Taran Wanderer is quite a bit different from the other books in the series. Taran's quest in this one is much more personal, and he does most of it wiTaran Wanderer is quite a bit different from the other books in the series. Taran's quest in this one is much more personal, and he does most of it with only Gurgi by his side. He travels about, engaging in Karate Kid-style training and learning lessons that go beyond the trades that he learns.
Although it seemed a little obvious and a tad contrived, the lesson of this book is one that I'm glad that my children are hearing, that character and self-worth aren't things we're born with but things we earn. We are who we are, flaws and all. It's a lesson I need to hear myself, again and again.
I'm enjoying these books, but I find myself craving something with similar lessons but with a female protagonist....more
I find this book useful in helping me to recognize and practice different ways of showing love (and of recognizing when someone else is trying to showI find this book useful in helping me to recognize and practice different ways of showing love (and of recognizing when someone else is trying to show their love for me). It didn't blow my mind, perhaps because I already knew a bit about the concept from a session I attended at a homeschooling conference. It was decent, though. I was a bit disappointed there wasn't a simple quiz to take to identify my children's love languages. This is a bit funny to me, since I tend to ridicule books with quizzes in them. I've so far not been able to identify anyone's love language, but I have expanded my repertoire of ways in which I express my love....more
City of God was a book I assigned myself as part of a Classics Club reading challenge in December. Since I was already reading Ulysses, I probably shoCity of God was a book I assigned myself as part of a Classics Club reading challenge in December. Since I was already reading Ulysses, I probably should have chosen lighter fare, but it turned out okay. It only took me eleven days past the end of December to finish City of God, and I found I really kind of enjoyed the book. It's not a page-turner, but the translation I read was fairly accessible, despite some passages that made me think of scene in The Princess Bride where Vizzini is explaining to the Man in Black how he knows which cup holds the iocane powder. "Truly, you have a dizzying intellect," says the Man in Black after a long string of pseudo-logic from Vizzini.
"Wait 'til I get going!" replies Vizzini.
Anyway, I liked Augustine's book. It helped that I read an abridged edition (abridged from the 1958 Fathers of the Church, Inc., translation, published by Image Books). This book has already helped me understand some of the other classics I've been reading because it helps me understand the worldview of someone from centuries ago, which is at times a wildly different worldview than mine.
The first part of City of God is devoted to refuting the idea that Christianity was the cause of the fall of Rome. Augustine does this in part by arguing that the Roman gods must not be very good gods because they didn't help out Rome when it needed them. Augustine argues that Roman gods are actually demons because they try to divert to themselves sacrifices and adulation that should go only to the one true God. I don't get why Augustine engages in this "my God's better than your gods" argument when he could just argue that the Roman gods don't exist. But perhaps this is another of those differences in worldview between a 21st-century stay-at-home mom and a 4th/5th-century Catholic bishop.
This critical analysis approached The Great Gatsby from several different angles and enhanced my reading of Fitzgerald's classic. I especially liked PThis critical analysis approached The Great Gatsby from several different angles and enhanced my reading of Fitzgerald's classic. I especially liked Parkinson's read of the interplay between the real world and the imagined world. It was also kind of fun when she added parenthetical clarifications about what the World Series is. I'm not a baseball person, but living in the U.S. my whole life, I forget that general baseball knowledge is unavoidable here and basically nonexistent elsewhere....more
I find it somewhat funny that I lived in Utah for three years and didn't finally read this book until I'd moved to Massachusetts.
The book takes a fairI find it somewhat funny that I lived in Utah for three years and didn't finally read this book until I'd moved to Massachusetts.
The book takes a fairly strong stance about public education, and it's clear that DeMille holds the political view I think of as Utah Libertarian, but looking past those strong convictions, his assertions sound solid, and I plan to implement some of his ideas into my own homeschool curriculum.
This is basically a variation on a Classical Education as outlined by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer in their The Well-Trained Mind. Since I'm already a big fan of Classical Education, TJEd isn't that huge a change. The big difference is that DeMille has distilled it to the point that reading the classics is critical for the teacher, and that learning from the classics is critical for the student. Everything, according to DeMille, should be learned by reading the classics, including math, science, and foreign language.
