Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Category: New Reads Page 1 of 14

Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt

How did I get to Eichmann in Jerusalem? Through Netflix’s new “Play Something” button. Let me talk about that for a moment.

Eichmann in Jerusalem book cover on a desert background.

When I used to get bored, maybe a little tired, and just didn’t feel like doing anything, sometimes I would plop myself down on the couch and turn on the TV. I didn’t really care what was on. I just wanted to sit there and zone out awhile. Pick up the remote, flip through the channels. No, not sports. No, not talk shows. Hold on…this is decent. Sometimes I’d end up watching the whole thing, sometimes just a few minutes.

I can’t do that with streaming. I have to scroll through and pick something. And that, my friends, is an activity, and I’m trying to avoid activity. Now what?

Enter “Play Something.” I’m always amazed when things like this happen. What? I’m not the only one in the world that wants to just turn it on and see what happens?! Wow!

So, I try it and the first thing that comes on is “The Eichmann Show.” At first, it doesn’t seem interesting, even though it is about one of our family’s favorite subjects, World War II. Then we get sucked into it. The whole family is crying. We are talking, arguing, discussing philosophical shit. And I’m poking around the interwebs wondering if there is a book to tell me more.

And that’s where this baby came from. By the way, go watch that movie but be prepared. It’s rough. But it’s not just about the trial. The history of news television, sensationalism on tv, and people’s attitudes at the time of the trial was very interesting.

We watched that movie back in December and I’m just now getting to the book. I’ve been looking forward to it because of its author’s supposedly controversial thoughts on the trial. Reading the Wikipedia article about the book, I’m afraid it’s going to be a rough one. Much of what the author was pointing out about Eichmann and the Nazi regime seems to be commonplace in our current times, something I’m afraid to point out for fear of backlash, which is unnerving, given the backlash Arendt got for not just what she wrote about but how she said it.

With this book, I’m going back to taking more time, looking up words I don’t know well, and reading more background information when I need it. I plan on summarizing each chapter for myself and seeing if I can integrate more of the book into my life, and forget less of what I read. I’ve found myself rushing through a lot of books lately in the hopes of upping my end of the year tally. I tend to be a little obsessive sometimes and this one aspect of reading has gotten away from me this past year.

Have you read Eichmann in Jerusalem? Did you watch The Eichmann Show? Want to read along with me? Go get the book at Thriftbooks.com and let me know what you think in the comments. I’ll be posting my thoughts later this month after I finish reading.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My latest “New Read” is another used book I picked up on a whim. Why did I snatch up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak from the free used book pile? Let me count the ways!

  1. I vaguely recall it being a movie.
  2. It has “book” in the title.
  3. Nazis!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak book cover on a woodpile.

When I choose a new book to read, I usually try to write a few words before I even read the first pages, but I was on a writing hiatus and refused to open my laptop until today. I started reading it over the weekend, so I’m pretty far into it at the moment.

On page four, the note “already hooked” is penciled in. I am. Death is the narrator. Make that reason #4 to read it. And the language. I’m melting! Here are a few examples:

“After a collection of minutes, the smoke exhausted itself.”

“…each person stood and played with the quietness of it.”

“…the passengers slid out of it as if from a torn package.”

Holy. Wow. There are more. And it isn’t overdone, flowery stuff. Those words are put together in a way that creates an image in your mind instantly, the way perfect fiction should. I wonder, though, how they will create that in the movie. Will is just show you with actual pictures? I don’t think it will be the same.

And, yes, I know, movies never are the same, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. They are someone else’s interpretation of the words in visual form, much like the words I write here are mine in the form of my own words.

Side note: I don’t think watching a movie that is exactly like the book would be interesting. In fact, I know it wouldn’t. When I see that a show I’m watching is based on a book, I usually go running for the book to see if I can get another point of view on the story, or more details. But these shows, a limited series of a dozen hour-long segments or more instead of a two-hour movie, follow the book so closely that there is no need to read the book. It’s redundant. The Last Kingdom comes to mind.

