Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Promise by Chaim Potok

(NB--This book is a sequel to a book I have not yet posted. I am have some logistical issues taking the picture for that one. It will be up soon.)

I was a bit relieved when I found out that I did not have to say goodbye to Reuven and Danny quite as soon as I had thought. This book is about the choices they make, professionally, personally, and academically as they struggle through the final spasms of their education and learn what it really means to grow up. Their problems mirror where I am in my own life, and I am thankful to Potok for addressing the topic seriously. This time I really am saying goodbye to the duo, although I will admit that I think these are friends I will continue to visit for a long time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby

What does it mean to be good? When is charity no longer charity? Can someone who is good really be bad if they are not good enough? Weird spiritual conversions and living arrangements aside, I think Hornby struck upon something worth pondering. A lot of the book deals with a play on the words "how to be good," and at one point the husband and live-in spiritual guru begin to write a book with that title, which the main character decides she is going to need to read. The picture for this books is, well, less than creative. I'll do better next time.

I liked this quote about reading as well, "It is the act of reading I miss, the opportunity to retreat further and further from the world until I have found some space, some air that isn't stale..."

A Short History of the Jewish People by Raymond Scheindlin

This book is done simply, the way I like to read history. I can trudge through primary documents, read historiographic overviews, and delve into the minute details of events just as well as your average undergraduate historian. Sometimes though, it is nice to just get a general overview.

As far as Jewish Memphis history goes, Seessel's grocery was a major family business in Memphis for decades until changing hands a few years ago. Started by immigrants in 1858 and still operating under the same name name during my childhood, the stores and delivery trucks were a part of many people's lives. Just shows that the Diaspora community is vibrant in Memphis as well as other places.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Don't panic, and don't forget your towel. I found the book much more enjoyable than the movie; the British humor comes across better in print. As a side note, I tried to break my humanoid fascination with digital watches a few years ago, but I frequently find myself with one strapped on my wrist in spite of my best intentions. What a backwards thing to do in such an enlightened galaxy as ours.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish by G. Bruce Knecht is a book about fish. Chilean sea bass (a.k.a. Patagogian toothfish) to be exact. And illegal fishing. And a chase halfway around Antarctica in the name of economic exculsivity and environmental protection. And globalization.

And no to everyone who asked if I was reading this book for pleasure, although given my disparate literary tastes I can understand the questioning. As a matter of fact, I will need to think of something more intellectual to say about it for my critical book review for GS200.

As for the picture, this is an digitalized version of a sun print I made this afternoon. I took light sensitive paper, cut out different sized fish to lay on top of the paper under glass, and exposed to the sun for two minutes. After being cold rinsed and dried, this print was the result. Just a different way to do photography.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I will freely admit that the only reason I picked up this book was because it was one of those books that I "should have read" (and it was easily accessible on Terry's bookshelf). I am learning more and more that that is the worst possible reason to read anything. This one is such a boy book. It is no mystery to me why every girl who saw me reading it winced when they recognized the cover.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Lewis amazes me. None of his books are the same, and each one seems to address a topic specific to my spirtual needs at the moment I read it. Thanks to Chase for the loan from his C.S. Lewis box set.

"If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven then we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell."

Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World by Catalina de Erauso

With a title like that, how could you not pick up this book? Dr. Herrera at FSU gave me this memoir as a "door prize" for coming all the way to Tallahassee. Catalina's story is intriguing for many reasons. She escapes a convent, goes to the New World, kills her brother, and meets the pope all in the early seventeenth century, a time when women NEVER did such things. The modern translation is good, but the colloquial English can be a bit distracting.

Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts by Barry Holtz

Certainly not a light read by any stretch of the imagination. The chapter on Talmud almost did me in. I got through all of it except for the chapters on Kabbalah and Hasidic writings though. I consider my worldview broadened in the best possible way.


Just in case anyone is actually reading this blog and is wondering if I suddenly stopped reading, don't be silly. I have been traveling seemingly ceaselessly for the past two and a half weeks, giving me lots of time to read but not much time to take photographs. Just wait though. Soon there will be an onslaught of pictorial literary genius. Or at least passable pictures and so-so evaluations.