Nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit quite like revisiting "A Christmas Carol." So much of my Christmas' revolve around this story. The movie wi Nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit quite like revisiting "A Christmas Carol." So much of my Christmas' revolve around this story. The movie with George C. Scott used to reduce me to horrified tears when Jacob arrived, and that party in the story when he unwinds his jaw bandage still gives me chills. Eventually my family started watch A Muppets Christmas Carol, which stays relatively close to the plot, and has excellent songs that we can all sing by heart. We would go to the community theater and see it on stage. And yearly, my father would read the book aloud to the children, a few pages a night.
I like to keep with this tradition. I read "A Christmas Carol" every year. Charles Dickens wrote the whole thing start-to-finish in only 6 weeks, and its only 3 hours long on audiobook. The message it delivers is still just as important today as it was a hundred years ago, regardless if you are celebrating Christmas as the birth of a savior, or just a jolly time of year. It would take so little out of your day to read it, reflect how far we've come, and just how far we have to go. It will help you appreciate everything that you have in life, whether it simply be your health, family, or good fortunes. And maybe, in this hard time, take a little time to give back in whatever way you can- even if its just helping someone cross the street.
"“If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief. “Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!” "
This book was listened to because some wonderful volunteers at Librivox have provided it for free as an audiobook.
This is a charming, serious work of literature. On the surface it’s an enchanting tale of magical realism set in the backdrop of immigrant New York atThis is a charming, serious work of literature. On the surface it’s an enchanting tale of magical realism set in the backdrop of immigrant New York at the turn of the century. It’s slow to set its pace. It’s not a book about action; it’s a book about people. It’s a book about believing.
But it has so many layers. In my opinion it blows Goldfinch out of the water for best modern literature book published in 2013. It’s almost a shame that Goodreads put it in the Fantasy category. It certainly is, but the magic is prevalent, and that’s not really what this book is about. It’s a metaphysical book about identity-our powers to create ourselves or have attributes given to us, like a golem, by those around us. It questions what we can know, when all experience is shaded by our past and our judgments. It’s a novel about consequence- those that we see, those that we imagine, and those that we never feel or see personally although we are the catalyst for them. It is a novel about gender roles. The Golem, who was the created personification of womanhood (modest, obedient, loyal) but who still had the strength to rival a hundred men, was much like the woman in The Yellow Wallpaper . She was suffocated by the constraints placed on her behavior, constraints against her nature, and was forced to roam the streets at night allowing her curiosity to roam, or become dangerous to herself and others. In contrast, the Jinni was uninhibited, oozing with masculine sexuality, who felt entitled to satiate his bodily pleasure, and who failed to view the consequences of his wanton nights. Anna and the Jinni, Michael and Chava, displayed the yin and yang of sexual behaviors in both genders in the brave new world they found themselves in. The book questions faith, religion, and even the journey to find personal spirituality. The book questions morality, and dogmatisms role in how we perceive our own desires and restraint.
It questions what constitutes life. Chava, learning to love, was perhaps more alive than Yehuda, who failed to experience human nature, human emotion, love, etc. Was Chava, perhaps ironically, more alive than her own creator? If life and sentience are based on the range of and ability to process experience and emotion, and to understand the sensory experiences of love and connectivity, then it could certainly be argued so. Chava was a child with these experiences, by Yehuda turned away from them in "life" after "life". Is life worth living without those things? Is this what the Jinni was always looking for as trailed humans in the desert?
Most of all this is a book about magic. Just not the magic of the Golem (though creation is a powerful sort of magic) or the magic of the Jinni (which is truly symbolic of the magic, power, and danger of uninhibited imagination), but it is also about the magic of love, redemption, connection, likeness, and neighborliness. It’s about the magic of our ability to choose for ourselves, to examine our freedom. It is about the magic of our ability to change ourselves, from the small changes each day, to complete reinvention. It is about the magic in our ability to choose and create a new "us." It’s about the magic of going forth and creating something new for ourselves. It is about the magical interconnectivity of our lives entwined through cause and effect with the thousands of other lives existing around us. It is about the magic in cascade of consequences, and our immortality through our choices in that chain of consequence. Choices become culture, mores, and society. Our choices now live on forever, in the chain of events that we have created by choosing x instead of y.
It is an amazing book that will knock on your heels and force you to think. Not to be missed. ...more
I feel terrible when I say I like these sorts of books. Perhaps I should say I admire the book, the story that the author accomplished, and that I stiI feel terrible when I say I like these sorts of books. Perhaps I should say I admire the book, the story that the author accomplished, and that I still feel heartbroken for the pain and suffering that the survivors of the disaster. They are all dead now, the hurricane killed 6,000 people more than a hundred years ago, but their suffering was real, families were blotted out entirely, people that would be great-grandchildren now, never existed because in disasters its just as much about luck as it is skills---- except for when it comes to preparedness. Its all about preparedness.
Even now we call hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes Acts of God. It even says it in our insurance policies. They are catastrophic events that we pretend nothing can be done about. This simply isn't true. First of all, you have to BELIEVE that it can happen. You have to believe that your city can be hit by a hurricane, no where in the United States is safe from tornadoes (and just because you hear sirens frequently because you live in the alley doesn't mean you get to ignore them), so many people live along fault lines. The simple fact of that matter is that a disaster can be coming for you, and as Joan Didion says "Life changes in the instant. In the ordinary instant." You need to be prepared and this isnt really nearly as hard as people think it is. We have an amazing asset in NOAA, we know when hurricanes and tornados are coming, we often know when there is mudslide potential from hazardous rains, avalanche prevention is maintained on many mountain slopes near populated places. Learn where and when to seek shelter. Have a box in whatever shelter you use in your house that contains, in the very least, a first aid kit, flashlights, a weather radio, backup batteries, bottled weather and a large, thick blanket that can protect you from blowing glass. I also recommend protein bars. If you know weather is coming pack a bag with changes of clothes, wear hard shoes, long pants, pack your medications and chargers. Have a plan with your immediate how/when/where to get a hold of each other if you become separated in disaster situations. Discuss with family members that best types of first aid treatment for various wounds, what to look for in different disaster- dont go to sleep when its cold, stay put so you can be found, move slowly, lay in a ditch for a tornado, move to higher ground for floods, how to test a door for heat if there is a fire in the building, etc. You'd be amazed at the simple LIFE SAVING tasks you can perform, and how huge of a difference they can make.
