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Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:09 pm
by shooraijin
Kaori wrote:
shooraijin wrote:No Friar Tuck?

Are you calling Friar Tuck "honest and pious"? . . .and not fat? Image

Not fat? No. :P But the character seems to be positively portrayed in just about every version of Robin Hood I've ever read, at minimum as well-meaning. Does this book portray him differently?

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:46 pm
by Kaori
He's not negatively portrayed. But in the entire book, there is only one incident I can recall where he does something spiritual, and that is performing a wedding service. Other than that, his personality--e.g. how much he loves eating and drinking (alcohol), how he enjoys singing secular songs, how good he is with a quarterstaff, and so on--is played as humorously incongruous with the life of holiness and self-denial that a monk is supposed to lead. He says at one point that he is living in the woods with Robin Hood and his band because those wayward thieves so badly need someone to look after them, but that is completely tongue-in-cheek: he is never shown actually hearing confessions or praying or doing anything for anyone's spiritual benefit. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that he is portrayed as being more impious than not.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 2:59 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
The Truth About Money Lies by Russ Crosson

Like the other Russ Crosson book I read a while ago, this was given to my graduating class. It outlines a biblical view of money, and corrects many of the world's false ideas about the importance and priorities with money. Helpful advice to keep in mind.

Amillennialism Today by William E. Cox

A good, concise overview of the amillennial perspective, how it differs from other millennial perspectives, and scriptural support for the belief. It's proven very helpful in my study on eschatology.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:00 am
by heero yuy 95
After telling myself I needed to read it forever, I finally picked up my copy of Dune. And wow, I gotta say it deserves the hype. I'd even say it is to science fiction what LOTR is to fantasy. Gotta have that spice.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:51 pm
by shooraijin
Dune is definitely a classic. It's easier reading than its bulk would suggest.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:38 pm
by Kaori
Archimandrite Roman Braga Exploring the Inner Universe: Joy—the Mystery of Life. Fr. Roman Braga was a Romanian priest and monk who passed away recently (just in the past calendar year). He was persecuted by the Communist regime in Romania and was imprisoned for a total of 11 years before serving briefly in Brazil and then moving to the States. This book is a very good introduction to him, I think. It is composed of three small pieces: an interview with Fr. Roman and then two short articles written by him. The interview covers in its course the entire story of Fr. Roman’s life. Was especially moved by his account of his time in prison. For example:

“I cannot say that I experienced prayer as Father Staniloae, but what I do know is that we will never reach the same spiritual level of life as in Communist imprisonment.”

On the Way of Faith: Faith, Freedom, and Love by Archimandrite Roman Braga.

This book is a collection of articles published in journals and as such is a bit of a mixed bag. There were some very good things. There were some rather overlapping things (i.e. one article would have ideas and phrases overlapping with a different article on the same subject). And there were some things were I have to part ways with the Archimandrite. So I wouldn’t particularly recommend it to a non-Orthodox person, though it had some interesting information about the relationship between the Communist government and the Orthodox Church and did contain some very good articles.

Going from the sacred to the profane, I've read forty-some percent of the 800-page-long Varney the Vampire and I am giving up on it at least for the time being (may or may not pick it up again later). It has some historical interest as an extremely seminal and influential work in the development of vampire fiction; for example, this is where we get the vampire coming in the window of the bedroom of the pure, beautiful young lady trope, and the appearance of the vampire in the early vampire film Nosferatu was taken directly from the character of Varney in this book. Also, the character of the vampire in this novel is much more developed and round than the title character of Dracula, which Varney predates. However, as expected of a book for which the author was paid by the word, it is unendurably long-winded and full of digressions. It is not badly-plotted in the first several chapters, where one thing is followed by the next with a good progression and a sense of unfolding events, but after a while it starts to lose its way, and from the summaries I've read it apparently is even more meandering and without focus in the parts of the book that I have let to read. It's not that I think that reading it to the end would be a total waste of time, but right now I just can't bring myself to continue to the end when there are so many more valuable things I could be doing.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:13 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
The Bible and the Future by Anthony A. Hoekema

A very good, detailed summary of different views of what the Bible says about the future - death, resurrection, heaven, the millennium, etc. It was obvious which views Hoekema was most sympathetic to, but I think he treated them all fairly and pointed out their strong and weak points.

