December Deals

YOU AND ME FOREVERChristianAudio’s free audiobook of the month is You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. It is 5 hours and 26 minutes long and has 4.7 stars (out of 5) based on 808 reviews at Audible. And 94% of review 512 on Amazon are 4 or 5 star.

Amazon/Audible free audiobook – Withering Heights by Emily Bronte is the free book of the month. You must purchase this kindle edition and then you will be offered the free audiobook. It appears that more than one free audiobook is offered.  Narration by Flo Gibson, Emma Messenger and I already had the narration by Anne Flosnik in my library from a previous free offer.
Also the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is free as an audiobook until the end of the year.

December Kindle Sale – there are 723 kindle books on sale for the new Dec sale. Far too many to really highlight well. Especially since I have found at least 15 books reviewed by Bookwi.se.  I will repost some of the reviews throughout the month. There are 89 Religious books, 51 Children’s Books, 38 Young Adult books, 40 Biographies and Memoirs, 169 Mysteries, 195 Romance, 47 Scifi and Fantasy and more.
Bookwi.se has Reviewed (links to the reviews, which have links to the sale books): Ms Marvel Vol 1 ($2.99), Vision Vol 1 ($2.99), Predictably Irrational: Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions by Dan Ariely ($1.99), The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Sterns ($1.99), Werewolf Cop by Andrew Klavan ($1.99), The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne ($2.99)

Other books of note on sale: The Mighty Thor Vol 1 (new Thor as a woman graphic novel) and a bunch of other Graphic Novels I would read. Also there is a number of Kurt Vonnegut novels, Winston Churchill history on sale. Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster is $1.99. I read this a number of years ago and thought it was helpful.

EreaderIQ has a number of Christian Books that are free from Amazon. The quality of the books is very mixed, but some look good. Link to the free books of the day.

Free Kindle First Book – every month Amazon gives away one of six pre-release books to Amazon Prime members. These are books that are published by one of Amazon’s many publishing imprints.

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People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks

Reposting this 2012 review of People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $1.99.

People of the Book: A Novel

Summary: A Fictionalized history of the real Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated Jewish prayer book for the Passover Seder that is now around 500 years old.

Geraldine Brooks is one of those authors I keep meaning to read, but had not.  I borrowed People of the Book from my library on audio.  As with many fiction books I read, I had not even read the summary before I started the book.

The People of The Book is a historical fiction that is based on what is actually known of the Sarajevo Haggadah with fictionalized history to fill in what is not known.  Brooks wrote an article in the New Yorker just before the book came out with some of the known history.

The real history sounds like fiction.  Two different times, during World War II and during the Bosnian War, muslim curators of the museum where it was kept hid the book away to keep it safe.  I will not detail the real history, but you can read it at the above link.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Erin Camron and Shana Knizhnik

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader GinsburgSummary: A pop-culture infused brief biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I am fascinated by the Supreme Court. I have read a number of books about the history of the court and some biographies of individual justices that have been on the court. So I picked this up when it was on sale last week.

The Notorious RBG is a brief biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is currently the oldest member of the Supreme Court (83) and was the second woman appointed to the court.

This book started as a tumblr account. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a barely 5 ft and tiny Jewish grandmother being compared to the Notorious BIG, a large African American rapper who was shot and killed when he was 24 (in 1997), is sufficiently incongruent to generate attention. RBG, especially in the past few years, has stepped up her dissents and become more vocal as the court has shifted to the right.

RBG is on the left of the court, but as a lower court jurist, she was not known for her radical stances. In fact the biggest concern when she was nominated was that she was not left enough. She served for a number of years with Robert Bork in the US Appeals Court and she voted with him 85% of the time when they were on the same cases. She also had a very public friendship with Antonin Scalia one of the most conservative justices on the court prior to his death this past spring.

Black Friday Sale for Print, Audiobooks and Ebooks

It is Black Friday. If you are looking for deals there are many to be found. Here are four that readers of Bookwi.se might be interested in.

Audible has nearly 500 audiobooks on sale for $4.95 to $6.95. Bookwi.se has reviewed about 15 of them. There are many good books on sale, including 4 in my wishlist that I have not read and a couple more that I am going to add to my wishlist. The sale runs through Monday night.

Amazon’s Kindle Deal of the day is 53 ‘best selling’ novels. I have  read the most recent of the Inspector Gamache series, A Great Reckoning,  Dorothy Sayer’s Strong Poison and Geraldine Brook’s People of the Book (reviews). This is a Friday only sale. But there will likely be another good Kindle book sale tomorrow.

Amazon also has $10 off any $25 purchase of physical (paper) books with the promo code HOLIDAYBOOK at checkout. This sale lasts until Sunday evening. This can be either a single $25 or more book or a combination of books as long as they are all sold by Amazon instead of third party sellers.

