So many books, so little time

August 6, 2016

It’s past time for another list of books I’ve read. And, I have been busy. Earlier this year, I reacquainted myself with our San Antonio Public Library’s availability of Kindle downloadable e-books. It has grown much since I tried using it a few years ago and found it lacking in the books I typically read. Now, it seems they have acquired many more titles and ‘copies’ of titles. Thank goodness, because it was about to come down to food or books, and you have no idea what a hard choice that would be.

galloway booksA friend of mine recommended the Ruth Galloway series of mystery books written by Elly Griffiths. I decided to make sure we read the series from the beginning and in order. We made the mistake of reading all the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache mystery books out of order, mostly because of availability from the library. That kind of sucked because the development of the recurring characters relied on timeline events.

Both the hubby and I read the first Galloway book The Crossing Places and were hooked. Interesting realistic characters, intriguing mysteries, great setting in England. Ruth is an archaeologist so there is some ancient English history thrown in as a bonus. I have always been a sucker for English mystery authors. They solve the crime in a way that pulls you into the story, with rich characters and always a touch of wry British humor.

Now we’ve finished the lot and I’m on to other books on my list created from various “best of“ reads from the internet and magazines.

euphoriaEuphoria by Lily King is an amazing book. I think I read it in about three intensive days. Euphoria is a fictional story based on a 1933 expedition to New Guinea by Margaret Mead. “Told through the eyes of Gregory Bankson, a fellow anthropologist and friend of Nell and Fen Stone, the book describes a fractured marriage under further pressure in a botched field trip. Interspersed with Nell’s journal, the author gives a very realistic characterization of the culture they are studying.” This from a review from The Library Thing

oliveTwo more very good books were Olive Kitterage by Elizabeth Strout, which I found strangely personal. It is a Pulitzer Prize winner, which always means a quality rorchardistead; and a mini-series as well.

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. This is one of those books that makes you sad when it ends. This is a first novel for Coplin, but she must have an old writer’s soul, because it is epic and beautiful.

I just finished a rather long, detailed non-fiction book about Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mina Crandon and others, titled quite aptly, The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and witch of lime streetHoudini in the Spirit World. If this doesn’t intrigue you and you don’t like long books, it might not appeal. Took me a while to get into it, but once I did, it was very good. Though Houdini adamantly fought against spiritualism, it left me (at least) feeling not so sure there aren’t spirits floating around and someone might be able to channel them. You also learn a thing or two about Houdini and Doyle you probably didn’t know.

Happy reading!


In between Netflixing, what I’m reading

December 2, 2015

If you’ve read my blog post Confessions of a Streaming Addict, you might think that’s all I’ve been doing to while away the hours. However, I’ve managed to squeeze in several books—some of which are listed below.

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew

book cover reuseThe concept of creative reuse aka upcycling, remaking or repurposing is not new.  According to Grant Johnson, author of the book “1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew, “…materials reuse has been around since medieval scribes scraped off and reused parchments, and the ancient Greeks melted down older bronze statues to make newer versions.”

Creative reuse, in its current incarnation, combines artistic expression with ecological responsibility served with a side of thrift.  1,000 photos of artworks and projects from artists around the world inspire us with infinite creative possibilities.

Spin

book cover spinWritten by Robert Charles Wilson, this is science fiction, but with plenty of plausible science based theories. The novel starts out simple, but grows with complexity as the story progresses. The main characters are exceptionally well developed and likable, too. Stick with it, as it becomes an engrossing read.

 

 

Last Train to Istanbul

book cover last train to istanbulA historical novel about Turkish Jews during WWII. It was well researched by the author who used historical aspects taken from written files and oral histories. I was surprised to learn the Turkish government has a history of not only welcoming, but protecting its Jewish citizens.

It is a tale of escape from the Nazi regime with realistic characters and plenty of suspense. I plan to read more of Ayse Kulin’s books in time.

