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

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July Books

All Things New by Lynn Austin -- This is first fiction book I've read in quite some time. My mom picked it up from the library and thought I'd like it so I read it when she was finished. It takes place in the South after the Civil War.  It was a bit predictable, but a good lesson to me in some ways. I especially took note of how certain thoughts were engrained in people: Negroes are made for manual labor and can't be taught to read; some people are below your station in life - don't marry outside of your station; how to be a proper young lady or gentleman. Overall I'm so glad we've moved passed all that. I definitely would not make a good fit for that past southern way of life!

Native Stranger: A Black American's Journey Into the Heart of Africa by Eddy L. Harris -- a really interesting read of how many African destinations looked/was experienced by a black American

"Africa had made me wish for the first time in my life that I were someone else, made me wish I were shorter so I could squeeze into the backs of trucks better, made me wish I were richer so I could help more or hide more,  insulate myself better, made me wish I were poorer so I would not be so affected by the poverty.

But it was why I had come: to walk the same earth, choke on the same dust, and feel what they feel. I was feeling it.  And I was hating what I felt."  (pg. 262)

Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time by Sarah Rudin -- I'm not familiar with this author, but somehow ended up with this on my Amazon wishlist and received it for my birthday (or was it Christmas?).  Anyway, I enjoyed her thoughts on Paul. She stated how she wasn't a huge fan of Paul because of his controversial stances, but the more she studied Paul among his contemporaries, she realized he wasn't half bad!   Curious about the sexism, the homophobia, the love chapter, why he was OK with slavery?  Give this book a read and see if it changes your perspective. -- also see previous posts for more discussion on veiling

Predators, Prey,and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy by Dorothy Allred Solomon -- for the thousandth time I was reminded why I despise polygyny and what it does to families.  The author details her life, the struggles and heartache of growing up in a fundamentalist sect of the LDS.  While her father isn't portrayed as a villain - you can tell she loves him very much - I can't stand the heartache these women and children went through all because they wanted to please God (whatever!).  The author details her family's (and ancestors') polygamist pasts, their life from here to yon (as they moved to avoid anti-polygamist authorities and traditional Church members), a rival fundamentalist group and more sinister things that happened. 

There Are Mountains to Climb: An Inspiration Journey by Jean Deeds -- Andrew and I both enjoyed this account by a 51-year-old lady from Indiana who decided to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.  It was great reading about her experiences on the trail, and hearing about people she met.  It's especially nice since we have been in certain areas near the AT so we could picture certain things (like hikers visiting Damascus, Virginia.)

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler  -- This book is about a Peace Corp volunteer and his life in Fuling in the mid-1990s.  I enjoyed his perspective as one of only a handful of foreigners living in this area of China.  He discussed social taboos, how his students would react if he said something "wrong," how he was greeted and harassed on the streets, his relationship with locals, his travels during the summer holiday, the locals' political views and thoughts on the US, his struggles and successes in learning Chinese.

"There was a great deal of history in China and if you protected all the ancient sites the people would have nowhere to grow their crops."  (pg. 107)

"Some Fuling men allowed their pinkie nails to grow a full two inches, because this was a sign that they didn't do manual labor. A number of my male students had nails like this, which looked absurdly feminine on hands that clearly had been toughened by work in the fields.  But none of the students planned on returning to the peasant life, and their nails were a clear indication that their lives were moving forward.  Most of the long-nailed men in Fuling were of this transitional social class; they tended to be former peasants who were finding success as cab drivers, clerks, or small entrepreneurs.  The truly rich rarely grew out their nails, because their wealth was already obvious enough from their expensive suits and cell phones."  (pg. 276)

A Journey North: One Woman's Story of Hiking the Appalachian Trail by Adrienne Hall -- That's right. Two books this month about women hiking the AT.  Maybe it has everything to do with our going to the mountains twice within four weeks.  This past weekend when we went, we talked a lot about Jean Deeds' account (see above) since we were in Damascus, Virginia, part of the time and actually walked a few minutes on both the southbound AT and the northbound AT.  We recalled many tidbits from Jean's book. When I got home, I read this one.  Several things were different.  Adrienne was half Jean's age (22 as opposed to 51).  Adrienne didn't hike alone (she went on the AT because her boyfriend asked her on this date...haha).  Adrienne and Craig left mid February for their trip, whereas Jean left around the end of March when most thru-hikers leave.  Jean's journey began in 1994 whereas Adrienne went two years later.  That part isn't much different, but their accounts and experiences seemed to be.  Adrienne and Craig ran into lots of snow in the South and lots of swollen streams in Maine.  Along the trail (not at a stream or river-crossing location) at one point, Adrienne said the water was up to her waist!  Adrienne was an environmental studies major and you can tell from her book. She shared more about reintroducing red wolves to the Southern Appalachians, the habitats of salamanders and how logging and development have caused their decline.  She talked about keeping the AT wild and how awful she felt when she saw people using cell phones in the shelters or saw cell phone towers as they were hiking.  She told more of the Cherokee legends of, say, why the Smoky Mountains were smoky and talked about being one of very few female hikers and her own dabbling with goddess accounts in college and related those to the mountains.  A good book for the most part.

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