Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Art of Living

Thich Nhat Hanh

Nonfiction 2017 | 206 pages


Concepts and teachings keep repeating themselves.  Perhaps that is the only way for us to truly remember.  I read in The Art of Living some teachings I have read and heard before ... the eight bodies (the human body, the Buddha body, the spiritual practice body, the body outside the body, the continuation body, the cosmic body, and the ultimate body) and the seven concentrations (emptiness, sign-lessness, aimlessness, impermanence, non-craving, letting go, and nirvana). I note that I am a different person today than when I read about all of these a few months ago. They speak to me on a different level, offer different meanings today, support me in a meaningful way today.

You may experience something similar.  It is a spiritual practice to reread Thich Nhat Hahn.  I recommend this short book.

August 2023

L.A. Weather

Maria Amparo Escandón

Fiction 2021 | 319 pages


I stuck with it but didn't much enjoy LA Weather.  The relationships in this close-knit family moved so slowly and were quite depressing.  Oscar and Keila are the parents, and their three grown daughters are Olivia, Claudia, and Patricia.  We travel for a year (each chapter is one month) through the lives of this Mexican family in Los Angeles.  From the start, Oscar is obviously withdrawn, in pain, depressed.  The family does Sunday dinner together and spends all the holidays together and claims to be so close, and yet it takes half the book (half of a year) for someone to ask Oscar why he is so depressed.  The story line includes numerous medical crises, and multiple marriages fall apart. The characters were surface. I kept plowing through, but started to track the number of pages to the end.  What a disappointment after Gonzales & Daughter Trucking Company, which I so enjoyed and still remember bits of, even though I read it in 2006.  (It was our library read that year, and LA Weather is one of four library community reads in 2023).  I really would like to give this three hearts and suggest you try it on for size, but I would be unfaithful to my rating system, and will stick with two hearts.  I don’t recommend it.

February 2023


Not a new post. IGNORE!

bell hooks

Nonfiction 2001 | 238 pages


testing again.


I am lost. WHY are we reading this book in my Decolonization book club? It is a diatribe on everything that is not working. It begins with multiple chapters that point fingers at parents who lead dysfunctional families and do not teach their children how to love, and it goes downhill from there. I kept reading, seeking for when she might turn positive, and found a bit of redemption in the chapter on spirituality. I was hoping there might be more “new visions” (this book’s erroneous subtitle) in the chapter on romance, but she begins “Romance” with the assertion that we all have not been “schooled” in love, and therefore don’t know how to do it. It isn’t that hard, Ms. hooks. You open your heart and make a choice.

Plus, she quotes the Bible about 27 times more often than I am comfortable with.

A depressing book … I can’t come up with any reason to recommend it. She has written 39 (or so) books. I am not putting any on my reading list. This ranks near the top of my “books I struggled to finish because I sincerely disliked them” list.

February 2022


The Book of Longings

Sue Monk Kidd

Fiction 2020 | 432 pages


Writing this post feels like a sacred act.  For centuries biblical scholars have debated whether or not Jesus married.  The scholars have convened on “no” as the most likely answer.  However, Sue Monk Kidd has wondered all of her life if perhaps there is another story to tell.  She writes this novel from the perspective that Jesus did, in fact, take a wife.  Her name is Ana, and this is her story.  Fully immersed in the stories, fables, truths, realities, and parables that appear in the bible, Kidd adds a layer that will cause you to think, wonder, and enjoy the possibilities.  This is a truly engaging piece of art!

We see Judas (Ana’s brother), Lazarus, Mary and Martha, John, who baptizes new Christ-followers, Herod, Pilate, John and Joseph, Jesus’ mother Mary, and more.  All the context we would expect.  And yet this additional perspective retells the story of Jesus on this earth in a new light, especially the years that bible does not address at all, Jesus between the ages of 12 of 30.

I am not a Christian, and so I wondered how I would engage with this tale.  I found it delightful!  First of all, it is a love story.  A profound, beautiful, enduring love story.  Second, is a magnificent statement on women at the time of Christ … an entire gender we hear little about in the bible.  The women in this novel are surprisingly strong, delightfully self-knowledgeable, intriguingly active.  Ana, of course, portrays a strong and powerful woman who finds her voice, her destiny, and her passion for writing.  And her Aunt Yaltha, her mother-in-law Mary, her sister-in-law Pamphile, Chaya (Ana’s cousin) and numerous other women are not as we might picture them from reading the bible alone … where they are often depicted as chattel, powerless, demure, hidden.  So, in truth, this is also a feminist novel.  Actually, it is an intriguing and useful accompaniment to the bible.

I highly recommend The Book of Longings and look forward to your comments.

March 2022