Contemplating My Death
Two Elder Fashion Failures

Book Day Among the TGB Elders

When, yesterday, I read Jan Adams' review of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic 1789 - 1815 by historian Gordon S. Wood, I immediately bookmarked it to buy for my Kindle. This grabbed me:

“The title phrase - 'empire of liberty' - is an expression used more than once by Thomas Jefferson without irony, in fact with vast enthusiasm and hope,” writes Jan.

“...I did want to highlight a theme that has implications for current struggles. “Woods portrays those early years of the nation as the era when the idea of a 'middle class' society superseded European notions of class stratification.

“Until perhaps the immediate present, the belief that this was a middle class nation in which hierarchies were fluid, most people lived neither at extremes of wealth or poverty, and industrious people had a chance formed part of the national psyche. It is interesting to read how this looked back then.”

You can read more at Jan's blog. Our “current struggles,” as she labels them, are also what I have been reading about these past few of days. Well, sort of - the book was published in 1940.

Since Yesterday – The 1930s in America September 3, 1929-September 3, 1939 is by magazine editor and popular historian Frederick Lewis Allen (whom you might know due to his somewhat more popular book, Only Yesterday – An Informal History of the 1920s, a great contemporaneous account of that era).

Although I am only as far along as FDR's election in 1932, the similarities between the first three years of the Great Depression and the same period of our great recession are startling, even eerie.

The arrogant bankers and Wall Streeters then are indistinguishable from today's. There were corporate bailouts with taxpayer dollars then too. The same inertia and failure by the federal government to address the people's unemployment, hunger and growing homelessness.

There is even that decade's equivalent of the Occupy movement in the form of Hoovervilles and the Bonus marches. Those encampments, like the ones this week in Atlanta and Oakland, were broken up and destroyed by government forces which, in 1932, involved one death.

The more I read of this book, the more find myself gasping in disbelief. Every mistake leaders have made in our current financial mess appear to be a duplicates of the mistakes during the early years the Great Depression. Does no one ever learn anything from the past? Many since 2008, have invoked the similarities to the 1930s, but no one has applied the lessons.

If you are interested, Jan's book recommendation has just been released in paperback and is reasonably priced in that format and Kindle at Amazon and undoubtedly at all the other book sellers.

I paid $5.00 for a Kindle edition of Since Yesterday, but I have now discovered that it can be read free online at the Universal Library. There, you will find several e-reader versions for downloading, an html edition and a pdf.

Now it's your turn. What book are you most absorbed in right now or do you most want to recommend. Try to keep it to one so that we are not overwhelmed with too many choices. And don't just give us a title; tell us why you chose it, something about it and why you're recommending it.

I'm eager to see what you're reading.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Friendship


Erm - I found I had to move to laugh-out-loud stuff to keep my sanity reasonably intact so I am reading "The Woefield Poultry Collective" by Susan Joby which is just the prescription.

I'm way behind the loop with this one. I saw "The Help" as a movie first, and only when the entire Discovery shop staff gave it Kudos did I buy it. As the book person at the store, I noted the very first used copy came into the store yesterday.

Out of 1 to 10, this book get's a 10.

I read this entire book yesterday--couldn't put it down: My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, and there is also an amazingly inspirational 18-minute video you can find on line. It was recommended by a scientist/teacher friend from whom I learn so much just in conversation.It answers for me lifelong questions about positive or negative attitudes, and whether one can choose!

I'm ready Aging Well by George E. Vaillant, M.D. This is a collection of life studies of individuals as they move through all developmental stages of life. We get to see how early events (personal and social)affect those in the study group as they are now in their experienced years. Lots of great lessons!

Wow, what an awful time to ask me this question since I am not reading anything that makes me sound literary or wise. Because I plan to soon epub my romance manuscripts, I've been reading what is out there in romance in different cost levels... oops. I will say though that I am loving the kindle for reading, just loving it, and will be using it to read something more brag worthy in the future... I hope ;)

Lynn, I want to read that book! But right now I am immersed in escapist, well-written Tana French novels, recommended by the author of "The Burrow." Excellent fiction!

I'm half way through Richard Louv's new book The Nature Principle:Human restoration and the end of nature-defecit disorder. After Louv pointed out, in his seminal book Last Child in the Woods, that today's children are being rendered dysfunctional and unhappy by spending so much of their lives indoors and in 'virtual realities' instead of playing outside like we did, many people remarked to him that millions of modern adults are suffering from 'nature deficit disorder' also. Hence this second book. Like the previous one, it is excellent and jam-packed with research findings. Louv talks about not just how important it is to our mental and physical health to spend more time in green and leafy surroundings and to get back into contact with the soil, but also how to go about re-greening our cities.

