I’m on a mission. I’m attempting to learn about all the English kings and queens from the Battle of Hastings to Elizabeth II. Why? No idea. It’s just something I’ve become interested in. Probably because of all the shows they’ve been creating about different historical figures. There’s The Crown, The Tudors, Victoria, The White Princess, The Spanish Princess, and my personal favorite, The Hollow Crown.
PBS’s The Hollow Crown is approximately fourteen hours of Shakespeare history plays spanning the Middle Ages from the deposition of Richard II to the death of Richard III at Bosworth Field. (A lot of Henrys in between, by the way.) I guess that’s what got me interested in knowing what the story was, all the kings and the players in between.
That led me to Dan Jones last year. I started with The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England. It’s a great overview of the Middle Ages up to the Wars of the Roses. Dan Jones is fantastic at making history palatable for the lay reader. So many non-fiction books are dry, but he definitely has a gift. This volume gives insight into the time and condition in England and explains some of the things I had only glanced over before like the Crusades and the legend of Richard the Lionheart and the stories of Robin Hood. (He wasn’t real, sad to say.) And the stories of the people involved were fascinating. If you can keep them all straight. Between the Richards and the Henrys and the Catherines and the Marys I wasn’t always sure who was plotting against who, but it was a great read. It definitely got the lineage of the monarchy straighter in my head than it’s ever been. The sequel, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors, was just as good.
I understand not everyone wants to read 1000 pages of Medieval history, but I did. And I thought I would share because there might be some other person out there who wants to make the British monarchy their new obsession. Now all I need is for Dan Jones to get out of the Middle Ages and write a history of the Stewart dynasty and the Georges who ruled in the 18th and 19th centuries because that’s where my gap is right now.
Anyway, whatever literary pursuit you take on next, happy reading, y’all!
I recently spent a weekend absorbed in Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. I love a good nonfiction and when I saw this book advertised, I realized that even though I had heard U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday, I had no real knowledge of the time in Ireland known as The Troubles. I decided that needed to change.
I found the book fascinating and informative. One complaint about it was that it doesn’t explain where the sectarian discrimination came from and I think at the is point no one really knows anymore. It’s there and it’s crazy and lives have been lost and destroyed because of it. This book is not for the faint of heart. The 1970’s were particularly brutal and are described in detail. The story details the activities of the IRA and one woman who was “disappeared” for being an informant. It was a sad and effecting story. I would recommend it for anyone who wants an overview of the Troubles especially with the controversy surrounding Brexit. Many believe the UK’s exit from the EU will threaten the tenuous peace in Northern Ireland.
Happily, Derry Girls, the Netflix series from Ireland supplemented my study of the Troubles with wit and humor. Say Nothing can be a bit of a downer but combining it with a comedy series helped to take the sting out. Not that we should ever forget what those people went through and God forbid it should happen again. But that show is hilarious, and I recommend it too.
Whether you claim Irish heritage or not, it’s history worth knowing. So, if you have a weekend to kill, curl up with it. But remember: whatever you say, say nothing.
I may be going on a mission trip to Taiwan in April. I don’t know yet. I turned in an application and was then given an in-person interview with the Head of Missions. He was very nice, very polite, but I can’t say if the interview went well or not. I did a lot of interviewing for jobs this past summer and I found that you never can tell.
No matter how friendly the person may be, you always feel like you’re on your back foot the whole time. Like you’re being judged no matter what. And you are. That’s what interviews are all about.
When they ask questions, I always get the feeling that they have an answer in mind and if you don’t get it right, they write you off then and there. This was a little different than a job interview. They are praying and asking God who should go on this trip so He’s in control but I still felt that there was a “right” answer. I answered everything honestly and to the best of my ability. I don’t know exactly what he was looking for but my answers were me.
I’m not the perfect Christian or missionary. I don’t know everything. I’m just me. If they take me, I want them to take me because I’m me, not because I told them the “right” answers at an interview. Take me because I have something to offer, because I’m unique.
If this sounds like an old refrain from me, it is. I’m 31 years old and I’m still asking people to take me as I am, not how I “should” be. After everything, I still want you to want me.
I got the new Paula Hawkins novel, Into the Water, thanks to Book of the Month extras. Just like her debut, The Girl on the Train, I couldn’t put it down.
It’s a quick read and it looks longer than it is in hardback format. The type is large and the chapters are short. It moves back and forth between narrators with speed and skill. I’m normally not a fan of that but Ms. Hawkins does it really well. I do admit that it was a little confusing at first trying to place everyone into the narrative but I think that was part of the point. This book really makes you lose your bearings, very much like the characters.