The Healing Spell by Kimberly Griffiths Little

A surprisingly touching YA novel about a girl who tries to perform a magic spell to heal her mother from a coma. You can see it either as modern fantasy or just as a completely realistic and plausible story. Even though the main character and her family are sort of nominal/superstitious Catholics, there was actually a very good, sound perspective on God and miracles and the power of faith. It was more than just the wishy-washy, "The dreams that you wish will come true." You actually have to put your faith in something, and act on that faith. I cried a surprising amount while reading this book; it awoke in me some emotions I didn't know I was dealing with, since my relationship with my dad is actually quite similar to the main character's relationship with her mom (though he's not in a coma, thank God).

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:31 pm
by Kaori
The Faith We Hold by Archbishop Paul of Finland is a very short volume (less than 100 pages) that covers a few of the most central points about Orthodox Christianity. Not a bad little volume, but it is not exhaustive or systematic and is not meant to be; it just discusses at some length a small number of things that are at the core of the Orthodox faith.

The Lenten Triodion. This is the Orthodox service book for the services during Great Lent and Holy Week. Very rich and profound. I'm doubtful about whether it would be of interest to a non-Orthodox person (most people don't go around reading service books for denominations they don't belong to, right?) Also, it is really good to read it--if one is going to read it at home, in contrast to using it to celebrate the services--while having had the experience of the Orthodox services. It's not that it wouldn't have any value or benefit for someone who hasn't experienced the services; it would probably have some. But it makes a lot more sense if you have been in the services and know what that experience is.

The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley. Okay, so this is a Christian allegory, but it's not well-written and I don't know why it was considered a classic. Vastly inferior to the Divine Comedy, the Faerie Queene, Pilgrim's Progress, Pilgrim's Regress, Hind's Feet on High Places, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings, G.K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald. Also, what is it with these long-winded Victorians? Unlike Victor Hugo, Kingsley goes off on tangents that contribute nothing to plot, characterization, or atmosphere, are not well-written stylistically, and are just the author's inserting his own biased opinions about matters in which he most likely does not have any expertise. The overall story itself was not too bad (if one could cut out all the pointless verbosity), and there were a few good passages, but the book as a whole was completely spoiled by the author's blatant racism and bigotry. For example:

"Yes; when people live on poor vegetables instead of roast beef and plum-pudding, their jaws grow large, and their lips grow coarse, like the poor Paddies who eat potatoes."

It seems like this Reverened wasn't too familiar with Daniel chapter 1. Or with what kinds of foods are healthy for human beings to eat.

. . .

The Bone Knife by Intisar Khanani is a very lovely short story (and also free!) It centers around a happy and loving family with two living parents and three daughters, so the strong, positive family relationships are really nice to see. Also the concrete details of the place the family is living in and of their daily lives were very well-drawn, I thought. The story ends with quite a bit of unresolved SPOILER: Highlight text to read: romantic tension, so it is not a story that wraps everything up neatly but rather a story that opens up some questions about how the main character is going to develop as a person and leaves them there for the reader to ponder.

