"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Books

I don't think I'll finish another book before tomorrow, and tomorrow will be busy with Halloween so here's the list for this month.  Are you dressing up for Halloween?  Having a party? Hope you have a good one!  :)

Ciao, America!
by Beppe Severgnini  -- an Italian living in the United States for a year offers his insights to life here;  see previous post

Those Crazy Germans! by Steven Somers -- Ever wondered about the various tents at Oktoberfest, and what they offered, and how hard they were to get into?  The red light districts near the train stations? How regulated the prostitution industry is in Germany?  The names of German cities? What's up with all the nude people in parks?  The spa life? Bicycling? Politics? The love of news? The work week? Holiday customs?  If so, you may enjoy this "light-hearted guide to Germany" by a self-proclaimed Germanophile. The chapters are short, easy-to-read, and informative. I certainly learned some new things, then again, I really didn't know that much about Germany since it was never a country I adored. 

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton -- I picked this book up at the library and read it all in just a couple of hours (and I took a Facebook break or two during those hours.)  I got it mainly because it reminded me of Andrew's trip to Kenya last year. The Maasai, the Samburu, even South Horr was mentioned at some point. I enjoyed reading of Lemasolai's growing-up years, the reason he went to school (the Kenyan government required one child per family to go and he was selected) and certain customs among his people (like the circumcision ceremonies - Andrew attended one.)

The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway -- I found this book at the book warehouse and enjoyed reading about Jill's life in the outback of Australia and how they moved to the city and she went to school and university there.  Both parts were quite interesting to me as she learned to adjust to a new life - she never had a female playmate until she left the outback. Her thoughts on life fascinated me so I've already looked to see if any of her other books are available at my local library.  They are!  Yay.

My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban: A Young Woman's Story by Latifa -- a story that takes place in the years preceding 9/11 and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.  This book reminds me again why the Taliban and any religious fundamentalists who impose their will on others are so awful.

The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul by Wayne A. Meeks -- A book from my wishlist. It was a bit more technical and deeper than I expected. That's not all bad, just maybe I would have enjoyed it if the author dumbed it down for me.  :) This book discussed the urban environment of Pauline Christianity, the social level of Pauline Christians (were they all poor, mostly rich, middle class?), the formation of the ekklesia, governance, rituals, and patterns of belief and life.

Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran by Afschineh Latifi -- I'm not sure how my library got so many memoirs of Iranian ladies who grew up in Iran, but it seems I've found a few of them the last couple of years. And they've been some of my favorite books!  This was no exception as I was moved to tears reading of the Latifi's father and the struggle of the family after his execution.  The author made everything seem so real, yet she has a marvelous sense of humor.  If you are interested in stories surrounding the Iranian revolution and families moving abroad, you may enjoy this book as well.  Without exception these families tend to be what I would give as examples of "secular Muslims."

I enjoyed reading about the Latifi sisters schooling in Vienna (especially since I was there not eight weeks ago) and Virginia. Also the author attended law school in nearby Winston-Salem, NC at Wake Forest.  Really interesting book!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain  -- I enjoyed reading about myself in this book. I'd seen this lady's TED talk so when I saw the book at the library, I grabbed it!

"Finland is a famously introverted nation.  Finnish joke: How can you tell if a Finn likes you?  He's staring at your shoes instead of his own."  (pg. 14)

"America has shifted from ... a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality."  In the former, "the ideal self was serious, disciplined, and honorable. What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private.  The word personality didn't exist in English until the eighteenth century, and the idea of 'having a good personality' was not widespread until the twentieth.

But when they embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how others perceived them. They became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining.  'The social role demanded of all in the new Culture of Personality was that of a performer,'...'Every American was to become a performing self.'"

"By 1920, popular self-help guides had changed their focus from inner virtue to outer charm...'To create a personality is power,' advised [one]." 

Culture of Character guides emphasized: "citizenship, duty, work, golden deeds, honor, reputation, morals, manners, integrity"

Culture of Personality guides celebrated qualities: "magnetic, fascinating, stunning, attractive, glowing, dominant, forceful, energetic"

"It was no coincidence that in the 1920s and the 1930s, Americans became obsessed with movie stars."

(pg 21-24)

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui -- a story about a young Yemeni woman's life and how she fought for a divorce

Walking the Trail: One Man's Journey Along the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Jerry Ellis -- I found this at the local library; the author traveled from Oklahoma back home to Alabama all the while talking to people he met along the trail

Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas and Micah Sparks -- I thought this was going to be more of a journal of a trip, and it had that of course, but it was so much more.  In between telling of his adventure to Easter Island, the Outback, the Taj Mahal, Norway and various other places, this book is a memoir of Nicholas' growing up mostly in California. It was quite interesting to me, and made me very sad at times. I love the devotion of these brothers to each other - very inspirational.  I loved Micah's sense of devotion to his family, the way he took care of them in typical older-child fashion. I admired the optimism of Dana, the youngest member of the family and the only sister.  A really emotional books for me - both awe and wonder and laughter and disbelief to hurting for them.

And so odd to me, what are the chances that my AAA Carolinas magazine this month focused on a couple of the places mentioned in this book?  I read both within a day of each other, and the timing was weird. But I notice that a LOT lately... too much.  Is there something in the air? Hmmm  :)


jaraad said...

So, were they any explaining about nudity in Germany? I have a post titled "European fascination with nudity." It is in my draft folder and I have so far written the title only because I need to read about the subject to get some insight. The reason behind this post is because the European movies I watched on Netflix. For example, in a French drama movie there was a scene of a father, mother, a ten-year old son and a 14 year-old daughter all naked in the bathroom. If a snapshot of this scene is found on someone's computer in America it is going to be a big, big problem. I am not sure about the rating system in Europe but in no way this movie will be shown in US theaters. I once read a blog that discusses unrated movies on Netflix. These movies might be unrated because in American rating system they might be porn or something but not R rated. Out of curiosity I wanted to see the movies they were talking about and I was shocked because if these movies are not considered porn movies what do they consider pornographic? Friends of mine who lived in Europe also told me that nudity is shown on public TV stations. Luckily, such thing doesn't exist here.

Susanne said...

He just basically said Germans were comfortable with it. Also I've read before of the Northern Europeans and their spa culture. The whole family basically goes into spas together - naked. I guess they are just used to it, and don't find it weird at all. I suppose our sense of modesty (shame?) stems from how we are raised. Little children have no problem running through the house naked, and don't seem to mind nakedness in others. I wonder how much of modesty is passed down from society.

I saw a lot of questionable TV in Syria, but they were stations from Europe if I recall. I just didn't watch much there, although we did look for the Super Bowl (and is thus how we found the TV shows I mentioned.)

The author said German TV was full of shows such as you said.

I can't wait until you write on this topic. You've always got such an interesting variety of posts. :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I liked Three Weeks With My Brother and have compassion for Sparks who has weathered plenty of tragedy. His parents' method of rearing children seems like a throwback to an earlier generation.