This is going to be a semi-regular feature of the Summer Reading Club. I will pull a few excerpts from people's lists/reviews and just MASH 'EM UP right here before your very eyes. If you'd like to participate, just put a list of the books you've read this summer on your blog and do the Mr. Linky thing from this past week (or whatever the current week is!).
BTW - if you're a neat freak, it's not for you. But if you're like me and you like to look at a big old pile of creativity, it's pretty cool!
The order this week is based on when people posted, with Dustin taking the prize for first. I'll shake it up next time. I'm not like Southwest Airlines - I don't reward earliness. Also, I may not include EVERYBODY every week. But we'll see...
Here goes nothing!
- Dustin: Napoleon's Pyramids, by William Dietrich: Historical fiction based around the time of the French Revolution about an American who finds an ancient trinket and tries to find its purpose (without being killed). Indiana Jones with a taste of The Mummy wrapped inside a history lesson about France and Egypt in the late 1700s.
- Trisha: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire: Did you ever want to know how the Wicked Witch of the West became wicked? Maguire tells us the story behind how Elphaba (the Wicked Witch),
her sister Nessarose, and her school roommate Galinda deal with the
conflicts that we all face...good and evil, God and religion, racism,
prejudice, sibling rivalry, status, politics, lust and love.
Elphaba was born with green skin, shark’s teeth and an aversion to
water. She is not wicked just insecure and she eventually commits her
life to overthrowing the controlling Wizard.
The Wizard of Oz story with which we are all familiar with, either from the L. Frank Baum book or the movie, doesn’t even appear until the final section of the book There are references throughout the book to characters that appear in the later Baum books, such as TicTok and Ozma. We get an inside scoop on the winged monkeys, the Yellow Brick Road, the house that kills Elphaba's sister and the Ruby Slippers that cause so much drama. We also find out that Glinda (formerly known as Galinda), the good Witch of the North, isn't really all that good unless it benefits her in some way and the Wizard of Oz will stop an nothing to remain in control of Oz.
- Janelle: So the first book I read this week was The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
by Stephen King. One of Travis's techs sent it home with him for me to
read, thinking I would like it. I did...I think! I don't know, I have
mixed feelings about it. I haven't read Stephen King stuff in
YEARS...like, high school. And Mark, who is running this here reading fun,
can tell you how long THAT'S been since good ol' McEachern! So I guess
I was expecting a little more...or maybe a little something else? I'm
not sure...but in the end I would recommend reading it. It's a great
book, classic good and innocence verses evil and fear, with plenty of
blur between reality, spirituality, and metaphorical potential.
9 year old Trish is lost in the woods after stepping off the beaten path to temporarily escape her newly-divorced mother's arguments with her older brother while on a hike on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. What started as an innocent side track turns into a fight for survival as she fights hunger, thirst, mosquitos and the "IT" following her through her attempts to find civilization using the skills, knowledge and resilience that her parents and good friend "Pepsi" have taught her in her short life. The skeptics can see that a child that gets lucky, has fever and hunger induced hallucinations of her hero, Red Sox player Tom Gordon, and is being followed by a bear. Those who are willing to believe a little more will see a child's Guardian Angel fighting to protect her against not just nature, but, as the voice in her head that she nicknames "tough tootsie" has named it, The God of the Lost.
Maguire has told Elphaba's story in great detail...maybe a bit too much detail at times, especially for younger readers (which is where I found this book). Wicked was a very hard read, but worth it...probably even worth a second read, just because of all the details that I probably missed in the first read. Overall, I recommend the book and cannot wait to go see the musical!
- Tom Soto: 1776, by David McCullough. Really enjoyed this book. Yes, it is a book about the Revolutionary War and the history behind it. But to me this is a book about true leadership. We have all heard about the myths and legends of George Washington but his portrayal of a true American hero is made so clear here. To hold together a ragtag army, ready to give up, desert, with no provisions, failures, it shows his devotion to the foundation of our country and is a testimony to his leadership ability.
- Genesis: So here's the deal, I don't think Les Miserables will be finished *still have 500 pages to go* in a week. I have decided to start reading Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". It's much shorter and I'm confidant that I can actually read it in the time I'm given. So here's to reading this book in the next week.
Silenced by Jerry B. Jenkins: The man really outdid himself with this one! It’s 38 P.3. (Post WW 3) and all the water in Los Angeles - in fruit, pools, pipes, fountains, the sweat of cold glasses, even wine and grass - was miraculously dried up. Thousands have died and the remaining unbelieving citizens of the city eventually evacuate. Only the underground church has water. The worlds new government cannot explain the phenomana and persecution of the church continues. As does murder of the populace. A man named Stry Magnor is causing trouble for the zealot underground. And Agent Paul Stepola is sure that his time with the NPO is almost up. Being found out as a mole for the underground could result in execution for him and his whole family. What will happen to our hero? You have to read to find out!