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani is a novella, first in a two-part series, so a little bit longer than The Bone Knife and a little bit less free. :p It wasn't bad despite more or less falling into that juvenile paranormal category, which I am not terribly interested in, and also having some SPOILER: Highlight text to read: unresolved romantic tension. But the main character is an "honest thief," and throughout most of the book she is always escaping from somewhere or someone or trying to help someone else escape from something or both, so the action is fast-paced and engaging. I didn't take to the main character as much as to the main character in The Bone Knife, though I didn't dislike her either. She is pretty much your typical spunky heroine, the kind we have all seen a thousand times before, whereas the heroine from The Bone Knife seems both more unique as a character (i.e. not falling into common tropes) and more real.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:38 pm
by K. Ayato
Starting on book 4 (out of 5) of the Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead. Also on my list are Kim by Rudyard Kipling, 1984, and Brave New World.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:39 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Insomnia by Jabra Johansen

Really interesting thriller about a boy who can't sleep because he's forced to watch the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with before falling asleep. As he grows more and more sleep-deprived, he starts to lose his grip on sanity. Exactly the kind of dark, psychologically interesting story I go for. It's apparently the first book of a series, but I thought the character development reached a very satisfying place and all of the important plot questions were answered, so I don't really feel inclined to read more.

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

<3 OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE THIS BOOK. Seriously, it's going to be a childhood classic I foist upon any children who come within my grasp from now on :grin: It's a kind of dark, creepy, but still kid-appropriate story (sort of like Tim Burton's claymation movies) about a girl whose brother's soul has been stolen by spindlers - huge spider-like creatures who live in the world Below ours. So she goes on an epic quest to retrieve his soul, despite all odds. It was a brilliantly original, fun world and also just a really great story of friendship, family bonds, and tenacity. There were a few moments where Oliver broke the fourth wall a little too much for my taste, but overall it was excellent.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 6:09 pm
by Kaori
Reread Howl’s Moving Castle. It seems like it has gotten cleverer and funnier since I last read it . . .

On the other hand, I am a little bit uncomfortable now with the acidity and sarcasm in the interactions between Sophie and Howl, and the way that Sophie is generally caustic and sarcastic to everyone and about everything. Was the UK the original source of American sarcasm and snark?

Started reading Shadows by Robin McKinley and somehow or other finished it despite strongly disliking it from the very beginning. It’s one of those books with an extremely annoying teenage narrator, and said narrator uses all sorts of very obnoxious slang (McKinley is trying to create an in-world slang, which is quite mixed together with real-world-present-day teenage slang, and she is overdoing it by quite a long shot, since this sort of thing really only requires a small amount in order to get the proper flavor).

Equally obnoxious but in a different way, the narrator has a half-Japanese friend and knows a handful of Japanese words, some of them pretty typical words that a foreigner with a mild interest in Japanese might have (e.g. 馬鹿) and some of them rather out of the way. Sometimes the narrator is misusing Japanese words in the way that one would misuse them if you don’t actually speak the language or have a sense of how words are used in context but just look up isolated words in an English-Japanese dictionary. But the native-Japanese-speaker character also says various things in ways that a native speaker would definitely not say them, and that is clearly the author’s fault, not the ignorance of her narrator.

Overall, the heroine has a few good qualities but is rather immature and floundering her way through things while having no idea what she is doing. I get the impulse to write about characters who have real problems and aren’t perfect and don’t have everything put together, but I used to teach teenagers, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with tons of teenage students who were also not perfect but who were far more admirable and had more good qualities and were more mature than this character, and I really wish that young adult fiction would have heroes and heroines that can be held up as an example to aspire to—still realistic, but having qualities worthy of emulation. For example, there’s the clever resourcefulness of Tanaquil in Tanith Lee’s Black Unicorn; the patient endurance and fortitude under trying circumstances of Harry from The Blue Sword, also by Robin McKinley (okay, she is in her lower twenties, but still); the pure-heartedness of Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia; or there’s the way that the narrator of Green Angel, by Alice Hoffman, after losing her entire family and being overwhelmed with grief, gradually goes through a healing process and learns to reach out and help others who are in need.

Easily the worst McKinley novel out of those that I have read (which is, I think, most of the ones she has written).

