7 entries tagged: books

“Boys”

January 5th

Bookcase at Cape MacLear

Books

Book label

Whenever I travel, I love to browse — snoop, really — bookshelves. You can tell so much but what people have read, what’s bookmarked, underlined, well-worn and what has obviously been abandoned mid-chapter. At the lake cottage, I found a tiny bookshelf with books left behind by previous visitors.

I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was to find the 1950s library rules glued to the inside cover of one novel, but I am. Worthy of sharing, but still very sad nonetheless. There are epic novels to be written about the “boys” and “natives” who were denied the pleasure of reading. Even more depressing, while the colonizers have long since been run out, there are few public libraries today in Malawi. The state of public education is so poor, most folk are illiterate.

The good news is, I’ve made several delightful new friends who are working in Malawi and Tanzania for international NGOs on a variety of projects, including literacy. So, let’s hope the label alone is a relic in this southern African nation. May the joy of libraries one day return to beautiful Malawi.

(Really, how can a country progress without access to quality education and books?)

~k

Tagged
, , ,
Posted in
Africa, Journal, Travel
Comments (2)

A Little Bit of This…

May 12th

IMG_3955

Friends, my life is so scattered at the moment, I feel like a sandcastle that’s just been hit by an ice cold wave. Then again — it is self-imposed chaos after three back-to-back trips and a new job. And so, I ask that you hang in there with me while I get reorganized.

A couple of odd errors I’ve been meaning to correct:

1. My recipe for this month’s OYW project? 1/2 cup of peanut butter. NOT 1 1/2 cups. Jeez.

also,

2. The sewing projects for this month’s OYW project? They are the summer nightie and the pintucked top. Also, you have 2 months to complete these. I am going to try both. I know. Big promises for a girl who can’t seem to buy groceries and make dinner most nights of the week nowadays. (Is nowadays a word? If not, I’m making it so.)

So — 1/2 a cup of PB. Cute clothes. Two months to complete. Cook. Sew. Go!

IMG_3952

In other news, I’ve read a bunch of great books lately and haven’t posted the details:

1. The Help. 4 out of 5 bananas. I really enjoyed this read and it left me with a newfound hunger for southern American writers. I actually bought Faulkner after reading this. It is a beautiful story of race, women, motherhood, and the South in the 1960s. This was an anti-vampire book club selection and I was very pleased. Read this book.

2. Little Bee. 3 out of 5 bananas. I also enjoyed this, mainly because it discusses both refugees and Africa. I thought the story was interesting and the characters were good. I simply wanted more. The main character in particular — Little Bee — was fascinating and I felt like we only got a glimpse at who she really was. Plus the ending left me wondering if it was written for a sequel. Nonetheless, any book that discusses these heavy topics is a winner with me. I appreciate the author’s attempt to teach the masses about those often overlooked in society.

3. The Blood of Flowers. 3 out of 5 bananas. An interesting story about Persian women and carpet making centuries ago.

I am currently reading, The Elegance of the Hedgehog for book club. It is translated from French and you can tell, which drives me a little batty. But the story is so far keeping my attention. I am debating several options for my selection for book club next month, including Brady Udall’s newest book, The Lonely Polygamist. Udall is the author of one of my favorite books of all time, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. Others under consideration include: People of the Book and Half the Sky.

IMG_3950

Also? I currently have about 10,000 tomatoes, thanks to those 23 plants I planted back in January. I am going to can tomatoes this weekend, like some sort of homesteader. And do laundry. And by groceries. Because, by golly, I will catch up, put away the suitcase. I will. I will. I will!

~K

Tagged
Posted in
Media, Sew Along
Comments (11)

Adventathon: 9

December 7th

Books!

kingsolver 002

kingsolver 001

Yeah, these photos are terrible, but it is what you get with a Blackberry camera from 25 yards away. That is Barbara Kingsolver, one of my very favorite authors. I know, I know — I’ve already shared how much I enjoyed hearing her speak last month. How does this have anything to do with advent?

