Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – a wonderful gift from my sister.

Today I collected a neatly wrapped parcel from the post office sent to me by my sister in Johannesburg. I just love getting parcels – I get the same feeling of excitement as I used to as a child at Christmas time. Inside was a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.  I have heard about this book quite often on other blogs about slow living and I am looking forward to reading it.

Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this book (released May 2007) tells the story of how her family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the place where they live. Barbara wrote the central narrative; Steven’s sidebars dig deeper into various aspects of food-production science and industry; Camille’s brief essays offer a nineteen-year-old’s perspective on the local-food project, plus nutritional information, meal plans and recipes.

I will let you know my opinion once I have read it.

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

~ Henry Ward Beecher~

I love reading. It’s my passion. My greatest spending weakness.  I am doing so well in not being a big consumer but when I get into a bookshop I lose all self-control.  I am now trying to curb and control my book buying habits by only buying books that I can reread often and use as a source of reference.  For the more relaxing stuff I am starting to borrow books and have joined the local library.  I have tons of books that I now lend out to friends who like reading and in return I get to read their books. 

The Bean has also inherited my passion but is so stingy with her books. She doesn’t like me reading them because when I take a break I lie the book down open and it really FREAKS her out!  She doesn’t even open her books wide when she reads so as not to wrinkle the spine. What have I bred? She is manic….

Here are some of my favorite reading quotes:

Beware of the man of one book.
~Anonymous ~

Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up
its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors.
~Joseph Addison ~

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison  ~

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
~ Mortimer J. Adler ~

That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~

When I look back, I am so impressed again
with the life-giving power of literature. 
If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of
myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,
just as I did when I was young.
~ Maya Angelou ~

Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted;
nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested:
that is, some books are to be read only in parts,
others to be read, but not curiously, and some few
to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. 
~Francis Bacon ~

The printing press is either the greatest blessing
or the greatest curse of modern times,
sometimes one forgets which it is.
Sir James M. Barrie ~

The wonderful thing about a book, in contrast to a computer screen,
is that you can take it to bed with you.
~Daniel J. Boorstine ~

He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend,
a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter.
By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently
divert and pleasantly entertain himself,
as in all weathers, as in all fortunes.
~ Barrow ~

I am currently reading three books.  I don’t often read more than two at a time – one heavier reading one light reading.  Right now though all three take loads of concentration so it’s going to be a long process.

The first I am reading on recommendation.  The author was recommended for another of his books but fate stepped in when the book I was looking for was sold out, but they had an earlier book of his which I bought.  I am really glad it happened that way because with hindsight – I really needed to read this book first.

I bump heads with this book a lot so I need to read it in little pieces and then come back to it.  Initially my problems related to terminology which I am now coming to terms with.  I thought he was saying one thing – which I disagreed with, till I pushed on a bit and “got it” – you need to push through with this book.  It’s worth it.  Click here to read more about it.

A lot of this book is about thinking – which I do a lot of, and love.  He says its bad – that got my back up of course, but after really looking at what he is saying, and understanding how he classifies “thinking” and how he puts this process into past, present and future, that I agree with him.  It is really eye-opening.   Here is a review by Carter Phipps.

Aptly titled, the book is a meticulous and detailed deconstruction of everything that inhibits our ability to see beyond the confines of our own minds into the power and beauty of life lived in what Tolle calls “the Now,” or “Being,” or “Presence.” At first glance it might seem like just one more in a growing genre of books full of tips on how to be more mindful and awake in our daily life, but Tolle’s clear writing and the obvious depth of his experience and insight set it apart. Enlightenment, according to Tolle, is simply a “natural state of felt oneness with Being.” And being, in Tolle’s teaching, is defined as “the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.” It is also, as he goes on to explain, “deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence. . . . When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of ‘feeling-realization’ is enlightenment.”

Using a question and answer format throughout the book, Tolle weaves his words together like a carefully constructed net designed to catch and constrain all the objections of the mind and ego to the freedom of being he is pointing to. His basic message is simple: disconnect from the thinking mind, shift your attention from “mind to Being, from time to Presence.” Indeed, time is the enemy in Tolle’s teaching, and the mind is the enemy’s tool. We must reject them both, abandoning our psychological attachment to the past and future, realizing that a mind-identified condition is “a form of insanity.” “Be so utterly, so completely present,” Tolle tells us, “that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you. In the Now, in the absence of time, all your problems dissolve. Suffering needs time; it cannot survive in the Now.” While he never strays far from this basic point, Tolle parlays his message into a wide-ranging discussion of such diverse spiritual topics as freedom from thoughts and emotions; the student/ teacher relationship; death and dying; the human ego; our physical body, sexual relationships, and gender issues; and even the design of human evolution. And through it all, the “power of Now” serves as a sort of universal “portal” that can always take us (or bring us back) into a state of presence, providing access to the “unmanifested dimension of life,” and freeing us from anything and everything that would interfere.

The next book is a borrowed one. 

This book is written by a South African – Ian McCallum 

Ian McCallum is medical doctor, psychiatrist, naturalist, writer and former rugby Springbok. He has written a book that is timeous, urgent and with profound implications. We know that the modern world’s increasing distance from nature has left us impoverished, floundering in our search for direction and the will to right the ecological ills of our planet.”  In this optimistic work, McCallum explores the relationship between human beings and nature, from both a biological and poetic perspective. He argues that understanding and reinforcing the evolutionary bonds that interconnect us with all life will lead to a greater sense of proportion and of our place in the world.

I have just started this book but it promises to be interesting.  I have read a few reviews of the book – some positive and some negative – I’ll let you know what I think. So far, I find his writing good although his beliefs are different to mine.  Any book that deals with evolution tends to get rather controversial reviews, and although most of the book is not about evolution, per se, he does strongly push his view, which I guess, is why many people write books.

And finally book three,

At first glance this book looks like a normal yoga book that just shows you all the movements and positions – which is what I was looking for when I found it, however, it is just so much more.  Sarah Powers is known for her unique approach – Insight Yoga – which combines traditional yoga with the meridians of Chinese medicine as well as meditation.  In this book she tells of her journey of discovery, how she developed her approach using and combining  ancient practices. She has a lovely writing style and this book leads you along her pathway – until you reach the various yoga positions where each position is explained in detail, showing you why and where it works even down to the detail of which organs are involved in each movement.  She covers how you can use the positions to improve various ailments and finishing with an introduction to meditation and mindfulness techniques.  I am loving it.

What are you reading right now?