Books, art, and more on being an old lady.

10:04 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 2 Comments »
I've used enough Aspercreme on my arthritic hands to be able to type comfortably for a few minutes, so why not take advantage of it? I thought I'd share some thoughts on the three books that I've read recently in the past two weeks. My criteria for really loving a book is that it both touches my soul somewhere deep and agonizing, and it teaches me something shiny and new for my arsenal of useless knowledge. Books that attain neither of these are simply entertaining, not worth much mention or contemplation.
The first book I read in the aforementioned time period was The Secret Life of Bees but Sue Monk Kidd. It only satisfied one of my two criterion: I learned a lot about bees, honey, spirituality (especially non-tradition, personal spirituality) and so on, but I didn't really connect emotionally with the book. I thought it was great and beautifully written, and I would definitely suggest it. I think it would be especially cathartic to anyone with an abusive parent, or a parent that died in childhood.
The second book I read was C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. This was a great! It wasn't as overtly entertaining as the other two, I'd say, but it has a dry witticism that is subtle and fun. I felt like I gained a lot of really wonderful insights from the book (I used one in church the day after I finished it!!) and that I learned a lot about myself. This one fit both criteria, and I would suggest it to anyone that professes him/herself a Christian. No matter what, you'll understand yourself and your faith better after this one, and you'll get a few good laughs.
The third one, I just finished about 10 minutes ago, was Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Oddly enough I chose two books with the word "secret" in the title, and the main character in both of them is named Lily. Don't even ask... I'm trying not to look too far into it. I keep seeing a secret daughter named Lily, and I don't want that happening EVER so--anyway, the book was fabulous! The language was rich and it transported me into another world. I could almost feel my toes breaking as the characters bound their daughters' feet. I learned a lot more about Chinese culture than I ever knew... it's such a daunting task in History class to try to memorize the order and dates of the dynasties that my mind tended to just shut off during China time. Anyway, I felt like I really identified with Lily's pangs of remorse and trying to make a retribution for her wrongs. I've had a lot of wrongs. The beauty and dignity of her suffering were very inspiring. I would suggest this to anyone and everyone, especially men who don't understand women (oh right, that's ALL men!!!), but I wouldn't read it if you're going through a depressed state, or in the depths of a snowy winter.
This morning I went to the Huntington Museum/gallery with my mom and all of her menopausal church-friends. It was hilarious to trot around looking at art with these dentured, permed, orthotic-wearing ladies... they certainly weren't hard to keep up with. The great thing is, whenever I'm out with my mom, everyone always says, referring to me, "is this your friend?" I mean, do I really look like I'm in my 40's? Because that would suck. At the same time, it's kind of fun for us to smile and just say no, we're that great mother-daughter combo that's smart and charming and witty. Okay, we don't say that, but you can see it in our perfect teeth and sparkling eyes :)
Anyway, the Huntington is great! I feel spoiled by all of the museums I've paid tribute to across the world, but they do have a great collection. Among the highlights are pre-Revolution French tapestries, lots of great William Morris stuff, exquisite jasperware, TONS of Gainsborough, and our London study abroad's favorite, Sir Joshua Reynolds. All of the gals that were with me will chuckle in irritated recognition, and will be proud to know that I identified one of his paintings as his before I even saw the placard! Go me, I'd pat myself on the back if it wasn't for my damned arthritis.


Sevak and Chrissie said...

You probably didn't look like you were in your 40s...I think arthritic people can just sense fellow arthritic people (something about achy bones, akin to being able to predict rain). P.S. Have you read The Good Earth? Another Chinese goodie. I'll have to check out that one by See, although I might not be in the mood for depressing stuff. The Kite Runner was just about all I could handle. Do you like how I'm writing an essay on your wall? I'm doing it with one hand, too, since my other arm is being occupied by a little eater.

Lauren Palmer said...

I think I was supposed to read the Good Earth in 7th grade... and never did. I'll do that soon. And as for Kite Runner, I LOVED it! It's really beautiful. Kiss your little eater for me.