Bookclub Highlights

April 12, 9:00 AM marked the hour of pure bliss. Breakfast still stained my lips when I went to pick up the phone for our bimonthly meeting. Olive Oil answered on the other line and we promptly dove into our study on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

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The Arts of Ancient China

According to Sun-Tzu, war must have been one of them! Can’t find that in any Arts and Crafts Show!

Art of War by Sun Tzu:

Rated A

 Anyone can gain help using this book.

 

Whether fighting an army of barbarians or fighting through an average day, Art of War not only gives many helpful hints for military strategy, but they can also be taken for use in everyday life. For example, Sun-Tzu states that if an army is treated like a child in need of constant care , the army will in return, honor you with respect and obedience. How true is this with any group of people? Whether it be a business you own or any person you work with, if they are treated in a respectable manner, they will in return work better with you.

One point he made was quite interesting to me. Those who fight with the most courage are those who believe there is no hope. If an army believes they are going to win, they may not fight with as much vigor. Why would they need to? They’re going to win anyway. But to those who think they’re losing, they will give the battle all they have.

The adage “sometimes the best offense is a good defense” was something Sun-Tzu highly believed in. (Not to mention General Patton…little FYI there)  His whole theory consisted of waging war without really having to fight. Preservation was key. He thought that wasting lives on long, drawn out attacks was useless not only for the army but also to the state. ($$$) Let the enemy weary themselves out with constant attacks instead.

I highly recommend the one translated by Ralph D. Sawyer. He’s added a great introduction and historical background to this work. He gives examples of how the ancient Chinese put into practice Sun-Tzu’s principles, and even gives a run down of who Sun-Tzu was. Did he even exist? So check this version out here.

Hopefully this will wet your appetite for more advice from the Chinese military genius. Of course you’re probably not in need of strategic advice in order to wage war with the invading Chu. But you might be surprised how much you may still be able to apply the concepts. Every once in a while, it will give you that AHAH moment when you discover something about your own tendencies or the tendencies of others. What’s also awesome is after reading, you will spot errors from other strategists and figure out why they failed! Who doesn’t want that!?

Quotes and Detectives

Along with Sherlock and Hercule Poirot, Father Brown is one of my favorite detectives. His tactics in crime solving are a bit different than his counterparts. He views the crime scene in a more spiritual, emotional way. In the criminal, he does not necessarily see the act but sees the human. And in that human, he sees himself. It is primarily by looking inside his own sinful tendencies that he is able to predict the acts of others. Father Brown’s goal is not necessarily to send the offender to jail but to bring about a confession and a repentance.

Because he seems so gentle and compassionate, there’s one quirk of his that I find humorous. He can be surprisingly outspoken! His words can be called audacious and even brash, but they’re always mixed with great wisdom. While reading, his quotes tend to slap you in the face (but in a good way… sorta…awe inspiring) They often cause me to sit back and think…and I truly enjoy anything which has the power to do that!

 ” I don’t see a pin to choose between your scientific superstition and the other magical superstition. They both seem to end in turning people into paralytics, who can’t move their own legs or arms or save their own souls. The rhyme said it was the Doom of the Darnaways to be killed, and the scientific textbooks says it is the Doom of the Darnaways to kill themselves. Both ways they seem to be slaves.” – “Doom of the Darnaways” – C.K. Chesterton

A bit of background to the story: Every seventh heir of the Darnaways had a habit of murdering their wives and then killing themselves. Common superstition thought of it as a curse while science called it hereditary. This is why Father Brown got so miffed. Instead, he chooses to believe that each person has their own will and is not bound to what either curse or scientific theory states about them. He believes that you always have a choice in the way you act.

Doesn’t this just make you sit back and ponder a little? What do you think of his opinion?

You can find this short story either in

The Best of Father Brown

or

The Incredulity of Father Brown

 

Commemorating National Poetry Month

Here’s a shocker: I used to hate poetry. To my ignorant and biased mind, I assumed all sonnets pertained to someone’s romantic and flowery darling dear or of the earthly environment. I tended to think most were like the common, “Roses are red, violets are blue…” Yet, even these are beautiful…if only I had been exposed to the ones which spoke to me. I realized there was so much more than what I was forced to memorize in school. Why weren’t we taught the pure awe of an author pouring out his incandescent heart in rhyme? Given that outlook, it gives so much more meaning than the up and down rhythm this bored child had to recite. I never saw the potential thread that could bind common hearts together. We come to realize through the author that all humanity is the same. We have common ailments, predicaments, and feelings. He shares his own discoveries and hardships in such a unique way that it can’t help but touch a common cord in our own lives.

Ending on that note, here is an awe inspiring favorite:

 “Ode”

by Arthur O’shaughnessy

“We are the music makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,”

 Then it goes on to say how these dreamers have the power create empires but also have the power to tear them down. He hints how the dreamers and music makers are everything but trivial to this world’s success.

 You poetry writers, you are a dreamer. We bloggers, we here are all dreamers.You have the power to make this world great, so what are you going to do with it?  You were given this incredible gift for a reason! The world needs you!

