Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Art of Reading (Great Courses, #2198) by Timothy Spurgin


3 of 5 stars  ***

I listen to these lectures mainly from my car while driving. Because of this, I miss some of the important lessons The Art of Reading offers. 

Timothy Spurgin uses many classics to point out examples of his lesson for each chapter. Content and structure are not the only discussions. Why we read what we read and how we treat the written word is also a subject upon which the author touches. Tools for approaching the varieties of books, journals, magazines, and papers can assist us to get through what seems tedious at first. 

I enjoy the description of style in certain pieces of literature and understand, now, why an author writes the way he or she does. I appreciate the necessary rules for plot to maintain the integrity of a story. Finally, the difficulty of adapting a book to a movie explains why so many movies fail to deliver the true essence and tone that a book shares. To capture a book's intent on film is truly an art form. 

The purpose of this course is to educate us about reading so it can be more enjoyable. Even though the lectures can be a bit stuffy at times, I believe this course succeeds in achieving that purpose.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Explore the Bible, Personal Study Guide: Psalms : Summer 2017 by Robert Smith (Editor), Lebron Matthews (Author 1-7), Allen Tilley (Author 8-13)



5 of 5 stars  *****

The most referred to section in the Old Testament, today and in the New Testament, is the Book of Psalms. This study expresses a cogent reason for this, Psalms reveal a full array of human experience and emotions. They possess lessons of spiritual growth, weakness, justice, forgiveness, love, and kindness in times of success and peril.

The Psalms are classified into seven categories, which may overlap, to better identify and apply each work: Lament, for distressful times; Thanksgiving, rescue from distress; Hymn, praising God; Royal, celebration of Israels's earthly king; Enthronement, celebrate God's divine kingship; Penitential, for contrition and repentance; Wisdom/Didactic, poetic form with lessons about good and evil that celebrate God's word.

Reading every Psalm is not necessary to understand the lessons each of these categories offer. A few choice Psalms are chosen to explore. in a group setting, their deeper meanings and personal applications.

After this Bible study, this reader feels closer to God with a strong conviction that He is always present with His Love. That love is most evident in the cross where He forgives all sins of those who accept the One whom the Old Testament speaks, Jesus, the son of man and God, Himself, the Christ.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia M. Axline


5 of 5 stars  *****

This book reveals how too much pressure on a young child can make him/her display autistic behavior confusing the developmental stages and coping mechanisms humans need to grow into normal, functioning adults. Virginia Axline develops Play Therapy in this book with amazing results for the precious, young mind that discovers his self.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen, Amie Parnes


3 of 5 stars  ***

Relive the 2015/2016 Democratic campaigns with Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign. Much of the information is public knowledge but some investigative discoveries reveal how Hillary people feel about the candidate, their co-campaigners, and strategies of the failure to elect the first woman president of the United States. Interestingly enough, the book ends with Hillary rationalizing why she is not president and eventually agreeing to plot against the present president as champion of her stated values and accomplishments of President Obama. A minority of people close to Hillary go as far as to say that Hillary refuses to see her part in that shocking November outcome: her alienation of people who came to see her, her involvement with big money, Russian deals that benefited her husband and the Clinton foundation, her e-mail scandals, the Benghazi fiasco, and her poor response to the question, "Why should you be president?" This reader also picks out that what Hillary says and what she does are two different things when it comes to campaigning for votes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand,


5 of 5 stars  *****

The shallow, intelligent characters who lack a moral compass are prominent in this story about America in the early to mid 1900's. Life through architecture, high society, and human ambition weaves a story fraught with success and loss in business, art, love, and personal integrity. The many are manipulated by the few who use their shrewdness to sway mass opinion and public policy. These characters are the major people who define society as independent or collective. Freedom, sovereignty, dignity, respect, and liberty are the qualities found in a couple of characters but consistently in only one man who stands alone with his deep convictions until the end. 

The ability of Ayn Rand to foresee the future in many ways is evident in The Fountainhead. Socialism, particularly Communism, brings this brilliant author to America as a young girl. The restrictions and harsh treatment of the citizens under Communism are well known to Rand. She even changes her name to avoid her family being tortured because of her writings. 


The Fountainhead views America as heading in the same direction which led to Communism in her home country. Her excellent prose and storytelling show that the weakness of mankind, taking handouts and becoming dependent on them, can lead a society into single-minded slavery stuck by a massive population of followers who are indoctrinated into how to think and behave. The hero, and those like him, show hope for the future but it comes at a cost that few are willing to make.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) by Dan Simmons


4 of 5 stars  ****

Hyperion is a world in a universe that houses a golem-like creature, the Shrike, which can alter the fabric of creation, itself, summoning apocalyptic change. The author, Dan Simmons, writes beautifully. He holds the reader's attention using eloquent descriptions of characters and their milieu. Hyperion is a mature, intelligent science fiction that satisfies the dreams and imagination of unbound minds. The story's complexities do not confuse or stray from its focus; they support the converging pilgrimages of those seeking Hyperion for its intricacies.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sybil: The Classic True Story of a Woman Possessed by Sixteen Personalities by Flora Rheta Schreiber



5 of 5 stars  *****

A most disturbing novel because the story is true. The intrigue builds with the discovery of each psychological coping mechanism used by Sybil during her horrifying child abuse by her mother. It shocks to the core of every moral and just fiber in one's being. That extent of fear creates deep scars on the psyche, repression, which leads to blackouts and the development of sixteen distinct personalities. This book also reveals that abuse by humans capable of treating an innocent child so tragically perverse may cause resiliency in an otherwise broken mind to bury the damage, pick up the pieces, and create a totally different being, dysfunctional as it may be.