Based on the story of the author's ancestors, this is a warm, sweet, and hard-to-put-down story of HaRomantic passion and history make a great read...
Based on the story of the author's ancestors, this is a warm, sweet, and hard-to-put-down story of Hannah and her choice between obeying her father or marrying the man she loved and who cherished her, but who did not meet her father's approval. What will it take to soften her father's hard heart and mend her own? If you need a good escape book, look no farther....more
Disclosure: I helped the author with the production of this book, but I am so impressed that at 94 years old, she took time to record these memories aDisclosure: I helped the author with the production of this book, but I am so impressed that at 94 years old, she took time to record these memories and recollections of a bygone era in Middleburg, Virginia, where fox hunting and horses were important during her childhood as they are today. The author has since passed on, and I am so glad we still have these lovely reminiscences.
This book is a gift to all those who know and love this beautiful part of Virginia....more
From the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert:
"Q: What is creativity? "A: The relationship between a human being and the myFrom the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert:
"Q: What is creativity? "A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration"
There are a few books in my life that I want to buy several copies and share with my dearest family and friends. Brenée Brown's books are among them, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is another. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this, because I didn't jump on the bandwagon for the author's famous book Eat, Pray Love, which took the world by storm many years ago ( some loved it, some hated it). I have recently started following Elizabeth Gilbert again -- she has grown up; she's a marvelous and engaging writer with a wicked sense of humor; and she is motivating and inspiring. I follow her Facebook page and enjoy her posts.
Who is this book for?
As with most books, timing is everything, and while I could blithely say this book is for everyone, it is probably going to resonate with you more at certain times than others. However, Elizabeth Gilbert is not so timid in her introduction:
I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure...The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.
The hunt to uncover those jewels—that's creative living.
The courage to go on that hunt in the first place—that's what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.
The often surprising results of that hunt—that's what I call Big Magic.
So right from the beginning, she throws down the gauntlet with that challenge...because who wants to live just a mundane existence, right? And who isn't tantalized by a good treasure hunt? With those words, I was hooked and ready for the adventure.
Creativity Myths Busted
While this book flows well and is an easy read, it can also be put down and picked up without losing continuity. It's like a necklace of jewels strung together, each beautiful or interesting itself, but even more lovely as a necklace.
Myth-busting is an entertaining and enlightening part of Big Magic. Gilbert takes on some of the myths about creativity that hold us back or paralyze us.
• We have to kill off our fear of our creativity. No, she says. It's too likely that when you kill off your fear, you kill off your creativity too. She advocates acknowledging and leaning into your fear. "The less I fight my fear, the less it fights back."
• Our worth is measured by our successes or failures. No, our worth is measured by our dedication to our path.
• Your muse is yours alone. Gilbert believes inspiration is energy seeking a human partner to be made manifest. So if one human refuses to embrace and cultivate it, it will move on elsewhere. She shares a fascinating personal story to demonstrate this.
• There are creative geniuses. She would say there are people who embrace genius. True creatives must do something original. Gilbert says, "Most things have already been done—but they have not yet been done by you."
• True creatives must suffer and starve. "There is no dishonor in having a job."
Question the common wisdom
One of Gilbert's gifts is taking common/trite sayings and turning them on their ear. A good example of this is the question often asked by motivational types in an attempt to help their students identify their true calling: "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" Gilbert sees this differently and asks instead, "What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?" That's a question to test your passion, for sure.
One of the reasons I particularly enjoyed this book is because of my own conflicted feelings about creativity and how narrowly I used to define it. I've written about it before (See "Are You An Artist?"), but for years, I was sure I wasn't the least bit creative. I was a science major with no obvious aptitude for drawing, painting, or thinking up fiction plots. My only skills were all about logic, productivity, business, or common sense.
Or so I thought.
Several years ago, I had the startling revelation that creativity manifests itself in lots of different ways, including business, marketing, networking. When I have a blank piece of paper and colored markers in front of me, I may not want to make a picture, but what I DO want to put on the paper is WORDS. So now that I've embraced the notion I'm creative after all, I can't get enough of reading about creativity. Gilbert's words on the back of this book's dust jacket are compelling:
Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn't matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.
