Archive for the ‘ Good Books ’ Category

Getting To Know Me! *

I shared this meme on the Facebook pages of my sister-in-law and my niece-in-law (her daughter-in-law…you know how important proper relationship placement is to me.)

I’ll admit it was one of the less controversial posts of the week on my page.

Really there wasn’t so much stirring the pot with this one.

But, it did get me thinking.

That may be true for many or even most people, but I like to think my library is so diverse that one would think I possess multiple personalities…OK, some already do…or the house is full of avid readers.

It is not.

My library ranges from Austen to Zola, as in Emile Zola, not my sister Zola.

Or Aussa’s dog for that matter.

But, I digress.

Reading is important.  I have the attention span of a gnat, and I read several books at a time, picking them UP and putting them down when I feel the need to move on, or see a shiny object, or a squirrel.

I read classics, I read non-fiction, tons of history, even more historical fiction, and there are biographies on every shelf.

And yes, there are more volumes on the American Civil Conflict in my library than any ten people I know.

There are books in every room, books by my chair, books by the bed; they make me happy.

As sure as I am that they all say a little something about me, I’m not so sure perusing the book shelves in my home will fill you in on who I really am.

That would take a conversation.

Or two.

Or, who knows, maybe the books do tell my story.

Have a great Monday.


*my apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein.

…because I’m gonna talk about it anyway!

It’s Summer Reading Wrap UP time!


Yeah, I know!

Reading is something I take seriously, and frankly I feel badly for folks who don’t enjoy it.

Now, when I read a good book I like to tell folks about it, and since Summer Reading is a part of the American psyche as well as the American Educational experience, it’s stuck with me since the first grade!

So, here we go…

I posted warned you about this first one earlier in the Summer, so I’ll only mention it

Robert Morgan’s Gap Creek is well written, but terribly depressing and sad.  You can read my review in the Good Books category if you’d like.

But, unless you’re a Robert Morgan fan…don’t bother.

Nancy Isenberg’s  White Trash: 400 Years of Class in America is shockingly not about my family, but a treatise on American culture that is eye-opening as well as informative.  It’s not what you think it is, but it will teach you a thing or two, and it wouldn’t hurt anyone to read it.

You’ll find out why we do what we do and why we think what we think.

It’s a text book, but doesn’t read like one.

I recommend that you read it along with something entertaining as often it gets a tad technical.

I first came in contact with Robert Hicks’ Widow of The South several years ago.  Based on a true story, it’s a good read which I read at that time.  I stumbled on his second book, A Separate Country, a semi-sequel a few years later.  It was awesome.  So, when I saw The Orphan Mother, the third in a non-series, I jumped on it.

The Orphan Mother is the story of a newly freed slave during the Reconstruction.  Hicks can bring a story together, and the great thing about him is that though his books contain some of the same characters, you don’t have to read them in order for them to make sense.  This one is a keeper.

County Line  by Bill Cameron was recommended to me by  Emily Burns Berry. #myniecenotmyniece,

Since it is set in Oregon and Farmersville, Ohio, I had no choice as there are numerous Germantown, Farmersville, and Valley View references.

Cameron writes a good mystery, keeps you guessing, and since he went to Valley View and lived on County Line Road in the 1980s, he nails the area completely! And I’ll forgive him for referring to my high school on Farmersville Pike as “…a post mid-century monstrosity sitting in the middle of a corn field…”

Sometimes, the truth hurts!

Good book, even Jan would like it!

Martin Van Buren by Ted Widmer:

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that one of the many items I collect are books on the Presidents.  I don’t have one on each President, but I add one from time to time.

My most recent presidential read is the 8th in the American President series is written by Ted Widmer, a former Bill Clinton staffer, it’s a terrific read about a not so terrific president.

Slick, dandyish, and professional like the character it describes, the book chronicles the rise and fall of the father of the modern Democratic Party.

This is one of the best Presidential biographies I’ve read in years.  Fast moving, fact-filled, and interesting, it’s an easy read that opens a window on a time most Americans know nothing about.

The comparisons to the election of 2016 are astonishing.

All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve

I’ve always been an Anita Shreve fan, and it’s not just because she’s a fan of Edith Wharton and lives in her house.  All He Ever Wanted had been sitting on my bookshelf for nearly a decade, but I kept ignoring it. Once I picked it UP, I couldn’t put it down.

What begins as a love story ends in tragedy; it’s as my friend Valerie said, “…haunting…”

There’s no other way to put it.

If you’re a Shreve fan such as i, you’ve read it.  If not, do, and you’ll become a fan for life.

Troublemaker : Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini was a gift.  I’ve never been a fan of her, and though King of Queens was a fun show, I detested her character.

After reading the book, I realized she wasn’t acting, and that’s pretty much what she’s like.  But, the book is beyond good.

Sure, it’s got some language that is offensive, but again.  An eye opener.

My own experience in the 1980s when the Church of Scientology was one of my largest customers was enough to steer me away from them even if I’d not grown UP in the home of a Baptist preacher.

Remini was brought into the cult as a child.  Her deliverance is chronicled in the book, and of course now, she’ got her own TV show.

