Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Books Read, including on Love

These are some books I read a while ago, and the draft has been hanging around waiting to be posted. So, finally, I post:

Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire
by Julius Lester

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Over 10 years ago I read She: Understanding Feminine Psychology. I chanced upon it at an opportune time...I had fallen in love, and that book became my operations manual.

The story of Eros and Psyche is timeless for its archetypal truths. Julius Lester tells it in the way of a traditional black storyteller. In some ways this pulls us in closer to the story, in some ways it distracts. I would have liked to see more of his narrator's hints of how Cupid had touched his own life. The intrusion of the story itself into the narration didn't work for me as well.

I enjoyed the narrator's commentary on love and how this story relates to this contemporary life. I recognized the insights of psychological book mentioned above. I appreciated the insight from the male and Cupid's point of view.

In all of his eternal life there had never been and never would be another moment like this one. Cupid had to choose which truth meant more to him--the truth of his love for his mother, or this new truth with its promise of a beauty that would unfold, evermore and evermore. But he did not choose truth.
...It is fearful to merge one's spirit with that of another's. This is why the beginning of relationships can be fraught with terror. Love requires courage, and I am sad to say, Cupid was a coward. In lying to his mother, he was choosing to keep secret his soul's love. True, he kept his mother's love, but he placed himself in danger of losing something of greater value--himself. However, we must be fair to him. He was new to love. He did not know how much courage love required.
I knew I'd like it when I read this:
I'm going to get philosophical for a moment since this is a philosophical novel. In love, and perhaps only in love, are the finite limitations of self dissolved and we merge, not only with the beloved other, but with wonder itself. In love, whether it is love of another, of music, of art, or whatever, we belong to someone or something and are no longer alone.
Exactly. I remember in She that Johnson said not everyone experiences this. Even grandmothers could be 'virginal.' It is a gift to experience this, though overwhelming.

When it does happen, one could use a guide, whether it is someone who has experienced it, or a psychological tome, or this novel. This book would be a good guide to love.

She: Understanding Feminine Psychology She: Understanding Feminine Psychology
by Robert A. Johnson

rating: 5 of 5 stars
a must-read for any woman overwhelmed by falling in love

Inkheart (Book 1) Inkheart
by Cornelia Funke

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't quite as enamored of this story by Cornelia Funke as I was by her books Dragon Rider and The Thief Lord but it may have just been a matter of timing, and perhaps I'd seen too much of the movie previews. I think the story itself is just getting started. Lynn Redgrave as reader of the audio book was perfect.

Inkspell (Inkheart, Book 2) Inkspell
by Cornelia Funke

rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is definitely the middle of a trilogy...the story is not over at the end of the book, so I'm ready for the next one.

While I loved Brendan Fraser's reading of Dragon Rider, I needed some time to adjust to his reading after Lynn Redgrave's reading of Inkheart. While I find his use of different accents to indicate different characters adorable, some of them didn't seem to fit, but again that could be due to associating those characters with the voices by Ms. Redgrave. So if listening to both, allow some time between your listen.

I noticed some characters are growing up, and it's not working quite as well for me as Tamora Pierce's work, or J.K. Rowling's. The books are enjoyable, nice listen for a walk.

Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy
by John Bowe

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Just the fact that this book exists means it needs some attention. I didn't finish just because I don't have the time for this...I don't need the details to be outraged by the fact of coerced and forced labor.

How convenient that the general public is so outraged over 'illegal aliens.' This allows for this kind of stuff to happen, hidden in plain sight.

The other day I heard an anecdote of racists in Florida, and I have to wonder if it is just coincidence that today I read in this book of several cases of slave labor in Florida. So much of my world is invisible to me...where my clothes are made, my material goods. Whether WalMart or Target, if things are cheap, I have to wonder, who made these for less than livable wages? Did they receive wages at all?

In the introduction, the author says, "In the United States, most modern slavery involves the coercion of recent or trafficked immigrants. Such cases are incredibly hard to detect, because much of the time the perpetrators don't rely on chains, guns, or even the use of force. All they require is some form of coercion: threats of beating, deportation, death, or, perhaps most effective, harm to the victim's family back home should he or she eve speak up. These cases occur in out-of-the-way places that are, to quote one activist I met, beyond most Americans' "cognitive map."

The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism: From 1600 to Modern Times
by Tristram Stuart
no rating: haven't yet read it.

This would be a good book to read with someone. Could be dry, academic, but packed full of philosophical, religious, imperial, as well as cultural history around the idea of vegetarianism.

I would be more inclined to read it and enjoy it if I read it slowly over several months, and could have conversations in a group of people about it.

My Montana: A History and Memoir, 1930-1950My Montana: A History and Memoir, 1930-1950
by Jewel Beck Lansing

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this for a book is a good book for that kind of group in which people can bring their own experiences of the local history. There's some talk of the book, and the conversation can meander from there. I really like that it is one person's experience of a particular place and time. It is a true glimpse into recent history. On the other hand, it then lacks some neutral omniscience. For instance, this was about whites growing up in the middle of an Indian reservation, and aside from acknowledgment that the government engineered this stealing of land, there was little written, and thus little awareness, of what life was like for Indians at that time on that reservation.

I was very aware that I would have been very uncomfortable with the hygiene of those poorer times. Impetigo is just not something I want to encourage.

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