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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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Southwest Foraging - John Slattery

Being busy keeping my garden full of growing edible plants in the middle of the desert has brought this area more into my consciousness. Although I had learned some about how tribes like the Paiute lived and ate, I decided I wanted to learn more about the edible native plants that grow in this area.

This fantastic book provides guidance on how to use 117 different plants, flowers, and cacti. It has instructions on how to find, collect, prepare, and cook all of these items. With full color photographs this book makes it easy to identify plants. It also includes cautions on how certain plants may make a person sick if eating it ill-prepared. For me one of the best parts about this book was that the author calculated the effort to calorie yield of many of these foods when prepared traditionally.
Thus far I have only tried the recipe for desert willow tea, which was mild and sweet. I'm looking forward to trying more recipes from this book and encourage others who live in this region to give it a shot.

Recommended Reading:
American Indian Cooking - Carolyn J. Niethammer
Native Plants of Southern Nevada - David Rhode
Braiding Sweetgrass - Robin Wall Kimmerer

Friday, June 22, 2018

Through Your Eyes: My Child's Gift to Me - Ainsley Earhardt

In this follow-up book, Earhardt fancifully tells how her own daughter changed how she views the world. All of the daily mystery and wonder is beautifully illustrated by Ji-Hyuk Kim with vibrant colors and dreamy watercolor paintings.

Whether you have children yourself or just need a reminder of the magic in the world around you, this refreshing book will rekindle your love of life.

More By the Author:
Take Heart My Child
The Light Within Me

Monday, June 18, 2018

Luz's Paintbrush - Ashley J. Kimler

At first there was nothing. But after emerging from her own pocket, she emerges, creating the world around her. Luz lives in each of us.

With long, eloquent prose and psychedelic illustrations, this piece will inspire many. Although it is rated for ages 3-11, the vocabulary is a bit too high for the younger children. Even so, they will find inspiration in the message. Teens and adults will love this too.

As the author suggests, be sure to have paints, pencils, crayons, or whatever medium you love best ready to use after reading this vibrant and inspirational work.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Push Back - Amy Tuteur M.D.

Back in 2008, Harvard-trained obstetrician-gynecologist Amy Tuteur M.D. found herself so dismayed by the amount of pseudoscientific parenting advice she found all over the internet that she decided to start a blog to combat it using scientifically backed data. In this book M.D. Tuteur compiles this information in a readable format for readers.

Part I. Subverting Sciene covers topics like natural birth, interventions and pain relief during childbirth, c-sections, breastfeeding, and attachment parenting. She discusses how these are talked about by "natural birth" activists and adherents and how their philosophies compare to the actual data.

Part II. The Natural Parenting Industry talks about how birthing and breastfeeding have become a huge industry in the modern world, employing birthworkers, like Doulas and Midwives, and Lactation Consultants. While these
well-meaning people may believe in what they are doing, they also have a vested interest in making people believe the data supports them, rather than looking at it objectively.

Part III: A Sexist Philosophy of Privilege seeks to show how many "Natural Parenting" philosophies are not only not supported by data, but also sexist and classist. The denial of pain relief to women and putting the strict burden of caring for a baby (attachment parenting) are both rooted in some questionable agendas. She argues that while this may be the right path for some families, data does not support that it is the ideal. And those who know a bit more about raising children in other countries and environments know that this ideal is far from the norm.

While some feel that Dr. Amy is shaming those who adhere to some of these philosophies, I personally felt she is doing her best to get accurate information and data to parents concerning these topics. These same people who criticize Dr. Amy may be surprised to find that she has also written many articles against some practices of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) when data no longer supports long-standing ideal, such is the case with episiotomies, hormone replacement therapy, and breastfeeding. Dr. Amy supports what the data shows and her extensive citations prove this. Regardless of personal philosophy, readers will be challenged while reading this book.

The Author's Blog:
The Skeptical OB

Recommended Reads:
NurtureShock - New Thinking About Children - Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Women's Wheel of Life - Elizabeth Davis

This fascinating piece details the thirteen archetypes the author believes a woman goes through. Except for the Transformer that stands alone, each archetype is paired with a complementary one: The Daughter & the Amazon, the Maiden & the Matriarch, the Blood Sister & the Priestess, the Lover & the Sorceress, the Mother & the Crone, the Midwife & the Dark Mother.

