Happy Easter Wednesday, everyone! As I sit here enjoying my morning coffee, I thought I'd run through a couple of books that I've read over the past few months, since I haven't done a literature-focused post in a while. Today's post has a mixture of Dante, personal stories, novels, and a little bit of gardening. If you have any books that you recommend, I'd love to hear 'em, since I'm always on the lookout for more reading material of any genre!
Karma Gone Bad: How I learned to love mangos, Bollywood, and water buffalo, by Jenny Feldon. I love travelling, I love learning about different cultures, and I especially love learning about India. So, you can probably imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this book at the library! Feldon's memoir, which tells the story of the move that she and her husband made to India for his job, is hilarious, heartwarming, and entertaining. Feldon begins the story as a well-to-do NYC woman, used to certain privileges and routines, like her daily dose of Starbucks and designer dresses. When her husband's job moves the two of them to India, her entire world turns upside-down. Not only does this story provide an awesome picture of her experiences, but it also says some interesting things about the marriage between Jenny and her husband. I greatly enjoyed this book, and recommend it!
The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and the 1930s, by John Kasson. I grew up on a diet of Shirley Temple movies and I love reading biographies, so I was pretty excited to read this book! While this story was extremely interesting, it was also incredibly sad. Reading about the child labor in the early 20th century was eye-opening; I've always felt a bit sorry for many modern child celebrities, but I've often had this idea that "back in the day," things weren't so bad. Umm...not so. I definitely recommend this book to people who also have an interest in Shirley Temple or want to learn more about child performers of the early 20th century!
Inferno, by Dante. This book has always intimidated me, so I have stayed far, far away. But, several months ago, I was told about the Cartoon Network show Over the Garden Wall (you can read a great review of the show over here). When I began watching the show, I was struck by a quite obvious reference to Inferno. And then I stumbled across a blog post where a person finds many parallels between Inferno and this show. So, I knew that I needed to read Inferno, and after one of my friends assured me that Dante really isn't all that terrifying, I picked it up with a commentary. I haven't finished the book yet, but I've been enjoying it a lot. The imagery, the poetry, the language, the use of symbolism and mythology mixed in with Christian lessons...it's all quite fascinating! I'm not delving as deeply into it as I could be, but I am still enjoying it quite a bit, and I'd love to go back through it again in greater depth someday. I definitely recommend it.
Hildegard of Bingen: The woman of her age, by Fiona Maddocks. I have been meaning to learn about Hildegard for quite a while, ever since I heard about her while a student at Franciscan University. And, when I heard that Kelly was doing "the Hildegard Experiment" for her diet in Lent, I remembered, "Hey, I never really read a book about Hildegard." So I found this book at the library and read it. What did I like? Obviously, learning about Hildegard, her life, her work, and her awesomeness. What did I not like? This book gives a very secular perspective, which isn't bad necessarily, but it does have moments where it dives into "Ooh, look at the language in this letter between this person and that person-were they lesbians?" and related topics. I think the library has a couple other books on Hildegard, so I think I'll look those up and see if they have a different focus.
Bread and Butter, by Michelle Wildgen. This was a delightful novel about three brothers who all work in the restaurant industry. Two of the brothers run a fancy restaurant together, and their youngest brother comes into town and decides to open a restaurant of his own! A lot of the story revolves around their relationships, which is pretty cool-parts of it reminded me a lot of the movie The Hundred Foot Journey (love that movie, but stay away from the book!). Along the way, there is-obviously-a ton of focus on what goes into running a fancy restaurant, which I found very interesting. My main complaint with this story is my rather common complaint with a lot of novels and shows: the idea that as soon as a couple gets together or when two people are interested in each other, they start having sex. Nope, not a fan of that. Thankfully, there are only a couple bedroom scenes in this book and they aren't very explicit, so it doesn't detract away from the story, but I still wish that wasn't such a big thing. Overall, I thought this book was a fun, quick, entertaining read that was more on the heartwarming-inspirational side without being overly sappy.
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to grow nutrient-dense, soil-sprouted greens in less than 10 days, by Peter Burke. I fail at gardening, and I do not have a green thumb. Whenever I try growing plants-even the simplest of herbs-my efforts are fruitless. Part of this could be the fact that we only get a few hours of very direct sunlight on our porch, and part of it could be that I did not inherit any of my grandfather's gardener genes. This book piqued my curiosity, and I really enjoyed it a lot! The author's premise is that in just a few square feet of space, you can grow salad greens for your family year round without needing much direct sunlight, mason jars, or special lamps. The book is easy-to-read, has fantastic pictures, recipes, and stories, and is very direct in its approach. And the fact that this whole sprout-process takes 10 days or less makes it seem a lot less daunting to attempt! I don't know if I'll succeed, but after reading Burke's book, I think I'm going to give this a try and see what happens.
All the light we cannot see, by Anthony Doer. I read this book in preparation for Haley and Christy's awesome podcast discussion about it, and I'm so glad that I did! This book switches between the lives of two children living during World War II: Marie-Laure, a blind girl living in Paris with her father, and Werner, a German boy who is orphaned. The book is comprised of very short chapters that flip flop between these two children, as well as between time periods-so it takes a little getting used to, but after a while it can become more natural as you read the story. There are lots of subplots and various story lines, but at the heart of the story, there is a lot about the workings of grace and personal encounter in the midst of dark times. Whether we are reading about Werner in the school for Hitler Youth, or about Marie-Laure as she hides away in a small French town, we see the huge impact that people's actions have on each other even from a fleeting encounter. I highly recommend this story, and I definitely want to go back and re-read it sometime, now that I'm familiar with the style of the story and know the basic plot and story events (also, the language is incredibly beautiful and poetic). Bishop Barron even wrote a small article on this book!
Thanks for joining me! I hope that you all have a splendid day.