Elizabeth Gilbert, through Big Magic, made me want to say YES to the adventure of uncovering the hidden treasures within me. ...more
I was skeptical of this book's premise, but it worked beautifully. Edward, the British concierge of an upscale Atlanta apartment building, invites felI was skeptical of this book's premise, but it worked beautifully. Edward, the British concierge of an upscale Atlanta apartment building, invites fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey. Three of the participants—ostensibly very different in both personality and financial means—find themselves connecting at these gatherings and forging strong bonds of friendship. At the same time, they are gaining insights about themselves and finding the courage—with a little help from their friends—to break free of self-imposed limitations and find new reasons to believe in themselves and their ability to be happy.
The strength of the book, I belie e, lies in the well-drawn characters of these three women. Readers, especially women readers, are bound to identify with one or more challenges these characters face and be encouraged by the ways they overcome them.
Samantha Davis married for the wrong reasons to secure a future for her younger brother and sister. They are ungrateful and manipulative, and she is afraid her wealthy husband is driven more by pity for her than by love.
Claire Walker has invested her life savings into renting this apratment for a year so she can write her break-out novel. But writer's block and empty nest insecurities have paralyzed her.
Brooke MacKenzie is battling financial insecurity and low self-esteem as she deals with a jerk of an ex-husband and being a single mother.
Edward, the concierge, plays a vital role too, as he exerts considerable guidance and encouragement to his flock while he deals with both betrayal and family pressure in his own personal life.
Downton Abbey actually plays a relatively small role, yet there are threads to connect the themes from that story into this book's story. While being a D. A. fan is not at all crucial to understanding or enjoying this book, those fans will enjoy an additional layer of pleasure.
So in the end, this was a story about the power of connection, the importance of friendship, and the truth that good things can be forged in the furnace of adversity. I came to love those four characters and hope there will be a sequel....more
This was a delightful read, written by a charming man who has had a fascinating life and who, clearly, has the wonderful and rare combination of intelThis was a delightful read, written by a charming man who has had a fascinating life and who, clearly, has the wonderful and rare combination of intelligent listening skills and entertaining story-telling skills. Born in 1927 to a family with generations of public service on both sides of his family, one reviewer accurately said, "Witnessing history from the New Deal to President Obama's Cuban initiative, Symington is a willing recorder of eavesdrops, 'ranging in propriety from blasphemy to prayer.'" If you enjoy reading about the inside secrets of the rich and famous, you'll enjoy this book.
The book is not a chronological autobiography at all, but rather a collection of stories and vignettes from the author's remarkable life in service to our country in various elected and appointed positions. I could quibble with the organization of the book, as it was arranged by theme rather than chronologically, and I found this a bit distracting at times, but that is a small price to pay for the pleasure of traveling along with this gifted storyteller as he shared the secrets and insights of a world most of us will never know personally.
It had an added level of pleasure for me because the author has a home and connections in Virginia's hunt country, where I grew up, and my mother remembers him and his lovely wife well from social events of the past. Those who know him say he still, at age 89, is a highly attractive and impressive man. ...more
I had some mixed feelings about this book, but overall, the author's courage and willingness to expose her own fears, foibles, and poor judgment choicI had some mixed feelings about this book, but overall, the author's courage and willingness to expose her own fears, foibles, and poor judgment choices compelled me to give it five stars. The reason I felt conflicted was because the author, by her own admission, led a rather dysfunctional life before her decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I found myself judging her instead of rooting for her, and I didn't like this about myself.
What is indisputable, however, is that Cheryl Strayed is a gifted observer and writer with an addiction to truth-telling, even when it's not flattering to herself. Because of these talents, I hiked that trail right beside her and felt her experience and learned her lessons. This is a true story that should inspire others not to give up when they're down, not to turn back when they encounter obstacles, not to judge people by their appearances, and never to underestimate the power of the human spirit to overcome fear and loss. ...more
Exquisite language about a beautiful, spiritual people of the Hebrides. The author collected stories, prayers, and myths handed down from one generatiExquisite language about a beautiful, spiritual people of the Hebrides. The author collected stories, prayers, and myths handed down from one generation to another, each steeped in the faith of these people and their work ethic and connection with the natural world of their Creator. Their simple, profound faith--and the lovely they way express it--are both soothing and inspiring....more
I just finished "Death of the Dream," author JJ Brown's first book of short stories -- wow, she knows how to keep her readers on the edge of their seaI just finished "Death of the Dream," author JJ Brown's first book of short stories -- wow, she knows how to keep her readers on the edge of their seats! Once I had to literally stop and wait to finish when it wasn't dark and I wasn't alone. Each story was quite unique and featured characters with different mental disorders. Really great writing -- dark yet exciting. I listened to the Audible version, and the reader was excellent. ...more
We read this book for our church's Lenten study, and it is a lively exploration—and explanation—of the Bible, its origins, and the many ways its textsWe read this book for our church's Lenten study, and it is a lively exploration—and explanation—of the Bible, its origins, and the many ways its texts have seeped into our culture in predictable and unpredictable ways.
