Wednesday, November 26, 2008

B16: My Kind of Guy!

I was charmed to read this news story about the Vatican's new bookstore.They dedicated it to Pope Benedict XVI who is not only a prolific author, but a real book lover as well. He has a personal library of 20,000 books. 

When he was elected in 2005, a custom-fitted, private library was added to the papal apartments which was undergoing an extreme makeover to bring the plumbing and electrical systems up to code and to provide a more permanent solution to its leaky roof. (Large drums had been strategically placed above the false ceilings to catch drips.)
It was "Extreme Makeover: Vatican Edition." And while the pope didn't whoop or jump up and down at the unveiling, he made it clear he was pleased with the results.

"I can only admire the things you've done, like these beautiful floors," he told the more than 200 architects, engineers and workers involved in the remodeling project.

"I really like my new library, with that antique ceiling. For me it's like being surrounded by friends, now that there are books on the shelf," he said.
"Surrounded by friends. . . " That's how I feel as I sit in my own library. When I moved to this new house, I was so happy that I was able to dedicate one whole room as a library. I'm glad that Benedict didn't have to leave any of his books stored in boxes either.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Friends

"Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet gracious discourse of my book-friends."
--Helen Keller

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Library Books

Whenever I mention to my mom that Fillius and I plan to visit the local public library, she shakes her head in disbelief. Why, she wonders, should anyone owning as many books as we do, need to visit a public library? I suppose it's because I don't actually own every book in the world. (It just seems that way.) And because there are books I want to read that I don't necessarily want (or need) to own.

I'm going to visit my daughter on Friday, so I'm checking my stack of library books to see which ones need to go back before I leave. I thought it might be interesting to list the titles I've got checked out at the moment to see what a Catholic reader with catholic tastes has been reading.

Hearts and Hand: The Influence of Women & Quilts on American Society by Pat Ferrero et al. (The author's mildly feminist outlook kept bumping into things, but it was a generally good history of women, their quilts, and the political and reform movements that they supported.)

Where Books Fall Open: A Reader's Anthology of Wit and Passion edited and illustrated by Bascove. (Lovely paintings, but the selections were not as interesting as I'd hoped, thoughI did get a few good book-related quotes for my collection.)

Ramona's World by Beverly Cleary. (Published in 1999, and I'd somehow missed reading it. Wow! Cleary's still got it.)

Beverly Cleary by Jennifer Peltak. (In the "Who Wrote That?" series of biographies for young readers. Pretty good, though heavily based on Cleary's two volume autobiography.)

Healthy Crockery Cookery by Mable Hoffman.

When Babies Read: A Practical Guide to Help Young Children With Hyperlexia, Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism by Audra Jensen. (I checked out this book because I was curious about hyperlexia.)

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by "The Waiter." (Based on the blog of the same name. I really enjoyed this one.)

Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories edited by Nicolas Kanellos (Pretty good!)

The Illuminated Alphabet: An Inspirational Introduction to Creating Decorative Calligraphy by Patricia Seligman. Calligraphy by Timothy Noad. (This book is simply gorgeous! I wish this book had been around when I was young and struggling to do calligraphy and illumination on my own.)

Everyday Dress 1650 - 1900 by Elizabeth Ewing. (About ordinary clothing as opposed to "fashion." Lots of good pictures.)

Sister Anne's Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by K. Wendy Popp. (This is a lovely picture book. Set in the very early 1960s, the narrator is a seven year old girl describing an incident that took place the year her class was taught by Sister Anne, the first black teacher at the local parochial school. The illustrations are lovely and have a very period feel to them. The only quibble I have is that the text opens, "The summer I turned seven, flowers had power, peace signs were in, and we watched the Ed Sulivan Show every Sunday night." But "flower power" was a slogan from the late 60s and early 70s and the illustrations and story situation seem to be of the early 60s. But what do I know? I was there, but I had my nose in a book.)