Followed that up by rereading the best McKinley novel, which is Deerskin, partly because I wanted, as a counterbalance to other fiction I’ve been reading recently, to read something with a heroine who wasn’t totally fixated on the physical appearance of the men around her (the male lead of Deerskin is not attractive, and this is significant to the plot). More significantly, I don’t think I have encountered any other fiction that gives this kind of thorough, weighty, and respectful treatment of the issue of rape and of how extremely difficult it is to overcome the trauma of rape and to be able to heal. Although there is a love story involved, the male lead doesn’t even appear until halfway through the book. It really is primarily a story of Deerskin’s arduous journey of healing and only secondarily a love story.

Now following that fiction binge up by starting a bunch of nonfiction reading, as follows:

The Orthodox Study Bible
A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.
Unseen Warfare (as edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and revised by Theophan the Recluse)

More on these later, since I am just starting each of them.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 6:57 pm
by Animeniac
I've started reading kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

So far it's cool it's about a girl who has had a bad life....I just started so I'll post the wiki page

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 9:09 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
<3 A beautiful graphic novel that is a collection of short horror stories. The artwork is just gorgeous, full of a striking juxtapositioning of drab colors and stark, vivid ones. All the stories were delightfully chilling, and had wonderful twist endings. I definitely need to buy this and keep it on my shelf forever :3

The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
:bang: Less enamored with this one. On the one hand, it's set in a beautifully described, rich and unique fantasy world with a lot of depth and carefully thought-out aspects, many of which are drawn from existing real-world folklore and just kind of extrapolated a bit. But on the other hand...I did not like Dart-Thornton's style :stressed: Way way waaaaaay too wordy. I don't think I've ever seen such a bad case of I Must Exchange Every Common Word For Something You've Never Heard Of Before That I Found In My Thesaurus. I mean, I have a pretty good vocabulary, but I had to make a long list after each chapter of words I'd never even seen before. And she didn't use them in good ways, where you could at least guess from the context what they meant. No, she would just slap down an excessively long paragraph chock-full of all of these obscure terms, and blithely move on as if everyone could follow her descriptions :shake:

The story itself was decent - a young man with no memory and no voice stumbles into the servants' quarters of a castle, his face marred from a poisonous bush. He sets off on a quest to find answers and healing, and the quest takes him through many different settings with various companions. It offered an interesting view of this intricate world, but the style completely ruined any enjoyment I would have gotten out of it, I think :/ Also, there's an Aragorn-wannabe character who comes in rather late who was just too perfect, and I hated his guts. Which I suppose is probably the opposite of the effect she was going for. But competence and chivalry isn't enough to win my affections :shady:

SPOILER: Highlight text to read: I did, however, like twist-reveal where you realize the protagonist you thought was male all along is actually female. It's probably the best of any such reveal I've ever seen. I did not see it coming at all, yet it made complete sense, and the transition was handled really well. Probably the only time you could use the term "he/she" and get away with it. It also wasn't some weird transgender thing, which I appreciate in our current cultural climate.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:59 am
by Panda4christ:3
Finished the Harry Potter series a couple months back! Never read these as a kid, growing up in a strictly conservative Christian magic-is-bad home. I enjoyed them, though I felt the series wrapped up a little too neatly for my personal tastes.
On the third book of Heroes of Olympus, Haven't had time to read but I'm getting back into it :D

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:54 pm
by Thunderscream872
Been listening to the audiobook of Star Wars Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. Loving it so far!

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 5:45 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong by Pierre Bayard

As the title suggests, this book takes a closer look at The Hound of the Baskervilles and concludes that Sherlock Holmes actually accused the wrong person of the murder he was investigating. The explanation of the mystery was interesting and I'm totally sold on Bayard's idea of who the real murderer is, but what was truly fascinating about this book was what he had to say about the nature of fictional characters. He argued that, in a way, characters in a story are real and alive, because we give them that power when we suspend our disbelief to enjoy their stories. And because they're real, they have a certain amount of control over their own lives and our perceptions of them. For a writer and a lover of literature, this was a fascinating little book.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

This fun children's book felt like a cross between A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Professor Layton games :n_n: Like those stories, this book doesn't talk down to its young audience, but assumes that the kind of kid who would pick up a thick book like this can figure out the tough words and concepts for themselves. The story follows four children who are recruited to infiltrate an evil man's operation to brainwash everyone in the world. Each of the four children has their own special skills, and they all have to work together to thwart the villain's plot. There was even a(n unintentional) sort of allegorical parallel to how God uses us to fight against the devil's lies.