Also Amazon has most of their Kindles on sale. And while the new kindles are very good deals (I would probably get the new Paperwhite for $99 or the Basic Kindle for $49), the refurbished Kindle Voyager is only $119.
If you are interested in the Basic Kindle, you might consider the Kid’s Edition Basic Kindle for $69 even if you are not a kid. It comes with no ads (normally $20 to remove), a case and a 2 year accidental damage warranty.  The only problem with the Basic kindle is that it does not have a front light so you cannot read in bed at night without a reading lamp.

Silence and Beauty Hidden Faith Born of Suffering by Makoto Fujimura

I am reposting this review from earlier this year because the Kindle Edition has dropped to $6.99. I am planning on re-reading this in December in prepreation for the movie, which will be released in limited release in December and wide release in January. If you have not read about the movie this is a good article from New York Magazine.
Silence and Beauty Hidden Faith Born of Suffering by Makoto FujimuraSummary: Silence and Beauty is a profound reflection on the book Silence by Shusaku Endo, the role of art and beauty in Christianity, and a reflection of the impact of Christianity on the culture of Japan.

Silence by Shusaku Endo is one of those books that is not easily forgotten. I read it a couple years ago and I rarely go more than a couple weeks without referencing it.

Makoto Fujimura is a very well known artist, famous in many Evangelical circles for being a famous artist that is well known outside of Christian circles. Fujimura grew up in the US, but after college was accepted into a Japanese graduate program to study art. The first student to ever be accepted into this graduate program that did not grow up through the Japanese national art system. Fujimura became a Christian while studying art in Japan, a country with a very few Christians.

Silence and Beauty is fascinating. It opens with a bit is spiritual memoir. Fujimura details how  Shusaku Endo and his book Silence impacted his early faith. And unsurprisingly there is a long exploration of both Endo and his book Silence (as well as some of Endo’s other books.) That is done in the context of a rich sociological and historical study of Japan. And all of that is wrapped up in a defense of beauty and art as essential to Christianity. (I was reminded at times of of Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic and Brian Zhand’s Beauty Will Save the World.)

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

Summary: A series of essays that shows why short form writing is still worth reading.

I am a sucker for a free book. A couple years ago, Audible gave away a the title essay of this book as a Christmas present to its members. That was the first time I had read anything by Ann Patchett. You can read that original review on Bookwi.se. Since then I have been interested in Patchett’s writing. I loved Bel Canto and I have been wanting to pick this complete volume up for a while.

Like most of my recent reading, I listened to the audiobook, with Patchett narrating.

Patchett starts the book with an introduction about how as a young novelist, she had to make a living. She tried a variety of jobs, which left her too tired to write, and a then teaching, which left her creatively drained. So she became a freelance essayist for a variety of magazines, starting with 17 and working her way up to the New York Times.

The introduction and several very good essays about advice for writers or her writing life, or the state of books that lead to her becoming co-owner of an independent bookstore were probably my favorite, in spite of the fact that I have never considered myself a writer nor do I aspire to become one in the future. But I am interested in the creative process and Patchett is unabashed in her advice and not afraid to talk about the areas that she thinks she has done well or done poorly.

The Second Coming: A Novel by Walker Percy

Reposting the review because Second Coming is on sale for $1.99 on kindle right now. Also his book Love in the Ruins is on sale for $2.81

The Second Coming by Walker PercyTakeaway: Evidently I am old enough to understand and appreciate mid-life crisis books.

Recently I have decided that I need to read more 20th century literary fiction. My eduction missed out on that entire century. And I also have been interested in the Catholic writers that were so popular in the mid to late 20th century.

Walker Percy has been republished by Open Road and has books easily available on Kindle (and from Lendle.me).

I didn’t realize when I started (and I don’t think it makes much of a difference) but The Second Coming is follow-up to The Last Gentleman. (I will get back and read that at some point.)

Will Barrett is middle aged, retired early, wealthy, and recently, a widower. This is a classic mid-life crisis book, one that I don’t think I would have appreciated as much as I do now even five years ago.

Allison is a young woman that has recently escaped from a mental hospital. She is schizophrenic, daughter of an old flame of Will’s, fabulously talented, but unable to cope with much of normal life.

Most of the book centers around Will Barrett’s internal drama. He is focused on the meaning of life, whether there is a God (and how God can be proved) and Barrett’s own history. Barrett’s (like Percy) father committed suicide when Will was a teen. Coupled with Barrett’s health problems, which are slowly revealed throughout the book, his thoughts take over his life.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia ButlerSummary: A young woman in a dystopian world strives to build a life, a community, and a faith, in the midst of chaos.

I have been slowly working my way through Octavia Bulter’s book since I first read her nearly a decade ago. I have two full length novels and her short story collections yet to read.

Parable of the Sower, like most of her books, is a dystopian novel. Butler published from 1976 until her untimely death in 2006 (she was 58.) Her dystopian was not part of the recent trend. Parable of the Sower was published in 1995. It feels closest to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), but while just as bleak in description, Parable of the Sower is the story of a young woman, Lauren Olamina, that actually is trying to build something.

