Tag Archives: book review

What I’ve Been Reading : The Year of Living Biblically

This was an Accidental Book Club requested reading and I just so happened to have it on my bookshelf. My friend Marie dropped the book off years ago and I just never picked it up. The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs, a type of immersion journalism, ended up being a very interesting read. Through the book he tries to live his life to the literal laws of the bible. There are hundreds of laws, too many for one year and only a fraction of them can actually be attempted in this day and age…although that doesn’t stop him from trying to stone an adulterer or preform an animal sacrifice. Jacobs then decides to tackle one at a time, as well as a combination of about twenty easier rules and laws for every day. The “easier” ones include prayer, being honest, honouring the sabbath, not killing anyone, honouring your mother and father etc. He also follows a handful of Hassidic Jewish laws, such as no mixed fibres, you cannot cut or even trim your beard or the hair on the sides of your head, tithing and he cannot touch women because they could be menstruating or sit in a place where woman who menstruate may have sat.

AJ also visits other religious communities. He takes a few road trips to Amish, Creationists, Jehovah Witness, Red-Letter Christians and many more religious groups. He tries his best to go in with an open mind but in the end he admits he has his limits. He does note that most sects end up following the rules and laws that suit their needs and wants…or possible translations of ancient scriptures. SO interesting!

As he lives this literal biblical life he makes a few revelations about prayer, choices, being thankful, showing kindness to strangers and other honourable ways of living. I love how he questions whether having choices in our lives is helping us to live a good life. When a religion supplies a set of laws, you don’t have to think so much about what you need to do or how you need to live your life.

AJ Jacobs wrote a good book. I probably won’t read it again but I enjoyed the laughs and his points of view and he is most certainly a talented wordsmith.

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What I Thought Of : A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for the Time Being a novel by Ruth OzekiI just finished A Tale for the Time Being this morning. A book I borrowed from a fellow Accidental Book Club member (Thanks, Courtney). It’s been a while since I’ve read something that got me thinking and wondering about quantum physics. Are we living multiple lives right now? We have infinite alternate realities? Could there really be 4 billion moments in every day?

This book started off really slow. A women finds a diary from a girl in Japan along the coast of a remote BC island in a ziplock bag and starts reading it. This woman, let’s call her Ruth because that’s what her name is, starts getting involved in the writer’s life and seems to feel responsible for her. In a strange way, they become friends without knowing each other.

It took me over a month to read this book. It wasn’t until I got to the last 100 pages when I really began wanting to know more and actually caring about what happens. I’m amazed I finished it at all, to tell you the truth. I have other actual book club books I should be reading. But I’m glad I got through it.

Often times I am in a moment in my own life when I know I need to do something but I haven’t and then I read a book that engages my brain and gives it a little kick. I think that’s precisely what happens to Ruth in the book as well.

In the end, I can say I did like it. I liked it a lot. It felt a little like homework at times but in the end I feel fresh and ready…for something.

And that’s in my uneducated opinion.

What I Thought Of : Lost & Found By Brooke Davis

Novel - Lost and Found by Brooke DavisLost & Found by Brooke Davis was picked up at the Fernie Heritage Library because other books I wanted weren’t in…and as I scanned the New Releases section, this one stood out. I was looking for something light and friendly and what I found was something a little twisted and odd. A little girl, around the age of 7, was abandoned at a department store by her mother (that’s incredibly sad!) only to be discovered and helped by a couple of senior citizens.

What I love about this book is how the two elders were written. One was an 82 year old shut in who only left her house after years and years to begrudgingly help the little girl. The other, an 87 year old man who escaped a nursing home to finally begin living. These two were my favorites. They were quirky and lived a life the way they wanted to live it and didn’t care too much about anyone or anything else. Now in their eighties, they have discovered that they aren’t useless and still want adventure in their lives…and can still love, find new friends and be someone you can count on.

I think about my Oma, who is in a nursing home and sits in front of her tv all day and night. She doesn’t do much unless the nurses force her out of her room for some fun (“fun” being playing bingo or doing a puzzle). How excited would I be if I found out my Grandmama has ditched the place and can’t be found? Very excited…although, I hope she brings a sweater.

I enjoyed this book and I’m excited to get old and start a new adventure when I’m in my 80s.

And that’s in my uneducated opinion.

What I Thought Of : In The Shadows Of The Mosquito Constellation By Jennifer Ellis

In The Shadows Of The Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer EllisAnother Accidental Book Club suggestion, and the meeting was last night so I can talk about now, In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation by Jennifer Ellis.

Oh my goodness! The designers of this book packed as many words into one page as they could, which was probably good because it made the book look less daunting, but it took me forever to finish the book.  It’s a strange thing to love a book and feel like you’re not progressing. But I was interested in the idea behind the book – peak oil has run out and the world has switched to survival mode. The book centers around these people on a remote farm around Vernon, BC and what they do to survive attacks, diseases, find and grow food and also build a new society that is sustainable and good is thrilling. In the middle of it all, people are still trying to figure out regular life problems such as finding love, losing trust, family issues and broken friendships.

The book reminded me so much of The Walking Dead because it is a similar scenario, but in this case the zombies are corrupt and heartless humans. The things that frustrated me were the times when the people on the farm didn’t stand up for themselves – which also exposed a little bit of who I would become if I was in that situation. Rafe would have to go!

The ending was not my favorite but I can see why she wrote it the way she did…I think.

