In the Aftermath

In the AftermathIn the Aftermath by Jane Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I met Jane Ward at the Yale Writer's Conference six or seven years ago, so I was looking forward to the release of this novel she had been working on at the time.

In the Aftermath is a beautiful exploration of loss and grief and the ways that people are impacted by a tragedy, even people we might not immediately think of as directly related to the situation.

Written with sensitivity and grace, Ward explores the emotional and mental health impacts upon her characters. And while we don't always read novels to learn something, this novel I believe can be helpful for those dealing with their own losses and griefs. As I know it was for me, as I am currently in such a life season.

I found these final lines of the story to beautifully capture life, "Born, dead, reborn. Change, change, and change again. And so on. That had always been the story."

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Bewilderment

BewildermentBewilderment by Richard Powers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Powers is an astonishingly and agonizingly good author. He continues the focus on climate change explored in the Overstory, but this time with an intimate novel as one grieving father tries to parent his special needs son who is overcome with concern for animals and the environment. Powers is able to beautifully describe birds and grass and far off stars and planets, while also capturing the rich textures of the emotions and the inner lives of humans. He writes about sadness with such beauty. This book will leave you thinking and feeling, haunted by what it portends and inspired by what it imagines possible.

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The Poems of Edward Taylor

The Poems of Edward TaylorThe Poems of Edward Taylor by Edward Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"File bright our rusty brains, and sharpen them."

More than a year ago, while reading Harold Bloom's anthology of American religious poetry, I greatly enjoyed the selections from Edward Taylor, a Puritan poet, for their surprising and fun metaphors and images. I searched and found this out-of-print volume. I don't know that I needed to read all of the poems of Edward Taylor, a great selection would have sufficed. But I did enjoy them and broke up the reading of this comprehensive volume by reading other poetry over the last year.

"Woes Pickled in Revenges Powdering Trough"

I delight in the idea of pickled woes!

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Unstuck

Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of DepressionUnstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James S. Gordon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In May I felt emotionally stuck as I coped with my divorce-induced depression. Strategies that had worked even a couple of months before were less effective. It also seemed that some of the deeper hurts were emerging as I worked at healing.

After I wrote a column in the church newsletter about ways I was dealing with my depression, a church member gave me this book and sometime in the summer I began reading it, a few pages every morning, working slowly through it.

There is much that is helpful in it, as the author focuses on non-pharmacological approaches to healing, including good nutrition, exercise, meditation, yoga, etc. I have shifted some of those practices and adopted some of his recommendations.

I think this could be a helpful book for many people dealing with depression.

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The Rock of Anzio

The Rock Of Anzio: From Sicily To Dachau, A History Of The U.S. 45th Infantry DivisionThe Rock Of Anzio: From Sicily To Dachau, A History Of The U.S. 45th Infantry Division by Flint Whitlock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While on vacation in July, my son and I visited the 45th Infantry Museum in Oklahoma City. I'd like known about it but had never stopped there. It's an excellent little museum.

My mother's father was in the 45th and seriously wounded at the Battle of Anzio, spending six months in the hospital and carrying shrapnel in his body near his spine the rest of his life. After touring the museum, I realized I wanted to know more details, so I bought this book in the gift shop.

While often harrowing in its details about combat, the book inspires with the stories of courage from ordinary fellows who are pushed to human extremes.

If you enjoy WWII or military history, I recommend it.

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Nature Poem

Nature PoemNature Poem by Tommy Pico
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"You can't be an NDN person in today's world/ and write a nature poem. I swore to myself I would never write a nature/poem. Let's be clear, I hate nature--hate its guts."

In this fun and provocative volume, contemporary queer, indigenous poet Tommy Pico reflects on his identity and the expectations for what an indigenous poet should write and the tensions and conflicts between the two. His poems are fun and irreverent and break the mold of what most people expect from poetry.

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Galatians Re-Imagined

Galatians Re-ImaginedGalatians Re-Imagined by Brigitte Kahl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What if we took seriously the idea that Paul's letter was written to the Galatians, in other words, the Gauls, the Celtic peoples who had been battling Rome for centuries from western Europe to Asia Minor? That's what Kahl does in her magnificent book.

As Rome built its empire it was constantly in battle with the Gauls, who had even sacked Rome in the early days of the republic. For the Romans (and Roman propaganda) the Gauls were the hated and despised enemy other. Public art was filled with images of defeated and dying Gauls.

Kahl argues that it is important to understand Paul, a Jew--another colonized people viewed as strange and other by the Romans--writing to these other colonized people. And writing to them about how in Jesus Christ a new, non-imperial identity and community is being formed among the defeated, colonized people.

Through this lens she reinterprets Paul's discussions of law and grace, justification and salvation, and markers of identity.

This is one of those books that opens up new vistas and radically shifts your understanding of something you thought you had a decent interpretative grasp of.

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Hearticulations

Hearticulations: On Love, Friendship, and HealingHearticulations: On Love, Friendship, and Healing by Jeff Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This year I've added to my morning reading books to help cope with divorce and depression. This particular book was recommended by a friend. She posted various excerpts on Facebook and I thought it would be helpful. It works well for that purpose--shortly daily insights on how to heal emotionally.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know I'm way late to the game in reading this book and saying that everyone needs to read it. Though I'm also glad that I read it just now, as we continue to go through the epistemic crisis related the epidemiological one. Last week it was particularly apt that I was reading the chapters on risk assessment as people were once again having to adjust their behaviors based on the surging Delta variant.

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