book review, Quotes

Stoner by John Williams

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Someone introduced this book to me as one of the great books of American literature and I was surprised that I had never heard of it. I added it to the book list and finally got around to reading it recently. It was beautiful in a soul aching, real kind of way and even after reading it, I’m not sure why. The book itself is the story of one simple and totally complex man’s life, but it’s also a story of every man. I cannot tell you how the story of an unremarkable man, written without ornamentation reminds me of a heroic epic, but it does. I’m giving this book 5/5 stars because I can’t stop thinking about it a month after I finished it in a good way and its hauntingly clear and simple language. I think I will end up reading it again in the future – it has the book magic.

William Stoner is the son of two poor farmers when he is introduced to the idea of going to university to learn more about agriculture. His parents send him there at great cost to both them and him, but as he starts his coursework he is arrested by one of his general education requirements: literature. I think any book lover will understand why. So begins a lifelong love affair with books that will take him away from his small life and into an idealized life of scholarship and marriage to a “higher-class” woman, which turns out to be less than ideal. It’s the story of one man’s struggle with American society and false dreams, and his power to carry on and find a measure of unexpected happiness. His life is also a recording of great events in American history and spans both world wars. It manages to completely capture and comment on society during that time period in an unobtrusive way – you almost don’t even realize it until you’re done reading. The best part of this book are the characters, all of which are nearly tangible they’re so well portrayed.

Favorite Quotes:

“Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, and all that he had not read.”

“In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.”

“In the University library he wandered through the stacks, among the thousands of books, inhaling the musty odor of leather, cloth, and drying page as if it were an exotic incense.”

 

Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

book review

Circe by Madeline Miller Book Review

This book has been making the rounds on social media lately because THAT COVER ART! So beautiful – definitely a case of wanting a book because of it’s cover. Amazingly, it was also really good – lived up to its shelf appeal. I may be a bit biased because one of my majors was Ancient History in college and I really love mythology and how it informs everyday life even now in quiet ways. This book took an ancient myth and brought it to life for modern readers, it had none of the stuffiness of Edith Wharton’s wonderful and so very dry collection of mythology most students read. It was fittingly spellbinding, as it is about one of the most well known witches of history.

4-stars

I am giving it four stars only because, despite the fact that it is an excellent read, it lacked that hard to define magic which makes a book irresistible. I would recommend it to anyone, even someone without a strong interest in mythology since the characters are well developed and git is beautifully written, but it didn’t make me want to read it over and over and give it a sacred spot on my bookshelf.

Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

Cooking

Whole Grain Homemade Apple Cinnamon Freezer Waffles for the Littles (and Bigs)

My almost 15 month old loves those frozen toaster waffles, but I don’t love that they’re full of sugar. I set out to make a delicious whole grain version with actual fruit instead of sugar. The result: Real apples, cinnamon and oats – it’s like healthy apple crisp you can pop in the toaster oven and it’s so easy to whip up a batch and store! Bonus: They can easily be made gluten and dairy free for those on special diets.

Ingredients:

2 cups Quick Cooking Oats

3/4 cup milk (can be replaced with non-dairy milk)

3/4 cup water

2 eggs

2 tbsp buckwheat flour (or regular flour – you do you!)

2 apples finely chopped

 

Warm up your waffle iron! Add all the ingredients except the apples to a large bowl to let the oaks soak up the liquids while you prep the apples.

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I like to use my food processor to chop the apples. I chunk them so they fit into my small counter top one. I prefer to leave the skins on because A) it’s easier and B) nutrients. But mostly A. Once the waffles are cooked the skins are soft anyway, so they’re no longer a choking hazard for the littlest littles.

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I add the apples. Mix thoroughly and cook them up. I hand a few fresh warm ones to my baby and let the rest cool. Once they’re a bit firmer I split them into quarters and store them so they’re easy to pull out of the freezer and toast.

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Healthy, delicious snacks for my son – voila! Note: My husband ate two of the waffles from the batch I made in this picture for lunch before they even made it to the freezer.

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Philosophy, Tea and Books

David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 3.5/5

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If you’ve ever grappled with the questions of where the universe comes from, if there is a deity, how does science reconcile itself with faith and the ultimate why of the origin of the universe – this is the book for you. This book is filled with philosophical debate set in conversational form making it much more accessible and less dry than a didactic text. IF you’re interested, grab a dictionary and a large pot of tea and settle in to this relatively short read.

My reaction upon reading the book, copied from my journal:

We (mankind as a whole) have always come up with theories to answer the unending whys of the world. We have nearly always and universally held our theories to be self-evident truths. As technology and the breadth of human understanding grows, these self-evident truths have largely fallen by the wayside as scientific explanations overtake them – why not the idea of an omnipotent GOD? Continue reading “David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 3.5/5”

Cooking

Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This bread is a great replacement for expensive store-bought cinnamon raisin bread. You can use it for toast, French toast or to make stuffing. It’s so good warmed with a little butter on it. My one year old kisses the oven when he sees it baking – it’s that good!

