wearing?  Even the organist has on a red shirt for Pentecost.

I'm still shaken up by the thought that someone was in my house during the night.  "They" knew I was there because I fell asleep reading, with the light still on over my head and the door "they" apparently used is near the door to my bedroom.  That's brazen!  I woke up late, wondering why Kiki didn't wake me up earlier, wanting to eat.  She must have been still hiding.  I felt better being with friends, and now I should go home and hold Kiki, who may be still scared.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Library Loot ~ June 8-14

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise ~ by Ruth Reichl, 2005, memoir

I first heard of this book about "adventures in deception" on Brigid Daull Brockway's blog On Words.  She wrote:
"Knowing that critics get all kinds of special treatment, Reichl developed several characters — each with her own clothing, hair, accessories, and personality — so she could get an idea of what her readers can realistically expect to experience.  Reichl says she was surprised to discover that each of her personae was treated a different way, and not just at restaurants.  Her loud, gregarious redhead got lots of attention and made friends wherever she went.  Her quiet, little old lady was often ignored and usually got poor service."
I recognized myself in those words.  I actually make friends wherever I go, but ... !  Although I haven't become stupid as I aged, I am treated more and more as someone who is mindless and simple, or at least as someone who isn't worthy of interest.  Granted, I'm old, but I am neither little nor quiet.  Apparently "wait staff" (as they are now called) assume "old lady" equals low tips.

I always leave a twenty percent tip, except for the time I left TWO PENNIES very prominently placed on the table.  That was over 30 years ago, when we two working women were the first to be seated in one section of a very nice restaurant, but the last to be waited on and the last to be served in a roomful of workers.  We soon noticed that every other table had at least one man.  I had not yet reached management level in my job, and we two women needed to eat quickly and get back to work.  Thus, the tip of two pennies, giving the waiter our "two cents worth."

I wanted to read about Ruth Reichl's adventures, to see how she dealt with being treated like a worthless old lady.  I'm loving the book so far.

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  Claire has the Mister Linky this week, if you'd like to share a list of the loot you brought home.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Red Bank Church is on fire, right now

Click on the photos to enlarge them.
It feels like history is repeating itself.  Two years ago, I watched a fire gut St. Elmo UMC, down the block from where I live.  After the funeral of my former husband today, I came by Red Bank United Methodist Church, where the smoke was too thick to get good photos.  However, it seems only the church's Christian Activity Center (built in 1988) is burning, not the sanctuary.

Read more about the fire in Red Bank, here.  This report says the fire was apparently caused by lightning.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

BTT (#6) ~ own or borrow?

btt button
All things being equal (money, space, etc), would you rather own copies of the books you read? Or borrow them?
Even if I don't want to read a book again, I often quote from what I've read.  If I knew I had room for the thousands of books I've read over the years, I'd keep them all.  Especially those with my notes in the margins and/or underlining of the most interesting passages.

The "etcetera" in the question would be having the time to catalog and shelve my books — or the money to hire someone — to keep them orderly so I'd be able to lay my hands on exactly the book I need at exactly the moment I need to refer to it.  As it is, even keeping track of my notes from some of the excellent books is a problem.  Thus, my desk piles up with stacks of paper and book notes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

From his obituary

"He enjoyed wood-working, reading, traveling, and helping others."
This may sound like a strange line to single out of the obituary of the man who died yesterday, but it's what this book blogger noticed.  He was an engineer and a perfectionist, so everything he made with his hands came out as perfect as it was humanly possible.  Always.  But reader?  Not when I first met him back in 1956 on what turned out to be a blind date.  I was sixteen, thought I was going swimming "with a group" of friends, and discovered "the group" consisted of my friend Mary, her friend David, and David's friend, who happened to have a car.  He was home from Germany, where he was stationed at Rhein-Main Air Force Base outside Frankfurt, and he had turned twenty-two the day before.  Six years is an awfully big gap in years for a teenager.

About that "reading" listed in his obituary — later when we were dating, I learned that he didn't read anything.  At Christmas, a friend had given him a subscription to Reader's Digest, but the magazines were piling up, unread.  I read the short articles and pointed out whatever I thought would interest him.  He began to read.  After we were married, he continued to read one RD article every morning during breakfast.  But after he graduated from college, he rejoiced that he'd never have to read another book!