The idea is that the Founders of the United States were all better educated than anyone taught during the second half of the 20th century on (during which time the US education system has increasingly relied on a conveyor-belt method of educating youth, according to DeMille and others), and that by going back to the way the Founders were taught, we can groom more effective, more eloquent, and more moral leaders.
I think I can agree with his basic premises, particularly that a teacher's job is to inspire a student to do her/his own learning. A teacher can't force a child to acquire knowledge, and she certainly can't force a child to learn to think critically and logically address issues. The best a teacher can do is to encourage a student to want to learn things on her/his own.
I like his suggestion that time should be structured, but that what the child does during that time should not. We need, says DeMille, to enforce daily study times and routines, but that within those times, there should be a fair amount of freedom for children to study where their interests lead. In this model, the teacher's role is to help a child see the connections between different academic disciplines within her/his particular area of interest.
So, if the child wants to learn about castles, the teacher can help him find information about the medieval period (politics, religion, scientific advances), principles of math and physics that go into castle building, the music popular during the time, the lifestyle of those living within the castle walls compared to that of the people outside the castle walls, etc. This helps children learn that facts in the real world aren't actually compartmentalized into disciplines and that the separations we've made are a fairly recent innovation.
This last part isn't a new idea, but the idea of the structured time during which the child leads the activities is a new one for me, and one that I think will work very well with the way my daughter learns.
In addition, I definitely want to read more classics on my own. I'd already determined that this is a sizable gap in my own education. Because I want to include classics in my children's education, I need to read them myself so I can properly mentor my children and help them to determine where to start and then where to go next as they begin to tackle the classics.
I don't plan on scrapping all other curricula and relying solely on classics. I still plan to use a math curriculum and I don't plan on strictly adhering to DeMille's Phases of Learning. But I think it makes perfect sense, along with other ways of exploring a subject, to go to the source and experience the way the great thinkers think and read the way great writers write. This is similar to the Suzuki Method in music: you expose children to great music early and often, and this helps them emulate the best musicians. I think the same would go for great thinkers and great writers.
If I want my children to be well-educated and great thinkers, it makes sense for them to learn from the best....more
I marked this as "read" although I didn't read it all the way through. It would be difficult to do so, I think, since it's so incredibly full of inforI marked this as "read" although I didn't read it all the way through. It would be difficult to do so, I think, since it's so incredibly full of information and suggestions. Instead, I skipped through, reading a bit here and a bit there and focussing my attention closely on those areas of particular interest to me (and then just picked today to say that I was, effectively, done).
While there’s more information in this book than one can really use, that's kind of the point. Luhrs presents snapshots of people engaged in the practice of voluntary simplicity as a way to give the reader ideas for his or her own life. There's no way anyone could do everything in this book, nor should they try.
This isn’t a typical “here’s how to live simply” book that flippantly presents just one way of living simply and leaves out the internal process that precedes the external changes involved in living simply. Rather, it says something more along the lines of, “Here’s the philosophy. Here’s what some people have done to live that philosophy. Maybe something here will work for you.” Identifying one’s values and discovering ways to live them is a very personal and often very difficult process, and while I, too, find the scope of information in the book overwhelming, I appreciate that Luhrs isn’t just giving the same old, “It’s simple, Stupid,” suggestions that shoot down would-be practitioners of voluntary simplicity for not doing it the one “right” way rather than inspiring them to find their own path.
With each suggestion (and I use the term loosely), Luhrs refers back to the philosophy, which is basically to identify your values and align your life with them. For example, in the section about Families, she talks about chores and allowance. She explains that before you decide what to do about chores and allowance, you need to determine what your motivation is. If you want to use chores and allowance to teach your children about money management, you'll handle things one way, If you want to use them to teach the value of work, you'll handle things a different way. She explains that both are valuable lessons, and that it's each parent's decision which lesson they're hoping to teach. She then gives examples of how real families have done things to meet each motivation. In the end, my husband and I decided to do something different from any of the things she suggests, but the ideas got us thinking and got us into a conversation that we'd been avoiding. Our families of origin handled money very differently, and we've been stymied about the best way to teach our daughter the lessons we've acquired over the years. When we're stymied, our natural tendency to procrastinate takes over. Luhrs' suggestions got us over that hurdle, and that's fairly impressive.
