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This past week was our first week of Great Lent – I’m Christian Orthodox, so that’s a thrilling but also intense week, with a special prayer service every evening. So less reading time.
On the weather side, we were supposed to finally get the major February snow we didn’t get this year. Twenty four horus before, they were still announcing very high chance f getting 6 to 10 inches. But I guess the wind got stronger and pushed everything south. Result: not 1 flake! Which is really fine for me, lol!
I finished four books this past week, a spiritual one and two easy ones (plus finally my long audio).
I posted three times since last Sunday:
- Wednesday: 2023 February wrap-up
- Thursday: The top 7 books to read in March 2023
- Satruday: Six degrees of separation: a passage to France
JUST READ/LISTENED TO 🎧
📚 The Image of the Virgin Mary in the Akathistos Hymn,
by Leena Mari Peltomaa
2001, by Brill Academic Publishers
Nonfiction/Christian Orthodoxy/Orthodox liturgics
I am scheduled to give a conference to our church sisterhood on the Akathist Hymn – a very old and extremely rich Marian text, so I read this excellent resource on it.
The best study I have read on the Akathist!
The way the Finnish scholar proves the date of the work makes total sense.
I really enjoyed a lot how she highlights the choice of the epithets to show the role of the Theotokos in the plan of salvation.
The numerous references and excerpts of the Fathers in relation to the text are extremely helpful.
It really helped me discover so many aspects of this hymn I didn’t know, even though I’m very familiar with it, for praying it several times every year.
If you want to dive deeper into this traditional text, this is the book to read. It is a scholarly study, but the part dedicated to the meaning of each stropha is also very spiritual.
📚 Astra Lost in Space, #3
by Kenta Shinohara
was originally published in 2017
Translated from the Japanese by
6/5/2018, by VIZ Media LLC
Manga / Science-fiction
Wow, this is getting better and better!
You can check my review of volume 2 here.
We are discovering a lot more about three characters in this one, especially about the teen who is the most mysterious of the bunch.
I like the variety of backgrounds among them.
And the planet they are now on is also very different from the previous ones they visited.
To go back to the teens, we are also slowly discovering more commonalities between them, but not yet enough to disocver what would be really common to all of them and might be the reason someone could be after them. Though I’m starting having some ideas.
It’s nice how the author shows their evolution, their maturity as they face exterior dnagers, and come to terms with their education and identities.
I had to check what’s going on for Luca, and discovered there are more people in this character’s case than I thought. No spoiler here, so no more details.
I thoroughly enjoy this series, alas there are only 2 more books to go!
by Tom Gauld
2012, by Drawn and Quarterly
Graphic novel / Biblical
I am a big fan of Tom Gauld. Well, could someone not be??
This is a lovely rendering of Goliath and David story (see 1 Samuel:17).
I really liked the backstory Tom Gaul came up with.
Here Goliath is presented as a poor victim of his own government. He is a secretary, not interested in war, not good at fighting, more like a gentle and awkward giant (nicely depicted as often too big for the squares of the comic format, often his head is not visible).
His leaders trick him into going and nagging at the enemy for many days. Goliath has really no desire, and no idea what’s really going on. And what could happen to him.
The background story makes the story very sad for Goliath. We often tend to be enthralled with David’s smart idea.
The art is gorgeous as usual with Gauld.
I like the brownish variations used in this book.
Really so well done.
🎧 I Am a Cat,
by Natsume Soseki
was first published in 1905
Translated by Graeme Wilson and Aiko Ito
Narrated by David Shih
Japanese literary fiction
It counts for The Classics Club
The synopsis highlights the fact that it “satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era”, but I think that most of it can actually apply to human foolishness and hypocrisy in general!
What makes the whole thing even more hilarious is that this is presented from the perspective of a cat, who enjoys listening to gossips.
The first part is the best, to my opinion, and more dynamically written. Parts are unequal in value, I believe, and interest. In some long passages, we even lose the fact that all is seen through the eyes of the cat.
Because of that, I don’t agree with people considering it a masterpiece. I think other books by Soseki are better, especially And Then; The Gate; The Miner)
The focus is definitely on the social satire of Japanese people of the time, on authors, neighbors, problems to find a husband for the daughters, though there are also lots of funny passages on what humans physically look like, obviously from a feline perspective!
There are fun passages on clothings, on public baths, on cleaning, on story telling, on teenagers.
Soseki’s descriptions are spot on!
Near the end, Soseki’s views on the rise of individualism and its consequences for instance on suicide and divorce are sadly quite proohetic (written in 1905!).
So the end, though sad, was to be expected.
David Shih is an excellent narrator, and he made the book fun to keep listening to, nicely highlighting the main charcaters’ quirkiness thanks to his variation in tones.
CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO
📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
Nonfiction / Book on Books
Slowly (because my readng in Italian is still on the slower side) going through the 36 essays, each focusing on a different classic.
After The Odyssey, Xenophon (430-355 BC – The Anabasis), Ovid (The Metamorphoses), this week I read the one on Piny the Elder, and his Natural History, where for instance he proves that the animal most similar to humans is the elephant!
