St Augustine’s Confessions (Revisited Challenge)


Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)Title and Author(s):  Saint Augustine Confessions
Release Date: February 15, 2009
ISBN: 978-0199537822
Pages: 311
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Source: (Barnes & Noble Classics) 

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Reasons for Reading:  My first time with Augustine of Hippo happened in one of freshman courses at Baylor. While not exactly resonating with me, I sensed the impact of a work from the father of theologians. Along with The Prince, Augustine’s Confessions won in the Revisited Challenge. While the cover to the right comes from Jorie’s Store on Amazon, I downloaded a copy to my Nook.

Summary: Considered one of the earliest autobiographies, Augustine of Hippo penned these confessions of his youth. He tells of a sinful youth in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries A.D. in Northern Africa. As Augustine was in his early forties when writing Confessions, these don’t tell his entire life story. Still, he sheds insight into his life before conversion to Christianity. Augustine regrets his indiscretions prior to his Christian life. A classic example would be stealing pears.

While his father is a pagan, his mother, Monica, is a Christian. In Augustine’s early years, Monica prays for her son’s salvation. She goes as far as to ask God to send someone to intervene. God places St. Ambrose in Augustine’s path.

When Augustine accepts Christ, he goes on to become the Father of Theology. He influences people to this day. Also, he shows how Christians are not perfect but those who have accepted forgiveness and salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

One Thing I Learned from this book: His mother is now known as Saint Monica. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of (verbal) abuse, and conversion of relatives. One of her namesakes is Santa Monica, California.

What I Liked: Augustine’s writing style is straightforward and easy to follow. An easy outline helps readers comprehend his life story, Monica’s fervent hopes, and Augustine’s general call to action. He truly leads by example.

What I Disliked: I think Augustine does need to give himself a break. None of us are perfect. Besides, guilt does nobody any good.

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Song: Friar Alessandro – Adeste Fideles

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Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (Revisited Challenge)


The Prince (Dover Thrift Editions) By Niccolò Machiavelli, N. H. Thompson | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince
Release Date: September 21, 1992
ISBN: 978-0486272740
Pages: 80
Publisher: Dover Publications; Reprint edition
Source: (Barnes & Noble Classics) 

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Reasons for Reading:  I first read Machiavelli as a high school World History student. I read The Prince again in college, struck by writers’ love and devotion to the city-state of Florence. As one of the winners in the Revisited Challenge, I downloaded a copy to my Nook.

Summary: Machiavelli wrote The Prince as a how-to guide to ruling. He wrote these instructions for Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Florentine ruler of Machiavelli’s day. Machiavelli began writing it in 1513 and finished it a year later. However, The Prince was not published until after Machiavelli’s death in 1532. Within his instruction guide, Machiavelli advised de’ Medici to promote his own interests, cover his backside, and create a stable government. In his estimation, Machiavelli pursues an argument purely based on logos; negating the need for ethos or pathos.

When Machiavelli wrote The Prince, Florence faced much political upheaval. While Machiavelli wanted de’ Medici to remain on the throne, this prince did not heed Machiavelli’s advice. In 1559, the pope included The Prince on his Index of Prohibited Books.”

One Thing I Learned from this book: While not mentioned in this treatise, Lorenzo de’ Medici was the father of the infamous Catherine de’ Medici. He passed on when she Catherine was twenty-one days old. I wonder how she would’ve taken Machiavelli’s instruction.

What I Liked: His straightforward prose leave little to the imagination. I haven’t felt a need to read commentaries to elucidate Machiavelli’s meaning(s) in his work. Also, I appreciate his sense of patriotism, love, and devotion to Florence.

What I Disliked: I found his lack of credence to ethos and pathos unrealistic. It’s the same as a rude person saying “I just tell the truth. It’s your problem that you’re sensitive.”

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Song: Carmina Burana ~ O Fortuna | Carl Orff ~ André Rieu

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DK and Roger Williams’ Top 10 London


Top 10 London by Roger Williams | LibraryThing

Williams, R. (2011). Top 10 London. New York: DK Pub. 9780756669423

One cool thing about not being in school is all the vacation time I can actually use for . . . vacation. Imagine that! My first big trip after Library School was to Washington, D.C. My friend there had the DK Top 10 Washington D.C. guide which was really cool. When I went to Hawaii, I bought DK’s guide pertaining to Honolulu and Oahu. Shortly after deciding to serve on a mission trip to England, I order the Top 10 London guide from Amazon. This is also an entry for the  2011 Non-Fiction Challenge,

