Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Time for Reading

One of the perks of house sitting is the "free time" it affords.  Don't get me wrong, you make time for what is important, but when you have very few constraints on your time you are free to sit down and read for 2-3 hours without feeling guilty, or lazy.  Peter was kind enough to loan me his library card so I could have a large selection of materials.  Although the Shirley Community Library isn't all that large, for the 5 weeks I've been here, it has afforded me several fascinating books.
My favorite reading spot on a sunny fall afternoon

In the fiction category I've stumbled upon "The Scavenger's Daughters" and "The Serendipity Foundation".  The first book in a series by Kay Bratt, "The Scavenger's Daughters" is inspired by a true story and is set in modern day China, where the effects of Mao's Cultural Revolution are still acutely felt.  An elderly Chinese couple take in abandoned girls and raise them as their own despite the poverty they face.  A touching read that reminds me that we are not limited by the amount of money we have to share: kindness and love aren't bound by the size of our bank account. 

Not only was "The Serendipity Foundation" an excellent read (disclaimer, there is a fair bit of language) with an interesting twist at the end, it was published by Unbound.  I'd never heard of them before, but they are a publisher based on crowdfunding.  So, readers can browse projects (book ideas) on their website and donate money to fund a book that piques the reader's interest.  At the end of the book there was a long list of the names of those who had donated to make the book a reality.  I think that's a marvelous idea, and if you donate you get one of the first copies of the book!  I loved the below quote that was on one of the first pages of the book:
For all the large-scale political solutions which have been proposed to salve ethnic conflict, there are few more effective ways to promote tolerance between suspicious neighbours than to force them to eat supper together.       --Alain de Botton

The most fascinating non-fiction book I've read so far has been James W. Pennebaker's "The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us".  I think this book rates right up there with "What The Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell in new ways to look and think about the world around us.  One of the neat things about the pronoun book was that there is a website where you can take some of the tests they used in their research studies!  Here's their description of the book, "Partly a research journey, the book traces the discovery of the links between function words and social and psychological states. Written for a general audience, the book takes the reader on a remarkable and often unexpected journey into the minds of authors, poets, lyricists, politicians, and everyday people through their use of words."  With plenty of interesting analyses of speeches, books, and letters by people such as Shakespeare, George W. Bush, Andrew Jefferson, and Osama Bin Laden you get a different perspective into psychology of human beings, based on their patterns of speech and use of simple words.  Even a few tweets give insight into the author's personality.

"The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society"

Although I have not read the book in several years, I remember how much I enjoyed it and was delighted to see that it was made it into a movie.  I have no idea if it is coming out in theatres in the US, but I would recommend both reading the book and seeing the movie.  I need to re-read the book as I have forgotten so many of the details, but it's about WWII and the German occupation of the British island of Guernsey.  The story follows the lives of some of the residents and the aftermath of the war as they try to return to a "normal" life. 

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