One-Hundred And One Famous Poems , Anthology Complied by Roy Cook

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Roy Cook, the editor, said that “the purpose of this little volume is to enrich, ennoble, encourage. And for man, who has learned to love convenience, it is hardly larger than his concealing pocket.”

The choice of poems picked for the book is exceptional. On more than one occasion I have sat waiting for a speaker, viewed as an intellectual, go to the podium and then weave into their subject the value of poetry.

Talking about poetry leads to the thought that everyone should commit some poems to memory. The reasons and logic for this is, at least, the idea that since ancient times people have memorized and recited poetry.

Another good reason is that if a poem’s message is to be taken to heart, it is said that a person should know it by heart.

This collection is a must have for those that have any appreciation for poetry. The book is just full of surprises. I will offer a poem I was glad to find.

Not in Vain

By Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain; If I can ease on life from aching, Or cool one in pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again I shall not live in vain

See poem “In Flanders Fields” on page 11 of the book or click to link to poetry section

The Builders by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Opportunity by Edward R. Sill, Out to Old Aunt Mary’s by James Whitcomb Riley, Each and All by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Tennyson, and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Francis William Burdillon are just a few of the 101 poems.

Yes, you ought to buy this if you don’t have it. Click on the Amazon Link below and buy it.

First Ladies, An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives, by Margaret Truman

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Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry S. Truman and Bess Truman, was born on February 17, 1924 in Independence, Missouri and died on January 29, 2008 in Chicago.

The Presidential Daughters book, “First Ladies”, is of course opinionated and takes the view that the importance of the women themselves are secondary to the President.

Compare this impression with a quote from an article “Daughter Knows Bess that was in the Washington Post: "Mother told her secretary, 'I don't give a damn what they want to know,' and the secretary translated that to 'She hasn't made up her mind yet,' " Margaret Truman says.

For the book protecting the President is her message of importance saying.  ``While I am heartily in favor of women achieving maximum opportunities and power, I doubt that the First Lady is the ideal symbolic vehicle for this ascent.''

With this yardstick it is not surprising to see Nancy Reagan presented in the book as the type of first lady that Margaret admires. The criticism that Nancy Reagan received in Ron Reagan’s first term due to her decision to replace the White House china, which had been paid for by private donations, doesn’t seem very heavy weight by today’s standards but Margaret likely would feel ok about it being bold enough.

Another First Lady that Margaret referred to as the “almost perfect First Lady” was Lady Bird Johnson. With the praise for these two First Ladies it is really no surprise to find Margaret take a shot at Jacqueline Kennedy saying she had a ``visceral repugnance for average Americans.''

Eleanor Roosevelt even though very accomplished on a personal level was judged by Margaret against what she termed as Eleanor’s ``tragic limitations'' as a wife.

What is clear from the book is that First Ladies find themselves in a job that is impossible to define, and just as difficult to perform. Margaret Truman brings her unique perspective and tries to reveal the truth behind some of the most misunderstood and forgotten First Ladies.

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The 8th Habit From Effectiveness to Greatness by Stephen R. Covey

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The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness in 2004 was a follow up, or upgrade, to Stephen R. Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989.

The eighth habit is "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs." Covey's says that voice is "unique personal significance." Both books are intended to build leadership.

This new book adds the idea that people have four intelligences - physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. His message is one of finding balance and understanding these strengths.

Covey’s goal is to help the reader find their voice in the first chapters and then in the later chapters show the reader how to help others find theirs.

People are born with the freedom to choose and in addition to choosing to be a leader and find their voice they need to choose to avoid the negatives that can hold them back.  These negatives are called the "5 Cancerous Behaviors”: Criticism, Complaining, Comparing, Competing &Contending.

Covey add that in the quest for these results there are natural laws that if followed will ensure success. Those laws have to do with the positive consequences that come from fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service and contribution.

Stephen R. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is still a best seller with it’s strong focus on the principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity.

Quotes

“people are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope...with all of their might.” 

When all you want is a person's body and you don't really want their mind, heart or spirit, you have reduced a person to a thing.”“To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground” 

“what is most personal ,is most general.”

 “No matter how long we’ve walked life’s pathway to mediocrity, we can always choose to switch paths. Always. It’s never too late. We can find our voice.” 

The Body, by Stephen King

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Gordon Lachance is an adult telling this story in the first person, looking back to 1960 when he was 12 years old, living in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine.

A boy from a nearby town is missing and Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern decide that the boy has been missing so long that he must be dead, and they suspect he was hit by a train along the rail tracks between the towns.  They tell their parents they are camping out and begin the quest to find the corpse.

The idea of finding a dead body excites them but they start out their trip not clearly understanding death. They each come from abusive or dysfunctional families with challenges and stories that are revealed and become clear as the trip proceeds.

When they see the boy's body the reality of death hits them and become clear. "The kid was dead. The kid wasn't sick, the kid wasn't sleeping. The kid wasn't going to get up in the morning anymore or get the runs from eating too many apples or catch poison ivy or wear out the eraser on the end of his Ticonderoga No 2 during a hard math test. The kid was dead."

