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Search tags: 21st-century-lit
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review 2018-07-30 19:58
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
21 Lessons for the 21st Century - Yuval Noah Harari

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

I read Harari’s two other books (“Sapiens” and “Homo Deus”), and quite liked them, so when this one was available, I couldn’t help but request it. It did turn out to be an interesting read as well, dealing with current problems that we just can’t ignore: global warming, terrorism, the rise of harmful ideologies, etc. It’s definitely not seen through rose-tinted glasses, and it’s a good thing, for it’s time people in general wake up and—to paraphrase one of the many things I tend to agree with here—stop voting with their feet. (Between the USA and Brexit Country, let’s be honest: obviously too many of us don’t use their brains when they vote.)

I especially liked the part about the narratives humans in general tend to construct (nationalism and religions, for instance, being built on such narratives)—possibly because it’s a kind of point of view I’ve been holding myself as well, and because (as usual, it seems), the “narratives of sacrifice” hit regular people the most. Another favourite of mine is the part played by algorithms and “Big Data”, for in itself, I find this kind of evolution both fascinating and scary: in the future, will we really let algorithms decide most aspects of our lives, and isn’t it already happening? (But then, aren’t we also constructs whose functioning is based on biological algorithms anyway? Hmm. So many questions.)

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this book, and to be fair, there was too much matter to cram everything in one volume, so some of it felt a little hurried and too superficial. I’ll nevertheless recommend it as an introduction to the topics it deals with, because it’s a good eye-opener, and it invites to a lot of introspection, questioning and thinking, which is not a bad thing.

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review 2018-07-24 06:50
Profound insights on writing presented with grace, charm and wit.
Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story - Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin describes Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, as “A handbook for storytellers - writers of narrative prose and not for beginners.”

 

Indeed, it is not a book for beginners as much of what she addresses would be beyond the comprehension of novices. What it does concentrate on are those problems that challenge writers and impede the tone an flow of the narrative.

 

For example, she asks you to listen to the sound of your writing which involves diction and syntax.

 

Sophisticated consideration is given to verbs: person and tense, as well as point of view and changing point of view.

 

Indirection narration or what tells including avoiding expository lumps is discussed in depth.

 

There’s an excellent chapter entitled Crowding and Leaping which involves the necessity of focusing on some areas while leaping ahead in other parts while still following a fixed trajectory.

 

Steering the Craft is primarily a workbook with “exercise consciousness-raisers that aim to clarify and intensify your awareness of certain elements of prose writing and certain techniques and modes of storytelling."

 

These exercises are challenging but illuminating. I particularly benefitted from one called A Terrible Thing to Do that involved writing a narrative of about 500 words and then cutting it by half still keeping the narrative clear and not replacing specifics by generalities.

 

The book also includes the best advice I’ve read on running peer group writing workshops.

 

This slim volume has profound insights on writing and presents them with grace, charm an wit. The goal, according to the author, is to help you develop skills that free you to write want you to write.

 

Or as Le Guin puts it so that you’re “ready to let the story tell itself; having the skills, knowing the craft so that when the magic boat comes by, you can step into it and guide it where it wants to go, where it ought to go.”

 

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review 2018-06-02 18:36
Organizing for Mission and Growth: The Development of the Adventist Church Structure (Adventist Heritage Series)
Organizing for Mission and Growth: The Development of Adventist Church Structure - George R. Knight

Throughout the history of the Seventh-day Adventist history there has been a constant question “To organize or not to organize, and if so how?”  Organizing for Mission and Growth is the third book of the Adventist Heritage Series written by Adventist historian George R. Knight.  In covering over 170 years in fewer than 190 pages, the book covers the struggles to first organize then restructuring and then reinvigorating the church so as to achieve its mission to spread its end time message.