Further side note: I love that. I’m completely enamored with this new TV format, streaming services producing a limited series based on a book or period of history. It’s freaking awesome. We recently binge-watched Versailles and loved every minute of it. No, it’s not completely historically accurate, but it’s fun to watch and then look up things and read more, find out what really happened. It’s like a springboard to create the interest needed to search out more information.

There was a new War & Peace that came out recently that was so awesome that I was excited to share it with my non-reader family. We enjoyed a story together, with me filling in some of the details that were missing from the show.

Anyhow, is it strange to read a book wondering how they will create the same feeling in a movie? I’m excited to find out, but I’m trying not to rush through reading it.

As per usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak? Have you seen the movie? Would you like to read it along with me? Jump over to Thriftbooks.com and pick up a copy. And don’t forget to leave me a comment!

A Theory of Everything by Ken Wilber

A Theory of Everything. That sounds promising!

A Theory of Everything book cover with coffee and laptop.

I know I said I’d write a few initial thoughts about a book BEFORE I start reading it, but I have a confession. Yesterday, I just wasn’t in the mood to write anything. In fact, I was considering giving up the whole enterprise, again. There are days, many, many days, that I just don’t see the point of any of this. And I spend a lot of time at it, time I could be using to things that are more…productive? Like painting the house or making those quilts that I told my sons I’d make.

I love to read, and I love keeping track of what I’m reading. It’s fun, for me anyway. I’m not sure anyone else in the world needs to come along for this ride, but what if one person does want to? I need a better attitude. I can’t let a lack of praise and applause stop me from doing what I love!

Once again, I’m back at it and A Theory of Everything might be encouraging. Like I said, I started reading it yesterday and today I’m already two hours and 58 pages into it. The first chapter was interesting, but I’m getting bogged down. It’s a little repetitive and confusing, but it’s still interesting, so I’ll keep going.

The idea of levels of development isn’t new to me. It’s something most parents know something about, right? I hope. Children progress through their development pretty much on their own with some support form a stable family. I also believe we continue through this development all our lives. But this book looks like it’s going to say that generations of people are also moving through these stages and each generation builds on the other. Fascinating.

As usual, I did a quick search of the internet for information about the author. The first thing I thought when I started to read the book was, “I wonder if this guy is still alive and, if so, what does he think now?” This book was written in 2000. Twenty-one years later…eek…things have really changed. Internet communication has grown exponentially, and I feel like we’re even farther from actually connecting with each other than we ever have been.

I found Ken Wilber’s website, but it wasn’t very helpful. I found a nice overview of Integral Theory at Daily Evolver. And an interesting article by Mark Manson (another my favorite authors) called The Rise and Fall of Ken Wilber.

Anywho…looking forward to the rest of this interesting book. Have you read it? It’s available at Thriftbooks.com if you want to read along with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

The Plot Against America book cover on a Joshua Tree background.
Took advantage of that beautiful desert sunrise light this morning!

Oooooohh…Nazi story! I’m always ready for Nazi stories, mostly because my boys are big WWII history buffs and it gives me something to say, “Hey guys! Look at this!” or “Is this true?” They know everything.

The Plot Against America is an alternative history, so it will be extra fun. I’m hoping it’s not one of those stories about how if we had just done this one thing differently, everything would have been so much better. Or a story about why it was right to get involved and save the day like we did because the U.S. was so completely innocent and anti-Nazi party right from the start.

History looks so simple from the present. We can look back at the moves that were made with the information that we have right now and think we could have done it better or worse. But the truth is that we can’t possibly know. There are just too many variables. The results of each choice change the next group of choices in ways we can’t predict.

I picked up the book, started to read the back cover, as usually do only to be reminded of the The Man in the High Castle. I loved that show, but I don’t think this book will be all crazy sci-fi. It sounds like it might be more politically based. What would have happened if we had a different president and didn’t join the Allies to fight against Hitler?

This is another book picked out from the great book redistribution event last year. I didn’t know anything about it other than what’s on the cover. A quick internet search as revealed that it was made into an HBO mini-series last year…that I’ve never heard of. So much to watch that never comes across my Netflix “suggested for you” feed.