Our three children are readers.  So are our grandchildren, except for the one who has always preferred to draw.  His second wife was a teacher before she retired, and I taught college classes as an adjunct.  Now his obituary lists reading, as second only to wood-working among the things he enjoyed.  Do you suppose the books on the shelves lining the walls of our den made a difference?  He made those shelves.  Perfectly.

Rest in peace, dear heart.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How to meet authors ~ Roberta C. Bondi

I'm writing a series of posts to answer a question posed by Helen of Helen's Book Blog:
"How the heck do you meet all these authors? That's awesome!"
Roberta C. Bondi
Roberta Bondi was one of my seminary professors when I was at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.  She and Bill Mallard co-taught a class on the history of the church that gave me a good grounding for the whole process of doing theology by knowing the basis of previous theological ideas.

So one way to "meet an author" is by attending a university or seminary.  Most professors are expected to "publish or perish," so — ta-da! — they are authors.

A Place to Pray: Reflections on the Lord's Prayer ~ by Roberta C. Bondi, 1998, religion, 9/10

The other day, I mentioned to my friend Donna that I may do a series on the Lord's Prayer for the Seekers Class at St. Luke, a church that occasionally invites me to teach or preach.  Her pastor is in the middle of such a class, she told me, showing me the most recent study sheet.  It started with their Lenten Luncheon series, and the group wanted to keep studying.  The upshot of that conversation was that I decided to attend the luncheon discussions with her.

The book they are using (see below) is only 112 pages long, so I read Donna's copy in a couple of days.  Although Willimon and Hauerwas have each written some pretty good books, this is not one of their better ones.  So Donna and I got out our copies of Roberta Bondi's book, A Place to Pray, which I first read in 1999 and have taught a few times over the years.  It is much better than the one the class is using.  Since I also bought the companion video series, Donna and I set it up on my porch to view during lulls in our recent Neighborhood Yard Sale.  I would pause the video whenever neighbors stopped by to look over my books.

Bondi put this study together in a unique way, with each chapter written as a letter to her friend.  From what she writes, we can infer what her friend has said (or written) in the meantime.  Here is a deep friendship.
"Dear friend, how grateful I am for the gift of your own existence in my life, for such a friendship in which we can talk openly about our lives with God and the hard and happy things for which we pray.  May God always keep in our hearts the knowledge that these words spoken between us are, after all, as much a part of prayer as anything we do" (p. 49).
One more quote from this book:
"As for us, ours is a God who loves, and if we love this God who is love, we long to express that love by imitating God, that is, by loving those whom God loves in the way God loves, in an appropriately human manner" (p. 128).
I rate this book 9 of 10, a very good book.

Whenever it works into the conversation, I try to share insights from Roberta Bondi's book in the study I'm attending with Donna.  Yes, I also use the notes I took while reading Donna's copy of their study book:

Lord, Teach Us: The Lord's Prayer and the Christian Life ~ by William H. Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas, 1996, religion, 7/10

One good thing about this book is that it raises questions for a class to discuss.  Throughout the book, however, I got the distinct impression that they tossed the book together, and no one edited it to smooth the edges.  One minor slip — the index shows scripture in the order it's printed in the Bible, except Colossians and Philippians are out of order.  Another is that, in making Jesus "perfect," they overstep:
"There is nothing that we go through here on earth that Jesus has not also endured" (p. 36).
I know what they meant to impart, but this is just silly and likely to make thoughtful people pause.  It's too broad.  Jesus did NOT birth a child, I can imagine some new mother thinking.  Jesus did NOT have cancer, I imagine from a suffering patient.  Jesus did not even get old, like many of us in that class.  C'mon, guys!  You can do better.

Rated:  7/10, good because it encourages discussion.  By the way, I also met Will Willimon and talked to him after he preached.  That's why I expected more from this book.   (Check — another author I've met.)

I don't want to end on a low note, so I'll leave you with one especially good quote from this book:
"Too often, we are conditioned to think of prayer as asking God for what we want — dear God, give me this, give me that.  But now, in praying that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are attempting to school ourselves to want what God wants" (p. 66).

Those words by Willimon and/or Hauerwas remind me of my favorite title:

To Love As God Loves ~ by Roberta Bondi, 1987, religion, 9/10.

