Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sub-Text in the Sub-Floor

A host of concerns other than blogging have required my attention for the last couple of years: two trips to India; a mother-in-law in residence for eight months; hosting author lunches (at my former bookshop) and foster kids (in our home), not to mention the ordinary responsibilities of running a household; incremental progress on my historical novel; and, now, a return to manuscript editing. (For more on that and for contact information, click on the About tab above.)

I hope, eventually, to return to making occasional posts here. In the meantime, Story Warren has posted my latest review, a look at a delightful children’s picture book by Phoebe Gilman, Something from Nothing. I discovered Story Warren last year after our family read The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, by Jennifer Trafton, a frequent contributor to the site. (We’re indebted to our young friends in Texas who recommended Jennifer’s book to us.) As an often-too-serious parent, I especially love what Jennifer has to say about “holy silliness” in this Story Warren interview: “Let there Be Play”

Story Warren is a fantastic resource and stimulus for creativity in kids and adults alike. To read my review, click here: “Sub-Text in the Sub-Floor”

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Books in Chennai, Part III: Higginbotham’s

Birds' Words

This third post on Books in Chennai is a bit delayed, but the visit wound up the week that included visits to two other literary destinations, chronicled in Books in Chennai, Part I: Anna Centenary Library and Starmark  and Books in Chennai, Part II: Kid Lit.

Higginbotham’s, reputedly India’s oldest extant bookstore, was established in 1844 by Abel Joshua Higginbotham. Despite the fact that the establishment looks a little the worse for wear–both inside and out–I made some good book discoveries. (If you don’t have time to read the whole post, skip to the end–I saved the best for last.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higginbotham%27s Link to Wikipedia article on Higginbotham’s

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Indian Authors, part II: Kid Lit

Birds' Words

The previous post on Indian authors principally concerned contemporary adult fiction and nonfiction on display at the Starmark bookstore in the Phoenix Mall. While there I spent a fair amount of time with the children’s and young adult books, and we have subsequently read a few of them.

So here is a sampling of what we found:

The Pterodactyl's Egg, Annie Besant, story for kids, cover

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Books in Chennai, Part I: Anna Centenary Library and Starmark

Our family is currently in Chennai, India, for a ten-week stay. You can read more about our travels on our shared blog, Birds’ Words. This post is the first in a series about Indian authors whose books I have run across here, as well as local libraries and bookstores.

Birds' Words

During our first week in Chennai we discovered the Renga Lending Library here in our own neighborhood (Click here to read that post: “Saved by the Neighborhood Library“). The following week we trekked a little farther afield to three other book sites: The Anna Centenary Library, built in 2010; The Phoenix Mall Starmark, one of the newest bookstores in Chennai; and Higginbotham’s, India’s oldest bookseller.

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The Anna Centenary Library is a Tamil state library, established in 2010. It seems to draw a large number of students for study and research. The library features an attractive children’s room with a large collection of English books, and we spent several hours there.

In an interesting coincidence, on the day after our visit The Times of India ran an article about a recent court ruling requiring better maintenance of the library. Having observed that the impressive building did not appear to be in tip-top condition, I was glad to see that…

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Silk and Cotton: Textiles from the Central Asia that Was, by Susan Meller

Susan Meller’s books on Central Asian textiles are a rare find. Even if I weren’t researching a novel set in early twentieth-century Central Asia, the wealth of brilliant photos alone would be captivating. Since I am, Meller’s  coffee-table sized books provide a treasure trove of information not just on textiles but dress, trade,  agriculture, ethnic groups, and the impact of Russian colonization and the Soviet Union on all of these. Continue reading

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Unapologetic, by Francis Spufford

Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic is a witty, engaging defense of Christian faith from a respected British writer. For this reason alone I wanted to like it. It is directed toward those whose a priori  assumption is that there is no place for God in modern society–that intellect, education, and science have rendered belief in Him obsolete and irrational. Another reason I wanted to be able to endorse it. And I did, to all and sundry, throughout my reading of the first two-thirds of the book.

Spufford’s graphic descriptions of the reality of sin and its consequences effectively illustrate our dire need for grace–not just for those who have tragically destroyed their lives, but all of us. It is all well and good, he says, for atheists to urge us to relax, forget about God, and enjoy life. But to do so presupposes that our default state is peace, love, and joy. Anyone who is honest will admit that these are states that we have to work at and that we achieve, if at all, very temporarily and in part.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Somewhat to my surprise (considering the sparseness of my posts over the past three years), Birds’ Books logged about 4,200 views in 2012 from people in 93 countries. Almost half of the Birds’ Books viewers hailed from places other than the U.S., including Indonesia, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Netherlands, and Paraguay. The most popular post was Kite Runner and Persian Folklore, followed by Tea and Trouble Brewing, by Dorcas Smucker, and A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini.

My thanks to all the readers who have checked in here. May God bless you all in 2013.

Click here to see the complete report.

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