February 26, 2006 John Adams quotes
David McCullough quotes from Adams's personal diary and papers extensively and there are many of his words that have really struck me. I want to have them all in one place for future reference.

Now to what higher object, to what greater character, can any mortal aspire than to be possessed of all this knowledge, well digested and ready at command, to assist the feeble and friendless, to discountenance the haughty and lawless, to procure redress to wrongs, the advancement of right, to assert and maintain liberty and virtue, to discourage and abolish tyranny and vice? (p. 53)

Government is a plain, simple, intelligent thing, founded in nature and reason, quite comprehensible by common sense...Let us dare to read, think, speak and write...Let us recollect it was liberty, the hope of liberty, for themselves [first settlers] and us and ours, which conquered all discouragements, dangers and trials. (p. 60-61)

When I consider the great events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental of touching some springs, and turning some wheels, which have had and will have such effects, I feel an awe upon my mind which is not easily described. (p. 110)

The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more. (p. 130)

Our N[ew] England people are awkward and bashful; yet they are pert, ostentatious and vain, a mixture which excites ridicule and disgust. They have not the faculty of showing themselves to best advantage, nor the act of concealment of this faculty. An art and faculty which some people possess in the highest degree. Our deficiencies in these respects are owing wholly to the little intercouse we have had with strangers, and to our inexperience in the world. These imperfections must be remedied, for New England must produce heroes, the statesmen, the philosophers, or America will be no great figure for some time. (p. 149)

I'll continue to add to this list as I continue to read the book.

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posted by Jenn at 1:47 PM 0 comments

February 21, 2006 The Corruption of Angels by Mark G. Pegg
131 pages (of text). Finished 02/19/06.

Read for my "Intolerance in the Middle Ages" proseminar. Turns out my prof actually went to school with the author. Weird.

The book focuses on the surviving "transcipt" of the inquisition of 1245-1246 in southern France. It details, through a series of anecdotes and different ways of looking at the same source, the change in the behavior of these villagers due to a series of questions that were asked.

He posits an interesting theory and the detail was exquisite, which of course, made it a bit hard to get through. All in all, a good read, but I probably wouldn't have stuck it out if it wasn't for a class.

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posted by Jenn at 1:37 AM 0 comments

February 12, 2006 Girls' Poker Night by Jill A. Davis
248 pages. Finished 02/12/06.

I wanted to like this book. It's chick lit. It's girls playing poker. It takes place in New York. The author used to work for Letterman. It has all the elements that would seem to make it a quick read to make me forget about the hundreds of pages of reading for class that I have to do.

But alas this is not the case. I spent much of the book, skimming through, hoping to find the plot. I kept waiting for something to happen. For the girl to get the guy, to do well at the job, to have outrageous fun with the awesome friends. But it never really happened. It was a snapshot out of a mundane (though a City dweller) person's life. She could have been me - unfortunately, a lot of what she thought and did was me. Perhaps that's why I had trouble getting through it - I read to escape my life, not watch it from the outside looking in.

There were, of course, highlights. Little gems, hidden in the pages of confusing pronouns and too many interchangable characters. Like this on page 7:

I had one foot out the door; all I needed was a push...that's when I looked in one of his kitchen drawers. That was it for me. His dirty little secret. You know those plastic squares with holes in them used to close bread bags? Well, he had like a couple hundred of them in his drawer. No exaggeration. I mean, where is he putting all of this bread, that's what I want to know.

"What's this all about?" I said, holding up sixty or seventy bread ties.

"I--I--might need them sometime," he said, and his face got really red, like he knew that I'd uncovered the secret tip of the psychotic iceberg.
And for whatever reason, this little paragraph on page 61 really spoke to me - I think I've had this thought before:

Dork! It was sappy, in the way that the simplest truth can sometimes be. He didn't care that it was sappy. And so I had no choice but to fall deeply and completely in love with him. He was my nebbish renegade of sap in a too-tough world.
I found good advice on page 101:

Be prepared when all of your worlds collide. Make sure you have rainbow-colored cigarettes, ice cream-colored dresses, and potent fruity drinks. You'll need them all.
As the book wore on, I realized that it wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be. I started to identify with too many of the characters and not in the "I wish I had her shoes" kind of way. More in the "OMG, that's my life and holy crap, that's not good at all" kind of way. Because on page 130, I would totally feel the same way, in either character's place:

I read the letter, and it says thanks for submitting your short story; unfortunately, it's not right for us. Am I missing something?

"It's a rejection letter..." I say.

"Yeah!" she says, all thrilled. "Can you believe they wrote to me?"

It was just the saddest thing, and it absolutely broke my heart. But maybe it shouldn't have. Maybe the letter made her feel like a writer. Maybe in a way it was a very valuable letter. A letter that made her feel connected to the world she wanted to live in. I should have related to it; instead it just seemed sad. Perspective, I guess, is everything.
I cried at the end (or just near it) and I wasn't really sure why. I just saw myself too much.

This book was nothing like I expected. I didn't care for the style, the romance, even the main character some of the time. And yet, I feel like this book moved me. Maybe I'm just in a mood - I don't want it to mean anything to me. But it does.


posted by Jenn at 3:01 AM 0 comments

February 05, 2006 The Formation of a Persecuting Society by R. I. Moore
153 pages. Finished 02/05/06.

As it turns out, this is the first book I am reading for my seminar on intolerance in the middle ages and I have to write a book review of it. I won't subject you to it though.

I liked the book, but I would have liked it a lot more if it had been about what I wanted it to be about ;)

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posted by Jenn at 9:22 PM 0 comments

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