Books I read in January 2010

Starting 2010 at a good pace: 6 books read in January, 5 non-fiction and 1 fiction.


Robert Darnton, The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future

From The Washington Post’s Book World/ Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle This book distills Robert Darnton’s years of musing — as a historian, university professor and librarian — on the history and future of the book, whether printed or electronic. Though he is an unabashed partisan of books as they have existed since the codex replaced the scroll about 1,700 years ago, Darnton sees at least one ideal use for electronic publishing: to make widely available the results of scholarly research, with hyperlinks to the research itself where possible. “Any historian who has done long stints of research,” Darnton writes, “knows the frustration over his inability to communicate the fathomlessness of the archives and the bottomlessness of the past.” Cyberspace is the perfect solution, a medium in which such complexities can be not only suggested but also explored via links for the curious. At the end of this chapter (“E-Books and Old Books”), the director of the Harvard University Library makes clear how he thinks e-books will be classed: “as a supplement to, not a substitute for, Gutenberg’s great machine.” Darnton is alarmed about another aspect of publishing: the loss of old newspapers in their physical form, a state of affairs that Nicholson Baker has also lamented. Both writers are incensed by the way in which some libraries toss out archived newspapers (and many other items) without alerting the public. Darnton would change this, requiring “libraries that receive public money” to publish lists of their prospective throwaways, and he urges “libraries around the country [to] begin to save the country’s current newspaper output in bound form.”

good stuff, especially the first essays on the future. great balance between books in digital forms and tradicitonal shape

Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

I finally read this book, now a classic. i was actually happily surprised and found it quite good, in its emphasis on some core values.

Archimandrite Sophrony, We Shall See Him As He Is
Now at the close of my life I have decided to talk to my brethren of things I would not have ventured to utter earlier, counting it unseemly…. Thus wrote Archimandrite Sophrony, then ninety-two years old, in We Shall See Him as He Is, his spiritual autobiography. In this book Fr. Sophrony, one of the most beloved orthodox Christian elders of our times, revealed to the world his own experience of union with God, and the path to that union. drawing near to God with intense love and longing accompanied by struggle, self-emptying and searing repentance, Fr. Sophrony was granted to participate in the life of God Himself through His uncreated Energies. Like orthodox saints throughout the centuries, he experienced God s grace as an ineffable, uncreated Light. It was in this Light that Christ was transfigured on Mount Tabor before His Apostles, and it is in this Light that we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). Born into a russian orthodox family in Moscow in 1896, Archimandrite Sophrony embarked on a successful career as a painter in Paris. There he delved into Eastern religions for a time, before repenting bitterly of this and returning to the faith of his childhood. After a brief period of theological study in Paris, he left for the ancient orthodox monastic republic of Mount Athos in Greece, where he spent fifteen years in a monastery and a further seven as a hermit in the desert. on Mount Athos he became the spiritual son of a simple monk of holy life, Elder Silouan. It was under the guidance of Saint Silouan that Fr. Sophrony experienced divine illumination, knowing God intimately as Personal Absolute as the one Who revealed Himself to the Prophet Moses as I AM and Who became incarnate as man in Jesus Christ. In 1959, Fr. Sophrony founded the Monastic Community of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England, which has since become a major orthodox spiritual center for all of Western Europe. Elder Sophrony reposed in 1993, at the age of 97.
Very deep autobiography touching to many essential Orthodox themes. I loved very much the chapter on LIGHT. This is a book with which you can meditate, or share with others.
Allan Smith, The Volokolamsk Paterikon
Funny, Amazon didn’t even manage to type the title correctly!!
This is the first time this Paterikon is translated and published in English. It is accompanied with many notes and explanations about the historical and political context, quite complex.
I am not familiar with the source language of the Paterikon, but the translation does not flow well. too bad.
Bruce Wilkinsen, The Dream Giver

Bestselling author Bruce Wilkinson shows how to identify and overcome the obstacles that keep millions from living the life they were created for. He begins with a compelling modern-day parable about Ordinary, who dares to leave the Land of Familiar to pursue his Big Dream. With the help of the Dream Giver, Ordinary begins the hardest and most rewarding journey of his life. Wilkinson gives readers practical, biblical keys to fulfilling their own dream, revealing that there’s no limit to what God can accomplish when we choose to pursue the dreams He gives us for His honor.

Very easy read, but not bad at all. Writen as a parable. Energizing


Philippa Gregory, The Boleyn Inheritance

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Returning to the scene of The Other Boleyn Girl, historical powerhouse Gregory again brings the women of Henry VIII’s court vividly to life. Among the cast, who alternately narrate: Henry’s fourth wife, Bavarian-born Anne of Cleves; his fifth wife, English teenager Katherine Howard; and Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn), the jealous spouse whose testimony helped send her husband… and sister-in-law Anne Boleyn to their execution. Attended by Lady Rochford, 24-year-old Anne of Cleves endures a disastrous first encounter with the twice-her-age king—an occasion where Henry takes notice of Katherine Howard. Gregory beautifully explains Anne of Cleves’s decision to stay in England after her divorce, and offers contemporary descriptions of Lady Rochford’s madness. While Gregory renders Lady Rochford with great emotion, and Anne of Cleves with sympathy, her most captivating portrayal is Katherine, the clever yet naïve 16th-century adolescent counting her gowns and trinkets. Male characters are not nearly as endearing. Gregory’s accounts of events are accurate enough to be persuasive, her characterizations modern enough to be convincing. Rich in intrigue and irony, this is a tale where readers will already know who was divorced, beheaded or survived, but will savor Gregory’s sharp staging of how and why.

 wow, first time I read something by P. Gregory. I actually started by listening to it, and there was one reader for each character, and excellent readers at that! Sounded almost like theater. When I had to give back the audiobook and finished by reading the book, I ciould still hear the voices.
this is great historical novel stuff, and I will now go back to the whole series, reading them by chronological order of events – which is not the way the books came out. but I found a link on the web putting all her books in the historical chronological order


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