I loved how the author explains each of the archetypes themselves. She does a fabulous job of explaining what they mean and what they do with accompanying examples of her own and from those she knows, making them easy to relate. I also enjoyed the inclusion of rituals throughout the book and the examples of these archetypes in different cultures.

There's an inconsistency in associations between the archetypes and things like Holy Days, Tarot cards, and moon phases. Some like the Dark Mother have no
associations according to the author's information, while others have all, such as the Midwife. I also noted that while there are 13 moons in the year and the author created 13 archetypes, she did not choose to associate any in this way.

While I enjoyed reading this author's ideas and how she expands on the typical three to four archetypes I typically see in most systems: Maiden, Mother, (Queen), Crone. I found that the inconsistency of associations between the archetypes may make them difficult to employ in ones personal practice, but I think it's great to expand on the ideas of women's archetypes.

Recommended Reads:
Man and His Symbols - Carl Jung
The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell
Goddesses in Every Woman - Jean Shinoda Bolen
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover - Robert Moore, Doug Gilette

Friday, June 8, 2018

Southern Nevada Birds - Carolyn Kitchel Titus

I've been living in Nevada for several years now and I figured it was about time I start making myself feel more at home by making a conscientious effort of learning more about the landscape and wildlife of my immediate area.

This handy field guide talks all about the common birds in the area and where to find them. It graciously provides directions to common birdwatching locations and also has wonderful visual charts of which area the different species congregate to make it easier to find them. This old style book only has sketches of birds, rather than photographs, which makes it somewhat difficult for somebody who is just starting out like me, but that's easily remedied with a quick visit on the internet.

This pamphlet was released in 1993 and has
not had an update since then; however, there are now plenty of other guides available to supplement this piece. And the Red Rock Audubon Society, who originally published this work, also has its own website now to help birdwatchers find what they are looking for. I'd recommend this book for its small size and short length, making it an easy guide to bring along on ones person during the journey.

Related Links:
Red Rock Audubon Society
Audubon Society

Related Books:
National Audubon Society: Field Guide to the Southwestern States
Watchable Birds of the Southwest - Mary Taylor
Birds of the Southwest - John H. Rappole

Monday, June 4, 2018

Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

When the Hogfather, Discworld's Santa Claus, goes missing, somebody else needs to fill his shoes to keep the children happy. The unlikely Death decides to try his hand and inadvertently causes mayhem with his attempts at making the children of the world happy. Meanwhile his daughter, Susan Sto Helit, and a group of Wizards try to seek out Hogfather before the antics get out of control.

With his usual wit and humor, Pratchett takes readers on a wild ride through Discworld while exploring many existential questions. While I'm not a fan of Pratchett's writing style I always enjoy his world building, the creative characters, the twists of plots, and the philosophical questions.

Movie Version:

Discworld Novels featuring Death:
Reaper Man
Soul Music

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Curse of Chalion - Lois McMaster Bujold

After spending several years as a prisoner of war, Cazaril is finally released. He returns to the noble household where he once served, hoping to live a relative life of anonymity for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, he is recognized and swiftly promoted to be the secretary-tutor of the royal family. This station will surely lead him into the dangers of court life, where he will encounter enemies who had previously kept him locked away. In order to protect both himself and his charge, he must employ magics of the darkest nature, which will entrap his soul.

I read this book because I was originally interested in Paladin of Souls, but discovered it was the second in the series. This first book sounded like an interesting book with political intrigue, dark magic, and mystery; however, after reading it the only thing I liked was the concept. Cazaril is an uninteresting and dull character, whose background is never fully given to the reader despite the book being written in third person limited point of view. His relationships with other characters in the book are flat, the political intrigue is ho-hum, and the magic could be interesting but not enough is revealed to make it alive. I hope that the second in the series is not as unsatisfying as this one.

Books in the Series:
Paladin of Souls
The Hallowed Hunt