What I’ve Been Reading

February 9th, 2017

The Best Worst Thing

For middle grade readers:

The Best Worst Thing
Kathleen Lane

Maggie worries. Ever since middle school started, she sees danger everywhere.  She worries about school, her best friend, her family, the caged rabbits next door. Can she learn to face her fears and let go? Of course she can, in this sweet and gentle book. I loved it.

The Geniza in Cairo

Reading news across the internet, I discovered this video, “The Geniza in Cairo: a rich source of Jewish life in the Middle Ages.” In the video, Miriam Frenkel (Department of Jewish History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) “examines the Cairo Geniza records as a source of Jewish life in the Middle Ages, focusing on clothing and textiles, the importance of clothes in medieval society, food and the strange rareness of recipes in the records, and finally a shopping list written by a Jewish judge from Jerusalem.”

From the Cairo to the Cloud website, diorama Beit Hatfutsot, at the Museum of the Jewish People, in Tel Aviv, Israel: putting documents into the Geniza at the Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo.

An article in Akadem by Édouard Drumont states, “A Geniza is the store-room in a synagogue, used specifically for worn-out Hebrew-language books and papers on religious topics that were stored there before they could receive a proper cemetery burial, it being forbidden to throw away writings containing the name of God.” Read more about a Geniza, and in particular the Geniza in Cairo.

Michelle Paymar and a host of experts are finishing up a documentary entitled Cairo to the Cloud, which explores the Cairo Geniza, which “is not only the largest cache of Jewish history ever found, it is a window into a vanished civilization, with over 350,000 documents illuminating over a thousand years of Jewish, Christian and Moslem life in the heart of the Islamic world.” There’s a trailer here.

What I’ve Been Reading

January 26th, 2017

Beauty Queen of JerusalemA book I’ve read recently that other adults will enjoy is The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, written by Sarit Yishal-Levi. Rich novel about secrets, love, and forgiveness. It drew me fully into the daily lives, hopes, and sufferings of four generations of women in a Sephardic Jewish family in Jerusalem from the Turkish occupation of Palestine through the British Mandate, the Arab-Israeli War, and the 1970s.

Favorite Museums Series #8

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco:  Leah used to love the dioramas showing prehistoric animals and humans. And the planetarium. “Get your daily dose of wonder.” Start your visit here.

California Academy of Science [credit: Dennis Jarvis]

California Academy of Sciences, diorama in Africa exhibit [credit: Coro]

Morrison Planetrium

Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences [photo: California Academy of Sciences]

A list of fantasy books, part 8

The Sirens of Titan

Next up on my list of Favorite Fantasy Novels is Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.  A riotous adventure through the universe that, like all Vonnegut’s novels, has something deeper to say.

Here’s the official book description:

The Sirens of Titan an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course there’s a catch to the invitation–and a prophetic vision about the purpose of human life that only Vonnegut has the courage to tell.

Favorite Museums Series #7

The Oakland Museum, Oakland, California: About the art, history, and science of California.  I worked with them a lot when I was in the museum field.

Oakland CA Museum


Oakland CA Museum

A list of fantasy books, part 7

September 8th, 2016

The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride by William Goldman. It’s a story that has everything: “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”  How could I or anyone resist?

Favorite Museums Series #6

The British Museum, London: I went searching for the Bog Man and there he was!  Loved especially the Greek sculpture and Roman glass.

The British Museum (Creative Commons)

Favorite Museums Series #5

The Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception, in San Francisco, California. It’s a hands-on science museum. With a science-nerd daughter, I made many visits.

The Exploratorium (photo: Amy Snyder, Exploratorium)


Exploratorium indoors (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A list of fantasy books, part six

The Last UnicornAnother of my favorite fantasy novels, No. 6. The Last Unicorn—Peter Beagle.

Probably the first fantasy I ever read.  Schmendrick the magician captured my heart.

We’ve been celebrating fantasy novels because I’ve delved into that genre.

Here’s an insightful review of the book on The Mountain Echo.