Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Replacement Books

Books at the library get handled. A lot. And, therefore, they must be replaced, and in the replacing I find older titles that I never knew about or only marginally knew about and find new-to-me titles that I want to read.

From Roger Rosenblatt, author of the bestsellers Making Toast and Unless It Moves the Human Heart, comes a moving meditation on the passages of grief, the solace of solitude, and the redemptive power of love.

In Making Toast, Roger Rosenblatt shared the story of his family in the days and months after the death of his thirty-eight-year-old daughter, Amy. Now, in Kayak Morning, he offers a personal meditation on grief itself. “Everybody grieves,” he writes. From that terse, melancholy observation emerges a work of art that addresses the universal experience of loss.

On a quiet Sunday morning, two and a half years after Amy’s death, Roger heads out in his kayak. He observes,“You can’t always make your way in the world by moving up. Or down, for that matter. Boats move laterally on water, which levels everything. It is one of the two great levelers.” Part elegy, part quest, Kayak Morning explores Roger’s years as a journalist, the comforts of literature, and the value of solitude, poignantly reminding us that grief is not apart from life but encompasses it. In recalling to us what we have lost, grief by necessity resurrects what we have had.

David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations ("Six to Eight Black Men"); what Halloween at the medical examiner's looks like ("The Monster Mash"); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry ("Cow and Turkey").

No matter what your favorite holiday, you won't want to miss celebrating it with the author who has been called "one of the funniest writers alive" (Economist).

In this series of notes, opinions, experiences, and reflections, Thomas Merton examines some of the most urgent questions of our age. With his characteristic forcefulness and candor, he brings the reader face-to-face with such provocative and controversial issues as the “death of God,” politics, modern life and values, and racial strife–issues that are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago.

Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander is Merton at his best–detached but not unpassionate, humorous yet sensitive, at all times alive and searching, with a gift for language which has made him one of the most widely read and influential spiritual writers of our time.

"Equal parts Groucho Marx and Stephen Jay Gould, both enlightening and entertaining."—Sunday Denver Post & Rocky Mountain News

The best-selling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers now trains her considerable wit and curiosity on the human soul. What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that's that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?" In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die. She begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves' heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of "ectoplasm" in a Cambridge University archive.

In the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment. World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. For him a ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to "mindfulness"—the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.

Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace Is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh's experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is—in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking a part—and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and peace. Nhat Hanh also shows how to be aware of relationships with others and of the world around us, its beauty and also its pollution and injustices. the deceptively simple practices of Peace Is Every Step encourage the reader to work for peace in the world as he or she continues to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the "mindless" into the mindFUL.

In this modern spiritual classic, a world spiritual leader and Zen master shows how to adapt simple Zen principles for daily living and the way to peace--the first practical book on the subject since Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Peace Is Every Step offers ways to use everyday events--washing dishes, eating a meal, sitting in traffic--in the quest for peace and fulfillment.

Why do we routinely choose options that don’t meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we’re right even when evidence contradicts us? This book reveals a remarkable paradox: what your brain wants is frequently not what your brain needs. In fact, much of what makes our brains "happy" leads to errors, biases, and distortions, which make getting out of our own way extremely difficult. The author's search includes forays into evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics—as well as interviews with many of the top thinkers in psychology and neuroscience today. From this research-based platform, DiSalvo draws out insights that we can use to identify our brains’ foibles and turn our awareness into edifying action. Ultimately, he argues, the research does not serve up ready-made answers, but provides us with actionable clues for overcoming the plight of our advanced brains and, consequently, living more fulfilled lives.

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