I enjoyed the tight family drama and the suspense. It kept me reading and I’m sad it’s over. That’s what a good book should do. I definitely recommend Into the Water to lovers of grip-lit like myself but I also recommend it to anyone who likes a well-told story.
It’s been nearly a month since I left my job and it’s been both awesome and stressful. I keep going back and forth from “I’m so glad I left” to “Holy crap! Why’d I leave the comfort of a full-time job?”
After a recent church class I realized that my angst is tied up in identity. Who am I now? Who am I if I’m not Kim the tax accountant?
I’m Kim, Who Lives at Home. I’m Kim, the aspiring author. I’m Kim, who volunteers with kids. I’m Kim, who wants to work with kids. I have to remind myself of that everyday, sometimes several times a day.
I do have plans but I want to take it one week at a time. God has told me he wants me to spend more time in prayer and I’m making an effort. I realize that I have to be patient and wait for Him to tell me where to go next. The last thing I want is to screw this whole thing up. This time is a gift from God and I’m not going to squander it.
Having seen the series, I’m not sure why I wanted to read the book, Piper Kerman’s memior, Orange is the New Black, about her time spent in a Federal women’s prison. I suppose I wanted the real story. To say the Netflix series takes liberties is an understatement. I enjoyed the first two seasons but all the backstories in the third became a bit tiresome.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kerman’s writing and you can tell this wasn’t ghost written. That’s something I always appreciate. She did her time in Danbury, Connecticut and she writes about it with surprising affection, though going to prison was a traumatic experience for her, as it would be for anyone. Prison is degrading and humiliating but she writes about the women she met there with love and grace, giving them back some of the dignity the institution took away. She also writes about the importance of having people in your life on the outside who make life worth living. The letters, the visits, the books, all kept Piper going through a horrible experience. That’s a lesson we can all learn without spending any time in the clink.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. In fact, I really enjoyed comparing it to the series and turning each page to see what crazy, funny, horrible, or happy thing was going to happen next. I would recommend it if you’re a big fan of memoir like me.
I just made a mind-blowing connection. Writing blog posts is so much like writing reflections in my high school psychology class. Okay, it’s not that mind-blowing but I did just realize it. I’m pretty sure Coach R wasn’t trying to teach us about blogging because, let’s face it, Coach was already in his sixties and this was 2005. I was hardly even aware of blogging myself at the time. We wrote these “reflections” to share with the class. It was supposed to just be your observations or things you’re thinking about, which is what most blogging is when you get down to it. At least that’s what my blog is.
Coach R is one of my all-time favorite teachers. I took AP American History, AP European History, and Psychology with him. He was a round, not-too-tall guy with silver hair and a matching mustache. I usually despise the “lone stache,” but Coach pulled it off. He loved teaching so much he came out of retirement to take a position at my high school. He wasn’t your normal history teacher. He did the lectures and the tests and tried to prepare us for the AP exams, but he did a lot more than that. I learned more about history listening to Coach’s stories about growing up on a Southern mill hill in the 50’s and 60’s than a lecture about the Roman Empire. He told us about being a kid and getting electricity for the first time in his grandmother’s mill house. He talked about the bawdy women who did snuff and spit it all over the floor of the mill. He reminisced about hanging soda cans in a mesh bag out the window of his dorm room in the winter because they didn’t have mini-fridges. He told us where he was when he heard the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination.
Coach was a banjo player in a local bluegrass band and the last full class before exams in December and May, he would bring his instruments and spend the time playing us songs and teaching us about the instruments. How many kids learn about the cultural history of the dulcimer in their AP History classes?
I had many great teachers and learned some awesome life lessons from them. I learned that the real lessons are the ones you find outside the curriculum. I learned not to take myself too seriously from Mr. C, my drama teacher. I learned to share my creativity from Mr. H, my Computer Tech teacher. I learned how to manage stress from Ms. K, my AP English teacher. I learned there are compassionate people in the world from the other Coach R, my Physics teacher.
And, even though he could only type with his index fingers, I learned blogging from Coach R. That man who loved teaching but loved learning, observing, and reflecting even more. And taught some of us to love it too.
... the musings of a thirty-something, married, Southern teen librarian with a 14-year-old's sense of humor, an awkward spirit, and a stubborn, mouthy, redheaded country boy to accompany her through life.