Archive for June, 2008

GOD IN THE WHITE HOUSE:How faith shaped the presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

It`s not necessary to agree with Randall Balmer to enjoy this book. It is easy reading on matters of public record concerning politics and religion. The book starts with J.F. Kennedy who believed in church and state separation, but his Catholicism created an anxiety shared by many and his election was one of the closest in American history. According to his wife Jacqueline “It is so unfair of people to be against Jack because he is catholic, he is such a poor Catholic”.
Sixteen years later the doings of a non- religious, venal president influenced the evangelical Christians to join in politics. The evangelical participation was soon felt, helping to elect Jimmy Carter to the presidency, only to repudiated him not over the issue of abortion but, over the revocation of tax- exempt status of Bob Jones University, that was not compliant with the segregation law. The author takes us through almost fifty years of political-religious history and I was amused when I read that Billy Graham was asked to consider running for vice president, he refused saying that there was “not enough time to make the transition from preacher to candidate”.Then George W. Bush stated that he believed “God wants me to be the president ” This book is entertaining and also instructive, the seven religious related speeches by John F. Kennedy,Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and G.W.Bush are worth rereading and president Jimmy Carter`s “Crisis of confidence” speech is as relevant today as it was in 1979 during
the oil crisis.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Reviewed by Kay Pierson

I bought “Three Cups of Tea” at B and N last week – our Kemble Book Club is reading it for our August meeting.  It is JUST FASCINATING!  It is about a guy named Greg Mortenson, who was attempting to climb the K2 mountain – he lost his way and ended up in a tiny village in the Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan – they took such loving care of him that when he left he promised to return and build them a school – which they badly needed.  Over the next decade he built that school and then fifty-five others – educating boys and GIRLS – they had been denied that privilege before.

I think the Library should buy a copy if they have not already done so – it is both inspiring and most interesting and educational.

Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Reviewed by Joan

One woman’s search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Although this book is touted as a #1 New York Times Bestseller, I found it very superficial, shallow and focused on a few years’ experience of a most self-centered author. The one thing that kept me reading was the hope the author would find a more meaningful direction in life through all her attempts at prayer in India and Indonesia. She does raise money for a friend in Indonesia; she does find love with an older man, however, she seems as self-absorbed at the end as she does throughout the book.

Of the 108 chapters in the book, I find that 68 begin with I or me, myself, or I in the first phrase. If this is the new preferred style of writing, it truly grates on the nerves of the ordinary reader.

Her tales of eating in Italy were most mouth-watering; it surely is a good way to get over a divorce. The author gives no real details of her life, which is another disappointment. One gathers she is wealthy, talented and from a very wealthy background. She is truly fortunate her publisher paid for her years of travel to get this book.

A respect for the value of inner silence in prayer is gained from her India experience. Bali in Indonesia is very well described. It was interesting to read about her bicycle stories meeting monkeys and dogs and surviving a fall. Her fortune teller and friend healer make for interesting characters. Her lover sounds caring and experienced. I was glad she achieved her goal of a new life, happiness and a healing from divorce.

Although I am still astounded by the self-centered way Elizabeth Gilbert writes, I would still be interested in reading her sequel when it comes out to see if she does have the little girl forecasted by the fortune teller and finds a more mature and selfless outlook.

Zippy goes on location.

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Take a moment and flashback with me to November 2007.  I am attending my “whatever year? high school reunion.  I had planned to call the reunion coordinators to make reservations for two however I deferred yielding to procrastination.  I was sitting in a school hallway waiting patiently for my child’s conference to begin when appears the reunion coordinator to wait for his son’s conference to start.  It was wonderful to see this classmate from high school.  How could I say no?  To those who balk at the thought of attending a high school reunion, I recommend attending at least one.  I had a great time and met a lot of old classmates and friends as well as a few new acquaintances. 

