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Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam
Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam
by Sumbul Ali-Karamali
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.99
47 used & new from $1.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing Up Muslim in America..., January 22, 2016
It might've been helpful to call this book Growing Up Muslim...in America, because I'm convinced that the Muslim experience in other cultures would be very different. Having said that, I found this title, written for a teen audience, taught me more about the day-to-day experiences, beliefs and practices of Muslims than anything I've read so far.

The author has a degree in Islamic law, which lends credibility to her writing. She has done a great deal of research, and yet has condensed it into conversational style that is easy to comprehend. I enjoyed her many autobiographical comments about growing up in California, where she was often the only Muslim in her classes in school.

What is also enjoyable is that she often talks about food. This may seem odd until you think about how food helps to define who we are. There are foods that unify Muslims around the world, but there are even more local cultural manifestations of how those foods and feasts are practiced. Equally interesting are her comments about fasting.

We (non-Muslims) in the West have an opinion of Muslims, and Islam, based on what we get through the media. The author contends that these are often extremists, or fundamentalists, and do not reflect the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. I still have many questions about Islam, but I felt that this book helps to humanize the Muslim experience here in the US.


Fire from Ashes: The Reality of Perpetual Conversion
Fire from Ashes: The Reality of Perpetual Conversion
by Joseph David Huneycutt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.95
8 used & new from $8.69

5.0 out of 5 stars How to fall down and get up again (over and over), December 12, 2015
This book starts out light: light in tone, light in text, light on the page with lots of white space. As a result, I was prepared to take it lightly.

So I was surprised that by the time I had finished this little volume that I had underlined sentences and marked passages on numerous pages. I ended up taking the volume seriously and appreciating what the authors had to offer.

In the epilogue, one of the authors quote a woman who tells him, "Sometimes I think the Church is better at dealing with new sinners than old ones." She went on to say new sinners are "more welcomed, helped, and nurtured than the long-time member who has suddenly taken a hard fall, developed or returned to bad habits, or taken a turn from light to dark."

This book goes a long way to addressing that issue.

Recommended for Orthodox and Catholic Christians, and maybe even Protestants, who want to learn how to "fall down and get up," over and over again. That essentially, is what perpetual conversion is all about.


Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates (Dover Children's Evergreen Classics)
Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates (Dover Children's Evergreen Classics)
by Kathryn Lindskoog
Edition: Paperback
Price: $4.99
50 used & new from $0.57

5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic for any person of Dutch descent (or anyone interested in old Holland), December 11, 2015
As a Dutch boy, born in Holland and raised in America, I'm not sure why it took me more than half-a-century before I decided to read (actually listen to the audiobook version of) this book. It is a true classic, and one that should be read by every person of Dutch descent.

Along with a quaint story, published in 1865, about Hans and his sister, Gretel, growing up with their mentally-impaired father and patient mother, Dodge inserts interesting bits of Dutch geography, history and culture.

As a child I had seen the old black and white movie version of this story, and all I remember is the ice skating race. But while the race is the event that propels this story forward to an exciting climax, it is much more about the life of several young people in a small town near Amsterdam.

Highly recommended. My only quibble is in the audiobook version I listened to the reader mispronounced many of the Dutch terms and names of people and towns.


A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
by Wendell Berry
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.29
87 used & new from $4.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Walking with Wendell Berry via his Sabbath Poems, November 27, 2015
I may be late to climb aboard the Wendell Berry bandwagon, but I've read seven of his books in the past four months (as well as a few essays). The first six books were from his famous "Port William" series, set in a fictional town in rural Kentucky.

These poems, "Sabbath poems" as he calls them, are also from this sense of place in rural Kentucky, written after his Sunday morning walks on or near his farm over the course of nearly 20 years. While it is clear that Berry has a deep-rooted faith, it also appears from these poems that he has replaced church attendance with these weekly Sabbath walks. This has become his church (and I'm not saying that critically).

I will admit that it took me a while to find the rhythm of these poems, and at one point I was ready to abandon the book. But there was something in his voice that pulled me along, and I was rewarded richly, because the latter poems are richer, stronger, more profound and resonated deeply with where I am personally these days.

