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Showing posts with label TTWilliams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TTWilliams. Show all posts

Friday, 15 May 2009

Confessions of a Bibliophile #2 - I Love You

Have you ever fallen in love with a character from a book - were they fictional, were they real, were they dead? When reading, sometimes the characters or people become so real to me they are like friends. So I revisit them year after year, rereading the books. With others I wonder what they are doing after the time of the book, two years later, five, or ten years later. I wonder what they are up to. I have fallen in love with five women while reading about them, one fictional, two dead before I was born, and two living. In this week's column I will briefly describe each of them and hope it will inspire you to check out their writings or the writings about them.

Meg Murry is a fictional character created by Madeleine L'Engle. She appears in six of the books in L'Engle's Karios series of books. She is a child in the first books and a mother in the later books. She is a strong woman, an intelligent woman. She appeared so real in the pages. I tried her favorite sandwich and it became one of mine, toasted bagel with liverwurst, cream cheese, tomato slices. L'Engle is one of my all-time favorite authors and when I met her at a conference, she stated that recently she realized that one of her characters had just finished her PhD. Her characters were real to her, and time kept passing for them. Meg was the first woman I ever fell in love with in a book.

My first term here at UW, I took a course called RS100C Faith Quests with Dr. Michael W. Higgins. We read 13 books over the term. I fell in love with two of the women we read about and studied. The first was Etty Hillesum, when I read her book The Letters and Diary of Etty Hillesum. She was passionate about life, and she was determined to understand herself. Even after the Nazi advance and occupation she did not stop living. The last words we have from her are on a post card thrown from a train on its way to Auschwitz. She was an incredible woman, and her life is an amazing testament of the human spirit.

I am not sure what to call the next woman. I met her as Joy Gresham, the woman C.S. Lewis married, then fell in love with. Lewis wrote about her in his book A Grief Observed. It recounts his experience of her illness and her death. It was the basis for the film Shadowlands. Lewis originally published this book under a pseudonym N. W. Clerk. It appears the book was so well written, he received a number of copies from friends to help him with his grief.

Five Feet of Fury - www.fivefeetoffury.com. That is the current blog of Kathy Shaidle. As a fulltime blogger since 2000, Kathy has offended nearly every one. I encountered her previous blog, relapsedcatholic.com, through other Catholic blogrolls. After reading her blog for a while I tracked down her books and read them. I have read most of her books more than once and her autobiographical piece God Rides a Yamaha six times (The God on the Yamaha was wearing a UW jacket with Math on the armband). It is a series of columns published after she was diagnosed with Lupus. I fell in love with her because of her vulnerability in this book. Yet most of her writings are sassy, humorous, poignant and very political. Kathy states: "Social justice is the stubborn application of unworkable solutions to imaginary problems." or "Racist' is the new 'commie."She is considered one of the top Conservative bloggers in Canada. Mark Steyn declares about Kathy "Kathy Shaidle is one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our day: If the "human rights" racketeers get their way, she'll be unpublishable in her own country. But, in the end, that's a reflection not on her but on them." In his intro to her latest book The Tyranny of Nice.

Finally, a Mormon woman from Utah, Terry Tempest Williams - and she does live up to her middle name. Terry's book Refuge is the story of life and the story of death - death of women from cancer, and death of birds in a flooded sanctuary. Williams is a poet, author, environmentalist, and is very passionate about life and life in the desert. Her books are moving and powerful; she writes about the clan of the one-breasted women. She states "I belong to a Clan of One-Breasted Women. My mother, my grandmothers, and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation." All of her books are powerful and moving.

I fell in love with each of the women because of the power of words. Words can shape us, change us, challenge us and transform us. Each of the women profiled above can have lasting impact on your life. So check out the books and remember you never know what you will find between the covers, or who.

(First published in Imprint as 'I Love You' in the column Confessions of a Bibliophile 2009-05-15.)

Monday, 11 May 2009

Book Meme - 15 in 15 Minutes

Book Meme - 15 in 15 Minutes

"This can be a quick one. Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes." First saw it on Shelly's Book Shelf.

So in no particular order:

1. Watership Down - Richard Adams
2. Duncton Rising - William Horwood
3. Refuge - Terry Tempest Williams
4. God Rides a Yamaha - Kathy Shaidle
5. Benchpress (trilogy) - Sven Lindqvist

6. Jacob the Baker (trilogy) - Noah benShea
7. An Interrupted Life - Etty Hillesum
8. Wild At Heart - John Eldredge
9. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
10. Wheat That Springeth Green - J.F. Powers
11. Wrinkle in Tim
e (quartet) - Madelein L'Engle
12. The Singer (trilogy)- Calvin Miller
13. Life After God - Douglas Coupland
14. In Conversation With God - Francis Fernandez
15. God is Not Reasonable - Irma Zaleski

This was a harder meme to do than I thought. I could Make multiple list's of 15, children's books, fiction, non-fiction, religious ... If you want to play, post your answers and link back or a comment here.