 

City of Stairs

book cover city of stairsThis is a novel in the fantasy genre. I follow the author Robert Jackson Bennett on Twitter @robertjbennett. He is an irreverent hoot sometimes, but don’t be fooled, he is an amazing writer. It’s a tale of people and politics, a mythology of gods and magic. His imagination runs wild. Yet, Bennett manages to build a highly organized and absorbing world with a storyline and characters which will definitely grab your attention and leave you wanting more.


Retirement–what I’m reading

November 23, 2014
Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

I am a book hoarder. I always like to have many books stashed away–either on my shelves or in my Kindle–to read at some future time. The last few months, I made it a goal to read all the hardback books I’d been saving for retirement, plus a couple of library books.

All of the following books are very good to excellent, except for the last one which was so-so–my opinions only. I’ve linked them to their page in Amazon for your convenience. Also, they are all over the map as far as genre is concerned.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbuagh

Oral History by Lee Smith (highly recommend though you may talk like a hillbilly in your head for a week afterward)

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

The Wayfinders by Wade Davis (I wrote about this one already)

Shoot an Iraqi by Wafaa Bilal and Kim Lydersen (not what you might think and very interesting)

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Bayne (sad indicator at 10)

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis Rodriguez (read for banned book week)
 The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (library book, five star rating for post-apocalyptic genre)

Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux Book 11) by James Lee Burke (library book. I’m kinda hooked on James Lee Burke at the moment)

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen

Let me know if you read any, how you like them.


Enjoying retirement with a nap

October 10, 2014

Some time ago, both my husband and I made the decision to retire in the summer of 2014. In preparation for beginning this new phase in our lives, I did some reading on the subject. I came across some articles by Dudley Tower, PhD on his website Dynamic Aging Institute. According to Tower, “dynamic aging is a unique, systemic, more fully engaged, and proactive approach to one’s own aging process.” He states the retirement isn’t meant to be a “leisurely declining into oblivion.” And, the retiree should “…engage completely with life, develop fresh skills and qualities, and find creative new areas of your life…” I find this approach both validating and exhilarating.

Among all the other changes and new adventures, it may seem a minor point, but one of my first challenges has been learning how to ‘sleep-in’. I put away my wristwatch the day I retired and no longer set the alarm at what I now perceive as a God-awful early hour. But, I still wake up about the same time as I always did when I was working and am unable to get back to sleep. The cat doesn’t help as he obviously has not changed his schedule for breakfast and going on his morning inspection of the yard.

asleep with a bookMy solution? I treat myself with naps. I cherish this new freedom to incorporate a nap into the day’s activities. I lie down in the quiet and close my eyes for as little as 20 minutes, or sometimes longer. My favorite way to nap is to bring a book and drift off reading.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, napping offers these benefits for healthy adults, including:
Relaxation
Reduced fatigue
Increased alertness
Improved mood
Improved performance, including quicker reaction time, better memory, less confusion, and fewer accidents and mistakes

That works for me!

And, now, that this post is done, excuse me while I go take a little nap.


Cultural Extinction

September 14, 2014

At any given time, I have about a dozen books on my shelf waiting for the right time to be read. So it was with “The Wayfinders-Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World,” by Wade Davis, which had been waiting patiently for about three years. Once I’d read the first few pages, I gulped this book like it was a life-giving elixir.

way finder book coverDavis begins by sharing his view of the world. And believe me, from his life experiences as a National Geographic explorer, writer and anthropologist, he is well versed in world. “Together the myriad of cultures makes up an intellectual and spiritual web of life that envelopes the planet and is every bit as important to the well being of the planet as is the biological web of life we know as the biosphere.” Davis calls this social web of life an ethnosphere — the “sum total of our thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs.” This ethnosphere is the core of our adaptive nature and our legacy.  And, the truth is we are facing the loss of half of humanity’s social, cultural and intellectual legacy, as the extinction of human cultures is picking up pace.

