Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Two books re-read

At the recommendation of a book club friend who gave me Change of Heart by Jodi Piccult to read, I began reading it.  Shortly into the book, I realized that I had read it before.  But, I didn't remember the exact ending, so I got caught up in the story and read the whole book again. I reviewed the book here on this blog on February 13, 2009, so if you are interested in it, just put the title into the search box in the upper right of my blog and it will take you to it.  It's a good story.

I also re-read Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Such a powerful book.  Mr. Frankl Man's Search for Meaning to look at how the prisoners dealt with their imprisonment.
wrote the book in 1959.  The book is about how men found meaning to their lives during their time in the concentration camps during WWII.  Mr. Frankl was in four different camps during the war.  He was a Jewish psychiatrist who married in 1941.  In 1942, he, his wife, his parents were deported. In the end, Mr. Frankl's parents, brother and his wife died in the camps.  His only close relative who survived the war was his sister, who had left Austria for Australia.  He wrote

Near the very beginning of the book, the author wrote:

"It is easy for the outsider to get the wrong conception of camp life, a conception mingled with sentiment and pity.  Little does he know of the hard fight for existence which raged among the prisoners.  This was an unrelenting struggle for daily bread and for life itself, for one's own sake or for that of a good friend."
 "We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles-whatever one may choose to call them-we know: the best of us did not return."

The book is full of stories and examples of how the men survived, or didn't, as the case may be. And the author offers what he believed to be not necessarily how survival was possible, but how to find meaning in one's survival or in one's death.  It is a deeply moving book.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Forgetting Time

Sharon Guskin's novel The Forgetting Time was another can't stop reading book. This was her debut
novel and according to her website: "She began exploring the ideas examined in THE FORGETTING TIME when she worked at a refugee camp in Thailand as a young woman and, later, served as a hospice volunteer soon after the birth of her first child. "

The novel began with thirty-nine year old Janie who decided to travel to Trinidad by herself for a much needed vacation. At a bar there, she met "Jeff" and spent time with him.  They parted ways after the trip and when she returned home, she soon realized that she was pregnant. Chapter two introduced the reader to Dr. Jerome Anderson who was being informed that he had been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, "a progressive type of dementia affecting the brain's language center", which manifests itself with a gradual loss of language.  Jerry was widower and a psychiatrist who had spent his career studying young children with memories of past lives.  He had one last book that he wanted to complete writing.

Janie had her baby, a boy named Noah.  By age four, Noah was somewhat of a difficult child.  He appeared to be quite bright, often with knowledge that Janie didn't know where he had learned.  But he also had fairly regular melt-downs, usually around taking a bath, or cleaning himself up.  His nights were often filled with terrors. He was asked to leave preschool because of his talk about guns and Harry Potter books.  And, especially concerning to Janie, he always asked when he could go home and see his mom.

Janie began taking Noah to see doctors trying to find a diagnosis for his behaviors.  One desperate night she googled "help" and "another life" and Jerry's name came up along with a video of him discussing his work with "young children who seem to recall details from previous lives."

After Janie called Jerry, he realized that this case might be the one case needed for him to complete his book.

It's quite an interesting story and includes some excerpts from real life cases.  The story turns out to be a murder mystery, along with theme of reincarnation.

I did think that the book ended a bit weakly, but in all I enjoyed it.  I have always found the study of reincarnation to be fascinating, so this was a good read for me.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

And Then All Hell Broke Loose

As soon as I heard about Richard Engel's new book, And Then All Hell Broke Loose, I felt the need
to read it.  I respect his reporting and work so that was one reason.  I think that the other reason was that my son (USMC) was deployed during the beginning of the war in Iraq, and I really wanted to see what Richard's whole take on that war was, and see if I could make any sense of it all.

My husband hasn't read the book yet, and I think that he will enjoy and follow it much more than I did.  I have little knowledge of the Middle East and the book is quite full of the history of the countries there, which is fascinating, but I was a bit lost.  As usual, I wanted more of the personal side of everything, and there wasn't as much of that I was hoping. Although, I did enjoy what was there about his personal experiences. this is a book that I will go back to as things progress in the Middle East just for some perspective.

I think that anyone with interest in what is, and has been, going on in the Middle East would find this book really interesting. Good writing, which I would expect from Richard Engel!


Benediction is the last of the Plainsong trilogy by Kent Haruf. As Plainsong and Eventide did, the story takes place in Holt. Colorado.  I will miss started to feel like home to me!  Maybe because I live in a small town out in the country!

Benediction is described on the back cover as "...a story about the grace that lies within us all."  Beautiful. I was a bit disappointed that the familiar characters from the first two books were not included in this third book, but as I read, it really didn't matter because Mr. Haruf develops his characters so well, that I was totally taken with the new characters.

This book is about Dad Lewis, who learned that he had terminal cancer.  Dad owned the local hardware store in town, so had been connected to the town people through-out his life.  His wife and daughter were there to care for him.  He was estranged from his son. Rather than being a book about death, it was about memories and looking back.

My favorite take from the book was how people live their lives, quietly doing good that others never know.  I have found this true about people in my own life and it is has been a grace for me to learn.

Another beautiful book and sadly, the end of the trilogy.  Mr. Haruf died in 2014, a year after Benediction was published.

2 books by Matthew Kelly

I was introduced to Matthew Kelly's books a few years ago when my parish gave copies of by Matthew Kelly to the parishioners for Christmas.  I just picked up the book every once in awhile, just reading a bit here and there. However, I do follow the Dynamic Catholic daily messages in my email.  Over Advent this past December, I ordered a copy of Rediscover Advent by Matthew Kelly, which was daily readings for Advent, and I enjoyed that. Following the Dynamic Catholic daily emails inspired me to pick up Rediscover Catholicism again.  And once I committed to reading it, I couldn't stop.
Rediscover Catholicism

Rediscover Catholicism is sub-titled "A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose."  Exactly what I need (and think the world needs!). Here are just two of the things that I took from this book to use in my life:  Matthew shared a story of his younger years when he was searching, and he realized that he just needed to ask "God, what do you think I should do?"  He calls it "The Big Question".  And how simple is that?  Another suggestion in Rediscover Catholicism is to spend fifteen minutes a day with spiritual reading. I can do that.  Which led to the next book I have read.

Another book by Matthew Kelly, The Rhythm of Life, has truly changed my spiritual life.  I can't say
enough about it.  It is all about becoming "the best-version of yourself".  It is about finding the passion of your life, discovering who you are and how you fit into this world.

"The rhythm of life is a way of life.  It is a lifestyle that integrates all of our legitimate needs-physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually."

I am already re-reading it, just one chapter a day (the chapters are very short, sometimes 1-2 pages....easy to read).

So one does not think that Matthew Kelly only recommends reading his books for one's spiritual reading, not so.  I am now reading (again) Man's Search of Meaning.  If you are searching for inspiration for your spirituality journey, I highly recommend Matthew Kelly's books!