Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yesterday & A Handful of Books

This is a different little bird taken at Jack London Square.

Yesterday I finally took a fresh air walk to the library at just the right time. I was beginning to become frazzled. My destination was the library to pick up several books I had on hold. When I went downstairs I was greeted by a sparrow nibbling on a morsel. I immediately felt calmer. Sparrows have a way of being there when I need a reminder to relax. Sparrows remind me of my grandmother—her spirit is present wherever they are. As I walked by slowly with my bag of books to return on one shoulder, I noticed a young man had given the Sparrow the morsel, and he was watching the sparrow. How sweet, I thought. My whole being grew even more calm and happy.

When I arrived at the library, I was excited to collect the stack of books that were waiting for me. I most likely will not read each from cover to cover, but I will meet their contents as best I can by reading the inside flaps, introductions, examining the table of contents carefully, and flipping to the sections that call to me most. I may even flip randomly and see where I land.

I’m excited about this collection and am going to list the titles here with my small reactions so far:

The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English with Selected Examples (1957) by Kenneth Yasuda.

The Bamboo Broom: An Introduction to Japanese Haiku (1934) by Harold Gould Henderson.

I am eager to learn more about the history and cultural aspects of the Haiku. I’m glad that the first author, Kenneth Yasuda, is Japanese. In his introduction he says that many questions are posed to him about the status of the haiku in English by interested Japanese each time he went to Japan and he lists a few:

“Do the English-speaking people understand haiku?”
“Do they write haiku in English?”
“Do the English haiku have form?”

I look forward to reading Yasuda’s exploration of these questions.

What We Eat when We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes (2009) by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin.

I stumbled upon this one by chance when I was looking through the online library catalog. It piqued my curiosity and made me think about how I approach eating differently when I’m eating alone, but I had never given it much thought until seeing the title of this book. Now that I have the book, it has a fun feel about it with color illustrations throughout. Maybe I’ll find a few recipes that I can double for two.

OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word (2011) by Allan Metcalf.

I was looking up another book on my Kindle when I saw this. I clicked the book, eager to find out more. I read the description and checked the library and that’s how it ended up in my hold list. I have tried to stop myself when I use OK in my writing because, frankly, I don’t always feel comfortable with how I am spelling it: Is it OK, O.K., Ok, or Okay? I’ve reverted to all right—probably not much better. But also because I realized that perhaps I was relying and overusing this two-letter word that was starting to look a little odd to me staring back from the page.

I was intrigued to learn in the introduction that these letters, OK, “were born as a lame joke perpetrated by a newspaper editor in 1839.” How interesting. I’m eager to read through this small book of about 200 pages.

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results (2000) by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul, and John Christensen.

There was a time when I enjoyed reading business books related to human relations and it was partially because of the work environment I was a part of. I loved the learning aspect of that job. I still like to browse through business books here and there, but not as much as I used to. It has been a long time since I read this small book and I came across it again when we helped my significant other’s cousin move. That’s when I became curious to revisit Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market and the lessons learned in this book, which are succinctly captured in the book’s inner flap: “A powerful parable that will help you love the work you do—even if you can’t always do work that you love.” Seeing that book re-reminded me of how much I gained when I worked at that job of long ago and how I carried the spirit of it and this book with me. It focused me in on how I try to bring a little fun to my current job, while still working hard. Fish! truly is a gem of a book.

Group practice (2004) by Claudia Puchta and Jonathan Potter. I’m not sure what I was expecting—inspiration, ideas? This wasn’t the book, so it’s going back to the library right away.

Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss (1994) by Hope Edelman.

I learned about this book from Keiko when she left a comment on one of my blog’s and said that I might appreciate this book. Although the book is available as an e-book, I will probably buy a paper copy of the book so that I can underline and make comments in a way that is easier for me to go back to. I am looking forward to reading this book slowly. I’ve always known that there was something unique to my way of looking at the world because of losing my mother early in life, and the book talks about later loss also. But the little bit that I’ve read so far makes me feel that I will gain a new understanding of how I’ve reacted to the loss, feelings that I’ve felt, and offer a new perspective. Thanks to Keiko for the recommendation!

The Use and Abuse of Literature (2011) by Marjorie Garber. I came across this book through my daily book lover’s calendar. A few chapters are especially calling to me, “Use and Abuse,” “What Isn’t Literature,” and “Why Literature is Always Contemporary.”

There are also several books I’m pecking away at on my Kindle. One is by Red Room writer, Kaui Hart Hemmings. Several weeks ago I saw the congratulations to her for the movie The Descendants that is based on her debut novel of the same title. I was excited because it was a Red Room author and thought she must feel very proud and good inside that her debut novel had been made into a movie.

Since then I recognized her name when I noticed that one of the Kindle Daily Deals was her book of short stories called House of Thieves (original copy right 2005, eBook copyright 2011). The first story in the collection is The Minor Wars and this, Kaui Hart Hemmings tells in the beginning of the collection, is the story that was expanded into her first novel, The Descendants.  Often times, I am disappointed with how short stories conclude, but The Minor Wars does not disappoint. I look forward to reading the rest of the collection in House of Thieves and later moving onto her novel before seeing the movie. Her writing is refreshing, her dialogue is to be admired—it has a natural and real quality, and though her writing seems to have a quick beat, she weaves in just the right amount of metaphor and beauty that add pause—not too much, not too little. Her writing is crisp, clean, and lovely. Belated congratulations to Kaui Hart Hemmings!


Yesterday…Yesterday is today. Today is yesterday. Today is Today. When I stepped away to take my walk yesterday, I didn’t realize that the winter day would cheer me up as it did. Last week was spring and this week it’s winter. Books—though—such magical creatures full of so much. The mere title of a book sometimes will take me to an imagined world. I like questions. I need to ask myself more questions and answer them.

For the love of nature, walking, breathing—and for the love of books, sharing, writing—it is all love.

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