Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Open Book - May 2022


I'm joining up with Carolyn Astfalk who hosts an #OpenBook Linkup on Here's what I've been reading this past month. The dates indicate when I finished the book.


4/4/22 From the Writings of Edith Stein - Compiled by Dianne M. Traflet. This short work offers a brief bio of St. Edith Stein (Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) along with excerpts from her writings loosely gathered by subject topic, such as Spiritual Friendship, The Vocation of Women, Suffering and the Cross, and Spiritual Tools for Evangelization. This book made me want to learn more about this modern saint (she died in Auschwitz in WWII) and so I have requested more books about her from the library. (Read for Catholic Library World)

4/6/22 Love in the Library - Maggie Tokuda-Hall. I read this picture book on my own, and then shared it with my daughter. It is based on the lives of the author's grandparents, Tama and George, and tells how they met, fell in love, and married at the Japanese internment camp Manidoka. It is a beautiful story of finding hope and love in the midst of miserable circumstances. It is also a good way to introduce children to the historical fact of the Japanese internment camps, because it is only through knowing about such horrible events of our past that we can hope not to repeat them.  

4/10/22 Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic - Paul Conti, MD. I've read a great deal on trauma in the past decade, and this book provides a good overview of all the ways trauma can impact a person's life. In recent years, the medical / psychological community has realized how much trauma can influence both the mind and body. As I was reading this, though, I realized two things. One is that we all experience trauma in some way. Some experience more and some experience less and we should certainly do all we can to not cause other people trauma, but ultimately, traumatic things are going to happen. Second, the reason that there is trauma in the world is because of sin. Trauma is a socially acceptable way to talk about the damage caused by sin. We live in a fallen world. We make poor choices. Therefore, these bad things happen. Dr. Conti is not anti-faith at all and seems like he does truly try to help people. Medical and psychological professionals can certainly help with healing from trauma, but ultimately God is also needed for true healing to take place.

4/10/22 - Between Friends - Debbie Macomber - I don't recall where I saw this one mentioned, but it is an older novel by Debbie Macomber (2002). I've read several of her books over the years and thought I'd give it a try. It is the story of two baby boomers and follows their friendship from their childhood in the 50s through 2002. It is told in a series of letters and is a remarkable tribute to friendship that survives despite all of life's changes. The two young girls are Catholic and attend Catholic school, but they both ultimately leave the Church for various reasons. Still, the topic of faith and their reasons for leaving are handled well and no doubt portray the lived experience of many baby boomers. This was a very good story that kept me turning pages.  


4/14/22 - Flying Solo - Linda Holmes - Laurie Sassalyn, on the cusp of turning 40, returns to her hometown to clean out her much-loved single great-aunt's house after her death. While doing so, she finds a carved wood duck which may or may not have been made by a famous artist. Laurie also connects with a long-lost love while in town. Part mystery / part romance, this was a fun leisure read. It does feature some pre-marital sex but nothing explicit.  (Read for a book review publication)

4/17/22 - The Great Passion - James Runcie - The "Great Passion" referred to in the title of this book is Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" composed in 1727. The story is told from the perspective of Stefan Silbermann, a thirteen-year-old boy who is sent to school in Leipzig after the death of his much-loved mother. Stefan becomes a favored student of Bach and a close friend of his family. I don't know much about music, but I still enjoyed this work of historical fiction. Runcie's prose made the music and the world of the early 1700s come to life.  

4/22/2022 A Saint in the Family - Corinna Turner - This book is part of the "I Am Margaret" series which is an excellent dystopian series by an incredible writer. This particular book is a collection of short stories and novellas that tie in with the other books in the series. It was interesting and well-written, but if you want to read this one, I suggest going back to the other books first and making the way through them in order.  

4/25/22 The Magnolia Palace - Fiona Davis - This dual-timeline story is set in both 1919 and 1966 at the Frick Mansion in New York which later became a museum. In the earlier story, Lilian Carter is a former model on the run who ends up taking a job as a personal assistant to Helen Frick and gets embroiled in family dynamics. In 1966, Veronica Weber is a wannabe model who gets locked in the Frick Museum with an intern, Joshua, during a snowstorm. They find a long-forgotten scavenger hunt and in the process help solve a 50-year old mystery. While the story is not based on any real historical facts (although Helen Frick was a real person), it was a fun read. 


4/26/22 Awaken My Heart Prayer Journal - Emily Wilson Hussem - Hussem offers journaling prompts on a variety of important topics. These are not superficial questions, but rather queries that will have you digging deep into your spiritual life. Some of your answers may surprise you. Some of them will no doubt make you feel a bit uncomfortable as you probe painful parts of your past or face the ways that you may be coming up short in your love of God and neighbor. Others may inspire you to keep going when you feel like giving up. At all times, readers are prompted to invite Jesus into their lives, into their reflections, and into their futures. 


4/30/22 Edith Stein: Her Life in Photos and Documents - Maria Amata Neyer, O.C.D., Trans. by Waltraut Stein, Ph.D. - My reading this month started with St. Edith Stein and it ended with her. This is one of the books I got from the library about her. It is a short biography and offers pictures of her, her family, and the places where she lived.

Since spring of 2019, I have been making my way through the Great Books Curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College (I'm currently working on the readings for sophomore year). 

Conic Sections - Apollonius - I've been trudging through this math text which, as the same suggests, is about conic sections, parabolas, etc. Apollonius lived from 15 - 100 AD and was a wandering Greek philosopher. The math texts are the hardest part of these readings for me. There is hope, though. Once I finish this one, there is only one more math text for sophomore year before I get to move on to other, more interesting, reading. 


My eleven-year-old daughter and I read the following books this month:


4-17-22 The Emerald Atlas - John Stephens - This first book in a trilogy was a fun adventure / fantasy story about three siblings who must find the three "Books of Beginning". It was full of magical creatures and time travel. We are looking forward to reading the next book in the series. 

4/24/22 The Power of Poppy Pendle - Natasha Lowe - This was an interesting story about a witch who wants to be a baker. It does have some dark undertones, but all turns out well in the end.

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1 comment:

Carolyn Astfalk said...

God bless you for sticking with this ancient math texts! I like math well enough, but not sure I could read extensively about it.

I love this line from your review: "Trauma is a socially acceptable way to talk about the damage caused by sin." An insightful way to think about it.

Thanks for linking to An Open Book!

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