And the one on Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209), considered the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature. I had never even heard about his name.
There are so many classics out there, outside the usual Euroepean ones!
Calvino mostly talks about one of Ganjavi’s words, Haft Peykar, which means seven beauties, and is translated in Italian as Seven Princesses, as indeed the story focuses on seven princesses.
📚 Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence,
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Published in 2015
Nonfiction / Biography / Music / Eastern Orthodoxy
Wow, more int the meat now.
The author highlights Pärt‘s technique, for instance his “rule” for putting some texts (like the Creed) to music, with longer notes for the end of a sentence, etc.
I had no idea of this. And some texts are used in various languages (Latin, Greek, Slavonic, English, among others), so it cannot be obvious to me in all cases.
But even though we may not be aware of this when we listen to his music, we feel an inner structure and balance. So how this works on us at an unconscious level is quite fascinating.
“Listeners often speak of a certain mystery in the way that Arvo Pärt evokes spirituality through his music, but no one has taken a sustained, close look at how he achieves this. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence examines the powerful interplay between Pärt’s music and the composer’s own deep roots in the Orthodox Christian faith—a relationship that has born much creative fruit and won the hearts of countless listeners across the globe.”
📚 L’Arabe du futur :
Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1978–1984
(L’Arabe du futur, #1)
by Riad Sattouf
Published in 2014
Available in English as
The Arab of the Future:
A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984
French nonfiction / Graphic novel / Memoir / History
Reading with French student F.
I am curious to see how the author’s father is going to evolve from his idealism, and discovery of reality in his own country of origin.
“The Arab of the Future, the #1 French best-seller, tells the unforgettable story of Riad Sattouf’s childhood, spent in the shadows of 3 dictators—Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, and his father.
In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria–but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.
Riad, delicate and wide-eyed, follows in the trail of his mismatched parents; his mother, a bookish French student, is as modest as his father is flamboyant. Venturing first to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State and then joining the family tribe in Homs, Syria, they hold fast to the vision of the paradise that always lies just around the corner. And hold they do, though food is scarce, children kill dogs for sport, and with locks banned, the Sattoufs come home one day to discover another family occupying their apartment. The ultimate outsider, Riad, with his flowing blond hair, is called the ultimate insult… Jewish. And in no time at all, his father has come up with yet another grand plan, moving from building a new people to building his own great palace.
Brimming with life and dark humor, The Arab of the Future reveals the truth and texture of one eccentric family in an absurd Middle East, and also introduces a master cartoonist in a work destined to stand alongside Maus and Persepolis.”🎧
🎧 The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,
by Laurence Sterne
Literary fiction / Humor
It counts for The Classics Club
Some years ago, I listened to My Great Books, an excellent lecture given by Salman Rushdie at Emory University, where he shares about the great books in his life. If you love classics, I highly encourage you to watch this video.
The first classic he mentions is The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, published in 1767 by the Anglo-Irish author Laurence Sterne (1713-1768).
I am starting it as audio. The beginning is quite funny.
We’ll see, I might need to switch to a writtn format later on.
“”Endlessly digressive, boundlessly imaginative and unmatched in its absurd and timeless wit.
Laurence Sterne’s great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it, with a rich metafictional narrative that might classify it as the first ‘postmodern’ novel. Part novel, part digression, its gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate ‘hero’ Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters, including Dr Slop, Corporal Trim and the parson Yorick. A joyful celebration of the endless possibilities of the art of fiction, Tristram Shandy is also a wry demonstration of its limitations.”
BOOK UP NEXT
📚The Fifth Rule of Ten
(Tenzing Norbu Mysteres #5),
by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
If you are curious to see why I’m planning on reading this one now, please check my explanation here.
“Be mindful, both making and keeping commitments, that they be springboards to liberation, instead of suffering. That’s the Fifth Rule of Ten.
Private investigator and ex-Buddhist monk Tenzing Norbu is wrestling with commitments on all fronts. He and his fiancée, Julie, can’t seem to commit to an actual wedding date. Ten’s dropped the ball on a pledge to find his assistant Kim’s missing brother, Bobby. Even his dreams hint at broken vows. And now his best friends, Lama Yeshe and Lama Lobsang, are about to land in Los Angeles with a Tibetan entourage for an unexpected 10-day fund-raising tour, sponsored by the local Buddhist Temple Ten abandoned 12 years earlier. Obligations are piling on, and for the first time in his life Tenzing Norbu is finding it hard to breathe.
Then an anonymous cell phone voice taunts Ten as he waits for his best friends at LAX, a mysterious missive lands in Tenzing’s mailbox, and the bloody evidence of foul play on a Griffith Park trail points directly to him. Tenzing knows that something dark is afoot, and the ensuing series of ominous events and disconcerting clues pull Ten into a dark mirror-world of Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He joins forces with Yeshe, Lobsang, his ex-partner, Bill, and his hack-tivist buddy, Mike, to track down the Patient Zero of this epidemic of criminal chaos. In The Fifth Rule of Ten, our hero is forced into a life-and-death battle with a powerful shadow presence whose roots reach way back in time. Tenzing must commit to fully embracing his own past, or lose everything he now holds dear.”
