July 3rd, 2019


Book 36 - The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

A mixed race Chinese American woman pursues a career as a mathematician and later in life seeks to learn the truth behind her identity. Along the way she encounters sexism and racism, and she also realizes that her own fears may have contributed to some of the obstacles she has faced. Very human and realistic character, although the story itself occasionally relies on coincidences. The math was completely over my head, but that didn’t make a difference to my enjoyment of the book. Upcoming book club selection. Read 24-28 June.

Books 11 - 20.

11. Beck - The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain To Think Like A Thin Person
Flawed but informative way of losing weight (one flaw being thinking the normal-weight person is 'thin person', not good).

12. Carlin - The New Vegan: Great Recipes, No-Nonsense Advice & Simple Tips
Cheery, with some good recipes, a bit could've been there.

13. Bays - Mindful Eating: A Guide To Rediscovering A Healthy & Joyful Relationship With Food
Like it says. Sometimes frustrating, but necessary.

14. Ilibagiza - Our Lady Of Kibeho: Mary Speaks To The World From The Heart Of Africa
About the only approved African Marian apparition, with some prophecies about the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

15. L.Lowry - The Giver
I can see how it was influential; the story flows quickly and doesn't hang around things much, and the ending is slightly open-ended type, but works as stand-alone, if you want.

16. Delio - The Humility Of God: A Franciscan Perspectiv
Ultimately a bit too 'woo' for me, even if everything was within Catholic frames; I'd rather read Richard Rohr's "Immortal Diamond" again. Didn't keep.

17. Bond - The New Rules Of Posture: How To Sit, Stand & Move In The Modern World
Not that many books around about posture; this is a good one, though I would've liked the lessons laid out a bit more clearly.

18. Atwood - Bodily Harm
Free book from the library. Not one of her best, unsatisfying. Glad to return it.

19. Patchett - Bel Canto
Interesting, with a great atmosphere.

20. Doerr & Owens - Praying With Beads: Daily Prayers For The Christian Year
One of the few Anglican prayer beads guides, clearly laid out, nothing extra but moving, still.
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I respect the canon of scholarly inquiry that holds there is no final say on any subject.

Seven score and sixteen years after the repulse of Pickett's Charge, there is still plenty for the student of the Battle of Gettysburg to digest.  Consider Allen C. Guelzo's Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, which we'll offer as Book Review No. 4, and then stand down for Independence Day.

Professor Guelzo is of Gettysburg College, and he has looked into letters home and other primary sources in order to put together a chronology of events that might be more accurate than previous histories, although he concedes that some of the canonical controversies (Stuart and the rebel cavalry losing communication with the invading army; Ewell misinterpreting "if practicable" at the end of the first day; several events on the second day; possibly even Meade's failure to pursue more aggressively after the repulse of Pickett's charge and the reports of the rebel army withdrawing) might be beyond resolution by the application of human knowledge.  His preface also laments the trendy multiculturalism that marginalizes military history generally, and Civil War histories that lack a sufficiently diverse cast particularly: that, however, is an academic tic, and Civil War histories might pass market tests more readily than culture studies stuff, no matter how reconditely theorised.

The Last Invasion begins long before the armies collide.  If one wants to be pedantic, the event we refer to as the Battle of Gettysburg is actually Second Gettysburg.  Read the book.  Or catch a campfire talk at the park.  And if you want to fool around with alternative histories, consider one in which Lee is able to cross the Susquehanna to menace Philadelphia: would "cut it off and kill it" become a phrase some six score years before its time.  It concludes with Abraham Lincoln musing to a small crowd of well-wishers shortly after Independence Day that I recently alluded to.

Perhaps the most important lesson for the researcher is that it's surviving winners who write history.  That includes Bowdoin's Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, rhetoritician, politician, and long-enduring.  To say more might be to unleash a spoiler.  Find yourself a library and read the book!

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)