And most importantly, if you feel that you are in danger, listen to your gut feeling. If you feel the weather is going to get bad, and everyone down to your local meteorologist says that the outlook is good. Do what your gut tells you. Whats the best that can happen is you are wrong, but you are safe. The worst is that you are right, others were unprepared and suffered, but you listened to your gut feeling and got to safety. IN all of the disaster stories that I have read this year there was a very strong pattern of people feeling that they were terribly unsafe, moving to where they felt safer, and saving their own lives. Women seem to worry the most, perhaps its a natural instinct to protect their children, but if the mothers in the Cascade Avalanche had continued to insist on the train being moved, 100 mays have been spared. In Isaac's hurricane if mother's had put their foot down and moved their families without their husbands permission, perhaps more would have been left alive at the end. Its truly hard to say, sometimes you can do everything right in the world, but there are something that you cannot hide from.
Right soap box over. I volunteer for Red Cross Disaster Relief, so I just ask everyone to do their part to make my job easier. I want to help people, but I dont, because it means something terrible has happened. ANY WAYS.... on to the actual book review:
Weather porn, and I loved it. Its not the greatest book for actually helping you understand the mechanics of the storm, but it did a pretty fantastic job of addressing the early history of the weather bureau... which at the time was more politic than it was science any ways. I somewhat hate historical guessing- when authors say for instance "Isaac must have felt..." sometimes I feel that its sloppy, but Larson always has a way of convincing me to forgive him because I'm so enraptured by his story telling. Larson deftly wrote about the terror, the horrible scene afterwards, the death pyres, without being the bit lurid.... but I still think that the scenes described will follow me into my sleep. My only real beef is that it was short, and I think that Larson would still have plenty of interest left in the reader to talk about the national affects this storm had on the weather bureau, both politically and scientifically. Isaac obviously learned from it, he argued that ties were the most danger, etc., but the reader isn't allowed to learn much after that fact. Perhaps Larson wanted to end where he did because it was poignant and heartrending. Tough to say. I would have loved to hear his assessment on the storm's impact on history.
Can you have an absolutely charming ghost story? Wonderfully witty dialogue, enchanting characters, a slow creeping sense of terror (really not a *horCan you have an absolutely charming ghost story? Wonderfully witty dialogue, enchanting characters, a slow creeping sense of terror (really not a *horror* novel, but its fun to dwell on the difference), and a ending that I didn't see coming! Short and sweet a perfect read for the season. I'm really worried about giving something away even though its a classic, so I'll just say its a real piece of work!...more
I had never heard of Elizabeth Von Arnim before. Just when you think you’re starting to get a hold of a certain period of literature, some gem like thI had never heard of Elizabeth Von Arnim before. Just when you think you’re starting to get a hold of a certain period of literature, some gem like this pops up and send you reeling down some new pathway of literary wonder.
This is a relatively short story, written in a diary format that centers on the reflection of a woman in relation to life, family, and often using her garden as a foil for her religious sentiments. You learn a lot about the position of women in German society in the late 1800’s, and you learn a lot of women’s relations to one another, their families, and church. It’s distinctly different from English women. That alone makes is interesting, but it’s so much more.
It’s witty. Terribly witty. It’s so whimsical. Elizabeth’s reflections and observations are wry and hilarious; you can imagine the woman sitting in front of you cracking jokes with a straight face until to break into a large smile moments later. You can feel her intelligence and good humor seeping through the text into you. She frequently made me laugh. I feel like she really got me.
On top of that her descriptions of her garden are nothing less than poetic It really wants you want to go lay in the grass outside. It will give you a new appreciation for breathing in the sweet heavy scents of flowers in bloom, and the feel of the sun on your skin. Thank god it’s spring!!
I really could have read another several hundred pages and been happy. I love discovering a new author and will definitely look forward to downloading her other works from Gutenberg. ...more
This was a riot. I normally wouldn’t count a “cookbook” towards my reading goal, but this is something special.
First you are presented with a cartoonThis was a riot. I normally wouldn’t count a “cookbook” towards my reading goal, but this is something special.
First you are presented with a cartoon and quote of a famous author (and a few I hadn’t even heard of, so add that to my already-insane-TBR pile), then a few paragraphs detailing some of their wilder drunker excursions, then a drink recipe that was either the author’s favorite, or featured in their book, and then an excerpt from one of their writings that’s specifically about drinking- just so you know, these people really understood drinking.
It was a lot of fun. I bookmarked at least 6 recipes to try (a French 75 being the top of that list), added a few books I wanted to read, and thoroughly enjoyed my time in this book. ...more
Not all of the stories are appropriate for children. Well, someone of the lessons will fly over children’s heads, but then again, children have a wayNot all of the stories are appropriate for children. Well, someone of the lessons will fly over children’s heads, but then again, children have a way of finding their own meaningful lessons in what they read. IN general I prefer the stories that originally came from House of Pomegranates, but there are some tragically beautiful stories from the Happy Prince. Overall the stories are lyrical, but they are very sad, often sarcastic, and a touch depressing. ...more