Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

October 26, 2006

been readn'

I've read some great books lately that have left me asking some questions that I like to think about.

"The Chosen" by Chaim Potok has me thinking about how to train children that are intellectually precocious but challenged in the empathy department so that they will put their intelligence to a good and spiritually guided use when they are grown. How do you train someone to develop their empathy?

"The Lonesome Gods" by Louis L'Amour is the first and perhaps the only western I will read but it was an interesting experience and I learned a lot, as I generally do when I do something new and different. The big question that I got from that book was about one's calling. How do you know what your calling is? And the idea that you should always keep learning throughout your life (so maybe your calling grows and changes with your experiences?) and that life is not worth living if you don't keep learning new things. So it's important to stay open to them. And then, if you find that the world has changed, you can change with it. Ride the wave. That kind of thing.

They are both books full of advice, thinly veiled by the fact that they are coming of age stories. Everyone advises the young'uns as they grow about what's important in life and how to go about educating one's self. "The Chosen" is set in New York, 1960s, in two families of Hasidic Jews and the different ways two boys are raised by their respective fathers. One father-son pair is liberal and scholarly- the father is a professor and the son wants to be a rabbi, the other is very conservative and scholarly- the father is a rabbi and the son is going to inherit the position but wants to be a psychologist. Scandalous. It's a great book with a very good heart and a certain gentleness of manner that I really appreciate. "Lonesome Gods" is set in the California frontier and the Mohave Desert, mid-1800's I think, and is about an orphan boy and his father's legacy of greatness in philosophy and survival skills and all kinds of people trying to kill the boy for pride and horses and whatnot. It's a fun epic and has lots of good scenes about surviving in the desert and why they can be compelling. Native Americans play a large role in the book, and I didn't feel like there was a lot of stereotyping or racism going on because there was enough room in the book for depth and complexity of relationships to come out, but maybe others would disagree. I don't know. I don't pretend to be an expert but I wasn't offended myself.

Oooo, I love reading! I could read all day, come up for air and food and a nap, and then read all night. I'm reading from a list of 'classics' with a homeschooling group, starting with those at the high school level where I've missed them and going on up! It's good fun to be reading books that are relatively nurturing to my mind and not too full of modern crap (excessive sex and violence, I mean). It gets my mind working, gears moving, meditation on the fly, all day while I'm changing diapers, scrubbing the bathtub, etc. And I love learning about the characters lives and what is important to them. I learn so many possibilities about how to think about the common experiences of humanity- family, growing up, education, communities, parenting, that kind of thing. So much more interesting than reading self-help books on the same topics. Stories really are powerful.

Posted by Bahiyyih at October 26, 2006 08:36 AM

Ooh, I'm inspired...I want to read too! I have to admit, though, I have a hard time picking out books, especially fiction. Do you have any tips?

Posted by: Suzanne at October 27, 2006 11:03 AM

It's grey and drizzly and all I want to do is read a book. But once I start a book I can't set it down until I finish it, so I'm trying to wait until I finish the semester. Or at least Thanksgiving break.

Posted by: Katie at October 27, 2006 02:41 PM