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Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Black Friday!

Today only!! Special!! Extra $30 automatically added to any gift certificate purchased (Yes! You can buy gift certificates for yourself!) No minimum required.

Happy Black Friday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Doing Good Better- Writer Wednesday

On Writer Wednesday, I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's pick is Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make A Difference by William MacAskill.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it's a great time not only to remember what we are thankful for, but to reach out and help others. This book captures that spirit by not just encouraging others to be altruistic, but by detailing how to be the most altruistic. A number of analyses, based upon the number of lives someone is able to save  because of an action, make for a very interesting read. This isn't about sacrificing one person for millions of others, though. Instead, this shows how simple measures can be very effective.

One particular aspect of the book that I found very interesting was the notion that you don't have to have a charity-based career in order to do good with your work. A doctor, nurse, teacher or care worker may come to mind when describing an altruistic job, but a high-paying job can be even more altruistic through the ability that it provides to donate money. And here's the thing, you don't have to donate millions. There's a multiplier effect. Money in the poorest regions of the world goes farther and so any donation that is made to these particularly badly-off places is magnified and multiplied.

Because of this multiplier effect and the vast difference in wages in poorer parts of the world to first world nations, if a person makes $52,000 a year, they are in the top 1% of the world's earners. In fact, if you earn over $20,000 a year than you are in the top 5% wealthiest people in the world. That's powerful.

Armed with that knowledge, MacAskill addresses several causes which have the potential of doing the most good for the world. Although many of the causes are abroad, and include such things as funding malaria nets and de-worming programs, one cause in the United States that still has potential for growth through his metric is judicial reform to limit unjust incarceration. There are plenty of ways to help. If you'd like to learn how to do good even better, then I recommend this book.

Even if you feel that you're unable to help via donation or volunteering, there's a simple way to do good today. All you have to do is click. Yep. That's it. Your click can manifest into feeding the hungry, providing books, and many other excellent causes. The funding for this is provided from the advertisements on the page. It really can't get any simpler than that to help others and it's an easily-incorporated minute or two into your day.

Happy Thanksgiving!
My best to you all,

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Quotations I loved from Books I read this year

Today's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is top ten quotations I loved from books I read this year. Not all the books that I've read have been annotated and so I've limited my selection to these great quotations from ones I stared or circled while reading. Also, because last week's list was entirely non-fiction, this week's is fiction. These are in no particular order. 

"Coincidence is a messenger sent by truth."- Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear, Chapter 14

"And there, pencilled into the corner of a single page, the artist had written: 'I can dance with life again.'"-  Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear, Chapter 5

"If two hearts truly love each other then they always will, even when they are apart. Unless they both let go. But if one holds on then it's because the other one hasn't yet let it go either."- Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag, Chapter 19

"Most people think that this world we live in is mundane, but you remind us that it's magical. You wrap reality in the wonder and joy of fiction, until it infuses us and becomes true."- Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag, Chapter 22

"'No,' said the priest, 'you don't need to accept everything as true, you only have to accept it as necessary.' Depressing views,' said K, "The lie made into the rule of the world."- The Trial by Franz Kafka

"'If I come home to you eating a pint of Haagen-Dazs and watching When Harry Met Sally, I'm calling the police.'
'What are they going to do, arrest me for being a cliche?'" Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham, Chapter 14

"Dry- cleaning is like this secret society you're not allowed into. No matter what, you're at their mercy. You can have a Ph.D. in anything, but you still can't dry clean your own clothes. They'll never tell you how. No one's ever even seen what the machine looks like. Think about it. There's a reason they keep the actual dry-cleaning apparatus hidden behind all those racks of hanging clothes. They don't want you to crack their code. They won't let anybody in. Not anybody. Even rich people. You know any rich people with dry-cleaning machines in their house? Exactly. Even they still have to pick it up and drop it off like everyone else." Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham, Chapter 12

"Maybe he was composing a poem. It's fascinating, I think, to line up words in a way they've never been before to allow you to see something differently." - Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland, Chapter 18

"There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature."- Northanger Abbey by Jane AustenChapter 6

"Metaphors failed him, then. He had gone beyond the world of metaphor and simile into the place of things that are, and it was changing him."- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Chapter 16

What are your favorites that you've read this year?

