"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
Do you like to read about reading or about books? If so, I have two books to recommend.
The first one is How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler. I have enjoyed this book immensely, even though I've never tried to read a book in the way he recommends. What I do get out of it is insight into what sorts of things to look for in a book so that you feel like you are getting more out of it than just a quick read-through provides. It's thought-provoking and a mini-education in and of itself.
The second book is The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. This is a newer book and an easier read than Dr. Adler's book. The subtitle is A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. It gives some background to the novel, autobiography, history, drama, and poetry, as well as explaining how to read these types of writing and questions to ask yourself about them. (Don't confuse this book with The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, which is a book about homeschooling children, although I picked up that one, too, as it is very informative for those of us who like to learn all kinds of things.)
Both books recommend having someone with whom to discuss your reading. They also recommend owning the book, if possible, so you can write in it. Neither of these is a requirement, nor would you have to try to follow their whole program or read the particular books suggested. Some would enjoy doing that and some would not. It might be something you would like to try with one book. The thing I am most pleased with in both of these books is the information about what to look for in books and how to formulate an educated opinion of a book.
There are a number of books out there about reading books. It sounds amusing on the surface, but you can learn a lot about what goes into writing different types of books, what questions to ask of the books you read, and much other information.
(Note: I usually link to a page at Barnes & Noble or Amazon when I recommend a book, simply because their pages often have several reviews by both professionals and by readers that you might like to read. These books are available elsewhere or can be purchased used or checked out from the library.)
If you are as book crazy as I am, you might enjoy these.
Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere in the world? What would you like to see?
There are many places that interest me. I think that outside of the USA, I would like to visit the British Isles and tour England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I would want to see castles and villages and cathedrals. I would want to visit places I read about in books. Since I read a lot of books set in those countries, I would enjoy that a lot. Museums and art galleries would be interesting, but I think driving around and looking at actual places would be the best.
The Holy Land would be a great place to visit, if it were safe. I'd be a bit nervous going there now. Still, to see the places we read of in the scriptures would be a wonderful experience.
In the USA, I'd like to visit places that figured in the early settlement of our country. The Church history sites would be great, too. I'd like to see the oceans and just enjoy the countryside all around the different states--mountains, rivers, lakes, etc. Alaska would be an interesting place to visit--though perhaps not in winter! There are some good places to visit right here in Oklahoma. Some I've seen and some I haven't. Don't you find that we take for granted that which is near us and long for somewhere far away and "exotic?" But our home area would likely be exotic to someone else who lived far away.
I am glad we can travel vicariously through books and TV and the internet, but it's always nice to visit a place in person and get a real feel for it.
I am always interested in reading about what ordinary people did as they pursued their ordinary activities in various historical times. I have found an engrossing little book called The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times by Ralph Gower. This book especially interests me because it refers to items and customs that can make the scriptures more clear. As it tells about clothing, for example, it refers to verses in the Bible that mention clothing. The poor often had just one set of clothing and clothes were expensive and hard to come by. That makes what John the Baptist said in Luke 3:11 about giving away one's spare cloak somewhat "revolutionary." That's a minor example, but knowing what ordinary life was like can help one understand how difficult things were or how unusual and that in turn can help one get a fuller understanding of what various scriptures mean.
I have just started the book, but it covers Dwellings, Food, the Family, Education, Towns and Villages, Religion, and much more. There are lots of pictures and drawings to help understand the descriptions and many scriptural references. It's not hugely detailed, but it gives good general information. My copy is marked Student Edition and it looks like a new edition will soon be released, judging from what I saw at Amazon.com.
I'm always looking for "daily life" books, especially for biblical times and for medieval times. I guess it's the writer in me wanting detail for the books I hope to write, but it also helps bring the people to life. They are more real when you know what their houses were like and what they did about food and clothing and all.
Colonial America is another time that interests me, but I haven't spent much time on it yet--for some odd reason I can't spend all my waking hours reading and writing! Sad, isn't it?
I am still reading Eusebius and Josephus. I'm finding it interesting, but am in the early pages yet and so don't have much to write blog posts about, though I hope to as I absorb it more.
I want to point out a new blog called Scribal Scratchingsby my friend, Scott. I have it linked on the sidebar, as well as here. He's LDS, too, and his blog is about Christian history and doctrine and the Bible--an interesting read full of information. Give it a try--you'll like it!
And, Scott, welcome to the blogosphere! I'm so glad you started a blog.
I have been reading the New Testament lately. Right now, I am in John. I can't decide which of the four gospels in the New Testament is my favorite. They each have much loved verses and interesting stories and bits that the others don't have.
In John, I finished chapter 14 last night. It is amazing that Jesus Christ taught His apostles so many things right at a time when He Himself was troubled by the events to come. Always, always, His thoughts were on others. What did they need to hear and to learn? What would comfort them?
I have noticed, as I am sure you have, that at different times in my life, I notice and appreciate different things in the scriptures. Elder Boyd K. Packer alluded to this at General Conference when he spoke of scriptures about teaching children meaning nothing to him as a young man, but how much they came to mean to him as he became a father and a grandfather. The problems we are currently coping with, the life situation we are in, all these things make a difference in what we gain from the scriptures at any given time.
The scriptures are infinitely deep. There is much to learn on many different levels. We plumb the depths each day. We learn a little more, gain a bit of understanding, apply a bit more wisdom. If we add prayer and being in tune with the Holy Ghost to our scripture study, we increase our ability to learn.
The scriptures are favorite and much-loved books, and for good reason. They contain the words of Life.
I am pleased to announce the launching of a new LDS women's group blog, entitled "conversation." I hope you will all visit and read and comment. The group consists of Amira, chronicler, Heather P., Johnna, Mary Siever, Peggy Snow Cahill, s'mee, and me! Enjoy!
The inspiration and organization came from Amira and the blog design is by Johnna. The rest of us offered ideas and Heather P. was a big help on some of the coding issues.
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. (Doctrine & Covenants 88:118)