The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern William Golding

This is, if possible, even more hilarious and awesome than the movie. I loved all of Golding's little asides and interruptions, and just the whole overall joke of this being the abridged version of an old classic. After reading this, certain things about the movie make a lot more sense than they used to, and it just makes me appreciate what a great adaptation it is. Which it had better be, since Golding wrote the screenplay :P

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:56 pm
by TheChocolateGamer
Reading John Piper's "Desiring God" -

This book is the biggest (along with the Bible) eye-opener in all history of books. Read this book and it will make you 1000% more happy, calm and confident in God. :) I certainly recommend it. :thumbsup:

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:27 am
by Sheenar
Just picked up Howl's Moving Castle book 1. Good stuff so far! :)

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:47 am
by LecktheTech
Sheenar wrote:Just picked up Howl's Moving Castle book 1. Good stuff so far! :)

You have a wealth of good book to read.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 3:50 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Oh my goodness, this book was hard to get through :waah!: It's the story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner who became a pilot in WWII. His plane went down in the Pacific, and he drifted on a raft for 47 days until he washed ashore on an island occupied by the Japanese. Then he proceeded through a succession of POW camps until the end of the war. His story is definitely a case of the truth being stranger than fiction - if you made stuff like this up, people would just roll their eyes because it sounds impossible, but all of this actually happened. The best part of this book was the story of Louie's journey of faith. The way God takes what people mean for evil and uses it for good is beautiful. I cried several times just because of how God molded this man's story of pain and suffering into a masterpiece of grace and mercy.

This book is a life-changer.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:40 pm
by Sundown
the_wolfs_howl wrote:The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

This fun children's book felt like a cross between A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Professor Layton games :n_n: Like those stories, this book doesn't talk down to its young audience, but assumes that the kind of kid who would pick up a thick book like this can figure out the tough words and concepts for themselves. The story follows four children who are recruited to infiltrate an evil man's operation to brainwash everyone in the world. Each of the four children has their own special skills, and they all have to work together to thwart the villain's plot. There was even a(n unintentional) sort of allegorical parallel to how God uses us to fight against the devil's lies.

I enjoyed the MBS, so it was a bit slow-paced for my taste. I really should pick it up again; that was a couple years ago. Maybe I'll appreciate it more, lol.

Anyways, I'm re-reading John Steinbeck's The Red Pony. It's a short collection of a boy's experiences on his family farm, highlighting the joys and sorrows that come with such a life. Don't go into it thinking it'll be a cute, happy horse story, though.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:42 am
by Sheenar
Reading "Howl's Moving Castle" book 1 --really enjoying it so far! I don't remember anything from the movie (it's been so long since I've seen it), so I'm enjoying going into the book blind. :)

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:22 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

A really interesting look into the mind of someone with autism. This is set in the near future, where they've developed a way to "heal" autism. So then the dilemma arises: Should autism be healed? Are people with autism more than their diagnosis? Is it a good thing to take away the patterns and difficulties and manners of thinking that autism brings, or is that taking away something fundamental of who they are? I found it a very engaging read, and a wonderful demonstration of what a lie "normal" is. We're all far more "abnormal" than we usually think.