Adventathon, day 9

Well, I’d be remiss to put together a list of thoughtful ways to celebrate Christmas without including books. As a reader, nothing thrills me more than having a friend hand me a book and say, “This. This is a story you’ll love.” In truth, I’ll read just about anything with that introduction. “The Lacuna” is one of my favorite books of 2009. It is so very good. But there are many others! Here are my suggestions for a holiday shopping list:

Adventathon, day 9

For the adventurer/traveler/person who loves politics:  “Whispering in the Giant’s Ear”

Runner up: “The Monkey Wrench Gang”

For the chef: “The Art of Simple Food” (best cookbook ever, in my opinion)

Runner up: “A Platter of Figs”

For the children in your life: “14 Cows for America”

Runner up: “I love you Stinky Face”

For anyone — thoughtful, interesting, entertaining reads:

“Unaccustomed Earth”

“Left to Tell”

“The Syringa Tree”

And books about nature I just think are wonderful:

“Trout: An Illustrated History”

“Bear Portraits”

“Monkey Portraits”

~K

Tagged
Posted in
Adventathon, Celebrate!, Media
Comments (6)

Sensuous

April 28th

homemade ice cream sandwiches

I’ve been reading, “A Natural History of the Senses” and have blushed more than once by this nonfiction account. Without a doubt, this is the sexiest science I’ve read and it has left me with a handful of the oddest observations too:

-Polar bear fur is translucent. They are white because the color of the snow and atmosphere gives the ivory perception.

-Benjamin Franklin loved to write in the nude.

-While two colors cannot occupy the same space without combining, two musical notes can.

homemade ice cream sandwiches

I told you — a very bizarre assortment of fact — but entertaining and fascinating too. Diane Ackerman’s woven prose thoughtfully ties together the senses in ways I’d never before considered.

In “hearing,” regarding drums and flutes being primitive instruments of most cultures:

“Something about the idea of breath or wind entering a piece of wood and filling it roundly with a vital cry — a sound– has captivated us for millennia. It’s like the spirit of life playing through the whole length of a person’s body. It’s as if we could reach into the trees and make them speak. We hold a branch in our hands, blow into it, and it groans, it sings.”

homemade ice cream sandwiches

In “vision,” regarding our lack of sufficient adjectives to describe the complexity of colors:

“The color language of English truly stumbles when it comes to life’s processes. We need to follow the example of the Maori of New Zealand, who have many words for red — all the reds that surge and pale as fruits and flowers develop, as blood flows and dries. We need to boost our range of greens to describe the almost squash-yellow green of late winter grass, the achingly fluorescent green of the leaves of high summer, and all the whims of chlorophyll in between. We need words for the many colors of clouds, surging from pearly pink during a calm sunset over the ocean to the electric gray-green of tornadoes. We need to rejuvenate our brown words for all the complexions of bark. And we need cooperative words to help refine colors, which change when they’re hit by glare, rinsed with artificial light, saturated with pure pigment, or gently bathed in moonlight.”

In “touch,” describing the evolution of the kiss:

“It’s as if, in the complex language of love, there were a word that could only be spoken by lips when lips touch, a silent contract sealed with a kiss. One style of sex can be bare bones, fundamental and unromantic, but a kiss is the height of voluptuousness, an expense of time and an expanse of spirit in the sweet toil of romance, when one’s bones quiver, anticipation rockets, but gratification is kept at bay on purpose, in exquisite torment, to build to a succulent crescendo of emotion and passion.”

And if I haven’t sold you on the beauty of this book quite yet, another favorite line:

“Great artists feel at home in the luminous spill of sensation, to which they add their own complex sensory Niagara.”

~K

{The ice cream sandwiches:  Smelled like cinnamon, dark chocolate, brown sugar. Tasted salty and sweet, with crunchy oats and soft dough. Felt warm and cold, as the vanilla ice cream dribbled between my fingers. Looked fabulous but fleetingly so; they disappeared quickly.

Tagged
,
Posted in
Journal, Media
Comments (16)

Read: The Soul of Money

March 18th

{Things are exceptionally hectic in my world this week; lots going on at work, preparing for a baby shower this weekend and can’t yet show what I’ve been busy crafting; feeding and spending time with the new roommate; trying to keep the garden alive with 90-degree temperatures already arriving; trying to keep my sanity while running a great nonprofit in this silly economy. More photos, time, love around here soon!}

I’ve been talking about this book for several weeks and recommending it to every friend I can think of, especially those who fundraise for a living. “The Soul of Money” has truly changed my views about finances — both personally and professionally. It has given me new found hope in both areas too. I’ve dogeared so many pages, it is hard to pick a quote that best sums the significance of this book, but this one comes darn close:

“In our relationship with money, we can continue to earn, save, invest, and provide for ourselves and for our families, but we reframe the relationship with a new recognition of and appreciation for what we already have. In that new way of seeing the flow of resources in our lives, rather than being something that is constantly escaping our grasp or diminishing, instead becomes a flood of nourishment and something we have the privilege of being trustees of for the moment. Our relationship with money ceases to be an expression of fear and becomes and expression of exciting possibility. The context of sufficiency can transform our relationship with money, with our resources, and with life itself.”

