I’ve started The Art of Living: A Guide to Contentment, Joy, and Fulfillment by Dalai Lama, Bstan-’Dzin-Rgy. Lovely…
“The Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most loved and respected religious leaders. Exiled from his native Tibet since the 1950s, he has probably done more to introduce the West to Buddhism than any other figure, not just through his teachings but through the example of his life, his quiet dignity, humility, calmness, and obvious love for mankind. These are the qualities that shine through in The Art of Living. Subtitled “A Guide to Contentment, Joy and Fulfillment”, this book is the text of a series of lectures the Dalai Lama gave at Wembley, London, in 1993. The talks deal with the problems of suffering, living, and dying with straightforward language, common sense, and compassion. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to find the teachings valuable. For example, the Dalai Lama quotes the Indian scholar Shantideva: “If there is a way to overcome the suffering, then there is no need to worry; if there is no way to overcome the suffering, then there is no use in worrying.” The talks in this book cover such areas as “Dealing with Anger and Emotion”, and “Giving and Receiving: A Practical Way of Directing Love and Compassion.” In the final short chapter, “The Challenge for Humanity: An Interfaith Address”, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama is clear in his plea for mutual understanding between the plurality of the world’s religions. The text of this book has been published before, both in The Power of Compassion and in The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. What makes this edition different, as with the Dalai Lama’s A Simple Path, is Ian Cumming’s breathtakingly beautiful color photographs of mountains, monasteries, and monks in Tibet and India.”
Although I’m skipping this month’s bookclub selection (I haven’t managed to track the book down in time to start, let alone finish), I’ve moved on to the following month’s read, We Need to Talk About Kevin.
“We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver, published by Serpent’s Tail, about a fictional school massacre. It is written from the perspective of the killer’s mother, Eva Khatchadourian, and documents her attempt to come to terms with her son Kevin and the murders he committed. Although told in the first person as a series of letters from Eva to her husband, the novel’s structure also strongly resembles that of a thriller. The novel, Shriver’s seventh, won the 2005 Orange Prize, a U.K.-based prize for female authors of any country writing in English. In 2011 the novel was adapted into an eponymous film.”
I’m also listening to an audio-book version of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
”Here is the bestselling book that will give you the know–how you need to be more effective with your children and more supportive of yourself. Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the down–to–earth, respectful approach of Faber and Mazlish makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding.”
Thumbs up for audio book options so I can absorb information and multitask with dishwater and feather-dusters at the same time!
Steampunk: The Art of Victorian Futurism – by Jay Strongman
“A Jules Verne world of extraordinary visions and contraptions as portrayed by the top 30 artists in the genre – Steampunk is a resurgent art, cult, and lowbrow movement celebrating the romantic elegance of the Victorian era and blending in modern scientific advances—synthesizing imaginative technologies such as steam-driven robots, analog supercomputers, and ultramodern dirigibles. Celebrating the elegant and the strange, the visually arresting steampunk works collected here include sculpture, installations, graphics, bizarre oils, and mind-warping contraptions—from skull cameras to rocket-fueled diving bells.”
Inhaled over the weekend. Interesting and dreamy with lots of beautiful/creepy artwork inside.
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.
This is the next bookclub selection (for January). I downloaded the ebook and picked up the tangible copy from the library last Thursday. It sounds like a good book to start the new year off with – looking forward to it, both turning the pages and the discussion to follow.
“Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.”
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness meditation for everyday life by Jon Kabat-Zinn – this is one of the books from the memorial release I put aside to read before letting it go, and this seems as good a time as any, with December bootcamp focused on embodying my best self and the old year joining hands with the new. I’m a fan of different mindfulness paths and practices, and this has some great reviews.
“The author of Full Catastrophe Living offers the most enlightening exploration yet of the principles of mindfulness—the ancient Buddhist method of stress reduction. Kabat-Zinn blends stories, anecdotes, poems, images, and scientific observations with easily followed instructions in the art of “capturing” the present and living fully within each moment in order to achieve inner peace.”