The Thought That Counts: A First Hand Account of One Teenager's Experience With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jared Douglas Kant. (Besides speaking to young people with OCD, I think this book would be helpful for anyone trying to understand and live with a family member who has this disorder.)

California Demon by Julie Kenner. (Billed as "the secret life of a demon-hunting soccer mom," this was a fun read which I previously wrote about here.)

The Corporal Works of Murder by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie. (I seldom read mysteries, but this one caught my eye as I was shelving at the library. I wondered how the author was going to handle her protagonist, an middle-aged modern nun in San Francisco. Not bad, though I guessed the identity of the murderer early on.)

Well, I'll return some of these when I go to work today. Then I have to find some good books to take with me on the plane. If I traveled a lot (and had big bucks) I would certainly be tempted to buy a Kindle. I always worry about running out of things to read when I'm away from home. But now that I'm getting older, it's getting harder to lug around a big stack of books.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Election Post

One of the things I found most difficult about coming of age during the '60s and '70s was the political intensity of everyone around me. Not to mention, the political righteousness. I don't mean the righteousness felt by a partisan for his particular cause, but the righteous belief that politics was man's highest endeavor and would bring about the millennium and an end to all social ills. Had my own thought been a little more coherent in those days, I probably would have been muttering "Put not your faith in princes," and "If you'd put that much energy into being excellent to one another, you wouldn't need politics." This passage from Little Women about Meg's response to politics pretty much summed up my feelings about it when I was in high school, and it still resonates with me today.

When John came down at last . . . he was agreeably surprised to find Meg placidly trimming a bonnet, and to be greeted with the request to read something about the election, if he was not too tired. . . . He read a long debate with the most amiable readiness and then explained in his most lucid manner, while Meg tried to look interested, to ask intelligent questions, and keep her thoughts from wandering from the state of the nation to the state of her bonnet. In her secret soul, however, she decided that politics were as bad as mathematics, and that the mission of politicians seemed to be calling each other names; but she kept these feminine ideas to herself, and when John paused shook her head, and said with what she thought diplomatic ambiguity:

"Well I really don't see what we are coming to."
I myself am one of the most apolitical persons on the planet which is why you'll never find an explicitly political post on Catholic Bibliophagist. In fact, I'm not registered for either political party. Like Treebeard, "I am not altogether on anybody's side because no one is altogether on my side, if you understand me . . ." Treebeard meant that no one cared about the forest the way he did. In my own case, neither political party entirely represents my position as a Catholic. (I think that's what frustrated journalists about JPII. They want to peg everyone as a either member of the left or the right, but they couldn't fit him into either box.)

I vote conscientiously in every election, but unless there's a moral issue involved, I find it hard to get excited or even interested in politics. However, most people don't share my impassivity as evidenced by this amusing story told by Jennifer at Conversion Diary:
. . . I heard about the most clever [Halloween] costume ever: a friend's nephew dressed in a t-shirt that said POLLSTER, and then carried an Obama bag and a McCain bag, and people could choose which one they put candy in. He evidently got a really impressive haul of candy from people who expressed their emotions about this election by dumping handfuls of goodies into their candidate's bag.
Smart kid!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Souls Day

A soul, a soul, a soul cake
Please, good missus, a soul cake
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry
Any good thing to make us all merry
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all

God Bless the master of this house, the mistress also
And all the little children who 'round your table grow
Likewise your men and maidens, your cattle and your store
And all that dwells within your gates
we wish you ten times more

A soul, a soul, a soul cake...

The lanes are very dirty and my shoes are very thin
I've got a little pocket to put a penny in
If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do
If you haven't got a ha' penny, then God bless you

A soul, a soul, a soul cake
Please, good missus, a soul cake
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry
Any good thing to make us all merry
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all

(A traditional song by that prolific chap, Annon.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Saints Day

Here is a seasonal video which was brought to my attention by Jennifer's Favorite Links.