Gordie's, even as a boy is a writer and storyteller, and the trip gives him time to tell some of his stories and they are written out in the book in the form that it is suggested they apparently later appeared when published in magazines. Gordie’s first person comments on writing can connect with the reader with them recalling Stephen King’s own life story which might be considered a little confusing.

In the final chapters the future fate of the coming years for the boys is discussed. This short novella was made into the movie, Stand by Me, and the book is another example of how very effective Stephen King is in taking us back to this time period

See the Literary Favorite Section for more on Stephen King

Quotes From This Book

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“Speech destroys the function of love, I think-that's a hell of a thing for a writer to say, I guess, but I believe it to be true. If you speak to tell a deer you mean it no harm, it glides away with a single flip of its tail. Love has teeth; they bite; the wounds never close. No word, no combination of words can close those love bites. it's the other way around, that's the joke. If those wounds dry up, the words die with them.” 

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?”

 “Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird” 

 

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik

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“Paris to the Moon'' was taken from essays originally written for the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik, who was assigned to live in Paris from 1995 to 2000. Gopnik begins his account telling us ''I've wanted to live in Paris since I was 8.''

Americans fascination with France, Paris in particular, goes back to Benjamin Franklin’s time and when this book was published in 2000, Gopnik pleads guilty to the same affection.

The essays make statements about the deeper subjects of literature by focusing on small day to day things. “Christmas lights, fax machines, children’s stories” all are items where Gopnik tries to finder larger truths about French and American life.

Gopnik wondered why his refrigerator in New York looked so different as the one he had in Paris and wrote: ''It is as if all American appliances dreamed of being cars while all French appliances dreamed of being telephones,'' He concluded that the French are obsessed by telephones because they love to communicate.

America’s “official culture”, of course, is compared to France’s “civilization”. (Benjamin Franklin likely said something like that) “The Rookie”, one of the most popular chapters in the book, seems to say that life in America brings with it the “gift of loneliness”.  Gopnik finds a way to label the culture of both countries by telling us that he wanted to “protect his child from the weather on CNN in favor of the civilization of the carousel”

At the end of Paris to the Moon, when the family decides to return to America, Gopnik’s wife Martha says, “In Paris we have a beautiful existence but not a full life, and in New York we have a full life but an un-beautiful existence.”

Has anything changed since Benjamin Franklin went to find culture?

Quotes

We breathe in our first language, and swim in our second.” 

“American long for a closed society in which everything can be bought, where laborers are either hidden away or dressed up as nonhumans, so as not to be disconcerting. This place is called Disney World” 

“The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.”

“After all, spinning is its own reward. There wouldn't be carousels if it weren't so.” “Writers are married to their keyboards, as to their passports.” 

“...you have taken part in the only really majestic choice we get to make in life, which is to continue it.” 

Charles Dickens…………………“I cannot tell you what an immense impression Paris made upon me. It is the most extraordinary place in the world!”

Honoré de Balzac“Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant.”

The only train leaving for the moon would likely be from Paris

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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

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Kay Redfield Jamison wrote An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. A Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Honorary Professor of English at the University of St Andrew whose work is centered on bipolar disorder, something she has had since she was a child.

Jamison says that the cultural and medical shift from calling the problem "manic depression" into the term "bipolar disorder" has not clarified anything or helped. She was criticized for saying about the condition of being bipolar that: "We have known for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years that it is genetic.” She sees the illness as the effects of genetic disorders. The book presents her view and is her memoir that has shaped her life and views.

Jamison says in the book: “Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce lost a job or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know, and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding, and no reassurance is ever enough. You're frightened, and you're frightening, and you're "not at all like yourself but will be soon," but you know you won't.”

"People go mad in idiosyncratic ways," one chapter begins. This may seem obvious, but Jamison feels it is a clinical fact and she shows it writing about her own childhood, family, work and relationships.  

The book is considered one of the greatest books written about manic depression or bipolar disorder.

Important Quotes

“No amount of love can cure madness or unblacken one's dark moods. Love can help, it can make the pain more tolerable, but, always, one is beholden to medication that may or may not always work and may or may not be bearable”

“We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this--through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime. ” 

“Which of my feelings are real? Which of the me's is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.” 

61 Hours Jack Reacher, by Lee Child

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Jack Reacher is riding in the back of bus half full of senior citizens on a cheap winter tour going through South Dakota on their way to see Mt. Rushmore.  A storm comes in, the bus slides off the road, and they find themselves in Bolton, South Dakota.  Reacher helps the victims and helps the local law enforcement deal with the situation.

The police tell Reacher about their local prison, one of the largest in the US, and their obligation to always respond first when it has a need, explaining why they were delayed so long to help those on the bus.  

He also learns about a band of outlaw bikers that has settled outside the town and are running a drug making operation. The local leader has been arrested and is being held waiting for trial in the prison and the police are also struggling to protect Janet Salter, a witness to the drug dealings.