So, good (albeit slightly dated) suggestions, love the focus on the philosophy. If you've started doing the inner work of identifying your values and want to read about how other people are living similar values, this is a decent place to start. You can't follow this book from cover to cover and find yourself living simply. Luhrs offers you the tools, and you need to choose which are appropriate for living the values you want to live....more
I enjoy Packer's writing, especially the details of heat and scent that put me firmly in her world.
I loved the first story in the book, the one aboutI enjoy Packer's writing, especially the details of heat and scent that put me firmly in her world.
I loved the first story in the book, the one about the Brownie Girl Scout campout. It was refreshing to read a story with authentic details about Girl Scouting. For example, Tom Perrotta mentioned Girl Scouts briefly in The Leftovers, but they were doing fundraising for another organization, which Girl Scouts aren't allowed to do. Yes, yes, this is a horribly nitpicky detail to cite, but as a lifelong Girl Scout, I found Packer's details helped me form a connection with her and her characters. If the details hadn't been authentic, I wouldn't have felt like trusting her characters. As it was, I sang the "Brownie Smile Song" and "Make New Friends" along with her characters and that helped me to connect with them, which made the story all the more effective.
But oh, man, are her stories bleak.
Packer traps her characters. They're trapped by religion, by birth, by race. They're trapped by patterns of behavior and social structures designed to keep them safe and, when they attempt to break out of these structures whether to go to college or to Japan or to Baltimore, they inevitably find ruin and isolation. Of course, they were isolated before they attempted to break away, so her characters are largely damned if they do and damned if they don't.
In addition, there's a theme of parental abandonment, either by death or by prison or by addiction that lends a certain "original sin" aspect to the stories. Perhaps these characters are destined by their parents' situations to never be able to make a good go of it.
It's altogether too much like real life, which is kind of a downer.
I think it would have been less of a downer if this had been a novel rather than a series of short stories. If it were a novel, there would have been just one experience of desolation rather than one after another after another.
So, I'd like to read more ZZ Packer to see what else she does with her detailed writing style, just not until after I've read something lighter, like something with ponies and bunnies and pigs who herd sheep....more
**spoiler alert** I found this book interesting but not exactly riveting. I always have trouble with translations, because I never know if the style i**spoiler alert** I found this book interesting but not exactly riveting. I always have trouble with translations, because I never know if the style is true to the original or not, so I don't know how to judge the author on that point (so I usually don't). And clearly some things are lost. At one point, Michael asks Hanna her name. The text indicates that up to this point, Michael had avoided using the formal or familiar form of address, but because the distinction doesn't exist in English (nor in the English translation), there is no indication of which he actually used. Small point, but one that I think can show a fair amount about how individuals are relating to one another.
I really thought it was skillful the way Schlink explored the ways in which those who use us become part of our lives forever. Most literature that deals with sexual abuse/assault deals with the immediate aftermath or dramatic flashbacks. Schlink took it even further, confronting the numbness and confusion that exists for those involved and how this influences their day-to-day actions and in many ways shapes the course of their entire lives. I don't think that Michael's continued interest in/obsession with Hanna was an indication that theirs was a "right" or "appropriate" relationship in any way, and I don't get the impression that Schlink was endorsing it. Rather, he was just explaining the way in which being used sexually and emotionally can create a lasting impression, a backdrop against which we judge all future experiences. Michael seemed to want to be rid of Hanna and her effect on him, but he couldn't find a way. I was somewhat gratified that she couldn't escape those she'd wronged (him or the women in the camps) any more than he could escape her.
I also appreciate the juxtaposition of Michael's individual struggle to free himself from Hanna with the struggle of his entire generation to place the reality of the Third Reich in a context that they could understand and live with as inheritors of that past....more
Decent book, but I doubt this is going to be one for us to buy to add to my daughter's "favorite books" collection.
The language was a little over-simpDecent book, but I doubt this is going to be one for us to buy to add to my daughter's "favorite books" collection.
The language was a little over-simplified and came off sounding patronizing at times. I know it's a kids book, but I really think kids can sense this kind of thing, and I think it's part of the reason my daughter wasn't as enthusiastic about this book as she has been about many of the others we've read. I also found the chapters too short to hold her interest.
The conversation in the last couple of chapters between Opal and her father about her mother brought me to tears, but I found the resolution of the "dog lost in the storm" issue to be a little unlikely given the way it was presented earlier in the book....more