And so many apparently famous authors that I’ve never heard of! I was just reading about Philip Roth and found a “scathing” biography about him. It sounds damn racy and I’m thinking of adding that to my wishlist. I think I’ll read this book first though. If I like it, I’ll read another one by him and then the biography.

Have you read The Plot Against America? Did you know about the mini-series or Philip Roth? Am I just that clueless, or are there just so many things to know about that it’s inevitable that many things fall through the cracks of awareness?

Go over and get the book at Thriftbooks.com if you want to read it with me and tell me what you think!

“In The Beginning” by Alister McGrath

I picked up “In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture” by Alister McGrath off the TBR pile this morning and I’m already loving it…as usual.

I love Christian church history, and this looks like it’s going to be far more than I thought it was going to be. I’ve always been curious about Christian history, as in, “How in the world did we get where we are?!” But it’s a complicated topic in that there is a lot of bias in how it is presented to the world.

When I read something written by a non-Christian, I get the sense of hostility and contempt. As if they are only writing the book to disprove the religion’s stances on life. Or there is the feeling of, “Oh those poor dumb people that believe it this shit.” It’s a turn off. I’d like a book written with respect if not reverence and belief.

When I read something by an actively believing Christian, there’s a lot of glossing over the subject. Depending on the author’s sect, they steer the narrative around certain pieces and towards proselytizing instead of informing and educating. This is also a turn off because I’m really curious about the actual history, not the spiritual significance.

Here is the thing. I believe that there is something bigger than us and that “god” is bigger than any book written by humans. I don’t believe we (humans) need to change the message for the listener. I don’t believe we need to hide certain aspects until people are ready to hear them. I don’t believe that humans can mess up god’s will toward others.

If it is real, then it will get to us how it gets to us, and I firmly believe that it gets to us in many different ways, tailored for each and every one of us in our own language and time. It’s a personal journey, not fit for anyone else in this realm of consciousness.

Which leads me to this question. Why bother speaking/writing about it? Why bother discussing it at all? Because that is how humans work. It’s how we discover and learn. It’s how we were created. And, in my opinion, how “god” speaks to us.

I’m really looking forward to reading this! Have you read “In the Beginning” by Alister McGrath? If you want to read it, run over to Thriftbooks and get it. We can chat about it later!

New Read: The Devil in the White City

What made me pull The Devil in the White City out of the great book collection giveaway last December? I’ll make a list!

The Devil in the White City book cover on a desert background.
  • “Devil”
  • Scary cover
  • History
  • “Murder, Magic, and Madness”

What’s not to love?! History in story form is one of favorite genres and apparently, it’s everyone else’s too, judging by the shows popping up all over Netflix!

I don’t know anything about the book other than its intriguing cover and I can’t wait to read it this week!

Holy…ok, I just jumped over to the interwebs and did a quick search…in my mind I was thinking, “I wonder if they’ll make a movie of this.” And then BAM! There it is! Freakin’ Leonardo DiCaprio…swoons…and Martin Scorsese?!

I just lost my mind. We just finished watching Shutter Island (shout out to my awesome son for recommending it). We both were floored…what’s this? A real movie? With a plot? And dialog? Oh, my heart. You need to go watch it! And this book looks like it will be along the same lines, a great story based in history with deep characters.

…breathes deeply…

It looks like the movie hasn’t been released yet and now I’m worried that a movie that I didn’t know was being made, about a book I haven’t read yet or even knew existed until just now, won’t be released and I’ll have missed out! That is my mind, my friends. It’s always a fun ride in here.

At least I already have the book in my hot little hands!

Well, this should be fun and now I have another movie to look forward to (hopefully, looking anxious)! April is looking to be a SWEET month!

Have you read The Devil in the White City? Do you want to read it with me? Run over to Thriftbooks and get your copy. Let me know what you think in the comments below!


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The Green Mile by Stephen King

The Green Mile by Stephen King book cover on a desert background.

I grabbed The Green Mile off the big library redistribution pile simply because it was King, and The Green Mile was one of my favorite movies. I love this edition because it has “Soon to be a major motion picture!” on the cover. The movie came out in 1999 and the book form came out in 1997. Twenty year old paperback. Win!