Plato is an evil drug lord who lives in Mexico and is the one really in control of the Bolton area drug operation and in directing someone to kill Janet Salter. When Reacher learns of the drug lord he says: “Plato is a weird name for a Mexican, don’t you think? Sounds more like a Brazilian name to me.” When we finally meet Plato, we find out how really weird he is.

The whole story starts with what is going on in the prison telling us: “Five minutes to three in the afternoon. Exactly sixty-one hours before it happened. The lawyer drove in and parked in the empty lot. There was an inch of new snow on the ground, so he spent a minute fumbling in the foot well until his overshoes were secure. Then he got out and turned his collar up and walked to the visitor’s entrance.”

Reacher helps the police and establishes his own contact with Major Susan Turner, the current leader of Reacher's old command, the elite 110th Special Investigations Unit to try to learn the history of the drug facilities location which is in an underground location built during World War 11.

61 hours finally pass, and Reacher made the difference of course. Everything must be ok with Reacher because you find him one page after the end of this story in the “thrilling preview of Night School”.     **

**See Daily Comments - of course everything is ok- this is book 14 of 28 Jack Reacher books. See some thoughts about this and other well known series books click here

Self-Reliance and other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Self-Reliance,” is considered Emerson’s most influential and important essay.  His message is that we should trust our instincts and listen to our own inner promptings.  If we have truths that are influencing us, others will also have the same instincts and influences: what we say based on these inner thoughts will resonate with others.

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all … That is genius,” Emerson writes. “Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost.”

Avoid conformity, do your own thing, recognize and listen to your own conscience and do what you believe is right are the core messages in "Self-Reliance." The result may be that society is critical but that is not important to Emerson.

Self-reliance defines independence. Growing your own food and thinking and taking actions without the influence of others.

Ralph Waldo Emerson attended Harvard at the age of 14, where he studied to become a minister. He moved away from the ministry and became a public speaker expressing his philosophical views and gathering followers in a group called the Transcendentalist Club. This book also contains some of Emerson's other best-known essays and his address to the Harvard Divinity School.

Quotes

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” 

“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.”

 "I like thethe silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”

“Ne te quaesiveris extra." (Do not seek for things outside of yourself)” 

“You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.”  

“Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.” 

 

 

A Trail Of Memories- The Quotations Of- Louis L'Amur, Angelique L'Amour

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Angelique L'Amour has remembered her father, Louis, by organizing many of the quotes from his books into the book, A Trail of Memories: The Quotations of Louis L'Amour.  The chapter titles are categories that the quotes fit into: Life, Opportunity, Hard Work, Family and Home, Women, Time, Growth and Change, Civilization, Belief and more.

The quotes are interesting to L'Amour fans and remind us of the compelling flow of his dialog. He said: "Characters have a way of taking on a life on their own, expressing themselves in the simple philosophy of their times, and expressing beliefs acquired through living, working, and being. Once characters are established, they become their own persons and the ideas of the characters are such ideas as they might have acquired in the circumstances of their daily existence."

Angelique said in book's introduction "By reading his words, each reader has met a part of my father......Each hero has a bit of Dad's experience that makes him who he is. With Lanso, it is all those boxing matches as Dad grew up. With Barnabas Sackett, it is the sailor and explorer in my father...I think that this collection of quotations from my father's books reveals much of what makes Dad who he is, for these words are the heart and soul of what he believes, and what he wants to leave behind."

Louis L'Amour would likely not want to be remembered for his quotes which is clear when he said; "I think of myself in the oral tradition-as a troubadour, a village tale-teller, the man in the shadows of the campfire. That's the way I'd like to be remembered- as a storyteller. A good storyteller." 

See Literary Favorites for more on Louis L'Amour      click here

Quotes

Sackett's Land (1974)

  • We are all of us, it has been said, the children of immigrants and foreigners — even the American Indian, although he arrived here a little earlier. 

The Quick and the Dead (1973)

  •  He was almighty quick at a time when a man was either quick or he was dead.

 

The Lonesome Gods (1983)

  • Each people has its gods, or the spirits in which they believe. It may be their god is the same as ours, only clothed in different stories, different ideas, but a god can only be strong, Hannes, if he is worshiped, and the gods of those ancient people are lonesome gods now. 

Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis Edited by Thomas L. Martin

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Why are the Classic's important? Why read them? Because "in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do." (C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism)

Martin said in his introduction to Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis, "Lewis's mind was nurtured on the study of literature." Literature was so important to Lewis that he spent a great deal of time analyzing how it affected his thinking.

C.S. Lewis's breadth of impact and influence on the literature of our time is significant. His Oxford education, personal character and creativity is only a starting place.

His knowledge of important literature is deep, and his skills as a theologian, poet, fantasy and science fiction writer give him a deep well to dip into for inspiration. 

His understanding of what he writes is not just other authors but from his own personal experiences. This connects him to those who also have struggled.

Quotes

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” Source: “Mere Christianity”

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else

"the good of literature is that we want to to be more than ourselves. We want to see with other eyes to imagine with other imagination, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own".