Who needs a room with a view? What we need is a binding closet, and maybe a carriage. I loved the use of language here. I also loved many of the rumin...moreWho needs a room with a view? What we need is a binding closet, and maybe a carriage. I loved the use of language here. I also loved many of the ruminations by Alma, Beatrix, and occasionally by Hanneke. I would have given the book 5 stars, except that I really did not like Part IV. And I did not like that Hanneke shamed Alma into giving up her well-earned inheritance. It's the shaming that I particularly do not like. So, should I read Darwin's works now?(less)
This book might be more aptly titled "I was blind but now I see." I dog-eared many pages for various reasons. Here are quotes from some dog-eared page...moreThis book might be more aptly titled "I was blind but now I see." I dog-eared many pages for various reasons. Here are quotes from some dog-eared pages:
pg. 25: "Unless you are smuggling soup to the Jews in your attic, I think a political act can't be an act of love. It can be a good act, even a noble and heroic, but love is not something that takes place behind a barricade; it happens in the breaking of bread and the passing of cups. Political love is theoretical, directed at some vague 'humanity,' and Jesus didn't say to love humanity but to love your neighbor."
pg. 101: "If killing is wrong, why isn't it always wrong?" ... "It just doesn't make any sense to me that you can kill for a good reason if killing is wrong."
pg. 126: "Our hyperpoliticized culture reduces us to solely political beings, defined only by our political characteristics and which special-interest group claims to represent us. Our gayness, blackness, whiteness, femaleness are not part of a complete identity but our whole identity, elevated from an accident of birth to a political credo. We become misshapen when all the spiritual and intellectual parts of our identify become merely political. We reduce all the complexities of our nature and experience to a political stereotype: the soccer mom, the gay-rights activist, the young white evangelical."
pg. 146: "We seek in one another the assurance that there is just one correct interpretation of the world, that everything is so simple anybody can see it unless they're malicious or stupid or willfully ignorant; and we punish one another for proving with or differing conclusions that truth is not that easy. We think we must suppress dissension to present the unified front we need to gain power over our enemies. But there are pro-life Democrats, pro-choice Christians, feminists who love their families, and conservatives who care about poor people."
pg. 174: "In a situation where they could help women—raped and bleeding women, pregnant women about to bring new life into a situation filled with pain, women who had miscarried their babies on days filled with suffering—these pro-lifers chose principles over people. They deemed the health and lives of women expendable, acceptable sacrifices in achieving the goal of preventing even one abortion ... I am not suggesting either option is ideal or easy."
(Note: I think multiple ratings should be used for books, e.g., one rating for value of content, another for writing style, another for pleasure derived from reading, etc.)
Nafisi leaves you thirsting for classics such as Lolita and The Great Gatsby while showing how revolutionists use solipsism to enslave people. Amidst...moreNafisi leaves you thirsting for classics such as Lolita and The Great Gatsby while showing how revolutionists use solipsism to enslave people. Amidst the sadness of lost freedom, she imparts knowledge to her students with unbridled passion, putting Mr. Gatsby of The Great Gatsby on trial in hopes of defending western classical literature. She explores the purpose of literature. Should literature serve as a moral guide? Should it be a catalyst for change? Should it bring pleasure? Nafisi writes poetically at times, enticing the reader with the mountains and snow of Tehran while lamenting the veils and chadors.(less)
This is my kind of book - lots of introspection! I loved the parallels drawn between what the priest was going through and what Christ went through in...moreThis is my kind of book - lots of introspection! I loved the parallels drawn between what the priest was going through and what Christ went through in his final hours. Endo made the passion of Christ come alive.
On my first dog-eared page:
"Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind."
(Later) This book won't leave me alone:
Objects of worship or idols? The fumie reminds me of a graven image. No one has any idea what Christ looks like, let alone the Japanese who made the fumie. Might the truth of the fumie have set the people free? Could God's silence really be people's foolishness?
Oh, so sad—I would really be more like Kichijiro. Lead us not into temptation! Deliver us from evil!