Here is one:

They sit together on the porch, the dark
Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.
Their supper done with, they have washed and dried
The dishes--only two plates now, two glasses,
Two knives, two forks, two spoons--small work for two.
She sits with her hands folded in her lap,
At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak.
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now, that finally
For all it's knowing will not exactly know
Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding
Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.

Wendell Berry, from "A Timbered Choir," page 179


The Source of All Things: A Memoir
The Source of All Things: A Memoir
by Tracy Ross
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.98
62 used & new from $0.43

5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful memoir about sexual abuse and finding redemption in the outdoors, November 27, 2015
A powerful memoir written (and read in the audiobook format) by Tracy Ross, about the sexual abuse she experienced, starting at age 8, and continuing in her early adolescence. After going to boarding school, she finds her freedom in the outdoors, which also opens up her eventual career as an outdoors writer. After an abusive marriage, she remarries and has children, which begins her "salvation." But she is fixated on confronting her stepfather about the abuse, why it began, how long did it last, which she finally does in the final chapter.

I will not provide any spoilers, but I'm glad I read this book. One doesn't hear that often, and with such clarity, the effects of sexual abuse on a young person as they go into, and through, adulthood.

I waited more than a week after finishing this memoir to post this review, because I wanted to allow it to linger, to be digested. I think all men should read (or listen) to this book, because they need to know how devastating sexual abuse can be. And also how horrible it can be to be married to an angry and controlling husband. Tracy Ross does an excellent job of telling her story and letting you know how both of these can impact a woman's life. It's her story, but it's not unlike many others out there that are not being told.


Messages from Franks Landing : a story of salmon, treaties, and the Indian way
Messages from Franks Landing : a story of salmon, treaties, and the Indian way
by Charles F. Wilkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.23
42 used & new from $9.79

5.0 out of 5 stars An important, easy-to-read, book about salmon and Indian fishing rights in the Puget Sound Region, November 21, 2015
I grew up in Washington State, and learned our state history in the public schools I attended. Lip service was given to the role of the Indians, but it was mainly the white man's story; the story of the settlers. Messages from Frank's Landing is a readable account of Billy Frank, Jr., a Nisqually Indian who saw the devastating effects of the treaties his people were for forced to sign, and who decided to do something about improving the condition of his people, his river and most importantly, the salmon.

This is an important book, and very accessible for the average reader. You will get a clearer picture of "the other side of the story," while getting some insight to an individual who played a key role in the controversial 1974 Boldt Fishing Rights Decision. This decision ended up becoming the template for similar treaties and decisions around the world.

We've come a long way since the devastating days of logging and development of the post World War II era, but as more people move into this region, we have a long way to go. This book helps us to understand where we've been, and gives us some insight into the world view we need to move forward.


The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation): The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics
The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation): The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics
by Daniel James Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.79
79 used & new from $7.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting piece of history brought to life for a young adult audience, November 17, 2015
Although I haven't read the full version of this inspiring true story and biography, I didn't feel like I missed anything in this young adult (condensed) version of the book. It has all the drama of excitingly described boat races, as well as the pathos of a difficult childhood.

I grew up about a mile from the Montlake Cut and the Husky Boathouse, where many of the events in this book took place (although my childhood was 20 years later). And I've been to, or near, many of the locations described here, and I found them to be true to the geography and history I know. I have a minor quibble with saying the boathouse is on Lake Washington, when locals would say it's on Union Bay (which is connected to Lake Washington). Also the area where Joe Rantz goes out in a canoe with is fiancée is Foster Slough, which is not named specifically.

I will be recommending this book to the teachers of Washington State history at the school where I am the librarian, as so many aspects of our state history are brought up in this saga: a childhood in various locales around the state, farming, logging, mining, the creation and building of the Grand Coulee Dam, and of course the development of a competitive rowing crew that became the first entry from Washington State in the Olympics, not to mention that they won, much to excitement of our whole state back (and much of the nation) in 1936!