My best to you all,

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Veterans Day

Books for Veterans Day...

For top ten Tuesday today, I'm choosing my own topic and writing about top books for Veterans day. The number ten is loose, as I have more books than that. I've also only chosen non-fiction for this list. There are, of course, many wonderful historical fiction books that depict life amidst war and the importance of peace.
The books I've picked are a few that I've read over the past few years that have stuck out to me.

Books Related to American Freedom

The First Commander in Chief
Long before he was the first president, Washington was a solider and eventually the commander in chief. Without the American Revolution, there would be no American soldiers to remember on Veterans Day.

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Gettysburg was the largest battle ever in North America and more American lives were lost in the Civil War than from the Revolution to the Korean War.

Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of The Civil War's Greatest Battle by Rod Gragg

World War and Remembrance Day 

Veterans Day commemorates November 11, 1918 when the guns of war lay silent and the Armistice was signed to end the catastrophic first world war. These books explore the stories behind WWI and WWII.

July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin

The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan

Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany- June 7, 1944 to May 7, 1945 by Stephen Ambrose

The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis by Matthew Cobb

The Women Who Wrote the War by Nancy Caldwell Sorel 

Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson

Transition Book for What's Happened and What's Happening

This book is magic. In the Paris Peace talks, WWI was not only "settled", but the roots of much of what lay ahead was also set-out. Not only WWII, but also ongoing global issues sparked within that conference.

Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan

Books to Explain Current Tensions
There are narratives for Africa and the Middle East. Many people point to these as reasons for current hostilities. But is that true? These books explore times of peace, as well as conflict, and the many layers that influence today. 

Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Amy Dockser Marcus

Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World by Stephen O'Shea 

The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence by Martin Meredith

Books to Foster Understanding
These books delve into International Relations and promote better understanding among countries. When people understand each other better and see commonalities, they are more likely to live in peace.

Understanding Global Cultures: Metaphorical Journeys Through 29 Nations, Clusters of Nations and Continents by Martin J. Gannon

Histories of Nations: How their Identities were Forged by Peter Furtado

Why the West Rules for Now: The Patterns of History and What they Reveal about the Future by Ian Morris 

What are your favorite books for Veterans Day? 

My best to you all,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Writer Wednesday: The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of the Civil War's Greatest Battle

On Writer Wednesday, I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's pick is The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of the Civil War's Greatest Battle by Rod Gragg.

In November 1863, Abraham Lincoln stood in Pennsylvania to deliver that fateful speech, words which I was required to memorize to AP US History in high school and that ring with truth to this day.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

He spoke of Gettysburg as Hallowed Ground. In addition to "make holy or consecrate", the dictionary defines hallowed as "to greatly revere or respect".
It is fitting that fields that stood witness to such carnage be consecrated and draped with an assertion for peace. Only through deliberately reaffirming the value of freedom for all people could a holiness, a wholeness, heal that broken land and the larger lands of the United States in total.

Gettysburg had been a quiet town in the Union until July 1863, when the largest North American battle ever erupted over the opening days of the month. Rod Gragg, in his book The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of the Civil War's Greatest Battle, asserts that it was Gettysburg that changed the tide of the war and assured the Union's victory.

Gragg chronicles those days, from both sides. For much of the battle, the South seemed assured of winning. A number of cumulative events saw the Union to victory instead.  In addition to the grisly details, what struck me most was that time and again there is a recognition of the commonality of the two sides between the fighting men. Arrangements were made by some of the soldiers to visit with members of the opposing side after the war. One marvels that war could divide men who so clearly recognized their shared American roots. It is striking to read of Confederate troops celebrating the Fourth of July, for instance. For many of them, the Civil War was a continuation on of the Revolution, a culmination of the right to rule themselves.

This book is comprehensive and nearly every other page is a personal account. Photographs, maps and drawings from those that were there complete this important account. I highly recommend it.

Wishing you peace, as we strive to remember our commonalities as people, rather than our differences.

My best to you all,

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Top Tips for NaNoWriMo!


NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month which takes place each November. Happy November to you! Happy Writing if you are participating or if you're not!

My best to you all,