Posts Tagged ‘5 coffees’


Book Review: “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind - William Kamkwamba (Memoir)

The one thing I have to say about this book is: Everyone should read it.

Adults, children, teenagers, male or female. This book should be required reading in schools, universities, community groups, you name it…

The book itself is about William’s life as a young boy in Malawi, about his family’s life during a very bad famine year, and how William taught himself about physics and electricity and built a windmill to power his family’s radio. William’s efforts grew until he was noticed by a figure on the international stage, and who eventually introduced him to the right people until he received a scholarship to attend University.

The first amazing thing about this is that William, an unschooled, poverty-stricken boy from Africa, was able to rise against the odds and use his brilliant mind to make something of himself. It’s clear that William is an extremely skilled and talented man, and I’m so thankful that his story was brought to the world, for another reason…

The second amazing thing about this book is that William discusses famine and living through it as though it’s simply a part of life. He never sensationalizes, never gives off a ‘poor me’ or ‘woe was our family’ or ‘Africa is horrid’ vibe, nothing of the sort.

Instead, he tells his story in a matter of fact way, simply telling us what happened and what it was like, and honestly? It’s more vivid than those World Vision ads on TV. It’s more real than hearing from the media that ‘people are starving in Africa’. Want to understand what that really means? See through William’s eyes what happens to a person’s body when there’s no food… how it bloats until the skin is like putty, how people simply dropped dead on the roads as they walked half a mile to try and get some rations, how the President of Malawi denied that anything was wrong and refused to let food and aid supplies into the country, how a family of six can live on only a fistful’s worth – total – of food per day, and sometimes less…

After I read William’s story, I was compelled to pass the book on to the rest of my family.
We who live in first-world countries can never truly understand what it means to starve until we’ve either experienced it first hand, or seen it with clear vision through the eyes of someone who actually lived it and survived.

William’s story will change the way you look at the world. It’ll pull at your heart and you may find yourself crying out for change, for some way to help these people, and you may ache to do something – anything – to help. There are so many children all over the globe who have so much to offer the world, just like William, but if conditions remain the same… frankly, they’ll all die (and already are) and the world will continue to lose brilliant minds to a thing as stupid and senseless as hunger.

Again, I implore you, read this book. There’s also a website in conjunction with the book where William talks about how he came up with the idea to build the windmill and other sorts of things, and I encourage you to view those as well.

This is Willliam’s story, and it’s worth hearing.

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Wesley the Owl – Stacey O’Brien (Nature/Science)

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Several people told me this book was amazing, and I’d even read about it months before that and thought it looked interesting, but nothing, and I do mean nothing, prepared me for how much I would learn and be awed by in this book. Every single page taught me some other incredible thing about barn owls (which I promptly shared with whoever was closest to me – I think my husband is sick of barn owl stories at this point, hah!), and although I don’t entirely buy all of O’Brien’s philosophical speculation in the final chapters, by the end of this book (and Wesley’s life – and that’s not a spoiler, because all animal books have this at the end) I was bawling like a baby: Out of emotional attachment to the owl I’d just read about, out of a deep sense of loss for the author who’d spent 19 years with this remarkable creature, and out of a sense of amazement and wonder toward one of this earth’s creatures that I would have otherwise simply taken for granted.

I strongly believe that many people have lost their sense of connection with animals and nature, and take these things for granted. There is an intelligence and personality in so many animals that we interact with or see from afar, on a daily basis, and we think nothing of their presence in our lives. The story of Wesley the owl, and how he learned – interacted – changed – developed – LOVED – and connected with the world around him is truly stunning. You will never look at birds, owls in particular, the same way again, and I hope that this book will help others reconnect with that childlike sense of amazement of the natural world around us.

Rating: 5 coffees out of 5

Exploring the Old Testament – Volume 1: A Guide to the Pentateuch – Gordon Wenham (Biblical Studies/History)

I had to read this for a course I was taking on the Pentateuch, and for once… it was actually quite an enjoyable textbook! Wenham breaks down the various aspects of each book in the Pentateuch without dwelling on minute details that bog down so many other commentaries & explorations of these first five books. He also included comparative historical detail, with reference to outside ancient literary works, and also made mention of archaeological controversies over various elements found within the text. All in all, an excellent guide to the Pentateuch for someone looking to do an overview of these five important and influential ancient scriptures.

Rating: 3.5 coffees out of 5

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Book Review: ‘The Wild Wood’ & ‘Skellig’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

The Wild Wood - Charles de Lint (Fantasy)

I’d heard some excellent things about Charles de Lint from members of the group here, so I was excited to read something by him for the first time… unfortunately, this book fell far, far short of my expectations. *looks around nervously* Sorry, everyone…

The story itself is about a painter who has lost the passion in her art, and has retreated to a cabin in the woods to recapture the passion again. She begins to see faces in the woods, and she receives some odd messages. In essence: the woods needs her help.

For whatever reason, after the premise was established, the rest of the book just didn’t do it for me. I found the ending to be rather trite and unbelievable, though I’m sure some people really liked it and probably found it ‘poignant’… but I was just frustrated.

I was very glad, however, that it was short book, and I won’t give up on de Lint just yet…

Rating: 2 coffees out of 5

Skellig – David Almond (Children’s Fiction)

I picked this one up on the recommendation of others, but I wasn’t really expecting anything from it. It didn’t “look” very good, and usually I get a pretty good sense from a book when I’m holding it whether I’ll like it or not (I jokingly call it my ‘book sixth sense’… okay, now you all think I’m crazy), and this one didn’t really seem like my kind of thing…

Was I ever wrong. I don’t want to get into plot details because I really think this is a book you need to experience for yourself, but let me say this: when you turn the last page of the book, after the last word has been read, make sure you give yourself a few moments. Allow the sense of the book, the words and the sentiments evoked to wash over you. Absorb the truth behind the fantastic. I finished this book in a coffee shop and had brought along an action-oriented chick lit book to read afterward, but I simply couldn’t do it – I didn’t want to tarnish what I’d just read.

Needless to say, I’m very, very glad I gave this one a try.

Rating: 5 coffees out of 5

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