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Friday, July 23rd, 2010 02:20 pm

(Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com)


Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) During a year spent in Japan on a personal quest to deepen her appreciation for such Eastern ideals as commitment and devotion, documentary filmmaker Karin Muller discovered just how maddeningly complicated it is being Japanese. In this book Muller invites the reader along for a uniquely American odyssey into the ancient heart of modern Japan. Broad in scope and deftly observed by an author with a rich visual sense of people and place, Japanland is as beguiling as this colorful country of contradictions.

Thoughts: )
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Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 11:12 am

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Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) "Part memoir and part education (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A. J. Jacob's hilarious, enlightening, and seemingly impossible quest to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z." The Know-It-All recounts the unexpected and comically descriptive effects Operation Encyclopedia has on every part of Jacobs' life - from his newly minted marriage to his complicated relationship with his father and the rest of his charmingly eccentric New York family to his day job as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs' project tests the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to explore the real meaning of intelligence as he endeavors to join Mensa, win a spot on Jeopardy!, and absorb 33,000 pages of learning.

Thoughts: )
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Monday, May 10th, 2010 10:12 am

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Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) From the bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible.

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.

The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes.

Jacobs's quest transforms his life even more radically than the year spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica for The Know-It-All. His beard grows so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. He immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, battles idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations - much to his wife's chagrin.

Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and does Scripture study with Jehovah's Witnesses. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance. And he wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first-century brain.

Jacobs's extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliff Notes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.


Thoughts: )
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Friday, March 12th, 2010 03:54 pm

(Buy from Amazon.ca)

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) If evolutionary theory is correct, what does that say about creator God?

Ever since the famous debate on Darwinism between Huxley and Wilberforce in 1860, there has been little real conversation between the scientific community and much of the Christian world. This book offers the prospect of reconciliation between what are seen as two opposing worldviews.

With remarkable insight and skill, Foster shows that most evolutionary theory and its consequences are easily reconciled with Christian orthodoxy and explores the ethical problems of natural selection in a fresh and invigorating way.

Charles Foster insists on getting to the heart of the topic and succeeds through a scientific and biblical analysis that is second to none. The Selfless Gene has the potential to become required reading for theologians and laypeople alike.


Thoughts: )
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Thursday, February 25th, 2010 08:10 pm


Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Like many Jews and Christians, David Plotz long assumed he knew what was in the Bible. He read parts of it as a child in Hebrew school, then at-tended a Christian high school where he studied the Old and New Testaments. Many of the highlights stuck with him—Adam and Eve, Cain versus Abel, Jacob versus Esau, Jonah versus whale, forty days and nights, ten plagues and commandments, twelve tribes and apostles, Red Sea walked under, Galilee walked on, bush into fire, rock into water, water into wine. And, of course, he absorbed from all around him other bits of the Bible—from stories he heard in churches and synagogues, in movies and on television, from his parents and teachers. But it wasn't until he picked up a Bible at a cousin's bat mitzvah—and became engrossed and horrified by a lesser-known story in Genesis—that he couldn't put it down.

At a time when wars are fought over scriptural interpretation, when the influence of religion on American politics has never been greater, when many Americans still believe in the Bible's literal truth, it has never been more important to get to know the Bible. Good Book is what happens when a regular guy—an average Job—actually reads the book on which his religion, his culture, and his world are based. Along the way, he grapples with the most profound theological questions: How many commandments do we actually need? Does God prefer obedience or good deeds? And the most unexpected ones: Why are so many women in the Bible prostitutes? Why does God love bald men so much? Is Samson really that stupid?

Good Book is an irreverent, enthralling journey through the world's most important work of literature.


Thoughts: )
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Sunday, January 10th, 2010 03:07 pm


From the cover:"Knitting Yarns and Spinning Tales" brings to life the unique and universal experiences of knitters from a variety of backgrounds.

This exceptional collection combines lighthearted essays with more philosophical pieces from authors and experts such as Meg Swansen, Perri Klass, Lily Chin, Teva Durham, Lela Nargi, Susan Gordon Lydon, Suzyn Jackson, Amy Singer, Greta Cunningham, Laura Billings, Kay Dorn, Betty Christiansen, and Jennifer Hansen, who put down their needles long enough to share their thoughts and musings about the popular pastime.

In these entertaining yarns, the authors provide insight into the warmth and enjoyment of knitting and crocheting. Join one writer as she shares a poignant Sunday afternoon in March shearing sheep with her father; travel to Sant ’Arsenio, Italy, where women gather on their door steps to knit, crochet, embroider, and chat; laugh at one woman’s memories of learning to knit in an uncomfortable classroom chair beside a World War II vet named Max; and smile at the essays that delve into the psyche of the knitter.

If you live to knit, enjoy the companionship of other knitters, or appreciate the intricate handiwork of a handmade sweater, this is a must-read!


Thoughts: )
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Monday, December 28th, 2009 07:56 am
I suppose I just haven't found much of interest to say lately. I'm well aware that there are only so many posts that readers can take about how I still haven;t finished knitting that blanket or still haven't finished a new book yet.

Well, no longer. I have finished reading something, and I'm going to review it!

I recently finished reading Eliane Leslau Silverman's The Last Best West, a book about women's lives on the Alberta prairie from 1880 to 1930. It's a book of compiled anecdotes from the many women she interview for the purpose of finding out just how their lives were at the time.

Why write a book specifically about what women did then? Silverman explains in the first part of the book that she grew tired of reading books about that era that were all about what men did. Politics, great discoveries, all that stuff is interesting, but she wanted to know more about the history of the woman who, for the most part, were behind the men, at home keeping things stable, doing the daily chores and routines that so many men really took for granted at the time.

I too had long been interested in domestic history, though I didn't know what it was called until recently. I wanted to know how people of various time periods really lived, what their daily humdrum lives were about. What did they do that I don't do? What do they do that I also do? Why do they do it? While the life of some impoverished composer or child genius was certainly interesting, it told me how only one tin slice of society behaved, and that was usually the upper class. And even then, it was a poor image of life at best.

So here was a chance for me to read about the lives and viewpoints of women during a historical period that particularly interests me. I couldn't pass it up!

The anecdotes selected were fascinating. They told about topics such as the isolation that drove women alternately to their wits end and then to form a community. They delved into those hidden mysteries of "growing up" and childbirth, and how sexuality was often hidden from them at all costs. They showed what it was like to live with abusive parents and husbands, what they were allowed to do and what they weren't, the religions they believed in and the mishmash of cultural practices they were all exposed to.

It's one thing to read about these things in some history book. But since this was a book of collected anecdotes, the words of women who sat down and told somebody about their lives, history become all the more real. History isn't something confined to dry pages in a thick textbook. It's people, people both living and dead, who were there and have their stories to tell. Sure, these woman may not have changed the world, may not have revolutionized much beyond the efficiency of their own household chores, but they were people nonetheless and I believe they have a right to have their stories told alongside the so-called "great people" of the time.

If you enjoy history, especially domestic history or women's history, I definitely recommend picking up this book if you have the chance. It makes the period and the place come alive again.