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

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February Books

Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marilyn R. Gardner -- although she was born in the US to American parents, the author was on a ship to Pakistan before she was able to walk.  Most of her growing-up years were spent in that country, and this book explores her thoughts on being back in her "passport country" as an adult and how she longs for another place.  This book began as blog posts.  I think someone shared an article on Facebook and I noticed she had a book so I put it on my Amazon Wishlist, and got this for Christmas last year.   My grandfather was born in China, and only came to the US on furloughs every few years.  He went to college in the US, but later left for western Africa as a missionary. My mom was born in Paris, but left for the Niger region of Africa before she could walk. She didn't see the US until she was five.  So in some ways I tried to understand some of their thoughts - perhaps.  Also I couldn't help thinking  of my Syrian friend who went to Germany with a plan, but didn't realize when he left that soon his country would erupt in a civil war that threatens to keep him out for good - or at least that's how it appears now.  

About Third-Culture Kids she writes: "Every good story has a conflict.  Never being fully part of any world is ours.  This is what makes our stories and memories rich and worth hearing.  We live between worlds, sometimes comfortable in one, sometimes in the other, but only truly comfortable in the space between.  This is our conflict and the heart of our story."  (pg. 29)

Billy Graham: A Life Well Lived by Sam Wellman -- I think my brother gave me this book awhile back, and since it's small, I decided to pack it for the beach since sometimes I will take a book in my backpack and read at a nice spot.  I didn't read this at the beach, but I did read it on our drive home.  It's just 144 pages, and has many full page pictures (some in color).  In Unbroken which I finished on January 31 so it's in last month's book post, the author discusses how Louie's life changed after attending a Billy Graham meeting in California.  Louie suffered with tremendously awful nightmares after his ordeal as a POW in Japan.  He tried to bury his pain in drinking alcohol, and had pretty much ruined his marriage because of it.  It's that story some have, of how finding religion changes them. And it seems for Louie, it really really did.  So it was kind of cool to read this book about Billy Graham - and learning more about this man - after reading about how one of his meetings impacted someone so greatly.  Interesting tidbit to me since I like names. His mom's name was Morrow.

Lost on the Appalachian Trail by Kyle Rohrig -- I think Amazon suggested this book to me after I browsed another book on this subject. Since Andrew and I both like reading about people's journeys along the AT, I put it on my wishlist, received it for Christmas, then Andrew finished it in January, and I finished it today (Feb 6).  This is the account of the Mayor's journey from Georgia to Maine.  Unlike previous books I've read on this subject, he had his little fox-like dog Katana with him for much of the hike.  He even snuck her to the finish despite breaking the rules to do that. This book is a lot less concise, and the copy I read is a bit weird. It's like fully 377 pages with no cover title page, no publisher info, no acknowledgments. Just starts on page 1 goes to 377 and nothing else except the cover.  Kyle's story is full of lots of details, and for the most part they are informative and entertaining. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot -- The front cover reads:  "Doctors took her cells without asking.  Those cells never died.  They launched a medical revolution and a multi-million-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out.  Their lives would never be the same."    Someone sent this to me for Christmas. I'm glad she did.  Such an interesting story!

I Sleep in Hitler's Room by Tuvia Tenebom -- I read a book about this Jew's visit to Israel/Palestine last year. I saw this book about his visit to Germany, and put it on my wishlist. I liked the other book better, but this was OK.  He gets a little too hung up on German anti-Semitism, in my opinion, but putting myself in his shoes, I guess it's understandable.  I thought his comment about Germany welcoming in people who also hate Jews (he regularly mixes hatred of Israel with hatred of Jews, but I don't think that's totally untrue as I hear many Muslims/Arabs/Persians, etc. do the same) doesn't bode well for Germany.  And this book was written before the massive influx of hundreds of thousands more Muslims/Arabs who grow up with that hatred. So ...  I do wonder what Tuvia would say about Germany now.

Biking Across America: My Coast-to-Coast Adventure and the People I Met Along the Way by Paul Stutzman -- We read his book about hiking the Appalachian Trail last year, and Andrew saw he had this book so I ordered it.  The author begins his journey way up in Washington and rides through 13 states in just under 80 days. He ends his journey in Key West, Florida, traveling a bit under five thousand miles.

The Romani Gypsies by Yaron Matras -- I saw this on Amazon several months ago, put it on my wishlist and received it for Christmas.  It was interesting to read more about these people, about their origins (central India), their language and how it's been influenced by the dominant languages in areas where they've lived. I really enjoyed the part about what they think is clean or unclean, and how the upper body was fine to show off, but the lower body was not.  Related to this somewhat, they won't usually wash clothes worn on the upper body (clean) with clothes worn on the lower body (unclean.) 