The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel

A short but very emotional read. Strobel goes through several people's stories, including his own, that demonstrate the grace God gives us to draw us to Him. The different stories showed different kinds of grace, or different angles of that grace, to show that God doesn't just give it to us one way. He cares about the individual needs we have in our vastly different lives. Highly recommended.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:54 am
by Rusty Claymore
The Wise Woman by George MacDonald

I'd forgotten how a good book feels! George MacDonald paints a very different picture of self-ness than what we are given today. Today we are encouraged to feed our self-esteem, consider ourselves as Somebody, and to value our true self, as if self-ness was a valuable thing in it's own right. MacDonald rather mercilessly disagrees. It is not a self that is valuable or praiseworthy, it's a certain kind of self that is laudable. For certainly there are selves so ugly and miserable we can't stand hardly to look at them, especially when they tend to be our own.
In The Wise Woman two kinds of ugly selves are presented in the form of a little princess and a shepherd's daughter. Each receives intervention of sorts from the titular character, the Wise Woman. Rather than a simple fairy tale of inexplicable "Happily ever after"s, MacDonald delves into the why's and how's of the attitudes, methods, and thought processes of the characters, and what the consequences of those things will be. He's quite thorough, not settling with trite answers such as "doing what's right just because it's right". There's reasons and he gives them.
If you are looking for a book that makes you think, requires effort to read to understand, but rewards that effort abundantly, I highly recommend finding yourself a copy.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 7:58 am
by the_wolfs_howl
^ I second the recommendation! MacDonald's fairy tales are all really good, but that's probably my favorite because of how convicting it is.

Old Wolf by Avi

I picked this up in a book sale because I love Avi, and will read practically anything he's written. This is a short children's book that follows an old wolf and a young boy, and how their paths cross. I was a little disappointed with the ending, though I suppose it's more realistic than what I was hoping for :P Still a good read, especially if you like wolves as much as I do. Also beautifully illustrated.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:09 pm
by Kaori
I wholeheartedly agree with both of you about The Wise Woman. It's one of the most chilling things I've ever read--because I can see some of those negative tendencies in myself. "The Golden Key" is my favorite of his stories, however.

Out of the books I listed above that I had started reading, I've finished A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruth Payne. Although it was somewhat helpful, it wasn't as helpful as I had hoped it would be. Part (but maybe not all) of that can be attributed to the dated information (I didn't buy the latest edition) and the fact that the book is geared towards educators, so there is a lot of information with strategies oriented towards the classroom that isn't of extreme relevance to readers outside the education field.

I've also started a couple of books in Japanese:

日本文化を英語で紹介する辞典 (The English title on the cover is, Traditional Japanese Culture & Modern Japan, but the actual meaning of the Japanese title is Dictionary to introduce Japanese culture in English.) This is a bilingual book, and the Japanese title is much more accurate, as this is a sort of mini-encyclopedia covering a lot of topics and key words in Japanese culture and society (both traditional and modern) with the aim of giving native Japanese persons the vocabulary they need in English to explain Japanese culture to English speakers. I'm reading the Japanese side. One thing to note about this book is that it is rather dated (1993), so that "modern" is relative. Other than that, it doesn't give an in-depth introduction to anything, so there are some topics within it where I'm not getting much new information because I've been learning about Japanese culture long enough to know these things already, but there are also plenty of cases where I am getting new information, so it might be worthwhile to look into for someone who wants an overview of a broad range of topics within Japanese culture: arts, recreation, religion, values, society, lifestyle, natural environment, and so on.

Also have been not reading cover-to-cover but referring to 就活の敬語 by 唐沢明 (Keigo for Job-searching by Kurasawa Akira). As the title says, keigo (super-polite humble/honorific language) for job seekers. Has some incredibly useful charts of "here's what the keigo version is of these normal-polite words," usefulness not limited to job-seekers.