5 out of 5 stars, absoloodle!

Hope your week is peaceful and productive,

K

Tagged
,
Posted in
Good to Great, Journal, Media
Comments (10)

Dreams From My President

February 2nd

I just finished reading, “Dreams from My Father,” per the nudge of my pastor. If you haven’t read President Obama’s first memoir, and you like this genre or politics, I recommend adding it to your bibliophile list. The book is set up in three sections detailing his complicated childhood, race in America, Indonesia and Africa and how his perspective of family, faith and values developed with time. I kept thinking as I read his blunt honesty about the ugly times he recounted, “This dude had no idea he was going to be President.” It is a refreshing read for that if nothing else; how great is it to have someone in the White House who wasn’t prep-school, genetically groomed for the job from day 1? I like it. It gives me that now cliche sense of hope that in fact anyone can be President.

Two sections in particular rang true:

“There does s to be something different about this place [Africa]. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps the African, having traveled so far so fast, has a unique perspective on time. or maybe it is that we have known more suffering than most. Maybe it’s just ht eland. I don’t know. Maybe I’m also the romantic. I know that I cannot stay away from here too long. People still talk to each other here. When I visit the States, it seems a very lonely place.”  — a professor friend of Obama’s in Kenya

“Eventually, the rain stopped, and we found ourselves looking on a barren landscape of gravel and shrub and the occasional baobab tree, its naked, searching branches deocrated with the weaver bird’s spherical nests. I remembered reading somewhere that the baobab could go for years without flowering, surviving on the sparsest of rainfall; and seeing the trees in the hazy afternoon light, I understood why men believed they possessed a special power — that they housed ancestral spirits and demons, that humankind first appeared under such a tree. It wasn’t merely the oddness of their shape, their almost prehistoric outline against the stripped-down sky. “The look as if each one could tell a story,” Auma said, and it was true, each tree seemed to possess a character, a character neither benevolent nor cruel but simply enduring, with secrets whose depths I would never plumb, a wisdom I would never pierce. They both disturbed and comforted me, those trees that looked as if they might uproot themselves and simply walk away, were it not for the knowledge that on this earth one place is not so different from another — the knowledge that one moment carries within it all that’s gone on before.”

Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.

I am now reading and really enjoying, “The Syringa Tree.” It is a fictionalized tale of a child growing up in South Africa during Apartheid and trying to make sense of the politics from a 4-year-old’s perspective. Next up, “A Spot of Bother.” I also received a lovely box of books from Rachael this weekend. I cannot wait to dig in! Let the end of TV start today; I’m not upgrading my set. I’ve got too much great reading to enjoy instead.

~K

Tagged
,
Posted in
Goals, Journal, Media
Comments (7)

Stop What You Are Doing & Go Get This Book

January 7th

Okay, Finny is a book genie. She typically sends me an awesome book for our Christmakkah celebration and this year’s was another gem: “The Ridiculous Race.” {A previous selection was “Winterdance,” — pretty much the only book my brother, dad and I can agree is absolutely try-not-to-pee funny.}

I didn’t just read this book. I inhaled it. I couldn’t put it down. I sat in my car for the two extra minutes I had before church started to read a few more pages. I stayed up late three nights in a row because I was hooked on TRR. It is a comedic take on two best friends who decide to travel around the world, going opposite directions, without using airplanes. It helps that the writers, Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran, are real-life comedy writers for televison. It also helps that they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. I also think I fell so head over heels for this read because I’ve been to a couple of the places they travel to and can relate with many of their dizzying cultural experiences.

This book is so funny and is a breath of fresh air from pretty much everything else I’ve been reading lately. So, if you need a good read? Pick it up. Five out of five bananas, absoloodle. And apparently they have a fan club too. Consider me a member, guys.

~K

Tagged
,
Posted in
Journal, Media
Comments (14)