It's two authors, mysteries, Louise Penny's Armand Gamache stories and Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak tales. What I like about them besides the well crafted stories, is their books are full of the culture they and their characters live in, Penny's French Canada - Quebec, and Stabenow's Alaska. They've lead me to read about Samuel de Champlain the "Father of Quebec," and the native cultures of Alaska. I've taken to reading them by the computer so I can look up words and places as I go.

Middlesex: A Novel
by: Jeffrey Eugenides

Mrs. Lincoln: A Life
by: Catherine Clinton

I also agree with Mage B and understand that it's the author's first book.

The Honored Dead by Joseph Braude.

It's a non-fiction murder mystery that takes place in Morocco and includes insights about Arab daily life and how the people interact with each other.

I just finished Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, which will go on my shelf of all-time favorites. Freedom takes one American family and follows it over 20 years or so, while each character attempts to define what it means to be free. The catch lies at the point where their freedoms collide. Expect no heroes or devils here; well, maybe one. The story, the pace and especially the language were carefully chosen, always just right, page after many page. It's a long one, but worth it.
This book was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, and was an Oprah Book Club selection.

I started "1Q84" by Haruki Murakami yesterday even though I haven't finished "The Dolphin Chronicles" by Carol J Howard yet.
Murakami leads my "Favorite Authors of the 20th Century" list. His work embodies a lot of what I consider the best of modern fiction.
Carol Howard's book helps to confirm my understanding of how much we (humans) are kin to the other species on this planet. We are indeed all one.

I have been revisiting really old favorites in the Judge Dee series. But Among recent non fiction I have finished Arianna Huffington's Third World America and am reading Friedman & Mandlebaum's That Used To Be Us and Michael Lewis' Boomerang. I recently read Lewis' The Big Short. Some time ago, I read both Only Yesterday and Since Yesterday. Enjoyed both. Also Gordon Wood's Radicalism of the American Revolution. I spent a lot of time in a couple of university history departments. Will Keep the new Wood's book in mind.

Thanks for the link to Universal Library. I'm desperately trying to escape current exasperations by immersing myself in "Saved By A Poem" by Kim Rosen. It's insightful and full of wonderful poems that I hope will save me/us.

I've also been thinking the same think about the parallels between what is going on now and what was going on in the 1930's. The bonus marchers and the US Army's attack on their encampment were on my mind as I watched video of what was happening in Oakland.

I've just finished reading AVA'S MAN, Rick Bragg's book about his grandfather, Charlie Bundrum. Bragg's has wonderful writing style that sings. He wrote this sentence about his grandfather:

He was a man whose tender heart was stitched together with steel wire, who stood beaten and numb over a baby's grave in Georgia, then took a simple-minded man into his home to protect him from scoundrels who liked to beat him for fun."

When I reached the end of the book, and the end of Charlie Bundrum's life, I cried at the passing of a man I truly believed I now knew.

I'm still hacking away at Bryan Caplan's "The Myth of the Rational Voter". Clearly the title is intriguing in this day and age of the irrational Tea Party vote concerning how to generate a vibrant recovery for the middle class.

To give you an indication of the impact TGB has on your readers (as if you needed it), your post yesterday on the subject of mortality reminded me of a book I read back in 1961: "My Brother Death," by the journalist C.L. Sulzberger. It's a thoughtful meditation on the subject, drawing on the history of human thought and experience, from all the principal religions of East and West; and from philosophers, saints, kings, etc. It's out of print, but I found it at the Universal Library.

It engrossed me 50 years ago, when I was a 22-year-old; I wonder how it will affect me now, when the subject is more of a reality and not the abstraction it was then?

I've probably recommended it before, but here goes again:

The Invisible Scar by Caroline Byrd.

The author explains to 1966 readers 1) what the Depression was like to live through on a personal level and 2) How it changed America.

I first discovered it in a public library in the 1970s (where copies are often found to this day), and it gave me chills. Despite hearing about the Great Depression my whole life, this book made it so real for me I never forgot it.

Of course, I (and you) got to live long enough to see Great Depression 2.0 come around ... yet again! The familiar parade of scummy characters and vital yet forgotten lessons will make your hair stand on end.

Annie Dillard's "The Maytrees", profound novel of late-life love and forgiveness, death and art. Not sweet, sentimental or pandering. Poetic. Let me know how you like it.

Right now, pure escape - rereading an Agatha Christie "Murder in Three Acts."

I always have two books going -- one non-fiction; one fiction.

The current non-fiction is "Hemingway: A Life without Consequences" -- an excellent bio of one of my favorite authors.

I'm also reading "Cathedral of the Sea" by Idelfonso Falcones -- a novel set in Medieval Spain which is always of interest to me. The author has been compared to Ken Follett.

I will check out the book you recommended. My latest find was Unbroken, by the author of Sea Biscuit. I could not put this book down. Have you read it yet?

I'm reading "The Music of Life" by Denis Noble. He shoes us the limitations of the genetic determination idea.

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