Dr. Swenson is smart, educated, and has a quirky sense of humor that makes a heavy subject accessible and informative.
It is in no way an attempt to convince a non-believer of the Bible's worth. She makes no bones about its discrepancies, inconsistencies, and possible errors. But in telling the remarkable story of the Bible's evolution, she has gifted me with an enriched perspective that will forever add depth to what I take away from my personal reading of the holy scripture....more
The book was not intended to be biographical, but it was inspired by a short period in anthropologist Margaret Mead's liThis book took my breath away.
The book was not intended to be biographical, but it was inspired by a short period in anthropologist Margaret Mead's life as a young, newly married, scientist in Africa studying natives with her husband, and working with another male anthropologist. As these three characters live with native tribes and seek new and sensational discoveries about native behavior, their relationships and encounters spin out in a tale of adventure, danger, illicit love, native rituals, dark secrets, and deep jealousies, both personal and professional.
The reader is immersed in a fascinating, strange, and beautiful world, seeing the native village culture through the eyes of an intelligent, eccentric and passionate woman, whose keen intellect and thoughtful observations about the native behaviors cause you to think about western culture and behaviors in a whole new way. The euhporia of the title shows up in ritualistic behavior, transcendent natural beauty, forbidden love, and the thrill of exchanging ideas and sharing one's life work with someone of equal intellectual curiosity and insight.
There were so many levels of excellence and artistry in this book. Well-researched in terms of anthropological techniques and theories, the book also revealed the author's deft hand at portraying universal human emotions, both dark and light, exposing the rather thin veneer we "civilized" humans want to believe hides our baser selves. The ending was as exquisitely crafted as anything I've ever read. ...more
This author has pulled off a challenging feat in weaving a rather dark tale with such well-drawn characters and perfectly-tuned emotional layers thatThis author has pulled off a challenging feat in weaving a rather dark tale with such well-drawn characters and perfectly-tuned emotional layers that it moves rapidly along without getting bogged down. In fact, I stayed up too late a couple of nights to see what was going to happen next.
Its characters run the gamut of loving and generous to selfish and immature, yet there is a finely drawn theme of the power of love in a world of people who need love so desperately, and the ending is strangely hopeful in spite of the main character's poor choices.
The author's medical background lent strength and credibility to the parts of the story involving AIDS transmission and the terrible threat posed by AIDS when it first began to spread so rapidly and the diagnosis was virtually a death sentence. The consequences of failing to practice "safe sex" became many magnitudes greater than they had ever been, and this took its toll on both health and relationships....more
I'm such a fan of Brené Brown and admire her research, not to mention her determination to stay true to herself and practice what she preaches. This bI'm such a fan of Brené Brown and admire her research, not to mention her determination to stay true to herself and practice what she preaches. This book felt almost too personal at times, yet her stories about herself and what she has learned from her research findings were compelling from beginning to end. She has a gift for immersing her reader in both the theories and the implementation of those theories into every day and an uncanny ability to empower her readers to rise strong right along with her. ...more
This small book evolved from a graduation address Ann Patchett gave to a graduating class at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence. Part memoir and part selfThis small book evolved from a graduation address Ann Patchett gave to a graduating class at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence. Part memoir and part self-help, it contains wonderful life lessons and interesting reflections from an author whose writing I admire....more
This was a delightfully inspiring and encouraging book from the Episcopal Church's new Presiding Bishop. He pulls us back in time and infects us withThis was a delightfully inspiring and encouraging book from the Episcopal Church's new Presiding Bishop. He pulls us back in time and infects us with the thrill and hope—as well as the shock—the early disciples must have felt in the presence of Jesus when they first heard His radical "crazy" message. Bishop Curry digs deep to the roots of our faith to make sure we're well-grounded and ready to get crazy for Christ in a world that's just as hungry for the message as it was 2000 years ago....more