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Friday, July 20, 2018

A Brief History of Time - Stephen W. Hawking

How did our world come to be? What is time? What are black holes? What happens in them? Can we travel in time?

If you'd like to learn the answer to these questions, this book by Stephen Hawking will fulfill this desire. If you're like me, you may already be familiar with the answers to how the universe began, what light is, and how time works, but in order to get a true understanding it's truly worth reviewing the beginning of the book with Hawking. The later portions of the book rely on this foundation Hawking
builds in order to understand things like black holes and traveling through time. For anybody who wants to learn more about the universe, I recommend this book.

More by the Author:
Black Holes and Baby Universes
The Universe in a Nutshell
The Illustrated Theory of Everything

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Snow Queen - Hans Christian Andersen

Two young children find themselves at the center of danger when a troll uses a mirror to ruin the world. When the mirror breaks, Kai gets a fleck of glass in both is eye and heart that changes his positive outlook to one of hurt and anger. The Snow Queen whisks Kai off willingly and now his friend Gerda must try to bring him back.
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I read a lot of classic Grimm and Andersen as a child. When I heard that Disney's movie Frozen was based on this tale, I decided to revisit this tale. I found the story fairly boring, just
as I did Frozen. Perhaps I don't recall it from childhood because I didn't care for it then either.

Despite my personally disliking it, I would still recommend it for children. The lessons found within are of friendship, perseverance, and love. Overall a very positive message that parents would enjoy their children learning from.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls - Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo

Although there have been many amazing women throughout history, girls often don't get to see them as much as they'd like. This fantastic book contains illustrated biographies of girls and women all around the world to inspire girls and young women. Each biography is 2 pages long and each one is illustrated by a different artist, making them unique and exciting.

Among the 60 women profiled in this book, I was pleased to find many of my favorites, including mathematician Ada Lovelace, writer Astrid Lundgreen, Chef Julia Child, and singer Nina Simone. Whether the girl or young woman in your life aspires to be a leader, an artist, an athletic, or anything else for that matter, she is surely to find inspiration in this fantastic piece!

More by the Authors:
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2

Recommended Reads:
Women in Science - Rachel Ignotofsky
Rad American Women from A - Z - Kate Schatz
Bad Girls Throughout History - Ann Shen

Princesses Behaving Badly - Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Monday, July 9, 2018

Braiding Sweetgrass - Robin Wall Kimmerer

Kimmerer became a botanist and ecologist in hopes of improving the land and human's contact with plants. As she got deeper into her studies, however, she felt something was missing and turned to her Potawatomi background to seek deeper meaning and understanding of her occupation.

The book is divided into five sections, following her journey from somebody who views things from a purely scientific perspective to one who integrates ancient understandings into her work. The sections are appropriately named, following the sacred practice of caring for Sweetgrass: Planting Sweetgrass, Tending Sweetgrass, Picking Sweetgrass, Braiding Sweetgrass, and Burning Sweetgrass.

Kimmerer flawlessly weaves her own personal story of family, her professional occupation of teaching, and
the ancient practices of her tribe. I loved hearing her successes, like making maple sugar, which were accompanied by the science of how its made and the explanation of how it used to be made long ago. I also enjoyed hearing of the failures, like making a swimming pond for her two daughters. There are also beautiful stories of how the land and wildlife around us shape us, just like the neighborhood and friends we keep. It was especially interesting to hear how scientific experiments have supported many ideas from the Potawatomi. I was fortunate to be able to borrow a copy of the audiobook from the library. Kimmerer's voice is soothing and expressive.

I had decided earlier in the year to learn more about the desert area in which I lived, and this piece gave me even more encouragement to continue on this path of personal growth. I encourage anybody who wants to seek a deeper understanding and connection with the world around them to read this book.

More by the Author:
Gathering Moss

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Cloud of Unknowing - Anonymous

In a series of prayers, admonishments, and lectures, the author advises the reader how to become closer to God, not through study, but through personal meditations and acts of charity.

Readers should be prepared for the author's poor opinion of human beings, which was common at the time. Even if the reader does not share this point of view, there is still a lot a reader can find helpful in this piece.

Despite the fact that each of the 75 chapters is only one to three pages in length, each is heavy in content. If the reader would like to get the most from this work, I would recommend anticipating spending a day to either contemplate or act on what is written in each chapter.

Recommended Reads:
Revelations of Divine Love - Julian of Norwich
The Mirror of Simple Souls - Marguerite Porete

Monday, July 2, 2018

Ghostland - Colin Dickey

Like many of us, Dickey is fascinated with the paranormal, especially ghosts and spirits. Dickey separates his book into four distinct parts, each containing specific places that are haunted: I. The Unhomely: houses and mansions, II. After Hours: bars, restaurants, hotels, and brothels, III. Civic-Minded Spirits: prisons, asylums, graveyards and cemeteries, a park, and IV. Useless Memories: cities and towns.

This hefty volume contains details about each of the cases, where he separates common rumors and facts by those who actually live, work, or have first-hand experiences. This is one of my favorite reads this year due to how it was put together and the details it contained. While I was familiar with a couple of the cases he talked about, I still enjoyed the way he told them. If you like to read about ghosts, I highly recommend this work!

More by the Author:
Afterlives of the Saints
Cranioklepty

Recommended Reads:
Haunted Route 66 - Richard Southall
Weird Ghosts - Joanne Austin, Mark Moran, Mark Sceurman

Friday, June 29, 2018

Tao Teh King - Lao Tzu

The Tao Teh King literally translates to "The Book of the Way", which aptly and simply describes what this small book is about. This book of rules will guide a person, whether they are building a business, leading a group, or seeking to master oneself.

I wanted to re-read this book and it turned out this particular translation was free on Amazon. Like many books of its kind, translators have all taken their own ideas and placed them upon this piece, so depending on which version you read, you may get a different impressions of what this book is about. This particular translation seems to cater more to viewing this through a lens of self-improvement.

Depending on your goals in reading this, it may not be the best translation for you.

Other popular translations:
Translation by Stephen Mitchell
Translation by Gia-Fu Feng
Translation by Red Pine

Recommended Reads:
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
The Book of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi
The Prince - Niccolò Machiavelli