Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Table Where Rich People Sit - Byrd Baylor

The Thanksgiving before my daughter was born, my mom gave me this book. At that time, I thought that reading it each Thanksgiving would become a tradition in my house. It hasn't, but the sentiment that lies within the book is one my daughter and I live daily.

Mountain Girl finds herself aware of all that she doesn't have. her family is poor. They lack the material riches that she so desires. She wants more than she has; like many, she wants to keep up with her friends. She wants to be rich."

But what does it mean to be rich?

That is the question that this short, but poignant book ponders. Is being rich about money or is about something less tangible or concrete?

Mountain Girl questions her family about being poor. Her mother and father respond by pointing out that they are not poor. In fact, they are rich. Together, mother and father point out all the ways in which they are wealthy beyond compare.

During the seasons of Thanksgiving and Harvest Feasts, it is nice to sit down with this book - to take a few minutes to ponder and consider all that makes each of us rich. Wealth is not about how much money lies within your savings account or in the stock market... but it is about the treasures that surround each of us throughout our daily lives.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Gospel According to Starbucks

I don't know too many people who think Starbucks is alright. Most either really like it or really hate it. The title is somewhat deceiving but at least the disclaimer on the bottom of the cover and the brief on the back cover are honest.

The book was written by a Christian minister and professor of evangelism. Ultimately, it's goal revolves around religion and Christianity but along the way, Leonard Sweet offers through his passion for coffee and Starbucks insight into the corporate culture and philosophy of the company.

It was almost disturbing how much Starbucks was mentioned in the first four chapters, almost to the point of disturbing and leading me to a pet name for the author, "The Reverend Shill". Oddly, as chapter 5 really toned down the Starbucks mentions I began getting upset that there were so few references to the leader of lattes.

In the end, the book did provide some great points for a book discussion at church and I really enjoyed learning about Starbuck's philosophies. However, this is really something of a "self-help" book using Starbucks and their philosophies as a model for living our spiritual life.

This book quite franky is not for everyone. While it has its moments, I'd rather read a book specifically about Starbucks than one that uses that as a framework for a different purpose. While I did enjoy the book, I think what threw me most is that I kept wanting to separate the coffee talk from the rest and just read about the coffee talk in greater detail.

Added Saturday during a more coherent moment that when originally authored:
While I don't have a problem with books on spirituality or on books that like to use metaphorical references to pop-culture, in this particular case I did. I must admit there were several points that really were exceptional at geting one to stop and think. I don't want to give off the impression that there is nothing to be gained by reading this book because there can be. I do think it is important to be up front about who the author is and the context in which this book was written.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Harry Potter: The Series

I thought that I'd kick start this site back up again. It's been a long time since a post has been put up here and even longer since I've put up a post for it. I believe the last post I had didn't do too well in the comments section so I am determined to write a post for a book (or books) that I actually adore.

There's not much I can say about the Harry Potter series except to read it. Not a very good book review is it? Allow me to elaborate then as best I can (and HP fanatics, please feel free to add to this review). The series is 7 books (I am currently working my way through the 7th and final book). There are three main characters: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They are students of the Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, which incidently, is a 7 year program. These three characters forge a very special friendship as they grow and learn about magic and potions and spells. They also learn of their impending fate, which is to abolish Lord Voldermort, who's main focus is to destroy Harry.

Harry becomes an orphan when his parents are killed at the hand of Voldermort. Harry is able to escape, unscathed except for his distinct thunderbolt mark on his forehead. This escape has brought awe to the wizarding community because not only does Harry escape (being only 1 year old) but he essentially destroys Voldermort as well. As the series develops, the readers (and Harry) learn that Voldermort may not exist "in the flesh", but still exists in spirit. Before his mission to destroy the Potter's, Voldermort divided his spirit into 7 ... 1 remaining in his body, while the other 6 are scattered in unknown places, being held inside Horcruxes. The locating and destroying of these Horcruxes is key to Harry's demolishing Voldermort for good (which he learns in book 6). At first Voldermort is merely a spirit who feeds off of the blood of unicorns to sustain himself. Eventually, he returns to his full power (and his own body) with the help of one of his followers ... the person who betrayed the Potter's and led Voldermort to them when Harry was just a child. Voldermort is slowly gaining power as he casts Imperius spells on members of the wizarding community as well as the Ministry of Magic so that they can help him in his reign.
Until the age of 10, Harry has been living with his inattentive and emotionally abusive aunt (who is the sister of his mother), uncle and cousin. His extended family are not a part of the wizarding community and lead Harry to believe that his parents perished in a car accident, fully intending to keep the truth from him. Unfortunately for them, Harry is summoned by Hagrid (who has a fondness of dangerous creatures and works at Hogwart's) that he is of age to attend Hogwart's. This is much to the surprise of Harry as at this point, he still did not know that his mother was a witch and father a wizard. He readily accepted his fate and ventured on his journey into the world of magic. He meets some characters at Hogwarts that eventually play an important role in his life. As usual, there are the enemies: Severus Snape (a professor at Hogwart's) and Draco Malfoy (a fellow student) to name a few.

As you delve into the series, there is no question that the books become darker. There are attempted murders ... and some that are successful. Betrayal. Love. Denial. Acceptance. Bravery. It is no wonder that these books are loved by people of all ages. It is no wonder that the series is wildly successful. The imagination that seeps through these pages just blows my mind. I was skeptical at first when it came to Harry Potter. I thought it was "just for kids." Boy was I wrong. I absolutely loved the story and plan on re-reading them ... and I usually don't plan to re-read books before I'm actually through reading them!

So if you haven't read these books or have been living under a rock and don't know of the series. Go. Buy. Them.

You won't regret it.