Lessons from the Road by Nigel James
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve listened to many songs for years and years without discovering the meaning of the song or the reason the song was written. So to have some of my favorite Third Day songs unpacked by the writers themselves has been a real blessing. Understanding the motives of Mac, Brad, and Mark means whenever I listen to these songs now, I am ministered to at a whole new level. I hope that it is the same for you after you’ve read about these songs.” - Nigel James
Ditto Nigel! Let me start by sharing a little story with you. It’s a normal day in 1999. I’m staying at my parents’ for the weekend. My brother is at worship band practice. He came over afterwards so excited to share a song with us. He said that he had so much fun learning and playing it at practice that night and was just SURE I would love it! The CD: Time by Third Day; The song: I’ve Always Loved You. I fell in love with it immediately! So catchy, and I hadn’t yet picked up the guitar, so I just took his word on that. But several years later, I did pick up the guitar and that was the first song I wanted to learn. I had NEVER even so much as looked at a tab before, but I have musician blood in me, so I was able to pick it up pretty quick. A few hours later, I had learned my first full song on the guitar. And my brother was right…it’s a blast to play! Fast forward to 2008. I have now been a Third Day fan for almost 10 years! Wow! And I’ve been a Gomer for about 4 years now. But after reading this book, I realize just how little I know about this band that I’ve been a fan of for almost 10 years! I know a LOT more now though! And in reading this book, I not only learned more about the guys…I also discovered a lot about myself! I also learned a lot about what life is like on the road and how these guys manage to hold on to their faith on the road. (And to my surprise, they actually admit that it’s easier to do so on the road than it is at home!)
One thing that stuck out in this book is when they were heading to Australia for a tour. Through one of Nigel’s devotionals, they discovered that they need to be thinking about what they can leave behind at each show, rather than what they can take from it. I’ve always been jealous of those people who catch guitar picks, or drumsticks, or other random treasures at a show. I always wanted to have something to take from each show to remember it. I recently attended a Seventh Day Slumber show. My first. I waited a very long 5 years to make it to a show, but boy did I pick the right night to make it to my first! They only played half a set, then decided they just wanted to spend the rest of the time ministering to us, talking about God and how amazing He is. They also talked about Compassion and urged us to consider sponsoring a child. Joseph told this story about how an 11 year old boy decided to take his entire earnings for each month and use it to sponsor a child after hearing SDS talk about Compassion. We also had an altar call. Very powerful! It was such an amazing night. And at the end of the set, the guys all threw out picks. The obsessed fan in me came out and I was jealous of all those people catching all the picks. Then the most amazing thing happened. Their guitarist waved down a security guard and told him to give me a pick. Wow! I sat there in complete awe, just staring at this pick. I’d waited for this moment for so long, but for some reason, it didn’t mean what I thought it would mean to me. For that brief moment, I was no longer that obsessed fan looking for a souvenir to take from a show to remember it. I didn’t need anything to remember that night! It was so powerful, it was engrained in my mind forever! But I stared down at this pick and thought about how my heart had just been completely filled. I was forever changed! I wanted to do something. So I went straight over to the Compassion booth and sponsored a child. I had the pleasure of meeting the guys after the show and I was fighting back tears just saying thank you to Jeremy. He’ll never know how much that small gesture meant to me; how much it changed me for the better.
This book is an absolute treasure! I don’t usually splurge on a book without knowing anything about it, but in this case, I’m glad I made an exception.
Four Souls by Louise Erdridge
Fleur Pillager sets out to avenge the theft of her land. She takes her mother’s name, Four Souls. She becomes the laundress in the family home of the land baron who robbed her family. She cures the ailing mogul, because she wants him healthy and strong minded when she kills him. In her close contact with Mauer, she seduces and is seduced by him.
The most fascinating aspect of this narrative is the fact that Four Souls does not tell her own story. Nanapush, an elder tribesman and Polly, the genteel sister-in-law of the land baron narrate Four Souls’ turn from assassin to lady of the house. Readers are kept at a safe distance by seeing the story unfold through another character’s eyes, yet we know the very depths of Four Souls’ heart. It is as if we cannot come any closer, first person, without being scarred as Four Souls’ is.
This story is a raw representation of one of the greatest misdeeds done to Native Americans. In forcing Indians to defend their land, white men taught the natives to see the land as a possession to be bought and sold.
These are my three to read in the SRC!
