"This was the problem of living in a post–Sarah Silverman world: lots of young women holding the scepter of inappropriateness did not know how to wield it."
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
books i like: the memoir (number six)
6. The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness by Karen Armstrong
I really enjoy what Karen Armstrong has to say in general. She’s incredibly intelligent and thoughtful. This is a memoir about her time as nun (and after she left the convent). Given my fascination with nuns and monastic life, I found this book really enjoyable and compelling. Here are some quotes that made note of at the time when I read it (which i think was 2 years ago now).
“If you are bent on proving that your own tradition alone is correct, and pour scorn on all other points of view, you are interjecting self and egotism into your study, and the texts will remain closed.” [from page 288]
and another goodie,
“Most would agree with the Greek Orthodox that any statement about God had to have two characteristics. It must be paradoxical, to remind us that God cannot be contained in a neat, coherent system of thought; and it must be apophatic, that is, it should lead us to a moment of silent awe or wonder, because when we are speaking of the reality of God we are at the end of what words or thoughts can usefully do.” [from page 292]*
*a side note, I was first introduced to the idea of apophatic, or negative, theology in a course on Judaism in college. The seed was planted then, some 10 years ago, and I find myself compelled by it now more and more.
I am currently reading her book A History of God which is crazy dense but pretty interesting, for sure.
Here are some more resources relating to Karen Armstrong:
more books i like: the memoir:
regardless of working full time, finishing graduate school, and looking for another full time job when the current one runs out, i find i must read. for me. not about cataloging or information analysis. or whatever. i just want to read something interesting and intellectually stimulating for pleasure.
so, who do i read for fun?
weird shit about fundamentalist Christianity.
you know, something light.
I’ve got this book waiting at the local library for me:
Jesus Land: A Memoir
by Julie Scheeres
more about it here
Stories don’t need morals or messages - salon.com →
this [the article linked above] is an interesting article that definitely messes with my notion of story and even my love of nonfiction over fiction. [warning: conclusion about to be drawn in the face of an article that questions the very value of doing so] this certainly teaches me to relax and to not be so Machiavellian in my reading pursuits. read for reading sake.
books i like: the memoir (number five)
5. The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day
I read this first in college for a Religion in American History class. We were to pick out an additional book to read (from a list that the professor handed out) and write a paper about it. I picked this book. I liked the book then; I love it now. I re-read this summer and enjoyed it even more (especially since I didn’t have to write a paper about it). So much of it seemed new to me too. It’s amazing what time and maturity can bring to your reading experience. Maybe I’ll read again in another decade.
Essentially this book is about community and social justice. Also pepper in some self-sacrifice, early to mid twentieth century anarchists, and a Catholic conversion… In all seriousness, this book gives me a feeling of hope. It’s good, real good.
One of the many beautiful quotes you can pull from this book:
“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
more books i like: the memoir:
holiday reading list.
As the semester winds down, I like to distract myself with fantasies of reading for fun. So I’m compiling my reading list for the holidays. Here’s what I’ve got my eyes on so far:
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War
by Tony Horwitz
Have you read Confederates in the Attic? That book got me interested in the Civil War. I highly recommend it. It’s funny and informative and very well-written. I went into that book being pretty ambivalent about THE WAR. It’s good. Read it. I am hoping for the same from Horwitz’s latest about John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry.
The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen
by Jacques Pépin
I have mentioned my love for Julia Child’s memoir My Life in France and Judith Jones’s The Tenth Muse. I am hoping this book elicits a similar response from me. I love memoirs and I love food - can’t say it enough.
Right as Rain
by George Pelecanos
This is a risky move for me. It’s pop fiction. It’s a crime novel. But it’s centered on Washington, DC and is written by one of the writers of TV series The Wire. I just started it (prematurely, I know. semester’s not over; but a girl’s gotta eat. knowwhatimean?!), so we’ll see how it goes.
by Suzanne Collins
I read the first book in this series this summer and enjoyed well enough but I felt like I needed a break before I started the second. This is a part of my continuing effort to appreciate fiction (see above).
by David Rakoff
After the genre of memoir, I love essays. Rakoff is a frequent contributor to This American Life, So I’m inclined to check out his writings as well.
books i like: the memoir (number four)
Number four in my little series here. Another food related memoir. I remember my friend BeccaD mentioning this book and then when I was reading number three Judith Jones comes up quite a bit (she was Julia Child’s editor).
4. The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones
This is a great memoir not just about food but about an independent woman and her life as an editor. I’m also a sucker for memoirs about living in Europe, particularly France. I definitely appreciate a story of an independent woman who has passions and interests and ambition and finds a partner in life to share that with. (I just ended a sentence with a preposition, which I am loathe to do, but I’m going to let it go this time while also pointing it out to you, the reader. many apologies. let’s move on… crap! did it again..)
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, recently I was at a book store (ok, it was the gift shop at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, whatever.) with my brother and his wife and I saw this book ON SALE (can’t afford not to logic in play). I already own it, but I soon discovered my food-and-culture-loving-bookworm of a sister-in-law had not read it. So I bought it for her. That is how much I like this book. If it were on sale and you were with me (or maybe not with me), I would buy it for you. You’re welcome.
more books i like: the memoir:
books i like: the memoir (number three)
The series continues. I bring you another installment of “books i like: the memoir.” Number 3 reflects my love of food and the proud nation of France.
3. My Life in France by Julia Child
My dear friend BeccaD loaned me this book a couple years ago and I loved every second of reading this book. The descriptions of food, France, and Julia’s relationship with her husband are captivating. I spent my freshman year of college in France and I will always love that country. I thought I had mostly moved on from it, but this book made me ache for it all over again. And it made me regret not being more adventurous while I was there. ah, well. There’s so much to Julia Child. I admire her independent and courageous spirit - both inside and outside of the kitchen.
more books i like: the memoir:
books i like: the memoir (number two)
number 2 in my little “books i like: the memoir” series… again, not in any particular order.
2. Fighting the Lamb’s War: Skirmishes with the American Empire by Philip Berrigan and Fred A. Wilcox
I first encountered this book my sophomore year of college in REL 423: Religion and Politics in America. I would say that this course and another course I took that semester (History of the Modern Middle East) were pretty ground breaking for me personally. That might seem dramatic, but whatever. Anyway, I had to read this book for this class and it totally captured my attention. It’s about a radical activist Catholic priest - his service in World War II, his work for racial and social justice, his activism during the Vietnam War, and his activism against nuclear weapons. He also talks about (activist-based) intentional communities and his struggle with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. He also fell in love with a nun and married her, which got him excommunicated. so he was pretty much a badass.
you might also like:
The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton - Admittedly, I have yet to finish this book. I started it, oh, 7 or 8 years ago? It much more tame than Berrigan’s autobiography, but if you are interested in Catholic social activism, social justice, the Vietnam-era, you might enjoy this book.
The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist by Dorothy Day - Another goodie for sure. SO GOOD, that this book makes my list.
Disarmed And Dangerous: The Radical Life And Times Of Daniel And Philip Berrigan, Brothers In Religious Faith And Civil Disobedience by Murray Polner & Jim O’grady
anything by Howard Zinn