Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Tidewater Morning - William Styron

I've been in a reading slump lately.  Nothing seems very compelling or read-worthy.  This short book of three stories about the author's youth were well written but didn't leave an impression.  I've been researching for our trip this summer, reading travel guides and maps and planning RV needs.  If anyone has some "you've got to read this" titles to recommend, let me know.

Published:  1993  Read: February 2016  Genre: Fiction (short story)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hitler's Niece - Ron Hansen

I took this book on the plane and back to Salt Lake City, Utah where I attended a genealogical conference.  I was so worn out each evening I hardly read any of it at night and ended up finishing it when I returned home.

The book is based on the facts of the period and actual quotes and known activities of Hitler.  It tells the story of the relationship between him and his half-sister's daughter, Geli, or Angelica.  I found it difficult to read as the evil henchmen surrounding Hitler and the monster himself are described as weird, sad people with inflated egos and strange personal habits instead of the calculating leaders of the genocide of WWII.  I'd not known that his niece died in his home where they lived together, an apparent suicide that the author gives a different twist.  Not recommended.

Published:  1999  Read: February 2016  Genre: Historical Fiction

Spinoza in Love - Martin Skogsbeck

I enjoy choosing odd looking books at used book stores.  This one caught my attention because of the description on the back cover.  It is a fictional account of the life of Spinoza, a 17th century philosopher written based on the known facts and accounts of his life.  His story is told from the point of view a a school friend who reflects back on their friendship while at the same time unveiling the evolution of his philosophy.

With philosophy being obscure and difficult to read for me, especially in the original texts.this story spiked an interest to research more about Spinoza and his influence.

There are several places in the story where his thinking is described through the interactions of the characters.


" form judgements by applying reason.  You don't allow handed down dogma, 'accepted wisdom' nor other people's opinions to dictate what you should believe.  The only truth you accept is the truth you arrive at yourself.  To me, this is the very definition of philosophy: seeking knowledge through reason".

"Love is nothing else than the enjoyment of a thing and the union with it.  Some of these things are transient, others eternal and imperishable.  The greatest love of all  is the love of God."

"You will not have a problem [with not showing gratitude to someone] as long as they understand that they made you happy.  Be aware that those who nevertheless expect gratitude are not concerned with your happiness.   Their aim is rather to have you indebted and get you under their power.  In this case, you are better off not accepting the gift in the first place."

[asking him on his death bed if people will read his books] "Do you really think that in three centuries...people will understand that God and Nature are the same?  And that all that happens is determined?  Will they agree that scripture cannot be taken literally; that revelation, prophecy and miracles are merely symbolic and never actually happened?"

A challenging and thought-provoking read.

Published:  2014  Read: January 2016  Genre: Fiction, philosophy