July 2015 reads

Though life has been hectic these past few weeks, I have continued to read, albeit in spurts now and then when time permits. The truth is, the loss of our gardener has driven me to our knees literally – to weed out the ever-creeping carabao grass that is slowly but surely taking over the Bermuda grass (believe me, I have begun to dream of grass!). So. I have returned to my gardening books to study once more the plants that thrive with the least care in the desert. Actually, there’s only one book that can be truly depended on: Anne Love’s Gardening in Oman and the UAE.

Besides gardening books, I also completed last night a book that made me believe again in the power of a single person to change lives. Authored by penpals Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda, I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives would still be a heartwarming tale of friendship and growing up even if the story was fiction. The fact that it was real added charm to the story of how an American girl and a boy from the slums of Zimbabwe met and became brother and sister in spirit. It also caused me to look at what I am doing to help others. (Highly recommended)

Before I forget, I have to admit to struggling with the first few pages of Danica McKellar’s Girls Get Curves : Geometry Takes Shape book which I got to help my boys with their schoolwork. As I confessed to friends three weeks ago, I hate the study of logic, it just bums me out. Still, I think I will finish her book by the time my daughter graduates from homeschool.

In the meantime, reading Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes : Cultural Studies in the Gospels has been a stimulating and eye-opening exercise. Though I’m only halfway through the book, it has challenged so many Western presumptions that I’ve held (though I’m an Asian), partly because I live in the region from which he deconstructs the gospel narratives. What do I mean by this? Well, Bailey contends that in Middle Eastern society, “men usually represent families in any official or legal matters.” Thus, Joseph had no need to bring Mary along with him to register for the census. Why didn’t he leave her behind in Nazareth? According to Bailey, Joseph “was unsure what might happen to her if he left her in Nazareth without his presence to protect her” – remember, she had gotten pregnant prior to marriage with Joseph! Still, I wonder: was the culture in the Levant after the advent of Islam similar to the culture during biblical times? (Recommended if you’re into Christian literature)

Meanwhile, I am seriously thinking of getting Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Though Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was the only book that turned on the taps for years, I’d held off against getting its sequel because of the hoopla surrounding its publication (the book came out July 14, 2015 and became HarperCollins’ “fastest-selling book in company history”). But the revelation that Atticus Finch comes off as racist in the new novel is a surprise and I’m intrigued …

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