Another great work from author James Goldberg, Let Me Drown with Moses is a collection of religious poetry. Specifically, it features LDS (Mormon) theAnother great work from author James Goldberg, Let Me Drown with Moses is a collection of religious poetry. Specifically, it features LDS (Mormon) themed poems, though many of the poems could just as well be targeted to a general religious audience. And while I've been a Mormon all my life, many of the poems feature historical figures that I was unfamiliar with. However, the poems can be enjoyed by themselves, crucial historical details are juxtaposed next to some of the poems, and the author helpfully provides commentary on each of the poems at the back of the book.
The poems really match the description provided by the author: "They are for those who still believe in a God who wrestles. For those who think faith should challenge as much as it comforts." Much of this poetry is not what you would find in a church magazine, would not necessarily be read off the pulpit. Yet the beauty of these poems is that they capture what it means to struggle, to doubt, to grasp for droplets of faith. They address struggles in our history, true, terrible mistakes that have been made (for instance, the fighting between Utah settlers and Native American tribes). The poems are filled with emotion, with leaving and returning to God, moving through a lyrical plain, making meaning through trials and joys.
One of my favorite poems was titled "The Moth." The poem is about love and solitude, and the challenges mortals face while on earth. The poem ends with the lines:
I'm a moth--why shouldn't I be drawn to both the flames of hell and the burning of God's glory?
Another favorite was this simple yet profound couplet:
What does the cloud-mist think of the river before it falls down as rain? Before we came down from heaven, what did we think of pain?
These poems beg to be read aloud, to let them reverberate through your body and soul. I would read a few poems and set my kindle down, thinking about the words as I continued with my daily tasks. Like Goldberg's novel The Five Books of Jesus, Let Me Drown With Moses is a work I will definitely come back to....more
I don't normally buy books from tourist book shops. But there I was, in Luxor, Egypt. And they had books about every cool Egyptian thing you could imaI don't normally buy books from tourist book shops. But there I was, in Luxor, Egypt. And they had books about every cool Egyptian thing you could imagine. I knew I'd be spending at least five hours in a car the next day on the way to and from the Abydos and Dendera Temples. And this book called to me.
Travel writing is an art. Now it's normally taken up by the souls (such as my mother-in-law) who spend a lot of time on Trip Advisor. But it has a long tradition, a literary tradition. Travel writing has been published for centuries, and in a pre-television and pre-documentary film age, it was perhaps the best way to get a sense of another country without going there.
Even if you have visited a place, travel writing can enlighten. The best travel authors notice distinct details, make compelling connections, and describe things in such a way that it allows you to see them anew.
I had already toured most of Cairo when I read this book. The only thing I hadn't seen yet were the Pyramids of Giza (did you know that Mark Twain was the first American tourist to climb the pyramid?). It was fascinating to read about the mosques, markets, and other sites I had already visited. Perhaps the best part of this book is that it is travel writing over time. The oldest author quoted in the book was Herodotus, who described the Pyramids in the 5th century B.C. They were already ancient by the time he saw them. Most of the authors quoted are from the 18th and 19th centuries, with some from the early 20th century. It's fascinating to see which parts of Cairo stayed the same during that period, and which changed. (You are no longer allowed to climb to the top of the Pyramid at Giza, if you're wondering.)
I like how short the snippets are--a page to a few pages from each author. You really get the best of their writings about Egypt, and it gives you a sense of the grandeur and tradition of Egypt. I'd recommend this book if you have any intentions of visiting Egypt, have already visited, or simply want to learn more. It also makes me want to do some of my own travel writing, to help people create connections to a place through my words.
One of my favorite passages from the book was by Lord Byron, who the editor points out actually never visited Egypt. In the poem "The Great Pyramid of Cheops" he wrote:
What are the hopes of Man? Old Egypt's King Cheops erected the first Pyramid And largest, thinking it was just the thing To keep his Memory whole and Mummy hid;
But Somebody or Other rummaging, Burglariously broke his Coffin's lid. Let not a Monument give you or me hopes, Since not a pinch of dust remains of Cheops....more
Picture New York City. It's been flooded. People live in tents and shacks on the skyscrapers. Bridges span the smaller gaps between the skyscrapers. APicture New York City. It's been flooded. People live in tents and shacks on the skyscrapers. Bridges span the smaller gaps between the skyscrapers. A benevolent dictator with power over the water controls the city. Yet she may not be as benevolent as she seems...
That is the premise of Firefight, a second awesome superhero novel by Brandon Sanderson. I was truly impressed by the worldbuilding. Often in a sequel the world feels largely similar to the first novel, but while the few big-picture world rules remain the same, everything else is new and exciting. It forces to the main character entirely out of his comfort zone.
Things I loved in this novel: the main character. One of the new characters, Mizzy. The nuances of choice and heroes and leadership that the main character must face. The themes about trust and betrayal. The love story. The story world. The awesome action-adventure sequences.
Except for Mizzy, most of the supporting characters weren't developed quite as much as the supporting cast of the first book.
And now for some extremely spoiler thoughts on the ending, to be viewed only by others who have read the book: (view spoiler)[ There are two ways to read the ending. Either David really did manage to reject the superpowers offered by Calamity. Or, he actually has them, he just doesn't realize it and hasn't publicly manifested them. There are two main reasons why I think this. First, at the very end, one of the other characters tells David to have good dreams. Dreams (and nightmares) are associated with superpowers throughout the book. Second, Prof gives David some healing, and David thinks he's used it all up. But then, later, his body continues to heal, albeit slower. I think this may be one of his superpowers. I could be totally wrong, but I think in the third book our main character will discover that he is an Epic. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I love the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen (I took an entire class on Andersen once) but sometimes it's easy to get caught in a fairy taleI love the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen (I took an entire class on Andersen once) but sometimes it's easy to get caught in a fairy tale whirlpool, captured in a group of fairy tales and forgetting that there are other, completely different traditions.
This book retells the stories of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav for a general audience. Unless you are a member of a Hasidic movement you are guaranteed to miss many of the undercurrents and subtexts of these fairy tales, yet even though I knew nothing about this religious movement, the fairy tales were enlightening and refreshing. There is a prince who does not think he is human and insists on eating under a table, a king who tries to discover the key to happiness by taking away someone's happiness, and an awesome, swashbuckling pirate princess.
There is also a fairy tale that ends before it's resolution--we never see the climax or the final victory, only the early journey.
It was also interesting to read the author's notes on his adaptations. The Pirate Princess was a lot bloodier in the Rabbi's version.
If you're interested in folk and fairy tales, I highly recommend this as a good introduction to the Rabbi Nahman. ...more
The Brother's Grimm are always amazing. Add Philip Pullman in the mix (think The Golden Compass, which is undeniably brilliant, whether or not you likThe Brother's Grimm are always amazing. Add Philip Pullman in the mix (think The Golden Compass, which is undeniably brilliant, whether or not you like the story) and you are bound for a good ride.
This truly is a new version of the Brothers Grimm. It sticks very close to the original--or should I say originals. The Brothers Grimm published multiple additions, and after each tale Pullman provides the context and history, and guides you through his process of what he chose to include or not to include, from which version and why. He also occasionally borrows lines from related fairy tales in other country's traditions, when they add to the resonance of the story. It's also fascinating to see which stories Pullman thinks are the best, and which he doesn't think are as powerful. His commentary is excellent, scholarly yet accessible. And the way he retells the Brothers Grimm is perfect at bringing them to life again.
I didn't read every single fairy tale, but I read a fair number of them, and will be coming back to this version of the Brothers Grimm again and again....more