DK Eyewitness Top 10 London offers the tourist several lists of the ten best restaurants, hotels, museums, parks, etc. Additionally, it talks of the top London literati and songs of the merry, old town. This guide also has a foldout map pocketed in the back cover. Of course, all of this information in packaged into a slim volume which travels well.
When my copy arrived, I was impressed by its thickness. The guide to London was bigger than the Hawaiian edition I’d previously gotten. I recommend any of these DK Top 10 books to any traveler. I’m certainly a repeat customer.
Five Out of Five Pearls

Places: London

Song:  The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset – YouTube

For more on check out the following:

Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life


Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff | LibraryThing

Schiff, S. (2010). Cleopatra: A life. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316001922

When selecting books, I usually choose fiction. Of course, I’m still participating in the Non-Fiction Challenge. My favorite Non-Fiction genre would be Biography. Within Biography, Cleopatra has been a top pick for me. She was powerful and charming and rather pecular in a world dominated by men. Seeing Stacy Schiff’s recent book on Cleopatra, I naturally added my name to HCPL’s waiting list for this book.

After much research, Schiff endeavors to render a true, living color portrait of the enigmatic Cleopatra. She richly recreates the everyday life of Cleopatra and her contemporaries as she relates the great rise and fall of this unforgettable figure.

This biography filled my plate with much food for thought. I’m unaware of any other Cleopatra biography that offers this much to ponder. As I don’t care for spoilers, I’ll leave it to future readers to discover those various gems. One side note which I doubt reveals much is about Cicero rather than Cleopatra; this pompous man was an excellent writer and Schiff conveyed that well.

My biggest gripe about the book would be the huge words which had me reaching for the dictionary countless times. I felt as though I were in my first year of college again.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: Egypt, Rome, and most of the Ancient Near East  

Song:  Tal Bachman – She’s So High – YouTube

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Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. . .


Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert | LibraryThing

Gilbert, E., & Penguin Audiobooks. (2010). Committed: [a skeptic makes peace with marriage]. New York, N.Y: Penguin Audio. 9780143145752

Soon after I finished Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I wanted to know what happened with Liz since her previous memoir. Luckily, I found what Gilbert calls Eat, Pray, Love’s companion memoir in audiobook format at HCPL.

Spoiler Alert (If you anticipate reading Eat, Pray, Love, then do not read this review)

Towards the end of her previous memoir, Liz met Felipe. Felipe, a Brazilian man with Australian citizenship living in Bali, survived his own bitter divorce. So, when he and Liz began their romance, they agreed to remain monogamous without legally marrying.

Their arrangement suited both of them pretty well; Felipe would stay with Liz in various United States locales for the weeks alloted him. Then, Felipe would leave and return on the next visa. This all ended when the U.S. government denied him entry.

Confronted with the reality of legal marriage so Felipe could dwell again in U.S., Liz and Felipe find themselves on the move in Southeast Asia, awaiting Felipe’s permission. During this time, Liz delved into researching the institution of marriage. Her discovery led to this memoir.

Liz’s work is impressively thorough and exhaustive in Committed. At some points, her doubt pervaded her writing, lending to its authenticity. While I don’t agree with her on numerous points and am virtually clueless on other issues she raises, I considered this a good read.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Setting: United States, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Song:  Modern Love – David Bowie (1983)‬‏ – YouTube

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 For more on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. . ., check out the following:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love


  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert | LibraryThing

    Gilbert, E. (2006). Eat, pray, love: [one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia]. New York: Penguin Audio. 9780143058526

As I sought more material for the 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge, I requested Eat, Pray, Love through HCPL.  While I hardly recommend watching the movie before reading the book, I saw the film just a month or so before requesting the audio.

Thirty-something Elizabeth “Liz” Gilbert seems to have everything. She’s a successful writer and she’s married. Yet, she is completely miserable. So, after a bitter divorce and a tempestuous relationship with a younger guy, Liz seeks out pleasure and spiritual devotion. She treks through Italy, India, and Indonesia (Bali) during one year and journals her self-discovery.

There were some points I didn’t care for in the book but I’m really pleased that I checked out this audiobook. The book seemed natural and authentic, especially since Liz also narrated. It even led me to check out what is considered a sequel to Eat, Pray, Love. While I don’t agree with her on some spiritual aspects, I appreciated Liz relating her views.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: United States, Italy, India, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Song:  YouTube – ‪Florence + The Machine – Dog Days Are Over (2010 Version)‏

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