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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Books

In Search of King Solomon's Mines by Tahir Shah -- After purchasing a treasure map in Jerusalem's Old City, the author sets out on an adventure to locate King Solomon's gold mines.  This book takes you through parts of Ethiopia, introducing you to lovable characters such as the Bible-toting Samson, and the crazy, qat-chewing driver Bahru, and Yusuf, the guy who slaughtered and quartered cows and fed them to hyenas by holding a stick (why? so they wouldn't come eat the village children).  Although the adventure of finding gold doesn't really interest me, the author's storytelling was pretty good. And I like reading about African countries so there's that.

Secret Girl by Molly Bruce Jacobs -- When she was thirteen, the author's father told her she had a sister she didn't know about.  Anne was born with water on the brain, and as done quite often back then, was institutionalized. This book is Brucie's memoir - her story of meeting her sister and pursuing a relationship with her all while dealing with her own problems with addiction. 

To the Moon and Timbuktu by Nina Sovich - Most books like this that I find at my library are a dozen or more years old, but this one was on the new book shelf. I tend to enjoy travel memoirs and this one depicting the author's "trek through the heart of Africa" was pretty good.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson -- After twenty years of living abroad, the author decides to hike the AT.  I read parts of this to Andrew and we laughed and laughed. So, yeah, it was funny in parts. Other parts were rather interesting (like chapter 14 on Centralia, PA) and others a bit boring.  Good book overall. 

Maphead by Ken Jennings -- curious about places and maps and geocaching and contests to see who can visit the most countries?  Curious about geography bees and road atlas rallying?  If so, you may really enjoy this book!

Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World by Seth Stevenson -- Yes, another travel book, but this was different in that the author and his girlfriend went to some different places, AND their goal was to travel without flying. So, the book is more about the journey to places rather than the really cool sights they saw within certain cities and villages.  Sailing by cargo ship - yep. Sailing by cruise ship - reluctantly.  Biking in Korea - did some of that.. Russian trains - so different from the speed bullet train in Japan and traveling by train in the good ol' USA.  Neat book.

Too Proud to Ride a Cow: By Mule Across America by Bernie Harberts  -- Ever thought about riding a mule across the southern states of the US from coast to coast? Me either. But that's what the author did.  He started out with Woody the mule and his goal was just to go from one end of North Carolina to the other. But when he got to the Tennessee border he decided to keep on traveling.  I read a few parts of this to Andrew. I especially enjoyed when he talked about fearing others and the hospitality of the people he met along the way (especially around page 75), and also when he worked a day picking pecans and his thoughts on how much Mexican workers are paid after he did this all day and made $17 for his efforts (pg. 147).

Mixed Signals by Liz Curtis Higgs -- just a Christian fiction I picked up at a book exchange.  It's the story of Belle the star of mid-day radio. I liked that it took place in Abingdon, Virginia, since I was there just last month.  The book also mentions Damascus which is nearby.  An easy read as we drove home from the beach, and my first fiction book in a while!

The Way It Was ~ 1876 by Suzanne Hilton -- a pretty neat book about the way life was the year the United States celebrated it's 100th birthday. Full of information from books, magazines, journals, and diaries.

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.