Continue reading “Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread”

Quotes, Tea and Books

Book Review – Educated by Tara Westover – 4/5

4-stars

This is probably the best memoir I have ever read. There has been a lot of hype about it on Social Media so I was expecting to be let down but instead I couldn’t put it down. It did feel a little invasive reading something so deeply personal whenever I remembered it was real… but it is a memoir after all. Tara writes about her cloistered childhood in the mountains of Idaho with a religious zealot for a father, holistic healer and midwife for a mother and an abusive brother. Not even issued a birth certificate until she was nine, Tara and her siblings were never formally, or even informally, educated and this is the story of her breaking away from her background to earn her PhD – and the sacrifices she made to do it. I loved that whenever relatives remembered stories differently from her memories she made sure to include the alternate versions – something that reflects the ideals she learns as she gains an education. This is a tale made even more gripping by its truthfulness.

Favorite Quote:

“I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create”

Continue reading “Book Review – Educated by Tara Westover – 4/5”

Books We're Reading, Tea and Books

Book Review – The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton …. Opinion and Quotes

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Kate Morton is hands down one of my favorite authors. I generally prefer reading classics to modern literature because it’s harder for me to get lost in modern stories. There’s no nostalgia for a bygone age to color the mundane rose in a modern novel, but somehow Kate Morton always manages to capture the nostalgia of the present – or what will become nostalgia. This book didn’t disappoint. Part of the reason I really love her books is that they’re sort of modern gothics, without the predictability of your typical whodunnit – I never see the end coming. In this one she had me doubly fooled – I was so certain I had it figured out (and a little smug about it too!) but at the end there was an unexpected twist. It makes me feel like a child again – the delicious surprise of not knowing how a story will end – the  battle between the absolute irresistibility of it and never wanting it to end. Well worth the read and the space on your shelf.

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Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS!

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

Quotes, Tea and Books

Book Review – Don Quixote … Opinion and Favorite Quotes.

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Don Quixote was a difficult book for me to finish. It took a long time for me to get through it, and I can’t say I loved it. But, something about it had me hooked so I persevered. It’s long, repetitive and written in language that doesn’t resonate well with today’s world. It’s also funny and insightful and full of personalities that are the opposite of what they seem. I thought the end of the book was the best and also the more developed portion – which made it go faster as I got closer to the end. I loved that nearly every character was the opposite of what they purported to be and the fun the author had with those contradictions. It was also an interesting look into the state of Spain during the Inquisition and how it affected the lives of ordinary people. There were frequent run ins with persecuted “Moors” and consideration was given at all times to what the inquisitorial officials would think of things. This part of the book is sadly relevant today in our world – we still haven’t learned kindness.

Here are my favorite quotes from the book:

“Sleep thou, who wa’st born to sleep, or follow thy own inclinations; for my part, I will behave as becomes a person of my aspirations.”

“I myself have experienced that the mountains produce learned men, and that philosophers are to be found within the shepherd’s cot.”

“Blood is hereditary, but virtue is acquired, consequently, this last has an intrinsic value which the other does not possess.”

“Let the tears of the poor find more compassion in thy breast, tho’ not more justice, than the testimony of the rich.”

“If ever you suffer the rod of justice to be bent a little, let it not be warped, by the weight of corruption, but by the heart of sympathy.”

“Give thyself no concern about what thou mayest hear, otherwise there will be no end of thy vexation: console thyself with a good conscience and let them say what they will; for, it is as impracticable to tie up the tongue of malice as to erect barricades in open fields.”

“Liberty is one of the most precious gifts which heaven hath bestowed on man, exceeding all the treasures which earth encloses or which ocean hides; and for this blessing, as well as for honour, we may and ought to venture life itself: on the other hand, captivity and restraint are the greatest evils that human nature can endure.”

Great advice from a madman.

Rating Scale

1/5 – Awful / would not read again / maybe could not finish.

2/5 – Low quality work / some enjoyment / not worth the time

3/5 – Don’t regret, Don’t love / would add to my shelf if it is a piece of literature

4/5 – Would read again / Definitely would add to my shelf because BOOKS!

5/5 – Would definitely read more than once / Must buy / Gives you the happy book love feels.

Childhood, D.I.Y.

DIY Shapes and Colors Felt Toy Game for Toddlers.

My son is quite a bit too young to be ready for any formal education, but my husband and I think that learning is so important and we’re really excited to start teaching him things – anything! We like to incorporate learning into as much as possible, that includes solo play time. Recently, I made a wall-hanging felt game for Charlie that he loves to play with. Right now, he can’t play with it the way it was intended, but he loves that the felt pieces come off and stick back on, the bright colors keep him occupied, and he’s being exposed to the idea of shapes and colors. When Dave and I see him playing with it, we often take a few minutes to sit with him and talk him through what color and shape he’s currently playing with. It’s fun for everyone and it’s so so easy to make!

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Continue reading “DIY Shapes and Colors Felt Toy Game for Toddlers.”

Cooking

Gluten Free Meatloaf that isn’t Dry!

I love good food and cooking, but I really love only cooking one meal for my family. Since I am the lone gluten-free eater in a family who loves to eat, I’m really really motivated to find food that my husband and son will eat, that is both gluten-free and delicious. Meatloaf was a staple in my house growing up, but most gluten free recipes I try are dry and tasteless. My meatloaf recipe is a favorite at our house and it has sneaky veggies! (Shhh! Don’t tell my son!)

Continue reading “Gluten Free Meatloaf that isn’t Dry!”