I have a goal in my life…to read every book Stephen King wrote. No, not really. I was a huge fan of him in high school and college, but the more of them that I read, the more I feel like many of his books are wonderful but a little predictable. They are comfort stories.

Here’s something I learned from reading both of the introductions. (I know…who does that?) The book was originally a series of shorter books which he wrote as they were published. He didn’t know where the story would take him when the first one was published. I’m imagining writing for THAT kind of deadline and getting nauseous. That’s a rare author that can do that. And the story ended up great! Surprise!

In the introduction, he talked about how Charles Dickens did the same thing but the story lasted years and how he used to read serial stories in The Saturday Evening Post.

“…I liked it because the end of each episode made the reader an almost equal participant with the writer – you had a whole week to try to figure out the next twist of the snake. Also, one read and experienced these stories more intensely, it seemed to me, because they were rationed. You couldn’t gulp, even if you wanted to (and if the story was good, you did).”

It reminds me of why you don’t ration things. It makes people want more of it, even if it’s not good, healthy, or productive. Telling others (or yourself) that you can only have a little makes it scarce and something to hoard. Your brain goes into active collecting mode regardless of how it makes you feel. Crazy.

One of the things I didn’t do with my kids was limit foods that most would call treats. All of the food was in reach and available. I made what I called “healthy” snacks just as easy and available as candy and cookies and over time they learned on their own when not to binge and when to indulge.

This book was written before we could binge watch tv shows. I’ve found the same level of satisfaction there as well. Shows that were fine to watch one episode a week were terrible tv when watched back-to-back for hours one Sunday afternoon. And then there are shows that I can’t get enough of, ones that feed my soul instead of waste my time.

I’m wondering what this book will be? I can’t know if it would have been better to read it one book at a time as it was published, or can I? Probably won’t. I know myself. I tend to be a page flipper and rush to get to the end so that I know what happens. If I deem it worthy, I read it again for more depth.

We shall see. I do know that I’ll be watching the movie after I finish reading this, if I can find it on Netflix. Probably won’t. They never have the movie I’m looking for when I’m looking for it.

If you want to read it with me, go pick it up at Thriftbooks.com and let me know what you think in the comments!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Love & Friendship by Allan Bloom

Love & Friendship book cover on the top shelf almost out of my reach.

Love & Friendship by Allan Bloom called to me from the top shelf of my TBR pile. It’s just the kind of book I need right now, a long and intellectual treatise type of book on sex and relationships.

Snug in the middle of a stack of books far over my head, I didn’t have the patience to go get a step ladder to reach it. Instead, I stood on my tippy toes and pulled a few books off the stack with my fingers outstretched while my husband watched from his office chair.

I could hear his thoughts as I struggled, “Should I get up and help her? No…let’s see what happens.”

I didn’t drop them, not even a single one. So, there! I thought I would. Several times the thought of pausing a moment and getting some kind of help did cross my mind. But what can I say? I’m childish and impatient in most things, so I kept reaching and pulling books down a couple at a time until I got to the book I wanted.

This one is going to be fun. I read Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, at the beginning of our homeschool career fifteen years ago. Seeing the author’s name is what made me grab this one out of the free book pile back in December and add it to my TBR shelf to read this year.

Looking for a new book to read this week, my eye was immediately drawn to Love & Friendship because it’s a subject I’ve been agonizing a lot over the past couple of years. The past few weeks of having an empty nest have brought it even more to the forefront of my mind.

Once I had the book in my hand, I flipped it over for a bit more information. Is this the book I need to read right now?

“Allan Bloom argues that we live in a world where love and friendship are withering away. Science and moralism have reduced eros to sex. Individualism and egalitarianism have turned romantic relationships into contractual matters. Images of sexuality surround us, but we are unable to deal with the hopes and risks of intimacy.”

Yep. That sounds exactly what I need to be reading right now.

I read the introduction this morning and realize this will be a slower read than usual. My competitive spirit made me hesitate for a moment. If I read this, I may not read anything else this month. My number of books/pages will go down.

Screw statistics! This is where I need to be.

