Saturday, January 06, 2018

Reading Update

Welcome to the first Reading Update of 2018!  I haven't read much yet, but here are the first two books of the year.

Book #1 of 2018 fits in well with my OLW, ENOUGH.  Living in Haiti is a constant challenge in figuring out how to care for other people, and realizing that you are never enough. You can never fix all the problems around you, no matter how hard you try. You can never fix even the problems of the people who come and specifically ask you to fix their problems. You find yourself saying "No" a lot, and even when you do say "Yes" you feel conflicted about whether you did right. Kent Annan has many wise things to say in this book, Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly in the World.  There is no magic formula (I would mistrust it if there were), but here are some tastes from the table of contents:

Attention: Awakening to Justice
Confession: The Posture for Engaging
Respect: The Golden Rule for Helping
Partnering: With Not For
Truthing: Hard Thinking and Feet on the Ground
Practicing Faithfully Even When We're Overwhelmed

I highly recommend this book; it would make a wonderful choice for a discussion group.

Book #2 was Emily Wilson's new translation of The Odyssey.  My daughter and I read aloud the Fagles translation to each other in the summer of 2016, and as soon as we saw this new one advertised, we knew we wanted to read this one too.  On January 1st the Kindle edition was on sale for $3.99, so we grabbed our copies and started reading. We finished the 24th book last night.  I'm sorry for you if you don't get to read it with my hilarious daughter, who also happens to be a Greek student, but you should definitely read it anyway.

This translation is fast-paced and readable.  It doesn't make any effort to preserve archaic diction; in fact, there were a few words that we found a little jarring in their modernness, like "canapés" being served at a banquet, Penelope's suitors sitting around "playing checkers," or Odysseus giving his men a "pep talk."  We loved reading it, and remembered once again that this is just a great story; there's a reason people have been reading it for so many centuries. Telemachus is a whiny adolescent who has every reason to feel grumpy.  Penelope is courageous and resourceful in spite of her terrible circumstances.  Windy, self-important, deceitful Odysseus somehow still stirs your heart.  Life is all about grief and loss, but it's also about dinner.  And how much more modern could you get than these lines:

"The worst thing humans suffer
is homelessness; we must endure this life
because of desperate hunger; we endure
as migrants with no home."

1 comment:

Janet said...

I am absolutely crushed that I missed sale day for The Odyssey! I heard a review of it on the radio awhile back and would have snatched it up. Sounds like it didn't disappoint!