Monday, May 31, 2010

Mailbox Monday: May 31, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a fun meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that came into our house by mail. I've been limiting the books that I am accepting to review as I shared in a recent post, I have been in a reading slump. I feel overwhelmed with all the books that I have acquired and need to focus on those. I've even gone through my piles of books and TBR books on my bookshelf and am sorting through them. I shared a bunch with my book club friends and will donate a bunch to the library as well. This is what arrived in my mailbox this week:

Life Without Summer: A Novel

Life Without Summer by Lynne Griffin (A surprise from St. Martins Press)

Viola in Reel Life

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani from Paperbackswap

A gorgeous set of notecards and bookmarks made by Paper Love By Brooke won from Trish at Love, Laughter, And A  Touch Of Insanity

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: The Language God Talks by Herman Wouk

This is a review for the  audiobook edition of The Language God Talks by Herman Wouk written by my husband Greg.

Wouk's thesis centers itself on a quote from the physicist Richard Feynman who said,

"It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil - which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama."

The balance of the book attempts to show that it is possible to believe otherwise. The book is also about how the author himself, who can best be described as one who has comfortably reconciled his secularism with his faith. He finds no contradiction in that, nor with the divide between tradition and western thinking. The account is a personal one and takes on greater significance considering that he was raised in an observant Jewish family, studied the Talmud, entered the Navy in WWII, later become a playwright, and finally a novelist. He also endured great personal tragedy. Wouk brings in material from many sources including the Bible, astrophysics, politics, tradition, Confucius, the Talmud, and from his own works. Much of his anecdotal accounts are based on his book War and Remembrance. In particular, his incorporation of the Holocaust into that work. The first half of The Language God Talks focuses on “the stage” based mostly on cosmology, the latter half “the drama” based on the human experience. It concludes with the sermon "Heroes of the Illiad" given by the fictional character "Aaron Jastrow". This, as the author admits, is the closest he comes to setting down his beliefs into words.

Another curious Feynmanism that is given weight is when he asks Wouk:
"Do you know calculus?" and he replies that he doesn't. "You had better learn it; it's the language God talks."

Wouk who admits he doesn't have a mathematical mind, spends unsuccessful years trying to learn calculus. Personally, I don’t believe you have to understand the nitty-gritty details of calculus to appreciate the essential purity and truth of it, or the fact that it was independently discovered by two different people (thus suggesting it was discovered, not "invented"). I wouldn’t limit the discussion to calculus either. Rather, I would broaden it to include all of mathematics. Case in point, I’m currently reading a book titled “God Created the Integers by Stephen Hawking. In addition to the absoluteness and purity of mathematics, I would also mention the great success that mathematics has had in describing the universe. Likely, this is the gist of what Feynman was getting at.
As you would expect from a book of this nature, there are no answers given. You are left to draw your own conclusions from the supply of brain fodder presented here. It's incredible that Wouk has been able to produce this work so late in his life. His stature shines through. After completing it, I've immediately begun listening to it a second time in order to form my own personal synthesis of the material. It is not yet done with me.

*Listen to an excerpt of The Language God Talks, here.

Disclosure: Thanks to Hachette for sending a copy of this audiobook for review. I am an Amazon associate and Indiebound associate.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Catching up!

It's been a bit quiet here on the blog for the past week for many reasons. I was without internet connection for awhile, the stess & busyness of life caught up with me and last but not least....I got into a reading slump.

I've actually been reading, but at a slower pace and I have several reviews to write up. I've read Little Bee by Chris Cleave and had a great discussion with my book club last week. I've also read and can't wait to tell you about Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. On audiobook, I've listened to The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith and The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris.

I just needed a break and I will be back to writing book reviews and blog posts before you know it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mailbox Monday~May 17, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a fun meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that came into our house by mail. This is what arrived in my mailbox this week:

Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family--and a Whole Town--About Hope and Happy Endings

Huck by Janet Elder from Broadway Books/Random House

Girls in Trucks

Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch from Bookmooch

So Happy Together

So Happy Together by Maryann McFadden won from

God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours

God Never Blinks by Regina Brett (Audiobook) from Hachette

The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898

The War Lovers by Evan Thomas (audiobook) from Hachette

The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion

The Language God Talks by Herman Wouk (audiobook) from Hachette

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: The Threadbare Heart by Jennie Nash

The Threadbare Heart is the first book that I've read by Jennie Nash and it definitely won't be the last. Nash has a beautiful style of writing and The Threadbare Heart explores so many topics of the heart, it deeply touched my own heart. This is a story of family, of mothers and daughters, sons, marriage, friendship, loss, growth and so much more.

Lily and Tom have been happily and contentedly married for over 25 years. They live in Vermont and are both professors at a local college. They have two grown sons and a granddaughter who all live in California as well as Lily's mother Eleanor. Things start to change as Lily and Tom prepare for a visit to California to visit family for Christmas. They both are starting to question where they want their lives to go as they are getting older. In California, Tom is drawn to an avocado farm there and dreams of owning it. Lily's mother Eleanor offers to buy it for them and this stirs up unsettled issues for Lily. Eleanor has been married many times and is envious of the relationship that Lily has with Tom. Lily loves her mother but believes that she is so different from her that it keeps them at a distance. It takes a terrible tragedy for them to learn to understand each other and respect their differences. They realize that being different is okay and that they can still love each other and appreciate each others differences.

I don't want to share too much more of this wonderful story as it will give too much away. You must find a copy yourself and read it, but don't read the back of the book as it will give away too much of the story. This is the kind of book that you shouldn't know what will happen as it is part of the experience of the book.

The Threadbare Heart is about relationships that most of us experience or will experience in life- parent and child, husband and wife and friendships. It will make you stop and think about your own relationships, it certainly did for me. You can be in a marriage or a friendship for many years and do you really know them? This book brings up this question along with many others. What happens when things can change so quickly in your life? How will you handle it? The message of not taking life for granted and cherishing each day you have is one that I thought of a lot as I was reading this book. This book is written with sensitivity and depth and it is one that would make a  great book to discuss with others and especially with a book club.

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me a review copy of this book. I am an Amazon associate and Indiebound associate.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mailbox Monday~May 10, 2010

Mailbox Monday is a fun meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that came into our house by mail. This is what arrived in my mailbox this week:

101 Things I Learned (TM) in Culinary School

Beachcombers: A Novel

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer from Ballantine Books for Pump Up Your Book  Tour in July. 

South of Broad: A Novel

South of Broad by Pat Conroy a surprise from Random House