Redneck Boy in the Promised Land (Confessions of Crazy Cooter) by Ben Jones (“Cooter” from Dukes of Hazzard)
Note: Nothing new added yet. Want to get through the first book before I start another one. I only have unfinished cross stitch projects (Jean if you are reading this you probably understand!)
“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Apparently, that is akin to saying, “In 1992, Clinton went to The White House.” Neither was the first to accomplish their individual feat; regardless of how historic the events were. After a seriously cool guy’s recommendation, I decided to read this book for the summer reading club. Gavin Menzies has spent years gathering evidence that in 1421, the Chinese Emperor sent out massive fleets of ships to establish trade and map the world. We learn that de Gama was not the first to sail to India around the tip of Africa, Columbus “rediscovered” the Americas, Captain Cook found Australia three centuries after the Chinese, and they were in Antarctica four hundred years before Europeans. Oh yeah, remember the straits of Magellan? That dude had a map that showed the passage with him when he “found” it.
The evidence presented in this weighty tome is enough to convince the most ardent skeptic. What kind do you want? How about animals and plants found by Europeans on their discovery voyages that are not indigenous to those lands? What about metals found on islands where no ore exists? What about the wreckage of ships larger than anything the Europeans ever had? How about numerous writings in European sailors’ diaries about meeting Asian people in the new world? Did you know that many Native American tribes have Chinese DNA? Or that it shows up frequently in Norwegian fishermen? There are structures throughout the new world that were designed and built in a manner that no native people did. My personal favorite piece of evidence is the existence of two villages in Peru three miles apart who cannot speak each others’ language, but both understand Chinese.
All of that is secondary to the most compelling evidence; maps that demonstrate navigation and astronomy skills that Europeans did not possess at the time of their voyages. I will admit that sometimes the science here went a bit over my head; but laymen can still get the gist of it. If you are at all interested in cartography, you will love this book.
So why did we not know any of this before? There are two conspiracies of silence here. When these great fleets returned home, they found a weakened emperor and bureaucrats changing the nation. Instead of being welcomed as heroes, the admirals were set out to pasture and most of the evidence of their discoveries was destroyed. Thus began the long age of Chinese isolation that lasted until recent history.
It also seems that the Portuguese, who led the European charge of exploration in the late 15th Century, were the only ones who had maps that contained the Chinese information. Since they were in competition with the rest of Europe, they hid their knowledge. As a result of both these circumstances, Europe took over the spice trade the Chinese had worked so long to establish and put their names on everything else, as there was no one to stop them.
This is a compelling work of new ancient history that changes everything we thought we knew about exploration of the western hemisphere. The “what if” presented here is endless. I think everyone of European descent in the Americas should read this book.
Two final things; First, if you are a skeptic, there is the mention of an alternate theory that aliens did all this. Second, with China beginning to open up again, it makes me wonder if this time they really will rule the world.
I guess this falls into the catagory of books, but it’s probably considered cheating for a book club… anyway, Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite have written a book and started a campaign for character… They called the book Deadly Viper Character Assassins and you can get a free audiobook version of it on their site, DeadlyViper.org and while you’re there, check out the blog and the videos to see more of what it’s all about…
personally, i opted for the audiobook since it was free and immediate, but i plan to pick up a hardcopy of the book at some point to, because it’s definitely one to keep handy… besides the great content of the book itself, there are some interview tie-ins that add to the conversation and enhance the message… i’ve decided that i’m going to try to get an interview set up with one or both of these guys to further explore this topic a bit… i’ll keep you posted…
This book took me two months to read (being honest here). Not because I didn't enjoy it but because it has a lot facts that need to be processed and digested. It shows the Christian how the unbelieving world views him and it is not a pretty picture. Somehow we know this but do not want to be confronted with the hard truth. After explaining how the research was conducted David Kinnaman takes six topics and explains how we are miserably failing at reaching the unbelieving world. We have our views and we come across as hypocritical, non-caring, antihomosexual (towards the person not the behavior), sheltered, too political, and judgmental. He pulls no punches and does not sugar coat anything. The one statement that spoke to me the most is this "we have become famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for.". OUCH. This is an excellent book. It is not a fast read and if you highlight (I do) then buy 2 or 3 because I think I highlighted something on each page. This book could change how you think and act. Unfortunately I did see myself in some of the pages and I didn't like what I saw. Jesus reached people by not being any of the before mentioned adjective. That is how we reach people today also.
- And, um, me: The Dip, by Seth Godin: I'm a sucker for these marketing/business motivational kinds of books. As long as it's saying something fresh and it's not a "you can get rich in a year using MY system" kind of book. This one was really fresh. It will probably warrant its own blog post. Highly recommended.