January 16, 2017

For the past few years, I’ve been reading books here in Malawi that were suggested by my family.

This year I read some great books – thank you for your suggestions!

No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton was my choice after listening to a podcast by Krista Tippett. “[man] cannot find himself in himself alone, but… he must find himself in and through others…We are all members of another.” The author is a Catholic writer, mystic and Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani.

Ashley’s War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon was my book club’s choice. What an amazing story of women who were a part of Special Operations Teams in Afghanistan and helped the soldiers communicate with the mothers and children. The storytelling in the book made me feel I was there alongside these on their extremely difficult missions.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander was my younger son’s choice. An eye opener  – this book left me with a lot of emotions…disbelief, anger, shame and resolve. “We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it…this book argues that mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow …the system of mass incarceration is based on the prison label, not prison time.” Curious?…a must read.

The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman was my older son’s choice. The weaving of the spiritual and physical universe in his discussion is masterful…”Science can never prove or disprove the existence of God, because God, as understood by most religions, is not subject to rational analysis. I am equally impatient with people who make statements about the physical universe that violate physical evidence and the known laws of nature…we all depend on the consistent operation of the laws of nature in the physical universe day after day.” His descriptions of the symmetrical universe (the symmetries in nature such as in a snowflake), the Higgs particles, the Big Bang, how we are like Flatlanders, the gargantuan universe, and our disembodied life (technology) made me feel small. The morning after I completed this book, I was on a run on a small footpath near the hospital, and stopped to think about our universe and possible alternate universes. John McQuiston III in Always We Begin Again captured my thoughts well: “When we consider the vast reaches of the cosmos, the incomprehensible forces at work in each moment, the numberless stories of each life, the millions of forgotten ancestors who preceded us, the untold acts of kindness which occur each day, We humble ourselves. We keep silence.”

Wired for Joy by Laurel Mellin was suggested a long time ago by my mother. I’ve enjoyed reading it here in Malawi where they are many things that bring me joy. It also helped me to better understand, possibly, the joyful nature of the Malawian people. They are wired that way.

An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farley – so far, a very entertaining read about a relic in a small ancient village in Italy. I can’t put it down!



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