It was fun to disclose I am a librarian by trade.  One classmate wheeled around exclaiming, “Are libraries still around?? prompting me to move into advocacy mode for a short time.  It was validating to learn of another classmate’s passion for her book club and briefly discussing the titles her club had read.  The librarian in me was dismayed to uncover that the club members usually purchase the book selections rather than borrow them from the library.
In late December 2007, Barb, my book club classmate, left a message on voice mail at WDFPL.  She shared the upcoming book title for her book club and extended an initiation to join for the evening.  I left the message on the machine still unsure if I had time to join a book club.  My first thought was “I’m so busy at the library.  Everyone always asks what I’m reading.  I have so little to time to read.  I have conferences to attend, computers to fix, classes to teach, and programs to manage.  I can’t go.?

Two months passed.  Another message arrived from my classmate.  She was kind enough to share the book club’s upcoming title and location.  The book the group’s monthly title was A Girl Named Zippy, Growing Up Small in Moorland,
Indiana.  Guilt set in.  Self rationalization began, “I have to attend.  I am putting everything on hold to read this title.  My library even has the title on Playaway!?  I mentally committed going to the book club meeting.  Incidentally the meeting fell one day after the Computers in Libraries conference.  I returned to wavering on the drive home from the conference.

Attending the Book Club meeting was great fun.  There were several familiar faces from high school in the group.  I asked the members to share some information regarding the roots of the club.  The first meeting was held on April 2, 2004 at Jo’s house.  The group is the R&R Book Club (readers and reviewers).  The group rotates meeting places but in no particular order and no particular time between meetings.  Gatherings usually average six weeks or so.  Jo has been keeping a list of books since the meetings began; to date they have read 30 books.  Every so often members may discuss which book has been a favorite of late and why.  The members sometimes try to have food related to the book selection.  The food focus for Zippy was comfort foods. 

I was surprised by the group’s solid commentary on the reading selection.  Zippy brought back many memories and each group member had a favorite to share.  The meeting began at 7:00 pm and ran until after midnight.  I had not prepared my spouse for the lengthy meeting and was reminded of this fact multiple times after 11:00 pm courtesy of my cell phone.  My one regret was that I did not put my cell on vibrate!

Much thanks to the group for inviting me to the home-based R & R Book Club for a new twist on book discussion.  I have only been involved in online book clubs and book club meetings inside the library in the past.  Since my first home-based book club meeting I have been surprised to uncover over six home-based book clubs in my local area.  The next question is how can libraries tap into this market sector without adding a dozen copies of each book club selection to the library collection?

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

A Girl Named Zippy, Growing Up Small in Moorland, Indiana

When I was a young reader, I preferred the chapter books with a few sketched graphics at the beginning of each chapter.  It somehow made the story appear to move faster.  Old habits die hard as I took great pleasure in the photos of Zippy’s childhood that accompany the chapter titles throughout this book.  Haven Kimmel, born in 1965, shares her life experience growing up in a rural Indianan town in the 1960’s.  The author’s memories of Moorland closely resemble my own memories of a rural New Jersey town, West Deptford, New Jersey.

A Girl Named Zippy, Growing up Small in Moorland, Indiana will have a familiar ring for anyone who grew up or raised children in the 1960s.  The unique aspect of the work is the narrative voice of a youngster, mastered by the author.  The narrative style transports the reader to the time and places of childhood experience.  Many entertaining moments evolve from humorous observations on the appearance and actions of grownups as well as detailed descriptions of pet adoptions, church attendance and personal injury.  Social conflict and isolation is unveiled against the backdrop of small town U.S.A. 

My favorite descriptive passage begins on page 167 with Zippy’s memories of a grand oak tree.  “There are a finite number of times one can safely climb the same tree in a single day; after that point the whole venture becomes meaningless, and potentially dangerous.?  The unique thing about reading memoirs is that the process of reading about the lives of others can trigger personal memories of the reader.  The author’s thoughts on the oak tree and its relation to gravity brought back my own memories of the tall willow tree in the backyard of my childhood home.  I still can feel the bark under my fingers as I climbed to the highest point where, in those days, I could view the whole world.  Ok, it was just my neighborhood, however during those childhood days; my neighborhood was my whole world. 

This book provides a path back to rural life in the 1960’s through the eyes of a child.  Reading the book may stir memories of your own to share with family and friends.