Book Review(s): Pastrix and Accidental Saints

Appropriately enough, I stumbled accidentally onto Accidental Saints: Finding God in all the wrong people by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  I have a thing I do when I want a type of book but don’t know what specifically–I look up a similar book in the library catalog, find that shelf, and see what else is nearby.  That brought me to Accidental Saints, and after I loved that one, I went backwards and read Nadia’s first book, Pastrix.

Nadia is a Lutheran pastor.  She is also unconventional, heavily tattooed, honest about her flaws and kind of brilliant.  Pastrix tells Nadia’s story, from early days as a sarcastic, alcoholic stand-up comic, to finding her faith in God (with a side-trip into Wiccan goddess worship before becoming Lutheran–she doesn’t find the two in contradiction), to founding her church, the House for All Sinners and Saints.  Accidental Saints tells the story of her church, sharing about some of the individuals there and how she has learned from them.  They’re known as the inclusive church for the people who don’t look churchy–drag queens, prostitutes, former (?) con artists, cynics and alcoholics.

Nadia is funny, insightful, inclusive and somehow both deeply reverent and deeply irreverent at the same time.  (Maybe it’s a question of what’s considered irreverence.)  I think Nadia speaks to me where I live because she, like many authors I gravitate to, is another driven, sometimes self-critical woman.  She also shares a concept of God that really resonated with me, one focused on love, compassion (the core of my personal morality), and acceptance. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Other People’s Books…

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: When you enter an unfamiliar house or apartment for the first time, do you feel disappointed if you don’t see any bookshelves, or books on the coffee table?

I don’t know that I feel disappointed by a lack of books…but I’m happy when I do see books!  I tend to gravitate towards someone else’s bookshelves to see what they have, and if I’m impressed by their collection (which really means they like the same books I do!) I’ll let them know that.  It’s always interesting to see what books someone else owns, because frequently I’ll find out we’ve read the same author, even though that’s never previously come up in conversation.

Do you look around for books when you enter a new living space?  Do you get impressions of people based on their books?

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Book Review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Remember when I listened to the audiobook of Cary Elwes reading his memoir of filming The Princess Bride, and it was everything I wanted it to be and one of the best books I read all year?  Well–I did not manage to repeat the magic by listening to the audiobook of Carrie Fisher reading The Princess Diarist, her memoir of filming Star Wars.

It sounded great–I’d been meaning to explore Carrie Fisher’s writing ever since her death (which still makes me sad), and this promised to be reminiscences of filming the first Star Wars movie, plus excerpts from her journals of the time.  Wonderful!  And it was, for about the first quarter.  She talks a little about her life growing up, her very early film career, and how she first was cast as Princess Leia.  I loved the anecdotes of the first time she read the script, and how Leia got her iconic hairstyle.

But then, as she says, she met him.  I vaguely heard some while ago that Fisher had recently revealed her long ago affair with Harrison Ford–and here I stumbled right into the book that must have done it.  A solid half of the book (albeit in the middle) is devoted to “Carrison,” 19 year old Carrie’s affair with the then-married, mid-thirties Harrison Ford during the filming of the first Star Wars.  It was a remarkably unsentimental affair, probably some form of friends with benefits except they didn’t even appear especially friendly, and whole passages are devoted to how little he talked. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Goal-Oriented Reading

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you participate in readathons and/or reading challenges?

I think we all know I do reading challenges. 🙂  I’ve had annual challenges every year since starting this blog, though some years have been more intensive than others. I really enjoy reading challenges, partially because of how I use them.  I don’t ever set challenges to get myself to read books I don’t want to read (well, except maybe for the “read long books I’ve been avoiding” challenge I did one year–and I ended up liking most of those book anyway).  I use challenges to focus my reading, to remind myself to read books (or book types) I actually do want to read, but wouldn’t necessarily think about all the time.

I’ve never done a readathon.  I read a LOT, but in small snatches.  I rarely read for more than a half-hour stretch.  Partially that’s a product of how my life is structured, but I’m also really used to that.  I don’t often want to read for a lot longer than that.  Well, I often think I do in theory…but I’m also pretty sure that really I’m a quick stop reader, and will get antsy most of the time if I read for a lot longer.  Once in a while I’m genuinely in the mood to read all afternoon–but it’s unusual.

Are readathons or challenges a part of your reading?

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Book Review: All Our Wrong Todays

What if the world you and I are living in is, in fact, a dystopia?  That could (tragically) be the beginning of a review of a nonfiction book, but instead today I’m talking about another parallel universe book: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai.  What if the world we think is real is actually the product of meddling with time travel, and we’re living in the universe gone wrong?

Tom Barren lives in a 2016 that looks a lot like the future envisaged in the 1950s.  Flying cars, high-tech medicine, an endless supply of free, non-polluting energy, universal peace.  It’s all because of a new, energy-generating technology discovered in 1966.  When Tom travels back 50 years to the dawn of his age, he inadvertently meddles in that key point in time–and wakes up to find himself in our 2016.  But then he has a dilemma–because while the world might be happier in his original universe, his life is significantly better over here.

This is one of those books I picked up because it had such an interesting premise–and it largely delivered on the promise, even if it didn’t turn out to be exactly what I expected.  I was so fascinated by Tom’s world and the events that led to its creation.  There was quite a bit of that, although the world is presented more through contrast with ours then by spending a lot of time in it–which kind of makes sense.  For Tom, replicators (or the equivalent) are normal, so they probably aren’t going to come up until he’s trying to make sense of a microwave.  We saw the alternate path of history and how a small shift could change it much more clearly, and that was very cool to explore. Continue reading

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