Excellently written and thought provoking, this book is essentially a compilation of Davis’ series of Massey Lectures. Davis shares his extensive knowledge of a good many diverse populations with whom he developed relationships. First, the Polynesians, spreading their cultural realm to hundreds of islands throughout the Pacific with their amazing art of navigation. Who knew Thor Hyderdahl’s “Kon Tiki” was full of bunk! Peoples of the Anaconda is a perfect example of a large and diverse civilization whose existence is woven into the very fabric of its physical location–along the Amazon River. The Aborigines of Australia, with their ritual ‘dreaming,’ evolved a deep, timeless relationship with their world. “What does it mean that though out history “dynamic living people have been driven out of existence by identifiable and overwhelming external forces?” Davis asks.

With a perfect blend of science and human insights, Davis makes  powerful observations. In the chapter on Sacred Geography he states, “…I would like to reflect on this particular attitude of ours, this manner in which we have reduced our planet to a commodity, a raw resource to be consumed at our whim.”  The modern world…”is certainly not the true and only pulse of history. It is merely a constellation, of beliefs, conviction, paradigm, that represent one way of doing things…”

For some reason I thought of this song when I was writing this blog. In the vast oceans, we are but ripples and waves. But, as that, we part of the whole. We are past, present, and the future–if we don’t fuck it up.

“I’m a wave upon the ocean, I’m a little ripple on the sea. Don’t get no crazy notion, you know you’re very much like me.” Shivas Headband


So many books – so little time

April 13, 2013

Richard and I went to the Texas Book Festival – San Antonio Edition today. It was held at the Central Library and at the Southwest School of Art, which is right across the street. Lots of books, booths, activities, speakers and such. My friend Mary Cantu, founder of Spareparts, was there with her reuse, re-purpose, recycle art projects for the kiddies and adults alike.

We brought her some of Richard’s best shortbread, chocolate topped cookies for her eating pleasure.

It’s nice to see books and reading encouraged and authors sharing their stories. Most of them were from San Antonio and Texas from what I could tell. That’s a big Yippee! too.

Richard and Mary Cantu from Spareparts

Richard and Mary Cantu from Spareparts

Book Fair_2

Kym’s Kids were some of the many volunteers

Book Fair_3

Some of the book booths

BookFair_4

This is a local book press, which is nice.


Finding Jesus on Facebook

June 26, 2010

I just found out Jesus has a Facebook page!  He currently has 33,700 fans who ‘like’ him  My first thought, was “Oh my God!” I wonder who was confident enough of their own godliness to ‘be’ Jesus on Facebook? Not that there is anything wrong with that.  I ‘like’ the Dalai Lama and am inspired by his spiritual wisdom everyday.

I believe life always includes searching for our spiritual side.  We all want to understand and relate to the mystery of our existence. I just finished reading this nice little book “I Golfed Across Mongolia.”  While not a golf fan by any stretch of the imagination, I found the title intriguing.  The author, Andre Tolme, took his three iron, used over 500 golf balls, and golfed 2,000 miles across Mongolia from Choybalsan to Khovd.  Tolme describes his journey as an “improbable adventure to rediscover the spirit of golf and life.”  I enjoyed the conversational tone Tolme uses to tell his adventures from the logistics of golfing across the challenging terrain; encounters with extreme weather; occasional lack of supplies; to his experiences with the Mongolian people and their culture.

On the last few pages of his book, Tolme evaluated his trip: “…during this journey, I’ve learned that “awareness” as an existential concept just may exist.  It has to do with one’s understanding of his or her place in the world.  The unique sequence of events that puts you in one particular place at one particular time, a four dimensional conflagration of time and space.  It’s an understanding of the interconnectivity of natural forces, which are beyond our control, and human relations, which are self-determined by a collective human consciousness. Manifestations of “awareness” are social responsibility and a humble, questioning inner voice.  Ignorance, war and intolerance are demonstrations of its absence.”

I think we can find spiritual connections anywhere if we keep an open heart and mind.  We can find it in relationships, nature, books, music and even on Facebook.