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I started this list in 2003 so it may not be as long as some other years. The most recent reads are found at the top. This page is more for me to keep track of things than it is for anyone else. Hopefully I won't be accused of navel-gazing.
If you take a mouse to the movies (Amazon)   [12/29/2003]
Laura Numeroff; illustrations by Felicia Bond  (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000)
Casey at the bat (Amazon)   [12/25/2003]
Ernest Lawrence Thayer; additional text and illustrations by Patricia Polacco  (New York, NY: Putnam & Grosset Group, 1988)
This is a version of the great ballad that places the poem in the context of a Little League game by adding some content before and after the poem.
A circle of quiet (Amazon)   [12/23/2003 - 01/05/2004]
Madeleine L'Engle Franklin  (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1972)
We have thirteen people in our house Christmas 2003 week (seven under the age of eight) and the whole lot of us went to the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum part of our Western Reserve Historical Society today. Knowing that my 10-month old son wasn't going to put up with walking around looking at all the cool planes, trains and automobiles (the boat, too), I brought along a book. (The current stack is 32" high and this was about 1/3rd of the way from the top.) So I found a comfortable couch and read for an hour or so while my son gave me a "koala bear hug" and slept deeply on my chest.
This is one of the more interesting (and certainly the most inspiring) books I've read recently. This book is essentially a book of essays, a journal of sorts about the struggles she had as a non-traditional mom in New England who tries to balance hours of writing in her self-described "ivory tower" over the car garage and taking care of her many children. She writes about her exploration of being a creative person and her discoveries in self-awareness. She spends a good deal of time working through pride versus hubris, icons versus idols and through her struggles with intellectual elitism.
This may be the best book I've read in a very long time. So thoughtful, so provoking. It has made me stop and think so very many times. I'm passing it to my wife and looking for Book 2 (The Summer of the Great-grandmother) and Book 3 (The Irrational Season).
A newer edition of this book can be found here.
A kid's book on boatbuilding (Amazon)   [12/16/2003]
Will Ansel  (Brooklin, ME: WoodenBoat Publications, 2001)
An old sailing friend from the Texas Gulf Coast has invited my son and me to work (over spring break 2004) on the boat he's building. This book does a good job describing the different parts of the project.
Cranberry Thanksgiving (Amazon)   [11/30/2003]
Wende Devlin, Harry Devlin  (New York, NY: Parent's Magazine Press, 1971)
An old family favorite, I can remember reading this book as early as 1979 and many years thereafter. My youngest sister (a 4th-grade teacher) claimed it a few years back for use in her classroom and wouldn't give it up. A wonderful story, the characters are likable and believable. I probably hadn't read it in ten years and I am certain that I laughed louder and longer now then when I read it the first time.
Supposedly out of print, we ordered our 1980 reprint from our neighborhood Borders. If you choose to order it, make certain you use correct spelling of the authors' names ("Devlin" rather than "Delvin"). There appears to be some debate (or error). I use the spelling in the book's title page (the book's dedication also uses "Devlin".
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the book's recipe for Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread. I'm sure it is delicious, but what I remember the most are the story and Mr. Whiskers.
When you ride alone you ride with bin Laden: what the government should be telling us to help fight the war on terrorism (Amazon)   [11/27/2003]
Bill Maher  (Beverly Hills, CA: New Millennium Press, 2002)
I found myself wishing I disagreed with him more and being surprised that I didn't. His premise in this book is that what we (US citizens and US government) did right in WWII, we are not doing in our current war against terrorism. I had already decided that when it comes time to bury the 88 Civic that I'll get one of those hybrid boxes, perhaps the Toyota Prius. (Too bad Detroit doesn't have anything (as of this writing) that competes.)
I did take issue with his characterization of Christianity as a religion in which one must suspend all reasoning, stop thinking critically and never question anything. (Many Christians have suspended all reasoning, have stopped thinking and are extremely afraid to question and doubt. That's more of a problem with the Christian than it is Christianity.) Christianity has withstood two thousand years of philosophers, critical thinkers and rational people. When I have seen the gospel rejected, it has always appeared to have had more to do with issues within the person than issues within the message.
Yes, Christianity requires this thing called "faith" and in this book Maher seems to have real problems with it. I wonder if he doesn't realize that he himself exercises it daily. Faith is not something that we take blindly. Would you sit down on a chair without testing its sturdiness if you hadn't first had many experiences with chairs not falling apart under you? And don't you personally glance at a chair that is leaning precariously and make the decision not to trust it with your weight?
The message of Christianity is more than sturdy enough to withstand your questions, doubts and probing. I challenge you to take a closer look at it.
Whale done!: the power of positive relationships (Amazon)   [11/19/2003 - 12/14/2003]
Ken Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins, & Jim Ballard  (New York, NY: The Free Press, 2002)
My organization is working through Blanchard's and Bowles' Gung Ho! so I thought I'd pick this one up, too.
I'm having a hard time getting through this book. It seems that he wants us to ignore bad behavior. In my line of work, bad behavior can cost the organization millions of bucks. I guess I'll just have to keep reading.
I've since finished the book but I'm still having troubles with its message. . . .
The Count of Monte Cristo (Amazon)   [11/16/2003 - 12/09/2003]
Alexandre Dumas  (Ann Arbor, MI: State Street Press, 2002)
While looking for a link to the edition I am reading (ISBN 0-681-21855-X), I came across the text of the book.
I'm beginning to think that the movie (2002) was intentionally dumbed down. The political intrigue at the beginning is wonderful in its detail. It probably helps that Henty's In the Reign of Terror paint the political and social history of this time fairly well.
I've had such a terrible time putting this down today (20031210). Edmond learns so wonderfully much and goes through such incredible emotions. A true friend to his friends and a true enemy to his enemies. His foresight failed him and his vengeance was deadlier than he ever imagined.
Moltke on the art of war: selected writings (Amazon)   [09/09/2003 - 11/18/2003]
edited by Daniel J. Hughes ; translated by Daniel J. Hughes and Harry Bell: foreword by Gunther Rothenberg  (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1993)
Why am I reading this? Well, in my real job, I manage an operations group of Unix system administrators for a regional Midwest financial concern. Field Marshal Moltke directed "the German/Prussian campaigns against Austria in 1866 and France in 1870-71." Following these campaigns, he ended up laying the foundation for the German art of war for another 75 years. I figure he's got a lot to say about operations that I've never even considered.
One of his more interesting theories is "that no human acumen is able to see beyond the first battle". So I'm reading this book with an ear/eye toward understanding how to put some of these ideas into my own group. Things like remembering to keep the "main objective" in mind and "not be swayed by the changeability of events".
What I'm finding most valuable at the moment is his Communications between commands and units: "Bypassing an intermediate authority destroys its effectiveness and causes it to appear superfluous." Thinking about what kinds of communication needs to be passed to me and in turn, what needs to be passed along to my management. In an era of two-way text pages, email, conference calls and mobile phones, his ten points on communications makes me stop, think and re-evaluate what I send both up and down the chain.
I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with his cry against the now common practice (at least in my organization) toward matrix projects: "[O]ne should bring together what belongs together and build no new whole from parts that previously belonged to different commands." Moltke doesn't offer much help on how to get to his ideal. I suppose I'll have to provide that.
Some Henty (here and here) books I'd like to read that may help fill in the historical and political context are A Woman of the Commune and The Young Franc-Tireurs. His depictions of the battles are reportedly very detailed and very accurate.

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