LAST BOOK ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR
The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (Georges Gorski #1),
by Graeme Macrae Burnet
“Manfred Baumann is a loner. Socially awkward and perpetually ill at ease, he spends his evenings quietly drinking and surreptitiously observing Adele Bedeau, the sullen but alluring waitress at a drab bistro in the unremarkable small French town of Saint-Louis. One day, she simply vanishes into thin air and Georges Gorski, a detective haunted by his failure to solve one of his first murder cases, is called in to investigate the girl’s disappearance. He sets his sights on Manfred.
As Manfred cowers beneath Gorski’s watchful eye, the dark secrets of his past begin to catch up with him and his carefully crafted veneer of normalcy begins to crack. Graeme Macrae Burnet’s masterful play on literary form featuring an unreliable narrator makes for a grimly entertaining psychological thriller that questions if it is possible–or even desirable–to know another man’s mind.”
📚 MAILBOX MONDAY 📚 NO BOOK THIS WEEK
Please share what books you just received at Mailbox Monday
I think you’re lucky that you didn’t get snow, lol. Now that I’ve experienced my first winter with snow, I’m over it! Ha ha. Hope you have a good week😁
I hate snow and cold as well. I hope Spring is coming to your place!
Yes, my son in Chicago was telling us the city was looking to get 6-10 inches of snow. I’m glad for his sake that it did not happen. He’s never really adjusted to the cold.
It’s interesting that Calvino includes books outside the traditional European list. I hope to get to that book this year. I’m also intrigued with Cosmicomics. Apparently it’s at my library.
Yes Calvino’s culture was very vast
I love the title of your blog: Words and Peace! I’m not familiar with Tom Gauld’s work so THANK YOU for writing about Goliath!
Oh then you need to check his Revenge of the Librarians. A fabulous collection of cartoons on books, editors, and authors, so so good. Smart and so nicely designed as well. I talked about it to a lot of people at the end of 2022, and several bought it as a Christmas gift. That’s for sure his best
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The storm fizzled out here too. We had a couple of hours of really intense flurrying and then… it stopped.
The Goliath graphic novel looks good! I’ll have to check that one out. Glad you were missed by the snow. They kept saying we might get some Friday morning, not much, but ours ended up going south too, and we just had a bit of rain. Hope you have a good week!
Yes, check Goliath, really so well done. Have a great reading week too!
I am hoping the snow predicted for my area misses us too! Last summer I picked up a book of Laurence Sterne’s letters. He was a clergyman as well as an author which makes for interesting reading. I have never read Tristram Shandy – it sounds interesting. Hope your weekend was good!
I didn’t realize we had some of Sterne’s letters. Good luck with the snow!
I waas glad to read your comments on I Am a Cat. I thought at first it would be a light, entertaining read, but I might pass on it as it sounds depressing!
Your other books look great.
I would not call it depressing, except the very end. You could read book 1, which is the most entertaining
I’m happy for you that the snow didn’t arrive. I hope you enjoy a great week ahead.
Thanks, you too!
I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned, but I really want to get started on manga / graphical novels!
Yes, there are gems in these 2 formats, though for me, it’s not easy to find a manga series that I really like. These 2 in theis post do work great
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How interesting to read the story of David and Goliath from Goliath’s point of view. I bet there aren’t many people in history who’ve given any thought to that. It sounds quite sad.
I have Arvo Pärt’s Lamentate album. I didn’t realize there’s a book about him and his faith. His work is so very introspective.
Enjoy your week!
Introspective is a good word for his style.
There are a bunch of novels trying to retell Biblical stories from the perspective of another character, or sometimes even a minor character. This one is very well done
Sounds like Greek Orthodox take Lent seriously, hope it goes well for you. Enjoy your books.
Yes, all Orthodox, not just Greeks: Russians, Romanians, etc.
Then we can REALLY celebrate for Pascha (Easter!)
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That’s wonderful to be able to read novels in other languages! The books on your list are all intriguing. Italo Calvino is the only author I was already familiar with before reading your post.
Reading in another language is actually not that difficult – at least the Romance languages. So much easier than to listen, speak, or write.
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You had a great reading week, it’s good the snow passed you by. I can’t believe Lent is here already. Enjoy your week!
Thanks, you too. We may have a little snow tonight, but nothing big looks like
Hope you have had a great week and read some good books!
Yes, and it’s been a very unusual reading week! More about this on next Snday Post! Looking forward to reading about yours
I grew up in Ohio and miss the many feet of snow we got. I did get to see a little bit when I went back to see family in Oct. of ’19. I hope you have a great weekend!
I wish I could send you some of mine when it comes here, lol.
We agan missed it this week, a coating instead of 3 inches. Really no complaint for me, that makes driving to church much easier. And waling without fear of falling
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