Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, of course, is always fitting, but in honor of our national celebration, we want to thank all our faithful readers for your ongoing support and encouragement.
We also thank God for the gift of words, language, and books. Our lives would be unimaginably dreary and dull without them, our minds weak and dim, our endeavors fruitless and friendless.

Since this week marks a national holiday, our thoughts especially turn to gratitude for our country. It is a young country as nations go, but without the labor and vision of many generations, we would not live in a place where books abound and knowledge is free for all.
One of those forefathers is the incomparable Benjamin Franklin. I just read his autobiography, which also included some excerpts from letters and other writings. I thought my readers would like a sample, a very minute one in comparison to his voluminous contributions to the world of words.

In describing the complaints of the times, he related a conversation. Some comrades prevailed upon a white-haired old gentleman in their midst to comment on the state of the country, namely, the appalling condition of taxation they felt was threatening to “ruin the country,” and their elder friend responded, “Friends and neighbors, the taxes indeed are very heavy. If those taxes laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them, but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly. And from these taxes our commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement…it would be a hard government that taxed us one-tenth part of our time to be employed in its service, but idleness taxes many of us much more if we reckon all that is done in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements that amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on diseases absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says. But, dost thou love life? Then, do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of, as Poor Richard says…If time is of all things most precious, then lost time must be the  greatest prodigality. Lost time can never be found again. What we call ‘Time enough’ always proves little enough. Let us, therefore, be up and be doing…Sloth makes all things more difficult, but industry all things easy, as Poor Richard says…So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We make these times better if we bestir ourselves.”
Franklin clearly wasted little time. His Poor Richard’s almanac and pamphlets  are full of such homey wisdom. Out of these seeds came a profitable and strong nation. So, as the Bible says, “Do not grow weary in well doing,” and, if I may make effort to reiterate yet again:  little story seeds planted now with living ideas nourish the mind and produce a harvest in due time.

For the joy of reading,

Liz

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The First Book of Machines--A NEW Book from Living Library Press

We are pleased to announce the latest from Living Library Press:


The First Book of Machines by Walter Buehr!

This author has long been a favorite in our library for his clear explanations of how things work. Machines is a simple introduction to engineering, and an elementary level book that is part of the "First Book" series and a welcome addition to our growing collection of science books for young children, all of which accompany the superb Living Science Study Guides 
developed by Nicole Williams at Sabbath Mood Homeschool.

Friday, November 10, 2017

October’s Harvest

Sometimes I feel a bit odd posting the books I’m reading, but the feedback I get keeps me continuing this ritual. The titles I offer are not necessarily my top recommendations for others, but simply an account of my own reading trails. I hope they encourage some readers in new or different directions.

Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis. This was my book club’s novel for our meeting in October. I had read the book 15 years ago, and confess I found it difficult to read then. It is supposedly Lewis’s personal favorite of the books he wrote. This time I felt the book opened up many, many insights for me, and was also an intriguing tale.

The Plain Princess by Phyllis McGinley. This is a modern fairy tale, in other words, of modern invention and with some modern expressions, written in 1947 and beautifully illustrated by Helen Stone. It was a charming account of a princess who had everything, except looks, with all the classic elements of a classic fairy tale—a great tale for those little pouters in your home.

For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin. I have had this book on my “want to read” list for years since Nicole Williams of www.sabbathmoodhomeschool.com raved about it to me and which she uses as the living book in her high school physics guides. Through Audible.com, I was able to finally read it and was riveted. I keep reading books in the area of physics in hopes of gaining more knowledge and found this one broke through many barriers for me. Lewin’s enthusiasm for his field is absolutely contagious and his style of communication makes many difficult principles and theories clear.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. How could I get through a year without at least one Dickens novel? I have started and abandoned this one several times and finally forced myself to persevere. It wa a treat, completely written for enjoyment and had me chuckling and even giggling in places. There is none of the description of wretched Victorian England in this one, just lots of comedy as several bachelors form a club and have many hilarious adventures.

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. This is a little book with a big punch. If you ever grapple with making your worship on Sunday coherent with your busy and often incoherent every day life, this book is a simple and most practical gift. We all struggle in this frantically paced living today. How do we remember God, pray constantly, recognize His presence in the midst of rushing to our appointments, losing our keys, fast food, kids schedules, and need for relationship and quiet? Where can we change to keep up and stay connected? This is probably one of the most helpful books I have read this year.

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Don’t judge a book by its movie. I saw the movie with Redford and Streep and hesitated to invest time in the novel as a result. The book, unlike the movie, does not delve into her personal or romantic life at all. In fact, it is a perfect geography book for your middle to high school readers. Her skillful prose weaves a vivid picture of life in Kenya between the world wars when the author, a Danish baroness, lived on a coffee plantation. It describes the customs, scenery, landscape, animals, clothing, food, and simplicity of life there in an unforgettable way.

Shadows on the Grass by Isak Dinesen. This was included in the volume I read, so I went on to read her further memories of early days in Africa, published toward the end of her life, but with the same clarity and brilliance of the earlier sketches of life in Kenya.

For the joy of reading,

Liz