Sunday, April 20, 2014

april 2014 books

More book stuff:
Stoner (John Williams): This is our book group’s latest book and it’s absolutely brilliant. Probably the saddest book I’ve ever read. I just knew, from the time I’d read John McGahern’s introduction, that it was going to be “my kind of book”. Published in 1965, it tells the story of a life-long academic who taught at the University of Missouri for over 40 years. It deals with the value and purpose of academe but it also tells of a life of frustration, hurt, love and responsibility. It’s utterly compelling and quite beautifully-written.
Welcoming The Way Of The Cross (Barbara Mosse): This was the Lent book used by our Ithaca group and it provided daily readings, reflections and prayers covering the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day. Although she writes well, I didn’t really find that Mosse’s book engaged me and I read it more “out of duty” than desire! Maybe my own current spiritual wilderness had something to do with this?
The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron): This book provides a 12-week course in “discovering and recovering your creative self”. Frankly, I didn’t really feel the need for either, but had been intrigued to read it after hearing lots of positive things about the book from people whose opinion I value. Although I frequently found Cameron’s writing style annoying (and somewhat dated)(she’s a rather too over-the-top American for my taste!), much of what she had to say was thought-provoking and useful. I’m afraid I hardly did ANY of her suggested exercises – I merely cherry-picked stuff that appealed or felt pertinent. However, I DID write out 3 pages of her suggested daily “Morning Pages” for a month.
The Cross In The Market Place (Dave Broom): Dave was the sacristan (and residential staff member) at Iona Abbey during my time with the Community in 2012. This is an Easter resource book from Iona in two parts: the first is an Easter pilgrimage (around Iona) and the second part consists of services marking the events of Holy Week. Although it’s a book that can be used by a group or congregation, it can also be read by an individual (which is how I used it). I’m not a great lover “acted out scripts”, but actually found them both relevant and useful as the first part of the book imagines a journey to Jerusalem for the festival of Passover (and I loved being able to relate these Iona pilgrimage readings to places I knew on the island). The services for Holy Week were all beautifully put together – and very powerful in content. I found the seven meditations for Good Friday (“people on the margins”) particularly helpful – with the added bonus that some of the pieces had been written by staff members from the Iona Community who became very good friends during my stay on the island. A lovely resource book that I know I’ll continue to use over future years.
The House Of The Mosque (Kader Abdolah): This is a simply glorious book. It’s a novel set in Iran; it starts just before the overthrow of the Shah and proceeds to tell the intricate, on-going story of an Islamic family in the province of Senejan who live next to the mosque. Although it’s a novel, it’s based on historical fact… and embellished by the art of a truly magical story teller. I learnt a lot about Islam (and the beauty of parts of the Koran)… but also more about the politics of the times (and its on-going affects), about tradition, respect, power, belief and trust. It’s a captivating, enchanting and beautifully written book… just wonderful.   

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