Category Archives: Book Reviews

Books and Nature

I started reading On Man and Nature, by Henry David Thoreau, a few months ago, and although it is short in pages, and it is long/drawn out in some areas, I did enjoy reading Thoreau’s illuminations.

I am a fan of Henry David Thoreau’s work,and this particular book left me curious wondering as to some of his perspectives.

I found this on a friend’s bookshelf, and borrowed it.

My walk by the river took me through an area with lovely trees, shrubs and greenness against the background of the sky.

What can I say about Andy Goldsworthy. I absolutely love his artistic endeavors, encompassing nature, rock/stone, leaves, twigs, etc., creating breathtaking wonders.

Walking on a sunny day, I saw these rocks, almost in formation.

Photographs and prose Copyright Lorri M.

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Review: Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul

I finished reading Einstein and the Rabbi:  Searching for the Soul, by Rabbi Naomi Levy.

We are all an eternal flicker in the candle of time, and each of us is an illumination of the past, present and future. 

This beautifully written book, exemplifies our connections, and enhances the fact humanity is all encompassing, each of us a minute part of the entire.  One life is all of our lives, connected through human strands.  One death leaves a portion of our souls empty, voided.

Reading this book almost brought me to tears with the beautiful, structured prose, illuminating Rabbi Levy’s concept of soul, and her defining such, through her journey searching for the answers to her questions.

I recommend Einstein and the Rabbi:  Searching for the Soul, to everyone, no matter your faith, and no matter whether you practice any religious faith, or whether you are an atheist.  It offers something for everyone.

The photo above was taken several years ago, inside Temple Mickve Israel, in Savannah, GA.  I was astonished that I was permitted to take a photo of the Torahs in the Ark.

The photograph above is of the front entrance to the Skirball Cultural Center.  They are currently closed due to COVID-19, but their online exhibits and resources are invaluable.

All photographs and writings are the copyright of Lorri M.

 

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, Photography, Uncategorized

To the Edge of Sorrow

To the Edge of Sorrow, by Aharon Appelfeld, is a profound book, in many aspects.

Appelfeld leaves nothing to the imagination, as far as word-imagery, illuminating not only the physical horrors, losses, and sorrows of war, but also the emotional perceptions, repressions, and ability to forge through each day, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.

Jewish partisans struggle from hunger, extreme cold temperatures, living in trenches, life on the run, living in a Ukrainian forest, during World War II. They are adamant about fighting the Nazis.

Judaism is a central theme, within the pages, and how it’s education is part of the partisans’ daily ritual. Whether believers, or not, it is expected that the entire group participates, because their leader is determined that morality will survive the horrors thrust upon them.

Through this daily aspect, some of the group are able to cope better, with their difficult situation.  Others are impacted more emotionally, causing them to reflect on their life, their loved ones, the comforts of home.  The effects, and how each person is affected, is important in the context of the group, as a whole.

The story, with its characters, and depictions, still lingers within me, and will, for quite some time. It is one of those books, that for me, is difficult to let go of.

I have been an avid reader of Aharon Appelfeld’s books. Sadly, this was his last one, as he died in 2018.

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Review: David Plotz’s Good Book

good book

Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible, by David Plotz is an interesting book on one man’s perception after reading the Bible.

Plotz read the Bible beginning as a child in Hebrew class. He read snippets throughout the years. While at a Bat Mitzvah, he began reading passages of the Torah. This fueled the fire that began his journey to read the entire Bible.

He found the Bible to be weird, especially the language and how it is not always cohesive and/or easy to understand.  He was astonished at some of the stories in the Bible that verge on the bizarre with some of their eccentric and archaic content, such as vengeance, murder, stoning, plagues, slavery, and other forms of physical punishment, etc., and especially regarding the nature of G-d.

Plotz’s train of thought is that scholars and religious leaders have made the interpretation and translation of the Bible difficult and hard to understand, and almost an arduous task to do so.  He feels that most religious leaders (of all faiths) have selected certain sections, chapters, quotations, and etc., from specific books of the Bible to fit what they deem is necessary to hold their congregation in tow.