 

The Sabbatarian Adventists out of the Millerite movement were small and disorganized across New York and New England, but their former denominational experiences and theological beliefs in the evils of organization forces the rising leaders of the group to do much of the work themselves particularly James White.  While White himself initially was against organizing and “making a name”, the essential one-man operation that he was preforming led him to reexamine scripture and rethinking his anti-organizational ideas becoming a strong advocate for the organizing of the denomination so much so that he refused to become its first president.  But as the decades past and the church grew, the strengths for church structure for a small number of believers over the breath of half a nation became detriments as membership grew and expanded worldwide leading to crisis that brought about restructuring at the beginning of the 20th Century.  However, the divide in ideas about how to restructure causes nearly a decade of drama before it was resolved.  Yet throughout the 20th Century the organization of the church was tweaked and reinvigorated with innovation on several levels but in the 21st Century many have begun questioning the extent of how much administration is needed compared to the previous 100 years.

 

Unlike what he was able to cover in A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists, Knight goes in-depth on how Seventh-day Adventists got their name and how they structured their denomination’s organization and the debates for and against as well as how it innovated.  Knight does not go in-depth over the entire course of the 155 year history of the General Conference, but he focuses on what needs to be in-depth like James White’s struggle to found the denomination and later the 1901-3 restructuring of the denomination by A.G. Daniels and others against the efforts by A.T. Jones and others who wanted a much decentralized organization (congregationalism).  Yet the events of 1901-3 also had a theological element that while touched upon was discussed more in A Search for Identity, another Adventist Heritage Series book focused on the development of Seventh-day Adventist theology.  This limited focus created a very strong book that gave the reader a clear history of its topic without going down various rabbit holes.

 

Although Knight intended Organizing for Mission and Growth to be the third of a seven book series related to Adventist heritage, however for over a decade it has been the last he has written.  This fact does not take away how important this and other Adventist Heritage Series books for Seventh-day Adventists who are interested in the history of their denomination, it’s theological beliefs, and it’s organizational structure as they are the primary readers Knight aims for.

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review 2018-05-06 00:51
"THE DISHY, ROLLICKING & DEEPLY PERSONAL STORY OF WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN THE 2016 ELECTION"
Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling - Matthew Chozick

"CHASING HILLARY: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling" is the fourth book on U.S. presidential campaigns that I have read. The other three being "The Making of the President, 1960", "The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK's Five-Year Campaign", and "The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America."

On the whole, "CHASING HILLARY" is a multi-sided book which tells the story of Hillary Clinton's two presidential campaigns (the first in 2008 in which she failed to secure the Democratic nomination and the 2016 campaign, in which she made history as the first woman to be nominated for President by a major political party), and sheds some light on the author's life and journalistic career, as well as her up and down relationship with Hillary Clinton herself. I liked reading this book, its story (most of which was centered on the 2016 campaign) was easy to follow, and I learned some things about Hillary Clinton (even after following her career over the past 26 years) that I didn't know before. 

The truly painful part of reading "CHASING HILLARY" for me was the author's recounting of Election Night and the day after. It brought to my mind the mostly sleepless night I had November 8/9, 2016, listening to the returns by radio, and then turning off the radio when the outcome proved to be the worst imaginable. 

For anyone who wants to get a better feel for who Hillary Clinton is and what she came to represent for so many people across the nation - and a personal insight from someone who covered the 2016 Clinton campaign up close for The New York Times from start to finish - read "CHASING HILLARY."

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review 2018-02-10 11:00
An Ex-Soldier Finding His Way at University: Bells Above Greens by David Xavier
Bells Above Greens - David Xavier

Here's a review of light young adult fiction for a change:

 

Sam Conry is nineteen, but he has already seen a lot since he was a soldier in the Korean War for nine months and he lost his admired older brother. Now he is back to the USA and he meets the girl whom his brother wished to present to him as a surprise... and his fiancée. After the summer Sam resumes his studies at the University of Notre Dame where also his late brother's girlfriend Elle is a student at St. Mary's College. Sam drifts through student life - confused and without direction.

 

You'd like to know more? Find my review here on my book blog Edith's Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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