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winter 2013-14 075

I love travel books, but it is not just travel books that take me many places.  I go forward in time to what might be, and backward in time to earlier worlds and communities.  I go all around the globe…all from my rocking chair.  I am able to do this thanks to writers who research material for fiction and non-fiction books and share it with me.

One of the problems of reading books is whether they tell the truth.  The only way to overcome that is to read widely and see other perspectives.  Taking the stories with a grain of salt is helpful.  Even reading space opera stories means watching for propaganda and being careful about choosing sides.  Pulling at our emotions is what good authors do.

When I question things, it leads me to reading many other books and that is good.

I felt that The Orientalist by Tom Reiss about Lev Nussimbaum known as Essad Bey and Kurban Said was carefully researched and there are many sources listed, but there are critics of Lev mentioned by Wikipedia.  They question whether he wrote the books his name appears on.  I did learn about Baku, Constantinople, Berlin, Vienna and other places in the 20's through the 40’s, though, that will lead to more reading about them.  

Books raise our awareness and make us ask questions that are important.  In a world where books are written by the thousands, we have to carefully choose what to read and how to spend our time well.  That is one reason I enjoy hearing from Bookflurries readers.  I take their reviews seriously when choosing what to order and what to read.

From last week’s Bookflurries, I ordered Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem through the Islamic Revolution that jessical mentioned.  

I also ordered Kindred that pico mentioned. The first is non-fiction and the second is fiction with a historical background.  I will learn new things from both books.

I just read an interesting view of Fez back in 1947 by Paul Bowles in Travels.  No cars, no carts, no bicycles in the city:

…because the passageways are not flat, but often turn into stairways…
Travels page 39
Fez is a city whose site was chosen purely for aesthetic reasons.  Before its founding there was no village-nothing but a cup-shaped valley of pleasing proportions nestling at the edge of the place where the fertile plain goes slightly mad, drops off into tortured, eroded, semi-desert country…

As the homes, mosques and universities grew in splendor the inhabitants came to have a fierce pride in their city…

Pgs. 75, 76  
Immediately when you arrive in the Sahara, for the first or the tenth time, you notice the stillness.  An incredible, absolute silence prevails outside the towns; and within, even in busy places like the markets, there is a hushed quality in the air, as if the quiet were a conscious force which, resenting the intrusion of sound, minimizes and disperses sound straightway.

Then there is the sky, compared to which all other skies seem faint-hearted efforts.  Solid and luminous, it is always the focal point of the landscape.  At sunset, the precise, curved shadow of the earth rises into it swiftly from the horizon, cutting it into light section and dark section.  When all daylight is gone, and the space is thick with stars, it is still of an intense and burning blue, darkest directly overhead and paling toward the earth, so that the night never really grows dark.

You leave the gate of the fort or the town behind, pass the camels lying outside, go up into the dunes, or out onto the hard, stony plain and stand awhile, alone.  Presently, you will either shiver and hurry back inside the walls, or you will go on standing there and let something very peculiar happen to you, something that everyone who lives there has undergone which the French call le bapteme de la solitude.

It is a unique sensation, and it has nothing to do with loneliness, for loneliness presupposes memory.  Here, in this wholly mineral landscape lighted by stars like flares, even memory disappears; nothing is left but your own breathing and the sound of your heart beating.  A strange, and by no means pleasant, process of reintegration begins inside you, and you have the choice of fighting against it, and insisting on remaining the person you have always been, or letting it take its course.  For no one who has stayed in the Sahara for a while is quite the same as when he came.

I spent this month in front of Petersburg, VA.  Until I read Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion: The Final Battles of The Petersburg Campaign by A. Wilson Greene, I didn’t understand the cost in lives of the last push from March 25 through April 2nd, 1865, to capture Petersburg and Richmond.  I read the book because my great-grandfather was in the Union Army there.  He was in the II Corps, First Division, 4th Brigade, PA 145 th Regiment, Co D, and he  was wounded near the spine on June 22nd 1864, but recovered. His Brigade was only mentioned once as the Sixth Corps took on most of the assault.  I have no proof that he was back with this troops yet from the wound, but on January 1rst of 1865, he was promoted to Corporal so that makes me think he was there and at Appomattox.

Wright Morris has just taken me to Mexico in the summer of 1940.

A Cloak of Light  pg. 48

In the summer of 1940, Mexico City was still a frontier metropolis…The Zocalo was a park in an impressionist painting, the women strolling about with parasols, the empty benches dappled with shadows.  Velvety masses of cumulus clouds could be seen above the treetops.  In the afternoons it showered.  Sometimes we sat in the tiled, sky-flooded rotunda of Sanborns, with a throng of summer students practicing their Spanish.  I was eager to see the snow-capped volcano, unpronounceable, visible in the photomural in the lobby.
I am traveling this summer from my rocking chair.

Where have you been visiting recently by way of books?

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! The place where we write.
by SensibleShoes
http://www.dailykos.com/...

Robert Fuller says:

My novel is finally flowering into its ultimate message - that those who lack rank must be protected from those who enjoy the casual privileges inherent in rank.

New White House chapter posted here: http://www.rowantreenovel.com/....

The audiobook of The Rowan Tree has been discounted to $1.99 for people who already own the (free) Kindle ebook.

Audiobook: http://amzn.com/....

EBook: http://amzn.com/....

Memoir on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/....

Calvin S. Fuller's memoir (Robert’s father)

My father's memoir is also now available for free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/....

This was an exciting week for news of the solar cell (my father's claim to fame):

http://www.extremetech.com/...

This might could be a key to our coal-and-oil-free energy future!

DK VA Hospital Support Project: Book Drive! Got Used Books to Give?
by Sara R
http://www.dailykos.com/...

Please send books that are in good condition.

Attn. Mr. William R. Browning, Volunteer Coordinator
John D. Dingell VAMC
4646 John R Street
Detroit, MI 48201

Sara says:

Please put a note in the box saying the donation is from a DK member in connection with the July 18 donation of quilts, scarves and teddy bears.
NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Jul 02, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

Poll

If you could have an all expense paid vacation for two weeks in the past via a time machine, where would you like to go?

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| 41 votes | Vote | Results

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