“Isolation, a sense of lack of profound contact with other human beings, seems to be the disease of our time.”

This was published in 1993, ladies and gentleman. Thirty years later, are we any closer to a solution or are we moving further from the sense of intimate community we once created to help us move out of the world of animals?

I’m looking forward to reading this in depth, but I’m also worried that it will depress me further to dwell on how far away from the ideal we have traveled. I’ve spent my adult life attempting to create a better world (in my home and personal relationships) for the people around me. I continue to try to make that circle a little larger, a little more intimate and emotionally close. Is anyone else out there making these efforts?

Have you read any of Allan Bloom’s work? Have you read Love & Friendship? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Draft No 4 – On The Writing Process

Diving into Draft No 4 – On the Writing Process by John McPhee this morning. I’m pretty sure books about reading and writing are my favorite!

“NEXT!”

Sometimes I wonder if I move on to new books too quickly. Maybe I should linger a bit? Take my time? Spend some quality time digesting the little gem so that I may fully incorporate all its goodness?

Nah! Who’s got time for that?!

I think I’ll stick to my system. I read, I make notes, I blog, I move on. Blogging this way has helped me make more connections between books though, so that makes me happy. I’m still longing to make connections with actual people over books, but that will come someday. I must be patient. I’ve laid my traps with plenty of bait. Now we wait.

Draft No. 4 book cover on gardening tools.

This morning I picked up, Draft No 4 – On the Writing Process by John McPhee. I’m very excited about this one. Thomas C. Foster mentioned it in his book How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor which I read back in December. When I was browsing Barnes & Noble (swoons at the memory), I found it and brought it home with me.

Ok…I wasn’t exactly browsing. It was more like a deliberate search for books I already had on my handy dandy wish list, but I went there with the intention of browsing and maybe picking up some nice new novels.

Any who…

The back of the book says, “a master class in the writer’s craft.” Yes, please! In lieu of actually being in a writing class, this will do nicely. One of my deepest, darkest desires…shut up…is to take a real class. You know, with people. But I was too insecure and shy to move forward on that idea BCB (that’s before covid bullshit) and now…forget it. The virus scares me a mere fraction of how much people do, so I’m steering clear of the herd until it settles.

But I can read a book! Right?! So here I am. This one looks fun.

Have you read it? Have you ever taken a writing class? Do you know of any online ones that are good? What about writer’s groups? I’ve been thinking about joining one of those for a long time, but haven’t gotten up the nerve.

If you’d like to read this with me, you can find Draft No. 4 at Thriftbooks.com. If you do read it (or you have already), leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Mr. Feynman’s book “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!”

The Mr. Feynman book cover on the couch with the dog.

“Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!” is another used book from the 2020 book stash! Yay for free books!

I love memoirs and biographies, so I saved it based on that and because it sounded familiar, like I should know the title. I don’t know why and since I’ve looked it up a little before I started reading it, I still don’t see why it sounds familiar to me.

On my quick internet search, I found out that he is relatively famous, a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist. Maybe I’ve heard the name in a movie or tv show?

It doesn’t matter. Like I said, I love memoirs and biographies, so that’s why I picked it up. I learn so much by reading about other people’s lives. It’s an addiction. No matter who they are, famous or not, and from any corner of the earth, short or long, reading memoir is like living multiple lives.

Reading history, I learn the framework of the past, the who, what, when and where. Reading historical fiction helps me get some perspective, adds details, the skin, hair, and nails to the skeleton framework of time.

Reading memoir, I step into a person’s thoughts and begin to add the muscles and tendons to that skeleton.

Everyone on this planet has their own personal perspective. If we could see the world through everyone else eyes and thoughts, instead of just our own, we’d have a better idea of what the world really looked like. Life would become far more multi-dimensional and less flat!

That’s why I read memoir and biography, to experience more than one life a time.

This one looks like it’s going to be fun. The man worked with Einstein! And if we learned anything from “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s that theoretical physicists are fun people to learn from.

Do you know of Richard Feynman? If you’d like to read it, you can find “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!” at Thriftbooks.com. I’d love to know what you thought of the book. Make a comment and we’ll talk!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

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