Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recently Read

  I thought you might like to see the truly magical origami-type pop-up book "Winter's Tale" which I was given for Christmas by my dear friend Mary R . The photos really do not do it justice, but everyone in the house was ooh-ing and aah-ing when they saw it. And everybody had to play with it, of course :-)

I felt like an old favourite to re-read, and I did enjoy this much more than I did the first time I read it. I'm not a football aficionado, but it was very cleverly written, and very atmospheric.

This children's adaptation of Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples is riveting. He had a wonderful way with words, and nothing was dumbed down just because it was adapted for children.

I am continuing my Jewish reading with great interest. I have the vaguest germ of an idea of a book about Orthodoxy, and I am doing some background research. The Elie Wiesel book  Souls on Fire/ Somewhere A Master was  very hard-going and definitely not written in an engaging style, though much was of great interest. So many of the Rabbinic Masters he describes seemed to have suffered greatly with melancholia and depression, some were the Jewish equivalent of Fools for Christ. An on-going thread was their sadness that despite their fervent prayers and strict devotion to living and studying the Law, they could not encourage God to bring about the Coming of the Messiah as they perceived it.  For us, of course, it is obvious that the Messiah was born in the form of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago.

The Michelle Guiness book  A Little Kosher Seasoning was interesting, but quite frustrating in many ways. She coverted from Judaism to Christianity as a teenager, and continues to keep many Jewish traditions in her own family life as wife of an Anglican priest. So much of what she writes about Anglicanism is so alien to what we as Orthodox believe Christianity to be, that I found myself resonating much more with what she wrote about Judaism! There are recipes, ideas of family celebration use for Shabbat and Passover etc. It is a good resource book and very humourously written.

The Surgeon of Crowthorne was a charity shop find that had me whooping with delight. I bought it when first published, many years ago, and after I had read it, foolishly thought I would never read it again and donated it to the local library.  A few weeks ago I was reading something about the OED and thought how much I would like to read it again - and then I found it :-)   The eponymous and quite brilliant Surgeon of Crowthorne was one of the major contributors to the construction of the monumental Oxford English Dictionary, even though he was a paranoid schizophrenic incarcerated at Her Majesty's Pleasure in the Asylum at Broadmoor. It is desperately sad to read, and as the author points out, if he had been treated with modern medication, his ability to work in as self- driven and obsessed  fashion as he did for the OED would most likely have been massively diminished and the OED would not be the work it is now.

Along The Enchanted Way was on sale at a ridiculously cheap price, so I had to buy it :-)  It chronicles the adventures of  William Blacker who has spent many years living and working in rural areas of Romania, documenting how things were changing, and not for the better either.  The Orthodox priest does not come across as a particularly savoury character, but much is sensitively and thoughtfully written about Orthodoxy in the book, and the author attends Liturgy most Sundays with the families with whom he stays.

Stone Kiss was another charity shop Faye Kellerman detective find which I thoroughly enjoyed. 
This is My God by the novelist Herman Wouk is a golden oldie, but new to me, and I found it wonderfully well-written and a tribute both to Judaism and the greatness of the man himself. As he points out, if the Jews had given into the attempts of evil King Antiochus IV to totally suppress Judaism, there would have been no Hanukkah and ultimately no Christianity either......

Head Over Heels In The Dales is the funny and often touching story of a School Inspector based in the Yorkshire Dales. It is an absolutely delightful book for "easy reading". I will certainly be looking out for more of his works.

The Fur Person was part of my birthday gifts from my friend Mary R; she said I would love it and I did ! Cleverly written from the point of view of a Gentleman Cat who, after a riotous youth, decides to adopt two human housekeepers to tend to his needs..... those of us with cats can guess the rest :-)

The other book is "Blue Rhine Black Forest - A Hand - & Day-book" by Louis Untermeyer, published in 1930, and dealing with the author's walking tour of Germany, following the Rhine and thence into the Black Forest. It chronicles a way of life which was  utterly destroyed by the outbreak of the Second World War, and is a fascinating book, telling of many myths and legends of the towns and villages through which he passes.
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Kiernan said...

Great list! I'll be looking forward to finding some of these, particularly "The Surgeon of Crowthorne." I never knew that about the OED!

Kiernan said...

I love your book recommendations! Keep them coming. I'm especially interested in "The Fur Person." :-)

Linda said...

Just chanced upon your blog and see that you also like Frontier House!
Your book list puts me to shame - so difficult to find time for everything at once.