Ha!  We now come full circle, right back to my seminary professor.  Thanks, Roberta!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Caturday ~ hug

I used to have kittens.
But that was a long time ago.
A long time ago, before I came to live with Bonnie.
I hug Bonnie now.
She hugs me too.
We're both huggers.

Kiki Cat, reminiscing

Friday, June 3, 2011

Once upon a time ~ a book beginning

Once Upon A Time, There Was You ~ by Elizabeth Berg, 2011, fiction (California and Minnesota)
"When John Marsh was a young boy, he used to watch his mother getting ready to go out for the evening. ... 'How do I look?' she would ask him, and he never knew what to say.  What he felt was:  Gone."
Notice that ellipsis (...) in the middle, showing there were sentences that I omitted.  Let me summarize those missing sentences for you:  lipstick, mirror, rouge, mascara, pin curls.  Those details make my eyes glaze over, creating a definite desire to put down the book.  Berg buried the only interesting word — gone — by continuing to pile up words in the first paragraph until the boy answered by saying, "Pretty."
"For though he had stood beside her, watching her every move as she transformed herself, he was never sure that the made-up woman before him was still his mother, and this made for a mixed feeling of fear and confusionn.  Nonetheless, he always smiled and said softly, 'Pretty.'"
I guess my own writing is more spare, allowing the reader to imagine details for herself.  I, as reader, don't need help to imagine that "getting ready to go out" involves (for most women) looking in a mirror and putting on make-up.

If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.) Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BTT (#5) ~ reviews

Hosted by Booking Through Thursday

"Do you read book reviews?
Whose do you trust?
Do they affect your reading habits?
Your buying habits?"

I read book reviews.  I read them by book bloggers.  I read them in print newspapers.  I read them in online newspapers.  I read them in bookstore handouts.  I read them here.  I read them there.  I truly read them EVERYWHERE.

(If that sounded a bit like Dr. Seuss, it was meant to.)

Mostly, I trust book bloggers I have come to know because I read their blogs frequently.  And I'm a regular readers of those blogs because, in comparing my own interests to theirs, I have learned that books they like and recommend are actually books I enjoy reading.

Of course, reviews by book bloggers affect my reading habits.  Often, I go to my library's online connection and put a book on hold while I'm still reading a blogger's review.  That's why I usually have more than one window open at a time, so I can do things like that.

On the other hand, my buying habits are primarily influenced by my pocketbook.  If a book is unavailable from my library or a friend (I take good care of borrowed books), then I might buy it if it's one I can't live without.

So it's ironic that the last thing I posted, before checking on today's Booking Through Thursday topic, was about that book report I did more than fifty years ago.  A book report that was itself pure fiction.  I trust other book bloggers, but now you may never again trust anything I say.  Maybe I shouldn't have told that story?

That book report I wrote

The year I was in the eighth grade, our English class had to write several book reports.  Since I always read two or three books a week, that was no problem.  But I was a smart-alecky little thing, and one week, just to see if I could pull it off, I decided to "make up" a book so successfully that the teacher would never know.

I picked up the novel I had used for my last book report, found a list of previous titles by that author, picked one, and used it for my next book report.  I made up a bunch of stuff about the book (which, of course, I had never seen), and wrote my report.  I felt rather cocky when I got an "A" on it.

The fiction that week was not in a book READ, but in a book report WRITTEN.  Maybe that's when I decided to become a writer.  My byline has been on articles and book reviews and other nonfiction that was published locally, nationally, and internationally — but my eighth grade book report was the only fiction I've ever successfully written.

This little girl seems as impertinent as I was.  I never wrote a book report on the dictionary, though it sounds like a great idea!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Library Loot ~ June 1-7

Caleb's Crossing ~ by Geraldine Brooks, 2011, fiction (Massachusetts)
Summary:  In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College.  Vreeland used that fact to tell this story.  Bethia Mayfield, narrator of the novel, is growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans.

Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other.

Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures.

The Year of Magical Thinking ~ by Joan Didion, 2005, memoir

Look at that cover!  I haven't read anywhere that the four blue letters spell J-O-H-N, her husband who died.  I thought it look kind of "blah" until I noticed some of the letters were a different color.  Now I see why.
Summary:  The story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack. This powerful and moving work is Didion's "attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  Marg has the Mister Linky this week, if you'd like to share a list of the loot you brought home.