Jennifer Ellis, I hear, self published this book and sadly, because of that, I had decided before I started it that the book wasn’t going to be very good but I was so glad I was wrong and I hope I learned a little lesson on unfounded judgements.

I believe this book is at the Fernie Heritage Library, if you’re interested in reading it.

And that’s in my uneducated opinion.

What I Thought Of : When You Are Engulfed in Flames By David Sedaris

david sedaris - when you are engulfed in flamesI think David Sedaris is hilarious and I should thank Albertine De Leon for introducing us to each other. David and I have been friends for a few years now, not the kind of friend you see all the time but one you see occasionally, without guilt and you have the best time together. This time David told me many short stories in When You Are Engulfed In Flames taken from David Sedaris’ life and most of them are embarrassing and include thoughts that you may have thought yourself but, most likely, wouldn’t say out loud…so there’s a lot of chuckling going on (or there was when i was reading it ahem I mean, listening to him talk to me.)

David Sedaris writes so you feel like you’re sitting in a bar having a beer and having the best time listening to the last crazy thing David did last night or what he did when he was a kid. It’s what I love about his books…plus, I was able to pause the conversation so I could smash The Unlikely Event of Harold Fry and then we picked up right where we left off without any problems.

You’re not about to discover any answers to world problems or feel touched by his heroic deeds but you can always relate to him in some way and have a good laugh at someone else’s expense.

If you want to read a chapter from the book, he had Turbulence published in The New Yorker and it’s online: www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/06/13/turbulence

And that’s in my uneducated opinion.

 

What I Thought Of : The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry By Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - A Novel - Rachel Joyce I recently joined a new book club called Accidental Book Club, a sort of book club for beginners (since a few of us have never been in one before), and this month we were supposed to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, as well as, the Judy Blume book I recently talked about. Not that we are supposed to compare the two books but I thoroughly enjoyed this one more than the Blume book. I have a soft spot in my heart for old men, especially nice old men.

My Grandfather was a quiet man. He was playful with us kids but he also enjoyed his solitude. He would go on long walks in the morning by himself and, once in a while, I was able to go on walks with him. He would always walk holding his hands behind his back, which I have always thought was a very friendly way to walk. He had a past but he didn’t talk about it and never took out any stresses on his family members or anyone else … although, maybe it would have been better to at least mention some problems to his wife as he died from cancer very suddenly, or, at least, suddenly for us. I mention my Grandfather because Harold Fry reminds me of him and although I knew my grandfather for only a short 18 years, I will always think of him with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. One could only hope to have such an impact on another person once this life has ended.

Harold Fry lived a life believing he had made no such impact on anyone’s life and caused only pain and suffering. Imagine believing you are one big mistake for 70 years of your life and to finally do something spontaneous and treacherous and seemingly impossible because you believe you need to do something worth while in this life time. We’ve all heard the line that goes something like it’s not about the destination but the journey, well, nothing could be more true for Mr Fry. Harold was not only walking 500 miles for a dear friend who was dying but for his own life and what happens to him on this pilgrimage is life changing.

I loved this book. I loved the simple idea – a man going for a walk to save a friend. The different emotions Harold feels and people and places he encounters along the way seem so real and honest. You are on this journey with him. I’m not sure I would have handled certain situations and people the way he did but I understood his choices.

If you’re interested in the book, I borrowed it from the library and it’s going back today. I recommend it.

And that’s in my uneducated opinion.

What I Thought Of : In The Unlikely Event By Judy Blume

Judy Blume - In The Unlikely Event - A NovelAn Accidental Book Club selection, In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume was an interesting read. I liked it more once I was about half way through and then I couldn’t put it down. The book introduces about twenty characters, which allows us to see each person’s perspective during one particularly tragic year for a little town named Elizabeth. I was getting overwhelmed and lost in the names and their relations. When I have to try too hard, my brain fights it – I spent many nights passing out after reading 2 pages….sometimes, 2 paragraphs.

Once my brain figured out who was who, I could see a little more clearly what Judy Blume was doing. There are definitely a few main characters (a family of characters) and it seems as though everyone else had some sort of connection to this one family. We’re all linked, really, if you think about it.

I’m not sure if it’s because of Judy Blume’s past but I couldn’t help thinking, at times, I was reading young adult fiction. Not all the time, as there was definitely some adult content. There was just something about it that I can’t put my finger on.

What I did enjoy was seeing the change is perspective and attitude over the characters’ lifespan. You sometimes forget how tragedy can affect people so differently, depending on age, family life, your personality and, once again, perspective. The novel covers the unlikely events of passenger planes crashing into a small town in New Jersey and how it effects the lives of the people in the town of Elizabeth, as well as, the family and friends of the passengers in the planes. How blessed I am to not have lived in a town where multiple planes crashed (as Judy Blume had as a child, as it turns out). The funny thing is, I used to wonder if people living by an airport worried about this exact scenario. I think I would, which is probably why I don’t live by an airport. In fact, the closest one is about 1 hour away. Perfect.

So not only is Blume telling the story of grief, healing and moving on but she touches on something more, like the importance of love and forgiveness. I can’t wait to talk to my Accidental Book Club people about this book. I find the idea of personal opinions fascinating. How can one person like something and another doesn’t? We’ll find out!

By the way, I don’t recommend reading this on a plane.

Thanks, Fernie Heritage Library, for lending me the book!

And that’s in my uneducated opinion.