I also downloaded the bookclub selection for January (still waiting for the tangible version to arrive), but I’m a bath reader, and I think taking the iPad in the tub is probably a poor choice. This is what I’ll invite to join me.
This afternoon I picked up The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens, which is the first selection in the bookclub I’ve joined (I voted for The Road, but perhaps others preferred somewhat gentler fare). It’ll be interesting reading something completely random. I’ll alternate between this and Ironweed, which I’m not quite through yet. I’m aiming to be done before the meeting on November 22nd.
“On the eve of their Silver Anniversary, Mary Gooch is waiting for her husband Jimmy – still every inch the handsome star athlete he was in high school – to come home. As night turns to day, it becomes frighteningly clear to Mary that he is gone. Through the years, disappointment and worry have brought Mary’s life to a standstill, and she has let her universe shrink to the well-worn path from the bedroom to the refrigerator. But her husband’s disappearance startles her out of her inertia, and she begins a desperate search.
For the first time in her life, she boards a plane and flies across the country to find her lost husband. So used to hiding from the world, Mary finds that in the bright sun and broad vistas of California, she is forced to look up from the pavement. And what she finds fills her with inner strength she’s never felt before. Through it all, Mary not only finds kindred spirits, but reunites with a more intimate stranger no longer sequestered by fear and habit: herself.”
Tonight I sunk into the bath and some new pages: William J. Kennedy’s Pulitzer winning Ironweed. Planning on ferreting out the movie after reading the book…
“Ironweed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is the best-known of William Kennedy’s three Albany-based novels. Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, full-time drunk, has hit bottom. Years ago he left Albany in a hurry after killing a scab during a trolley workers’ strike; he ran away again after accidentally—and fatally—dropping his infant son. Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and the present…”
Next up: Snatch by Judy MacInnes Jr.
Starting another book (a lovely size too), cracking the spine on my way to sink into a warm bath with a glass of cold cider to sip as I turn new pages.
“Snatch is a hilarious and creepy collection of poems that may not even be poetry at all. Like a comic novel from an alternate universe, or a fragmented hoax of an autobiography, Snatch picks at the vacuous horror of suburbia and exposes a world of small beauty and perfect moments amid TV-induced nostalgia and impending violence. In her mysterious and funny debut, everybody’s favourite Surrey grrrl, Judy MacInnes Jr. makes the complex seem simple, the simple complex, and she has an unearthly talent for making the reader laugh out loud while doing it.”
Into the Early Hours by Aislinn Hunter
I’m reading a number of Paulie’s old books before bookcrossing them for the memorial project – this one has a nice handwritten message from Aislinn inside.
“In Into the Early Hours, Aislinn Hunter avoids the common poetic mistake of focusing too closely on self-inflicted emotions. Her vision is grounded in history and place, especially Canada and “that green country,” Ireland. In poems ranging from the Irish diaspora to the “drunken swagger” of the wild Fraser River of British Columbia, she uses captivating images to ground her view of the world. A piece of coal is a heart; a sandbox, an open grave; a garden, a fecund, mysterious locus of language. At times her descriptions are strikingly clear: the bull, “the anvil of his head butting down,” or the foothills that “ache upwards, out of themselves, / turning, in the distance, to mountains,” or the “winters warmed by the black lung of the furnace.” A number of real-life characters also make an appearance in these poems: Yeats and other Irish poets, Jung, Mendel, Monet, the Panchen Lama. Aislinn Hunter as a young poet already has the tools – the assured language, the vision, the wide-ranging interest in her world – and she has filled Into the Early Hours with many fine poems.”
1984 by George Orwell
I recently realized that I’ve never actually read this (perhaps Big Brother was looking elsewhere), so M. found his battered old copy and I’m starting it today.
“Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.”