The story starts when Lauren is 15, living in a walled community in the remnants of Los Angeles. The novel develops her character and generates the setting while giving us a glimpse of the religious system that she is developing. Lauren is a writer. What she is writing is the philosophy of her religion, Earthseed. Which, when told she is creating a religion, she responds that a person that describes something they found, such as a rock, did not create the wrong, but merely describes it. Earthseed is humanist. It is a philosophy, a way of living. God may exist in it, but that god is distant and not present in the reality of the dystopian world she is living in.

The main story is a travel story. The climate has shifted and drought it perpetual. Water is one of the most lucrative commodities and homelessness, slavery, and drugs are prevalent. The government and police exist in name, but not in ability to maintain structure or order. They are simply another gang that will rob you if you let them. Similarly to Walker Percy’s Love in Ruins (which was written about a decade before Parable of the Sower), this dystopian world is divided by race. And like most of Butler’s book, the main character is an African American woman.

Flight Behavior: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver – Favorites of 2012

Reposting because the kindle book is on sale for $1.99.
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(Comments were part of the 2012 best book series) I definitely have a trend in my favorite fiction books of the year of reading multiple books by the same author fairly close together.  I read Poisonwood Bible in November, Flight Behavior in December and I am almost finished with Prodigal Summer.

I read a good interview with Kingsolver a couple days ago. She summarizes her advice to younger authors that I think is why I love her writing. “I think that when people read fiction, they’re really reading for wisdom. I am. That’s what most of us really love. If we read a novel that rocks our world, it’s because there’s something in it that we didn’t know already. Not just information but really wisdom—sort of what to do with our information. And wisdom comes from experience, so…” (She gets around to saying quit smoking so you will live longer and become wise.)

Flight Behavior: A NovelSummary: An incredible novel of an Appalachian woman that comes to see the world as it is instead of the world that she thought she knew.

Earlier this year I finally got around to reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible. I was admittedly reluctant. Kingsolver writes Literary Fiction.  Her books are serious, often heavy works of fiction that, while really beautiful prose and rich lyrical stories, also have a point. It is like being told to eat your vegetables because they are good for you.

So while I really did look forward to reading this, it took me a little while to actually get started.  Recently I have looked forward to happy, funny books that make me feel good. Maybe it is the fact that I am getting older or more resistant to easy fix world that too many embrace.

Kingsolver does not embrace the quick fix. She embraces a full look at the hard world that is around us.  But as amazing as it is to me, her writing does not feel like propaganda. It feels like a beautiful piece of art. Yes there is meaning there, but the meaning is not crude, it does not hit you over the head like a club. Instead you can see the beauty of the art and somehow that beauty is made greater because it is has a serious subject.

Flight Behavior is narrated by a young woman from the eastern Tennessee Appalachian mountains. She is the definition of poor. Both her parents died when she was in high school, she got pregnant and quickly married and moved into her in-laws home. Her husband is a good, but uninspiring man. Her children 5 and 18 months (the first pregnancy ended in a late term still birth) are the joy of her life.  She still lives on the edge of her in-laws property. They have almost no income, very little opportunity and an absence of hope.

One day, Dellarobia Turnbow (the protagonist) decides to throw away her marriage and meet a man to have an affair, she comes upon an amazing sight. It appears that the entire mountain valley above her house is on fire, but not consumed (she connects it to Moses’ burning bush). She comes to her senses and goes home before meeting the man and without understanding what she has seen.

The Dispossessed: A Novel by Ursula Le Guin

The Dispossessed: A Novel by Ursula Le GuinSummary: A brilliant physicist leaves his insular utopian community to study in the world that his world rebelled against. And he learns the weaknesses of both political systems. 

Anarres is a desert moon to Urras. Several hundred years ago, miners rebelled against their home world and created their own anarchist utopia, a ‘non-authoritarian communism’ where there is no property, but there is a shared sense of cooperation against the harsh world. Urras, is a rich and beautiful world, but where virtual slavery controls the vast majority of the population and where women are restricted to the home.

Except for minor trading and some scientific conversations, there is no contact between the worlds. Shevek, a brilliant physicist seeking to understand the connection between time and space, is given a physics prize by Urras and becomes the first person to travel between the worlds since the separation.

This is largely a book of political ideas. It is a critique of both communism and capitalism unchecked. It is a critique of feminism and anti-feminist ideas. It is a critique of the split between individualism and the forced common good. There is a plot and some action at the end of the book. But primarily this is the story of Shevek, starting with his travel to Urras and proceeding to the future with flashback to his early life.

Published in 1974, this is a cold war book. Both worlds are unrealized utopias. The Anarrians have taught shared responsibility, every 10 days they have to contribute a day of work to the common good, a computer matches each person to the type of work they want to do, or they can choose to do no work at all. From their childhood they are taught shared responsibility and the evils of property. They are raised in kibbutz like dormitories. Adults, usually live in adult dormitories. Sex is free, but consensual. Marriage is possible but rare (it is thought of as a sort of privatized relationship, as is parents directly raising children).