Top Ten Lists

All Books Read Each Year
Favorite Books Year Each Year
Favorite Authors Year Each Year

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Trends: Female Authors

I find again and again that my reading ends up following trends, sometimes trends I am not even aware of till I go through the list of all I have read recently. I am the first to admit that when I find an author I like I usually read all or most of their works or at least those I can get my hands on. So it should not surprise me that patters show up in my reading time and time again.

What has surprised me is that 4 of my top authors of the last few years are women, and women of faith. One Mormon and three Catholic. And a few years back it was an Episcopalian.

Terry Tempest Williams

Is a Mormon who writes extensively on Environmental Preservation Issues from a spiritual perspective. She has written children’s book’s environmental studies, natives studies and biographical works.
I would recommend starting with
Red or Refuge or An Unspoken Hunger.
Liz Kelly

Liz Kelly is a jazz singer and writer who has CDs and has published both fiction and nonfiction. She received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Alaska and currently works for Harvard University.
I have yet to track down her music but both her books are great reads.
Her Books The Rosary: A Path into Prayer and May Crowning, Mass and Merton are both worth reading.
Irma Zaleski
Zaleski, who was born in Poland in 1931, she escaped to England after the second world war, and came to Canada in 1952, she has led a vivid and diverse life. She has been a professor at the University of Toronto, a translator and a writer. In 1986 she moved to Combermere, Ontario. In her youth she practiced Buddhism and has studied Christian traditions from both the east and the west. As such she brings a breadth and depth to her writings that only comes with such diverse experience.
God is Not Reasonable would be one of the best of her books and a great starting point in her canon.

Kathy Shaidle

Kathy is an award-winning Toronto author, editor and writer for print & web.
God Rides a Yamaha is a must read for anyone struggling with illness or who has journeyed with someone who has.

Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine was born on November 29th, 1918, and spent her formative years in New York City. She preferred writing stories, poems and journals for herself, rather than focusing on her schoolwork.

A Wrinkle in Time, Troubling A Star
or A Ring of Endless Light would be a great intro to her children’s literature. She has won the John Newbury Award twice, one of only two authors to do so.

L’Engle though most known for her children’s writing has also published many books of adult fiction, theology, and poetry.

I highly recommend the writings of the authors. Check them out, it will be worth the Time and effort.

Saturday, 19 November 2005

Refuge An Unnatural History by: Terry Tempest Williams

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
Terry Tempest Williams
Vintage Books

This book is so powerful and so moving, it brought me to tears in more than one place. This is an amazing story of place, family, love, and the desert. Last winter I had to read one of Williams’ books for a course and have become addicted to her writings. Williams is a Mormon naturalist who pushes the boundaries of both, and her unique insights bring a freshness to both faith and preservation. I have tracked down and read all of her books that are currently in print, and this is the most powerful of them. Terry states in another book, “The great silences of the desert are not void of sound, but void of distractions.” This book is about the silences and the distractions of death, the death of her mother and of the bird refuge that she loved and that was her solace. The chapter headings are unique, written as a journal, but not by date but by lake height. As the Great Salt Lake rose to record heights in the mid-1980’s, Terry’s mother was dying of cancer, and the Salt Lake’s rising was flooding the Bear River Migratory Bird refuge. The refuge was sacred to Terry as a place she and her grandmother would visit together, and as a place to get alone outside of the city to reflect, meditate and believe.

Terry begins the prologue with “Everything about the Great Salt Lake is exaggerated – the heart, the cold, the salt, and the brine. It is a landscape so surreal one can never know what it is for certain. … Most of the women in my family are dead. Cancer. At thirty-four, I became the matriarch of my family.” pg.3. This book chronicles one woman’s love of the desert, of the bird refuge and of her family. It tells the story of cancer clusters in the desert where the US Government tested thousands of nuclear devices from the 1940’s to the 60’s.

Journey with one woman, through disease, death, destruction and the desert; journey with her both through the physical landscape and the internal one, to a new place- a place of determination and desire to make change and to grow from all she has been through.

Terry states in the epilogue, “I belong to a clan of One-Breasted Women. My mother, my grandmothers, and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.” pg. 281. This is a story of a strong woman who shares her pain, and her strength, to help us all see what could be possible with the triumph of the human spirit.

(First Published in Imprint 2005-11-18 as 'A tale of true inner strenght')