 What are some of your favorite sonnets? Or is there one of your own poems that you’ve been working on?  I would LOVE to read them!

My Home Away From Home

To the cryptozoologist, it’s the home of Mothman, but to this history buff, it’s a diamond in the rough. Seated on the edges of Kanawha and Ohio River, Point Pleasant, West Virginia is rich in history. Beginning its historical fame in 1749, French commander Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville dedicated this part of land to King Louis XV in order to gain peace with the surrounding Natives. Between 1763-1775  the English settlers had been encroaching on Native American land. Well, the Natives certainly had enough of that! In response, Chief Cornstalk brought together a band of Shawnee and Mingo tribes to rage battle against Colonel Andrew Lewis. Chief Cornstalk was defeated in 1774, and later murdered at Fort Randolph in 1777. Around the same time in 1770, George Washington visited in order to supply land grants to military serviceman who fought during the French and Indian War. Legend states that while Washington was there, he expressed that this was a very pleasant point. Hence the town was then named Point Pleasant. (though historically, it was the French commander Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville who originally gave it its name) Maybe Washington was just stating his agreement. In more recent history, Point Pleasant is known for the Silver Bridge collapse of 1967.

The places to explore are endless! One can visit the replica of Fort Randolph or take a stroll around the flood wall where a beautiful mural was painted to remember the battle between Chief Cornstalk and Colonel Lewis. Visit even the Old Mansion House which was built upon the battle ground. But most of all, do not miss the Point Pleasant River Museum! If you’re lucky, you may even get a first hand account on the Silver Bridge collapse.

One can’t have a town without people. What can I say? After visiting for three consecutive summer, I’ve come to find that they’re crazy (crazy awesome!)… but oh so loving! When there, you become almost as one of the family. The people take great pride in their history and love to recount it to anyone willing to listen.

From first sight, Point Pleasant may look like any other hick mountain town. But the more you explore, the more it becomes that small hometown you always wished to grow up in. Maybe one day I’ll move there. Who knows. But for right now I’ll have to be content with reminiscing.

 

Whale of a Tale

As with all books, it’s a sad day when the last page is turned. It has been with me up the mountains, and has stayed by my side during late nights. As with every other novel, it has gone where I have gone. Now, I lay it to rest upon my shelves where it will be mourned for at least an hour to a day before I start on my next adventure.

Moby Dick- Herman Melville

Rated S – c

 Some cussing throughout

 

You may have heard many rumors about this leviathan sized novel which would unnerve even the greatest of bibliophiles. Rumors about its exhaustive detailing and constant plot interruptions. Hearing these, we run away and hide from the weariness of such a book. Instead, why doesn’t this invoke curiosity? What does Melville find so important to tell us that he jeopardizes his plot by interrupting it with details and useless facts?

These facts subsists almost wholly on the mighty whales and sea voyage life.  Did you know the whale’s spout isn’t connected to its throat? Also, it uses his spout to blow out air, not water. What we see instead is the air’s condensation. These are just a couple examples of the hidden gems inside Moby Dick…plus some research of my own. (I had to get questions answered! Things Melville could only speculate and theorize about are now common facts today. Throughout the book, his theories became my points of research.) Instead of looking at the details as constant interruptions, look at them as expanding our knowledge of these great creatures.

I’ve heard also that Moby Dick is to be considered as an allegory. Through Captain Ahab, we see our inner beings at their worst. We see what we could be when completely obsessed over evil and see it swallow us whole much like The Oath by Frank Peretti illustrates.

Melville’s work may only become enjoyable once our attitude of dread changes to one of an excitement to learn. Give it a go and tell me what you think.

Find your copy here.

 

A Quote Purely For The Humor Of It

This quote is specifically dedicated to my Canuck bestie, Kat. In a few words, our friendship could be described as a sarcastic sisterhood. Though we are separated by many miles, whenever we are able to visit, it’s as if no time has passed. We pick up where we left off. All seems so natural. No, we are not biological sisters, but sometimes, a friendship can be a thicker bond than blood. We also have that sort of relationship where you can’t get away with one word without being teased! Yes, our relationship thrives on sarcasm! Without it, I think both of our souls would dry up and waste away. So, in accordance with our silly conversation we had a few nights ago, I dedicate this quote to her. (it’s from her favorite book…said sarcastically)

” It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 I love this quote purely for the humor of it! Like my best friend and I, it entirely consists of sarcasm.

 I think that’s why I’m drawn to Pride and Prejudice so much. I love the colorful characters *cough* Mr.& Mrs. Bennet *cough*, but why do I love them? It’s because each one represents the humor in us all. We are all silly in our own crazy way, and Pride and Prejudice helps us realize that. It gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves. Even the more serious types like Mr. Darcy have a humorous side to them. He might not intend to be funny, but he still enriches the story by his quirks.We giggle at his romantic awkwardness, but who here isn’t romantically challenged in some way? We laugh or groan at Mr. Collins, but who here hasn’t acted just as stupidly at least once in our life?

 If you are also a fan of this book, what do you love about it?