Saturday, January 29, 2011

“If you read a lot of books you are considered well read. But if you watch a lot of TV, you're not considered well viewed.” -Lily Tomlin

I finished reading Condoleezza Rice's book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People last night. It was enjoyable, educational and insightful.

I was particularly fascinated by her insider's recounting of the fall of the Berlin wall, of segregated Birmingham through the eyes of a well-loved child, and making tough financial cuts while provost at Stanford.

A few weeks ago I read Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. Ms. Wharton has been described as one of America's greatest writers. She was the first woman to win a Pulitzer for fiction. She is an extremely talented in her ability to tell it like it is. Her observations of the natural man are the best I've read. This book deals primarily with the disastrous consequences of completely bowing oneself to social expectation. I agree that we ought to make our own well informed decisions, but where the author and I differ greatly is that I believe we ought to make our decisions and then consult our Father in Heaven whether or not they are what he would have us do. If her main character had done this, his life would have been so much better! (And she probably wouldn't have won the Pulitzer). She is stating a message, a cautionary tale if you will. Well written, it really made me think. It certainly isn't my favorite book, but I do appreciate the fact that it caused me to reflect on life and things that I value.

I am currently reading Wild Nights (Nature Returns to the City) by Anne Matthews. I've just started it, but I LOVE IT. This non-fictional book is about wildlife returning to New York City. She writes about deer in Manhattan, a corn field growing in a median strip in upper Broadway, and my favorite so far "By 1999 coyotes and wild turkeys had began to roam Central Park. ("How did they get there?" demanded The Wall Street Journal. "Crosstown bus?"

Ms. Matthews divides her book into 3 sections, summarized by me as
1: nature's return to the modern city
2: the historic struggle of nature vs. man in NYC
3: possible outcomes of nature returning to the city

So far her writing is gripping, humorous and educational. She really knows how to tell a story, and I'm really enjoying it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Extraordinary, Ordinary People"

I have been reading a lot lately.

I guess I've always been an avid reader, sometimes moreso than not. Anyway, I am currently reading Condoleezza Rice's memoir "Extraordinary, Ordinary People". It is fascinating, and I am really enjoying it. I put it on hold at the library as soon as I heard it was coming out, and just got it a few days ago. She is extraordinarly adroit at painting a picture of the segregated South without at all singing the victim. In fact, I'll quote her:

"All these elements - extended family, community, schools, and churches - conspired together to convince me and my peers that racism was "their" problem, not ours. Whatever feelings of insecurity or inadequacy black adults felt in the appalling and depressing circumstances of Jim Crow Birmingham, they did not transfer it to us. For the children of our little enclave, Titusville, the message was crystal clear: We love you and will give you everything we can to help you succeed. But there are no excuses and there is no place for victims."

I love this book so far, and recommend it highly. She is a fascinating person.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong!

I grew up in the most beautiful place on earth. It used to be much more rural than it is now, but even so it is such a quaint, soul soothing area. Coming up and over the mountain highway and seeing that first view of my home town is a little glimpse of heaven.

As we were coming into town, I commented to Mr. A.H. how things had so drastically changed since I lived there. New buildings, new developments. It really feels a bit like Park City spilled over the mountains. I told him that when I was younger, we pretty much knew everyone. And, even if we didn't, it sure felt like we did because wherever we went people would wave. (There is something refreshing about rough old cowpokes throwing up their hand in a friendly greeting as they pass by in their 2 ton pickup).

Anyway. We stopped by a few stores before heading to Mom's. I had forgotten how hospitable and pleasant Heber is. We heard small town talk and uplifting greetings. Teenagers held the doors open for us. People buying their things would pause for a quick chat. Isn't is wonderful when people greet you, really wondering how you are doing? When they pause to hear the answer? Part of my soul still hangs out in Heber and I find it each time I go back. Sigh.

Thank Heavens Mom and the gang still live there. An anchor!