He also feels that every person should read the Bible, because it holds a wealth of knowledge, and also gives Jews food for thought to argue over.  Where Christian faiths hold Jesus as their savior, Jews have had to argue the facets of the Bible with each other, throughout the centuries, not necessarily accepting the words at face value.  Argument is a Jewish tradition.  This has made them stronger, and has given them the freedom to doubt, to believe, and has bound them, historically, as a separate group of individuals.

When Plotz began reading the Bible, he was an agnostic, and wasn’t overly involved in it. When he finished reading the Bible, his mindset had changed.  In order to find out how, read Good Book yourself. You will come away with a deepening sense regarding how other Jews perceive the Bible.

Good Book, by David Plotz is much more than an interesting look at the Bible through one man’s eyes.  It is a journey of faith, understanding, insight and extreme questioning. His interpretations, feelings and thoughts about his journey are frank, filled with harshness and often with extreme humor.  The reader often finds him amused, awed, disgusted, appalled, yet with the desire to continue forward with his reading.  At times he found the stories difficult to understand, and difficult to read due to their horrific content, yet he found much of the Bible fascinating.

This is my second reading of this book, and reread it, once more, for a book discussion.

© Copyright Lorri M. – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Review: The Overstory

Overstory

I was thoroughly captivated by the beautiful, impactful, stunning, and breathtaking writing by Richard Powers, in The Overstory.  The prose was poetic, within its strong statements, and with the vivid word imagery.

forest

Trees and their beauty, their communal ways of being and protecting not only the earth, man, and their own kind, are memorialized within the pages, and given high honor, within the deep tribute.  Their connection to the earth goes beyond any visual, or perception, or preconceived idea that we have of them.  Powers brings a realized aspect in defining their power, power lasting over 370 million years.

dormant

Trees, although cut down by man, himself, still hold powers of positivity that reign supreme within the landscapes of earth and time.  Their ability to shape so many unseen lives, literally, within the scope of their very being is an amazing feat, not only of nature, but of perseverance within the realms of their very essence.  They are a treasure, and should be held on a pedestal.

trunks

There are basically two stories within the novel, each one affecting the other, dramatically, with activism towards the living world of trees.  The characters weave their own connections, networks, within their staunch beliefs.  Those beliefs eventually branch out to other individuals, and extend to various communities.  The trees, themselves, become strong forces, within the focus of man’s destruction, and also of man’s determination to save them, resisting corporate financial strength and power.

wooded

Trees, living forms, in their own right, have been diminished by man, used, abused, and handled without care.  Their story needed to be told, in a humanistic manner, yet not sugar-coated.  Richard Powers masterfully depicted, with amazing prose and imagery, the magnificence, devotion to man, and power of trees, within the scheme of human need, connectivity, and also man’s love and devotion towards them.

The Overstory won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in fiction.

thecalm2

Copyright Lorri M.

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Review: The World That We Knew

the world that we knew

Alice Hoffman’s books have never ceased to amaze me.  The World That We Knew is another one of her books that I felt amazed and touched by.

The story line had a mystical aspect, yet it was not difficult to suspend my disbelief within specific moments that illuminated nature, love, and the theory of clay being magically brought to a life form.  Magical realism, mystical realism, however you define it, is a powerful force within the pages, especially with the forming of a golem.

Judaism defines a golem as a substance, amorphous, one that is not complete, made from clay or mud.  Golems are also said to not have emotions, and to be, more or less, a slave to the individual who created it.  Ava’s super strength and awareness defined her powers over her human creators in more ways than one.

I enjoyed watching the character of Ava mature, in unpredictable ways.  I felt compassion towards her.  For me, she was the one character who I admired and liked the most, even though she was not a human being.

Her knowledge of events to come, and her strength in upholding her ideals through those difficult situations, gained my respect for her.  Her actions went above and beyond any forces that actual individuals took to enhance or minimize.  She was a willing shero, in every respect.

The Holocaust events depicted were not sugar-coated, but were a central force within the pages, particularly the French partisan angles, during World War II.  Hoffman was masterful with her word-imagery, within the pages.

Once again, Alice Hoffman did not disappoint me.  Her masterful prose created a wonderful story line, filled with magic/mysticism, a feature I have loved, throughout her books that I have read.  I highly recommend The World That We Knew.
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