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A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
by Wendell Berry
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.83
103 used & new from $0.64

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: $18.03
64 used & new from $0.01

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: $21.45
55 used & new from $5.92

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: $9.89
74 used & new from $8.95

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
49 used & new from $0.02

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: $15.00
138 used & new from $9.46

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
561 used & new from $0.02

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.

The Memory of Old Jack (Port William)
The Memory of Old Jack (Port William)
by Wendell Berry
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46
101 used & new from $2.46

5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites in the "Port William" series, August 27, 2015
The Memory of Old Jack is the tale of a Kentucky tobacco farmer looking back on his life near the end of it in 1952. He has made many mistakes, poor decisions, and while paying the consequences of those decisions had gradually learned from them. Old Jack is the last of his breed, before the new ways of farming with tractors took over during World War II. His was a life of horse and mule and doing things by hand. It was a life of hard work, connected to the land he loved.

The story is slow, much like life behind a mule-drawn wagon would be slow. But it gives you time to mull over the events of the day while appreciating the beauty that surrounds you.

This is the sixth book in the Port William series that I have read (actually listened to as an audiobook) this summer. Needless to say, I’m drawn to the writings of Wendell Berry, an author that had escaped my attention until recently. Berry has much to say in his fiction about the way things were, and the way they have changed, not necessarily for the better. There is a sad nostalgic undercurrent to his writing, but also a hope that we could return to the more honest values of the past. I feel like my life has changed, in ways I have yet to recognize, by my summer in Port William.

Old Jack reminds me of a rancher I had the opportunity to work for in the summer of 1965. Yes, he drove a tractor, but his work ethic and the love of the land still harkened back to an earlier era. Guys like Old Jack lived all over the country, providing the country with the honest harvest we once enjoyed, and which we long for again.

Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser, White
Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser, White
Price: $96.99
159 used & new from $68.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect replacement for my 30 year old Panasonic bread machine. The tradition continues!, August 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased the Panasonic SD-YD250 to replace my previous Panasonic bread machine that I owned and used frequently for about 30 years. I chose this machine because it's the "upgrade" of my first bread machine and works, more or less, the same way, with some enhancements. I like the additional selection of bread sizes, etc., the improved locking system for the paddle, and the quieter sound. I have had success transferring my favorite old recipes to the new machine. We make all of our breads "vegan," replacing milk with water and replacing butter and oil with apple sauce or canned pumpkin. It all continues to work perfectly.

Jayber Crow
Jayber Crow
by Wendell Berry
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.07
123 used & new from $4.17

5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite of the Port William series!, August 22, 2015
This review is from: Jayber Crow (Paperback)
Jaber Crow is the fifth novel in the Port William series by Wendell Berry that I have listened to this summer. Needless to say, I love this author and this series. I am drawn to his sense of place, the “membership” of the community, to a simpler time of small farms and a small town, where relationships and hard work were valued.

But Jaber Crow, in my opinion, rises above all the others on many different levels. In addition to covering a larger chunk of time (basically from World War I to the late 1960s) and a slightly larger chunk of Kentucky geography, this novel provides an opportunity to engage in the thoughts of Wendell Berry on a number of topics, from changing farming practices, the Economy, war, life, death, love, philosophy and theology, as seen through the eyes of the Port William town barber and lifelong bachelor.

I’m glad that I read several other Port William books before I got to Jaber Crow, but if you were to read only one book in the series, this would be the one I’d recommend.

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