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:25 am
by the_wolfs_howl
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

I wanted to like this book more than I actually did :sweat: I loved the worldbuilding; it was very detailed and interesting. But I discovered that I really don't like stories where the Chosen One of Destiny is kind of forced to become super-awesome, or is suddenly super-awesome without even barely trying. I want my heroes to have something awesome in them from the beginning, and I didn't see it in Harry, unfortunately :/

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:06 pm
by Sundown
Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis. I attempted to read his space trilogy a couple of years ago, but lost interest shortly after starting - I'm not sure why. I suppose I've developed a better appreciation for science fiction, because I'm enjoying it thus far.

I also picked up four art books from my local library. I'm now knee-deep in sketch ideas!

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:31 pm
by the_wolfs_howl
Books I've read since my last post:

Wolven by Di Toft
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
I Don't Want To Kill You by Dan Wells
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Re: What are you reading?

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:38 pm
by Kaori
Return by Arch. Nektarios Antonopoulos. Really excellent short book on confession from an Orthodox perspective, but probably of little interest to someone who does not go to confession. (Catholics might find it to be of interest.)

Unseen Warfare (originally written by Lorenzo Scupoli, edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and revised by Theophan the Recluse, SVS Press). The first of the authors listed is a Catholic, the two editors/revisors are Orthodox, so although this version of the book is mostly an Orthodox work and from an Orthodox perspective, there are still traces of Western thought occasionally showing through under those layers.

However, setting all that aside, the book is a very valuable manual on spiritual warfare, covering topics such as fighting the passions, cultivating the virtues, and living a life of prayer. It is mostly focused on the battle that goes on internally within our own minds (with a "our thoughts determine our lives" outlook).

Other people's experiences might be different, but for me growing up as a Protestant, I didn't ever really have an awareness that there are actual techniques and habits that can be used to actively fight against the passions (e.g. pride, greed, lust), cultivate an awareness of God's presence, and so on. (In some cases, it wasn't until I converted and started to go to confession I even realized, "Oh, this thought pattern is bad, it is causing me larger problems in my life, and maybe I should do something about it?") So I've been very grateful to discover a whole tradition of methods that can be used to work on these things (fighting the vices and cultivating virtues) that have been tried and true over hundreds of years, because formerly I did not know that they existed.

In short, Unseen Warfare is very helpful and I would definitely recommend it.

Haiku Inspirations, which was written by a couple of people who are not particularly noteworthy scholars and which I read because it was given to me a gift, was a pleasant surprise and I did enjoy it.

It’s really not all about haiku; it’s a primer into Japanese history and culture generally. As such, it usually sticks to pretty basic territory, but nevertheless there were still some things I didn’t know, it was good to have a review of that kind of general knowledge (e.g. broad historical periods), and I was particularly impressed by with how much care and attention the book is put together in terms of the background layouts (e.g. the beautiful photography behind the haiku two-page spreads). It’s the sort of thing I would put on my coffee table if I had one.

I guess I also read some fiction since last time I posted:

Thorn by Insitar Khanani.

I've read other books by this author and enjoyed them, but this is not her best effort IMHO. I think my biggest complaint was that consistently the events were a huge surprise to the characters and which maybe were intended to be a surprise to the reader were extremely obvious and predictable to me.

There were also a few cases of ways that the main character responded to certain things particularly towards the end of the book that were a bit hard for me to believe. Also, looking back at the beginning of the book, there were some relationships that were not made clear to the reader (whether deliberate or not, it wasn't handled well and resulted in the reader simply wondering in the dark "Who is this person?" when it was obviously someone who had significance and had a past with the main character that was unknown to the reader).

BTW, as neither a criticism nor a praise but something that is just a little bit different, the author is American but spent some of her childhood growing up in various other countries and is Muslim, and there are some times when one can tell that her cultural perspective and her outlook on things are a bit different, e.g. there is a consistent strong emphasis in her works on things like debt and obligation and honor.

I would in fact recommend the author, just not this particular work, and my recommended reading order would be to start with the short story "The Bone Knife" (which is free) and then move on to the Sunbolt Chronicles (not free but only a few dollars each), which I think are well-plotted and free of the problems plaguing Thorn.