UnSweetined by Jodie Sweetin -- My sister had this book and I decided to read it.  It's the story of the lady who played Stephanie Tanner on the old sitcom Full House which has now come back as a Netflix offer of Fuller House.  What a disaster her life has been with all the drugs and drinking!  I saw the book was published in 2009, and so I looked her up to see how life has changed since then.  Another marriage and divorce under her belt, another daughter, another stint in rehab. Ugh.  I despise drugs and alcohol!

Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis - Deuteronomy by David Bokovoy -- I think I saw Andrew Heiss rate this one on Facebook, and I put it on my Amazon wishlist. I sometimes find it interesting to hear what other faiths think about the Bible, and this book was from an LDS perspective.  I really enjoyed the chapter on Mesopotamian influences on the Bible (the creation story, the flood, etc.), and I liked the chapters on Higher Criticism of the books on Moses and Abraham better than I expected.  (We don't have those books in my faith so I thought they would be somewhat boring.  The Moses chapter was especially intriguing.)    The author mentioned about love/hate being different in the biblical world. It was more of "a covenantal devotion to one's superior" vs. "the status of an individual outside of this affiliation."  Thus "Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated" makes more sense.  (pg. 119)  I also liked the part about why Cain's vegetable offering was rejected because the ground was cursed. I'd often heard it said that people would have to get food from the ground through hard work...that was the curse.  But I'd never paid attention to the ground actually being cursed.  (Gen. 3:17)   And soon after that...Cain is offering God something from the ground!  (We don't have the LDS scripture about Cain loving Satan more than God and pretty much planning to give God a cursed offering, but that was an interesting tidbit even if I don't accept that scripture for myself.)  Oh, God removed the curse from the ground after the flood. (Gen. 8:20,21), and accepted offerings from the ground later.  Many things in the book's conclusion made me a bit leery as someone who grew up believing the Bible was true, and God preserved it, and all that stuff.  Many of the LDS arguments there sound so much like Islamic arguments about the Bible which I've thoroughly rejected in past years (about future revelations (e.g., the Quran, the Book of Mormon) correcting the Bible. I still reject those even if I do understand the point about humans being fallible.) 

Over the Hills by David Lamb -- this is the account of a journalist's ride across the US in the mid-1990s. He began his trip near his home in northern Virginia, and traveled to Los Angeles.  I enjoyed his account of people he met, and also of the history of roads and bicycling, and famous cyclists. 

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin -- I found this at a book exchange in Southport a few months ago.  It used to be part of the Islip Public Library in Islip, New York, and also part of the Rourk Branch Library in Shallotte, NC. It's made its rounds, I guess.  This story dealt a lot with baseball, and growing up with three New York teams.  This author was an avid fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and she told stories of her life growing up in New York City, and how family life was back in the 1950s.  While baseball isn't my favorite sport by any means, I enjoyed learning about her life and how national and international events shaped her life and her community.   I may see about reading some of her other books. This one was a memoir, but she is a historian.

Return to Sullivans Island by Dorothea Benton Frank -- another book I got in Southport.  This one is about a college grad, Beth Hayes (I have a cousin with this name), who is house sitting for her family as her mom is away in Paris for a year, and her aunt is in California.  Mostly I thought the book was only OK... maybe one or two parts were interesting, but not that much.

Cairo to Damascus by John Roy Carlson -- I found this at a local book exchange. It looked old, and the title interested me!  The author is an Armenian American who was born in what is now Greece, and came to the US with his family when he was twelve.  In this book he travels to London, Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Beirut sometimes posing as a Nazi-loving, pro-Arab journalist, and at other times living amongst the Jews.  It's really sad to see how much the Germans and Arabs hated the Jews.  Ugh...makes me wonder about those Arabs coming now to live among their old allies.  By the way,  Wikipedia gives this as the author's real name:  Avedis Boghos Derounian.  He was born over one hundred years ago.

Re-reading Job:Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem by Michael Austin -- this is another book recommended by Andrew Heiss on Facebook which I got for Christmas.  I really enjoyed this book from the get-go!  ; see previous posts (three of them)

Second Chance Family by Margaret Daley -- a small book I found at Southport's book exchange recently; a widowed father and his autistic son meet a lady who is a teacher assistant at the local school

Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux -- see previous post

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