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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

Welcome to my own personal exploration of life through reading the great books of the world.

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Location: Spokane, Washington, United States

"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Reaction to The Knight by Gene Wolfe

I finished Gene Wolfe's The Knight today. My Wolfe gene must be missing, because I don't get it. I understand that his books are often obscure on a first reading, and that this is just the first of a two-book series, but nothing in the book really moved me. Some of the scenes were beautifully written, and I liked the main character, Able of the High Heart, but the story left me flat. It just didn't seem worth the effort.

I thought I'd search the web for other reactions to the book to see what I was missing, and while many reviewers were positive, most of them were vague about why they liked it so much. Their comments generally bore on the same theme: "I'm not sure what the book means, but I look forward to reading the next book to find out."

Finally I found a review that I could relate to. Steven Wu, a "huge fan of Gene Wolfe," found the novel "too random, too aimless," and "like some fantasy writer's first stab at the art." Like me, Wu stuck with the book, "because this is Wolfe." He continues, "I tried hard with this book, slogging through it for a month and a half, and it just never got better."

My feelings exactly.

Be sure to read the entire review at Steven Wu's Book Reviews. And while you're there, check out his opinion of The Power and the Glory, Anubis Gates and Bridge of Birds.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:40 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Words Create Worlds

I just love the way this picture illustrates the power of words:

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posted by Nick Senger at 5:14 AM 1 comments Links to this post

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Genealogy Meets Web 2.0 with OurStory.com

If you've always wanted to keep a record of your family's history but didn't know where to begin, you might consider looking at OurStory.com. I've just been playing around on the site, and the unique thing about it is the way it makes family history a collaborative effort. (In the interest of full disclosure, let me say up front that OurStory.com is a sponsor of this site, but they are not sponsoring this post.)

After the free sign-up, you can create a time line for anything, and then invite others to join you in creating the story. For instance:
  • You can invite others to write about what they remember about your wedding, including adding pictures.
  • You can set up a tribute page for your grandparents' 50th anniversary and invite all the grandchildren to contribute their favorite memory.
  • You can tell your family's history and invite all your relatives to participate.
One idea I had was to invite everyone I know to tell the story of the one book that's had the biggest impact on their life.

Each story gets its own time line, and collaborators can subscribe to new entries via RSS, so you can always keep up with newly added memories. You can also add your time line to any blog you author.

I've been trying for over 15 years to put together my family's history, but with OurStory.com I can now invite my parents, brothers, sisters, and cousins to help me in this daunting project. In addition to adding memories, they can also add pictures and videos, creating a multimedia story of my family's memories.

OurStory.com brings the power of social networking to genealogy and memory-making.

As one of their tag lines goes, OurStory.com - Life is a journey. Tell the story.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:57 PM 1 comments Links to this post

Shadow Puppets Express a Wonderful World

Just when you think the world is getting bleaker and bleaker, something like this arrives in your email inbox:

Raymond Crowe doing shadow puppetry at the 2007 Helpmann Awards

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posted by Nick Senger at 7:56 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chronological Middle-earth Reading List

If you've ever wanted to read Tolkien's Middle-earth writings in chronological order, you might want to check out the Chronological Middle-earth Reading List. It's available in Word or pdf format.

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posted by Nick Senger at 6:09 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Page Holding Book Gadget

Kimbooktu is the reigning queen of book gadgets, but I came across something that I just had to share. Sorry, Kim, I would have sent it to you, but I haven't posted in a while and I was feeling guilty :-)

It's called Thumb Thing, and you use it to keep the pages open while you're reading:

Pretty cool, huh? Read more about it at the Thumb Thing website.

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posted by Nick Senger at 4:40 PM 2 comments Links to this post