January 28th

My goal is to read 40 books in 2008. I’m off to a chaotic start. The latest read was “Blue Clay People” by William Powers. I enjoyed his other book earlier this year and was excited to see my library carried this one. Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.
This book is about Liberia in 1999-2001 when President Charles Taylor was fine-tuning his abilities to see that the rain forest was cleared and the diamond mines emptied. (In all fairness, he did this to feed the diamond and timber hungry markets of the world, very much including my own American community.)The expense was a generation of Liberians — and their next door neighbors in Sierra Leone — who fought brutal wars, many of who survived with wicked drug habits and missing limbs.
Powers excerpts the following, which so accurately sums up my experiences as an expatriate:
“Like most people who go overseas to do development work, I did so expected to find out what it’s like to be poor…That ‘s not what happens. Instead you learn what it’s like to be rich, to be fabulously, incomprehensibly, bloated with wealth.”
— Mike Tidwell, “The Ponds of Kalambayi”

And this point from Powers’ book will remain with me for the rest of my life:
“There is a point called ‘enough.’ It is elusive, but it exists and Chief Wah, and many of Liberia’s simplest people know where it is, even if they slip below it during the hungry season, during the warring season. Enough is food, water, clean air and community. Enough is the rhythm of a talking drum under a moon that speaks to you through its light. Enough is listening to nature rather than dominating it. We in the West must relax and ratchet down to the joyful place called enough; many Liberians need to increase their well-being until we meet there, in a sustainable world.”

One last excerpt:
“I go into each new day looking at every person as a unique being capable of miracles; I look with wonder upon the healthy forests that still remain and draw strength from them; I am conscious of what I consume and try to bring my consumption into harmony with my vision of a just world. I attempt to find joy in living simply so that others (including other species) may simply live. I act as if a sustainable world were possible.”

Learning not to fulfill every need, living in the world of enough. It would be a beautiful thing.

Books in 2008:
1. Whispering in the Giant’s Ear
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns
3. Lipstick Jihad
4. The Island
5. A Year of Pleasures
6. Blue Clay People
7. Where God Was Born — currently reading


Posted in
Goals, Good to Great, Journal, Media
Follow the comments.

14 Responses

  1. Might I suggest one? Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario. Gut wrenching, but something everyone should read. Hits close to home with the work I do. I’m about half way.

    Can’t wait to hear how you like A Thousand Splendid Suns. I loved it.

  2. Did you ever read The Ponds of Kalambayi? I read it before I enlisted in the Peace Corps & found it to be a very honest account of his time as a volunteer.

    40 sounds like a good number. Maybe I’ll join you!

  3. I like that goal. Reading is both education and escape for me.

  4. 40 books! Wow! I think I will be lucky to find the time to read 4 books. 🙂 It’s a great goal though, and I hope that you surpass it.

  5. My goal is at least 45 (last year it was 38) but my ultimate whish would be 50!

  6. I’m reading Lipstick Jihad RIGHT NOW! It is SO GOOD!

  7. I’m amazed at how many people live so far beyond “enough” and don’t realize it. I’m out there to, but trying to be concious of it and taking steps to simplify. Just a quick example (hope you don’t mind me taking up your comments with this…), my husband threw a surprise birthday party for me and there were big balloons as decorations. My daughter loved playing with them during the party. At the end of the night, I kept one for my daughter and gave the rest away to friends for their children. My sister was amazed that I would give them away and take them from my own daughter. She didn’t see that my daughter really didn’t need the one that we kept, never mind the whole bunch. It was a bit shocking for me to see such a different mind set on something so simple. There is such a long way to go to get the majority to live with “enough”!

  8. Ha! I am reading that book too and I’m glad to get your feedback on the book while I read it 🙂

  9. Good Luck with your 40 books Kelli! I can’t wait to see all the good books listed.

  10. Excellent book, Kelli! I recently read about the Peace Corps and how many of the participants discovered much about themselves in their humanitarian efforts as well as a new understanding of their level of “wealth,” too.

    Like you, I keep a record of what I read throughout the year. Your list thus far is very intriguing.

  11. Once upon a time when I was an English major I would typically read 2 -3 novels of required reading + something fun on the side a week. Now I’m lucky if I read one book per month (aside from American Girl and the Magic Tree House). What a great goal – and I agree wholeheartedly about the wealth quote. Oh, yes.

  12. Hey Kelli,

    I just invited you to GoodReads.com. Kind of fun to see what other people are reading…

  13. Love the concept of “Enough.” Love it. Now I need to DO it.

  14. Keep up your book reviews! I read the Secret Life of Edgar Mint on your recommendation, and it was really good!