Mediocre writing, a typical celebrity write UP.

Sleepwalker. Chris Bohjalian is my favorite writer alive today.

I’ve read most of what he’s written and fell in love with his style from the first page of Midwives. This, his latest, is UP to his standards, and mine.  Highly recommenced.

Hounded, What I learned from Three Dachshunds by Matt Ziselman was a $1.00 impulse buy at the Dollar Tree.

So glad it bought it.  Dachshunds are my favorite breed, I’ve had four, and I’ve learned a lot from all of them.

This is a light, simple, read that points out facts we all should know, and they are taught by three of the most cantankerous and spoiled pups out there.

Really a fun, fun book.

Condelezza Rice:   Democracy: Stories From the Long Road to Rreedom in a nutshell is proof that this woman should run for President and should win.

She’s a great political mind and asset to the nation. Educational, informative, and inspirational; her writing has changed my mind on a point or two. Which at this age, ain’t easy!

America’s Robert E. Lee by Henry Steele Commanger and Lynd Ward was one of the first biographies I read as a kid.

Mrs. Kindig at the Germantown Public Library recommended a different biography of Lee to me; I very clearly remember her mentioning that since I was from Virginia, she was sure I’d love to read about Robert E. Lee.

Of course I’d already read about Robert E. Lee, but I took her advice and read the book.

I still have a copy of the first one I read about Lee, and re-read it again due to all the hoopla and angst about the statues of the great man.

It’s a kids book, I don’t expect you to read it.  But I know now it wasn’t just the 2,000 page 4 volume work by Douglass Southall Freeman or the 40 other books I’ve read on Lee that made me an admirer of him, it was this book and of course, Mrs. Kindig.

Finally, and I know you’re glad I’m here, I’m reading The American Home Front 1941 to 1942 by Alastair Cooke.  Discovered after he died, and published in the 2,000s, it’s a “diary” of his travels throughout America during World War II.

If you are into the study of WW II, this one is a must. I’m almost done, and I can’t imagine it disappointing me.  Check it out.

So, there you have it.  What did you read this summer?

Life In The Woods…

Walden, or Life in the Woods was published on this date in 1854.

The book presents the details of Henry David Thoreau’s experiences during his two years, two months, and two days in the wood near Walden Pond.

He built the cabin on property owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

He used his time there to write his first book, A Week on Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

His journey there was condensed into a one volume work chronicling his experiences.  It is written in four seasons and symbolizes human development.

It is considered a classic.

Thoreau said this of his woodland experience…”I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

He came away from the experience a new man and left us with many, many wise sayings.  And since I’ve taken to posting quotes on many Wednesdays, here is one I like…

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

I find as I “mature” that quote means more and more to me.

I often ask myself, “How many hours do I have to work to afford that…suit, dish, dinner out…whatever.”

I find often enough that the part of my life it takes is more valuable than the thing I desire.




Never Out Of Print…

I am sure long after I’m gone, no one will read or remember Redneck Latte Ravings.

But as a would be writer, just as all do, I’d hope that I had some influence for good that would last.

Not so of Oswald Chambers.

He was a Scottish Baptist evangelist and teacher at the beginning of the 20th Century.  He was born on this day in 1874.

A devoutly religious man, he once said, “The dearest friend on earth is a mere shadow compared to Jesus Christ.”

Around the age of 21, he left for Dunoon College and was influenced by Richard Reader Harris, a lawyer and the founder of the Pentecostal League of Prayer.  Through Harris and other evangelists, Chambers became burdened for World Evangelism and sailed for Japan.  Back in the US by 1907, he spent some time in Cincinnati teaching at a Bible School.

After a short trip back to Japan and a return to the US via England, he met and married Gertrude Hobbs, their only child, Kathleen was born in 1913.

As Chambers preached, his wife, Gertrude, who could take shorthand at a speed of 250 words per minute, would translate his sermons and lessons to the written page.

At the outbreak of the Great War, Chambers accepted a post of the YMCA in Cairo, Egypt.  He ministered to the soldiers, his sermons were attended by hundreds of soldiers.  His approach was unusual, his manner of speaking enthralling, and his concern for the soldiers genuine.  When confronted by a soldier who said, “I can’t stand religious people,” Chambers replied, “Neither can I.”

In 1917, while in Cairo, Chambers had an attack of appendicitis on October 17, but refused to go to the hospital stating the soldiers from an upcoming battle would need the beds.  Twelve days later, an emergency appendectomy was performed.  Sadly, it was not soon enough, and he died on November 15, and was buried in Cairo with full military honors.

Gertrude transcribed his sermons, and most importantly his devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest.

Published 18 years after his death, the daily devotional is a compilation of Christian preaching to students and soldiers.  First published in 1935, it has been printed, re-printed, updated, and re-circulated repeatedly over the years.

The title comes from one of his sermons.  He said, “Shut out every consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only – my utmost for His Highest. “  One of the most popular religious books ever written, it has inspired men and women worldwide.

Translated into 39 languages over time, My Utmost for His Highest has never been out of print.