Below are the first lines of the books I finished reading in April 2021.
Thinking with Jimmy
I arrived in Heidelberg, Germany, on a hot Saturday morning the day after leaving Newark, New Jersey. This was the beginning of my stay at Heidelberg University as the 2018 recipient of the James W.C. Pennington Award.
Biblical commentaries by their nature tend to concentrate on the meaning and significance of individual sections. However, it is important that we also see what are essentially close-up or limited-range pictures in their wider context.
There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
The first time our father brought Andrea to the Dutch House, Sandy, our housekeeper came to my sister’s room and told us to come downstairs. “Your father has a friend he wants you to meet,” she said.
Part One: 1939
Chapter I : February 22nd
The moment that Miss Morrison woke up she felt that something pleasant was going to happen to-day.
“Why can’t we have nice things?”
Perhaps there’s been a time when you’ve pondered exactly this question. And by nice things, you weren’t thinking about hovercraft or laundry that does itself. You were thinking about more basic aspects of a high-functioning society, like adequately funded schools or reliable infrastructure, wages that keep workers out of poverty or a public health system to handle pandemics.
Lacey used to have these Black history checks. Each check had a different Black hero on it. MLK, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass. So Lacey was at a store chatting with the cashier and they’re having fun. After she’s all rung up, Lacey handed the young white cashier a check with a picture of Harriet Tubman on it and the cashier said, “Wow! You have checks with your picture on ’em?”
The titles and authors revealed:
Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. © 2020. 272 pages.
Glaude offers us an overview of Baldwin’s evolving outlook on humanity, and Glaude’s own deep insights. I recommend this book.
I finished the 1 Samuel part of 1 & 2 Samuel (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series) by Mary J. Evans © 2000.
Alongside, I read the biblical book of 1 Samuel, probably first written in the period 630–540 BCE, about events and people ~500-600 years before that.
King Saul is a tragic figure. God decides that government under the “judges” system is unworkable, but also is not enthusiastically for the inherited monarchy form of government. King Saul gets caught in the middle of it all. Democracy is not mentioned.
The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett. © 2019. 337 pages. Whip-smart kids in financially rich but spiritually poor family circumstances. Good writing, and very interesting portrayal of sibling relationship. Read for book club.
Nothing to Report, by Carola Oman. © 1940. 222 pages
This is on a list of books that the publisher has labeled “Furrowed Middlebrow” books. I liked this one a little less than the first Furrowed Middlebrow book I read.
A couple quotes I like:
At Willows, Westbury-on-the-Green, for instance, it was absolutely impossible to say or do anything in the parlour that was not thrillingly audible in the bedroom exactly above.
“I have told Rose that there will be a chauffer for dinner,” she ended, frowning slightly at the cannibalistic sound of her sentence.
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee. © 2021. 395 pages. A revealing book. All of us incur a cost from racism.
You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism, by Amber Ruffin, Lacey Lamar © 2021. 240 pages. A comedian and her sister write about racist incidents they have experienced. When learning about racism, many tend to focus on the truly horrific events that result in killings or beatings. This book shows us the everyday occurrences of racism in our society.
Not finishedThe Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (© 2019. 352 pages). Read for book club. Did not finish. But did get 50% of the way through. This is a horror novel, not a genre I can usually read even in the best of times.