Thursday, July 30, 2009

House by Ju

I read this awhile ago and could think of nothing to respond. Overall, not my favorite book. Fine to read with the kids someday to satiate some interest in the historical aspect of the time. But overall no real "meat" to talk about. I would agree with Kelly that it was a bit far fetched (a bit being sarcastic). Still, I was interested to note that it was loosely based on the author's real experiences.

I have also been reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and find it a bit fascinating. Both books together have sparked my interest in Chinese history. The culture is so foreign to me.

Sorry, not much of a response, but it is 2am here! (I've been painting while J. is away and the kids are asleep . . . I too shall follow them now!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

House of Sixty Fathers

I had a theme in my reading this month, I guess, as I also read a story about youth in the French Resistance during WWII. Two stories about children during war. Very interesting.

I started this book with no knowledge about it whatsoever. I also read a book this month called "The Land That I Lost" about a man's memories of growing up in Vietnam. It was a sweet, funny story. I think I went into "Sixty Fathers" expecting it to be a sweet tale of a child growing up in China. So I was a bit surprised when I suddenly realized I was reading a tale of a boy, separated from his family, starving to death in a war zone. Not exactly a light and cheerful topic, but the author managed to keep the novel from being dark and heavy. I appreciated that because otherwise stories about struggling children can be too difficult to read.

As I read the story, the cynic in me kept thinking, "what the odds, what are the odds", while the romantic in me loved that all my wishes were eventually fulfilled and they all lived happily ever after. I don't know. What did you guys think? Did you think that the events were too fantastical to actually have happened? After finishing the story I read a little segment that said the events are very loosely based on an actual person. The author never was able to find out the actual end of that person's story, so he crafted his he would have wanted it to be.

However. I did like the courage of little Tien Pao and the determination he had to find his family. He was a very brave little man. I loved how he took such good care of Glory-of-the-Republic and protected him from the hungry refugees. I loved the examples of human kindness at a time when showing any kindness was an obvious sacrifice. Last night I was watching the rest of a Harry Potter movie with Josh. There is a scene in which Dumbledore explains to Harry that we all have both good and bad in us - it is the choices we make and the actions we take that show our true character. I thought about that in regards to "Sixty Fathers" - how war brings out the darkest side of humanity - and yet people continue to show the good side of their character. And I think it is this personal conquering of our baser instincts that is the true winning of the war.

Thanks for a good read. I'll be reading another Meindert DeJong book this fall with my daughter. I'm looking foward to it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Their Finest Hour - my response

I'm basically done with this book. At least, as done as I'm going to be. I skimmed the last few chapters but I've got other books I've got to get to.

It was an interesting read. I left my notes on it upstairs and I'm too lazy to go get them. I didn't take many notes because I mostly read while I'm nursing and lately nursing has been a two-handed affair. I think my favorite story was the one Churchill told about his idea to create an insurance company for those affected by the bombing. I loved his description that at first the treasury thought it was a waste, until it started making money and then they felt very statesman-like. Made me laugh.

I love the title of the book. I have always been partial to WWII in my history studies. However, most of what I've read in the past has been decidedly American-centric. I felt this book gave me a great appreciation for the British people and the circumstances they experienced. I enjoyed Churchill's obvious and well-deserved pride in his countrymen.

I also found it interesting to read about American politics from another perspective. Churchill's letters to Roosevelt where he called himself "former naval person" made me chuckle every time.

It fascinates me that the choices of one individual can have so much impact on the world-stage. Churchill did a good job balancing the general movement of the war with the specific actions of individuals in order to create a picture of the influences behind every decision. One example is that of a few in the French government who really set the course for France's capitulation to Germany. I've always considered Churchill to be a true statesman. Maybe without meaning to, he manages to show the difference between true statesmanship (himself and others), and a lack (France's Petain).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Great Books!

Hi Everyone!

I'm currently reading The House of Sixty Fathers.

I would love to add one (or more) of these David Bodanis books to out list . . . the "Electric Universe" would be my first choice, but I'd like to read any of them. Take a look and let me know.

Also, thanks for the encouraging words on the contention/sibling rivalry thing. :-)
That principle of "ask and ye shall receive" has been coming back to me again and again lately. I guess it's time to start putting it more fully into practice! :-)

Ta-Ta for now!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Response to Julia

I was going to write a snarly little response because I don't have much trouble with my children being contentious with each other--instead, I have a huge problem with me creating contention by being a grump.

Instead, I'm going to refer everyone to President Uchtdorf's message in the June Ensign. I was thinking about what Julia had written when I read his message and several things stuck out to me. Mostly, and most importantly, this:

"There is a way to rise above the turbulence of everyday life . . .. You must create lift" by cultivating your own personal righteousness.

He was speaking mainly of prayer but all personal righteousness, including scripture study, helps create the lift that we need.

A few other thoughts I liked from his talk that don't relate to Ju's question include: "Our prayers should spring from our deepest yearning to be one with our Father in Heaven."

And, "The sincere prayer of the righteous heart opens to any individual the door to divine wisdom and strength in that for which he righteously seeks." Like more patience with my children? A greater ability to feel joy? Increased unity with my spouse?

My favorite part of the whole message though was the scripture he quoted, D&C 46:30: "He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore, it is done even as he asketh."