Friday, December 27, 2013

The Men Who United The States - Simon Winchester

I read this book because I enjoyed another of Winchester's books - The Professor and the Madman.  I am so happy that I did because this book is such a fantastic read! I liked it even more than The Professor and the Madman (and I liked that one a lot).

It is arranged in such a unique way.  He used the Chinese symbols of wood, earth, water, fire, and metal.  When I first read the theme, I wasn't sold on it but it really works.

One of my favorite stories is about Calbraith Rodgers - first man to fly across the United States.  But there are so many great characters and stories to learn about including Samuel Morse, Clarence King, Thomas MacDonald and Theodore Judah.  No, I won't give you more than their names.  You need to read this book to learn their very interesting stories.

It is pretty much settled that I will now have to read anything this man writes because he is a great storyteller of nonfiction.  And from my experience, that is a hard combo to find!

Amazon book description:

Simon Winchester, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Atlantic and The Professor and the Madman, delivers his first book about America: a fascinating popular history that illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings.

How did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? To answer these questions, Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, such as Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys; the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing the fascinating people who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States.

Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Walking with Mary - Edward Sri

As my Advent reading, I chose Walking with Mary.  This book is an excellent little read.  It's only 118 pages long but it is filled with helpful, prayerful information.

The book is broken down into nine steps
Step 1 - An open heart: Mary in dialogue with God
Step 2 - A servant of the Lord: Let it be done to me
Step 3 Magnify the Lord: The humility of Mary
Step 4 - Keep and ponder: The Mother at the Manger
Step 5: Sharing in the sword: Mary's participation in her Son's suffering
Step 6: Walking in darkness: She who did not understand
Step 7: She still says yes: Mary's choice at Cana
Step 8 Total surrender, total trust: Standing at he cross of Jesus
Step 9: Persevering in faith: Mary, crowned with glory

I love that the author first presents the steps in relation to the Bible and then brings it home with application to our lives.  It really helps me 'get it'.  Another thing I love is how the book intertwines Old Testament and New Testament verses to tell the story.

This is not a book that I will read and put away but one I think I will refer to often over the course of my life.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent readings and wreath

This Advent, we (my family) are reading two books together.

1. Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families (Sarah Rinehard).  It is exactly what I was looking for - a way to more fully incorporate Jesus into the season and leave out the guy in the red suit.

This book is just lovely!  Each day, there is a verse from the Bible, and three small sections to read - Think, Pray, Act.  My daughter gets really excited about doing the action of the day (one day it was pray for someone who had annoyed or upset you).  After we say the prayer for that day, we light the candles on our Advent wreath. This book will definitely become part of our annual Advent traditions.  Highly recommend it!

2. Destination Bethlehem by Sharon Altman.  This is our second year reading this book and my daughter LOVES it! It is about a young boy that finds himself traveling along with the Nativity story. We read a little every night of Advent and finish it up on Christmas Eve with the birth of Jesus.  Oops, hopefully I didn't ruin it by giving away the ending ;)

Do you have any Advent books that your family reads together?  I'd love more ideas and suggestions.