It's very amusing the way Kichijiro dogged Rodriguez. Was Kichijiro meant to be a shadow archetype of Rodriguez? (less)
I skipped too many pages of this book. Still, I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series, i.e., The Prodigal. I have to know how the...moreI skipped too many pages of this book. Still, I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series, i.e., The Prodigal. I have to know how the story ends.(less)
Sigi Freud noticed a little blood on a piece of bread he had been eating. He checked his mouth and found a spot on the right cheek from where the bloo...moreSigi Freud noticed a little blood on a piece of bread he had been eating. He checked his mouth and found a spot on the right cheek from where the blood was coming. He paid it no serious attention, and the blood dried out. But a few days later, the bleeding returned. He checked his mouth again and noticed that the bleeding was coming from an area beyond the last tooth – he attributed the bleeding to a swollen gum or impacted tooth and did nothing for another few weeks. When the growth started extending to his palate he decided to consult a doctor, Dr. Markus Hajek. Dr. Hajek examined Sigi’s mouth and found a growth of leucoplakia on the mucosa of the hard palate. He advised Sigi to undergo a minor operation to excise the growth. Sigi didn’t take the advice right away. Later, he asked a young internist, Felix Deutsch, for a second opinion. Deutsch agreed with Dr. Hajek’s diagnosis. Sigi was worried and decided to have the growth excised. During the excision, Sigi bled profusely, but Hajek managed to remove the growth through the pool of blood – it wasn’t clear if Hajek removed all the growth though. The excised tissue was sent to the lab, which reported back that the growth was benign. But four months after the operation, the wound on Sigi’s palate failed to heal properly. He asked Deutsch to look at his mouth again. Deutsch looked but did not make any comment about the growth. A day later Deutsch told Sigi that he had made an appointment for Sigi to see Professor Hans Pichler, a famous oral surgeon. Dr. Pichler examined Sigi’s mouth and asked if Sigi wanted to know the truth. Certainly, Sigi answered. (less)
This book is about a woman’s search for love that does not possess. Maria explores the nuances of sex within the context of pain and pleasure and love...moreThis book is about a woman’s search for love that does not possess. Maria explores the nuances of sex within the context of pain and pleasure and love. Eleven minutes is the time most people spend in sexual embrace, the time it takes to dispense of sexual energy. Sacred sex is what happens when the souls of two people who see light in each other engage. The book is written with such freedom that it makes one cease to think of one’s own body as a stranger. It causes one to pause and think about what treasures lurk in the intertwining of two souls.(less)
I picked up The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker at an airport in Denver on December 1, 2007, not wanting to waste my time dozing off on a subsequent fl...moreI picked up The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker at an airport in Denver on December 1, 2007, not wanting to waste my time dozing off on a subsequent flight. The color and title of the book initially drew me to the book, and then when I learnt that the book was about a painter, I became more interested.
Karen Harper, author of The Last Boleyn, which I haven’t read, remarks that The Golden Tulip is richly reminiscent of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with A Pearl Earring. The settings in The Golden Tulip and Girl with a Pearl Earring have common elements - yes. But I think The Golden Tulip is more reminiscent of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Ludolf immediately reveals himself as a solipsist, and it is amazing to see the lengths to which he would go to have what he wishes. But I don’t know what to make of Hendrick. He is a pompous idiot at the very least.
Of all the characters, perhaps the one who moves my heart the most is Aletta.(less)
I'm ashamed to say that I skipped church on Sunday to finish reading this book. I was so dissatisfied when I finished reading the book because there w...moreI'm ashamed to say that I skipped church on Sunday to finish reading this book. I was so dissatisfied when I finished reading the book because there were too many unanswered questions. But I discovered that there is a sequel, The Betrayal, which I've ordered from Amazon and look forward to reading - I'll just be careful not to start reading it first thing on a Sunday morning.(less)
It's hard to know how to rate this book. It's sort of a personal essay on reading. Is it a good essay? Yes. The book has a religious bent to it. So, t...moreIt's hard to know how to rate this book. It's sort of a personal essay on reading. Is it a good essay? Yes. The book has a religious bent to it. So, those who are not interested in God might find the book tiresome. The book is also a compendium—it's difficult to remember too much at the end of the book or to read the book in one gulp. Has the author persuaded me to want to read more? Yes. Has the author persuaded me that reading is a spiritual act? I don't know. But I'll try to read future books with a little more attention.
The book is enlightening in some ways. For example, Malone talks about the pleasure of wasting time for the sake of God, that the "primary purpose of prayer is the contemplation, appreciation, and praise of Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Holiness, Love," that prayer "is its own raison d'être." Oh! This means that the primary purpose of prayer is not to beg for stuff.
Malone quoting Romano Guardini in The Spirit of the Liturgy:
"The soul must learn to abandon, at least in prayer, the restlessness of purposeful activity; it must learn to waste time for the sake of God ... It must learn not to be continually yearning to do something, to attack something, to accomplish something useful, but to play the divinely ordained game of the liturgy of liberty and beauty and holy joy before God."
Lest you think the book is all about religious themes, Malone even gets into the erotic. Yep! Now, what would a nun know about the erotic. To be sure, the first reading she talked about here is from Song of Songs (also, Songs of Solomon): "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth (—for your love is more delightful than wine)." Song of Songs, of course, doesn't mention God. So, we have a book that is sensuous, even erotic, embedded in the Bible, and it begs the question of "why is the book in the Bible?" Well, if God orchestrated the putting together of the Bible, it may be that the subject—human love, that is—actually interests him. Of course, according to Malone, there are those who have provided spiritual explanations for the book. On the other hand, James Fischer says, according to Malone, let the book be without esoteric spiritual justification; human love is good.
The book has a list of books to read. I feel that I would like reading books that Malone enjoyed. So, my next task is to add a bunch of books to my to-read shelf from the list.(less)
Simon Winchester explores the making of the Oxford English Dictionary in this book. He gives an intimate portrait of William C. Minor, one of the majo...moreSimon Winchester explores the making of the Oxford English Dictionary in this book. He gives an intimate portrait of William C. Minor, one of the major contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary. Simon Winchester describes Minor as a "mysterious and intriguing helper," albeit insane. As a character, Minor is very intriguing – a combination of an artist, a surgeon, a soldier, and a philologist. I tried to imagine him with a long white beard, sitting in an asylum cell with walls lined with books. I longed to see the etymologies he sent to James Murray, to see what his handwriting looked like, to know the ecstasy of poring into books on end to find new words, to understand the misery of being terrorized by one’s own thoughts.(less)