Snow and ice make for good reading weather. Here’s what I’ve been doing in between holiday baking and shoveling.
Silks by Dick Francis and Felix Francis — Dick Francis is one of my favorite authors. I know and like each of his main characters as they struggle with good and evil. In Silks, the main character, a London barrister and amateur jockey, I surmise, may have been fashioned by Felix Francis without Dick Francis’ deft human touch – the mystery is fine, I hope he will grow into the writing the heart of the man.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows — This is just… a good book. It is a story told in letters. A story of history – London in World War II and the Guernsey Channel Island during the German occupation; a story of many friendships and a love story. It is the best kind of book…a good read.
I’ve also had a chance to catch up with all my RSS feeds. The following articles spoke to me.
The essay, You Never Know What You’ll Find in a Book By Henry Alford (December 19, 2008) tells of dusty, disgusting, or sometimes delightful things found stuck in the pages of books. I work in a high school Library and have found such objects d’Livre myself. It may have been a candy wrapper or classnotes, but there have been disgusting bodily things that no amount of elbow grease will erase – enough said. On the other hand, it has been my delight to handle books donated to our Library by Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director and Apollo 13 “Tiger Team” leader) which often include hand written notes and historical artifacts. It’s always a story within a story - treasure within treasure.
I love when I read and find new words. This one hits a little close to home – are we all suffering from acedia near the longest day of the year in an uneasy time? From Am I Blue By Kathryn Harrison (December 19, 2008):
By the end of Christianity’s sixth century, the fathers of the Church had revised a list of “eight bad thoughts” into what we now recognize as the seven deadly sins, having dropped the most slippery among the eight — acedia — perhaps because of its tendency, as “a paralysis of soul,” to pervade and abet all the rest. When Kathleen Norris, whose previous works of nonfiction, especially “The Cloister Walk,” have made her an authority on matters of the spirit, told an Anglican nun she planned to write a book about acedia, the nun “cautioned” that Norris had “taken on the devil himself.” The author “laughed uneasily but was too full of literary ambitions to dwell on what she meant.”
And last but not least, Happy Hanukkah! Paul Greenburg’s column in the Washington Times sheds light on the meaning of this holy time.
From - Lighting the Candles by Paul Greenberg on Monday, December 22, 2008
The central metaphor of all religious belief – light – reduces all the imperial intrigue and internecine warfare of those tumultuous times to shadowy details. And that may be the greatest miracle of Hanukkah: the transformation of the oldest and darkest of human activities, war, into a feast of illumination.
If there is one, unchanging message associated with this minor holiday magnified by time, it can be found in the unchanging portion of the Prophets designated to be read for the sabbath of Hanukkah. It is Zechariah 4:1-7, with its penultimate verse:
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
I give thanks for the gift of reading…I am illuminated.