Headin' for the Rhubarb!: A New Hampshire Dictionary (Well, Kinda)
Headin' for the Rhubarb!: A New Hampshire Dictionary (Well, Kinda)
by Rebecca Rule
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.37
43 used & new from $2.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A fun way to learn about New Hampshire, October 28, 2015
I am not from New Hampshire, but am married to someone who is. Rebecca Rule knows how to tell a story, particularly one with dry New Hampshire humor. I was enjoying this "glossary" with accompanying stories, but then began reading some entries aloud to my wife who began to split a gut with laughter. So, that's how I finished the book, reading aloud and laughing hysterically while learning some of the subtleties of New Hampshire speak.

The "gazetteer" in back covers many NH place names with some hilarious tidbits about them, some very short and some longer. I only wish the book had a map to accompany the stories.


It's a Long Story: My Life
It's a Long Story: My Life
by Willie Nelson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.23
139 used & new from $6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most creative minds in the music industry, September 24, 2015
This is Willie Nelson talking to you about his life, his 4 marriages, his infidelities, his music, his drinking and eventual love affair with pot, his gambling, golf, music festivals (called "picnics"), Farm Aid, his causes including the legalization of marijuana, the environment and the family farm, and his relationships with various recording companies, fellow performers and songwriters, and the long hard road he took before he experienced success in the music industry. If you expected Willie to clean up his language or leave out some of the dirt, then don't read this book.

But if you want to read about one of the most creative minds in the music industry, about a songwriter who is always, I mean always, thinking about the next song, and if you want to learn how many of those hit songs were written, then read on. If you want to read about a guy who recorded 24, yes 24, albums between the ages of 70 and 80, and who shows no signs of slowing down, then read on. If you want to read about a man who still acknowledges the faith of his youth, the one that he learned about in a little Methodist Church in a small west Texas town, even though he's adapted that faith over the years, then read on.

Even though my lifestyle is quite different from that of Willie Nelson, and even though I currently don't have any of his recordings in my collection (having lost Willie when I abandoned vinyl nearly a decade ago), I found this book inspiring on many levels. I am a songwriter, and I always love reading and hearing about how songwriters get their ideas, and how they put songs together. Willie delivers in this intimate account of his life.


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
505 used & new from $0.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most powerful World War II book I've ever read, September 19, 2015
Many of the World War II stories I've read over the years (as well as WWII movies I've seen) were written while the war was still fresh, and the story is often propelled by a sense of patriotism. This one is thoroughly researched and written at the end of the life of the protagonist, Louis Zamperini, and provides a more holistic perspective.

Zamperini lived a fascinating life prior to his enlistment in the Army Air Corps during WWII, growing up as the child of Italian immigrants in Torrance, California, where he, after living the life of a troubled youth, turned his life around to become a famous runner, and eventually Olympic athlete who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. Zamperini intersected with history several times in his early years, which adds to the fascination of his story.

He is trained as bomber and is sent to the Pacific Theater to fight Japan. After a successful bombing run during which his B-24 ("Super Man") barely made it back, being riddled with so many bullet holes. Then his crew is sent in a rescue mission in another B-24 ("The Green Hornet") that does not make it and he is one of three survivors of a crash landing at sea, where he spends 47 days adrift in his life raft, barely surviving thirst and starvation.

His raft drifts into Japanese territory, and he and his one surviving companion, the pilot, are taken captive. He is moved from one POW camp to another, where the conditions become progressively worse.

"War is hell" is an often heard phrase, but in Zamperini's case (and in those of others who were imprisoned in Japanese POW camps) "hell" is almost an understatement. Descriptions of the prisoners treatment is vivid and horrible (and presented from various angles).

The bulk of the latter part of the book describes life in the camps, the final days of war in Japan with American bombers fire-bombing the country, with the eventual use of Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Zamperini is released, and eventually returns stateside. After the war he meets and marries his wife, even as his life is slipping into alcoholism as a way of dealing with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that pervades his life.

As his life is about to fall apart, he experiences a spiritual change that brings healing and eventually leads him to "forgive" his captors.

This is probably the most powerful World War II book I've ever read (actually listened to) and is one that I would highly recommend. It is sobering, but also redemptive.


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