Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Autoimmune Connection: Essential Information for Women on Diagnosis, Treatment, and Getting On With Your Life

Celiac disease, which I have, is an autoimmune disease, so that's why I picked this book off of the library shelf. Apparently 75% of the people with autoimmune diseases are women. There's not really any confirmed reason why women are more susceptible to these diseases, but this book posits a few theories. It's written by Rita Baron-Faust and a doctor named Jill P. Buyon, and it surveys at least 17 autoimmune diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to antiphospholipid syndrome.

I found chapter 1 to be the most useful, since it explains how autoimmune disorders work. The rest of the book is kind of freaky because it provides warning signs for various diseases, and if you're borderline hypochondriac like I am, you'll imagine you have all of them.

Miss Marple on the British

"Really I don't know what I mean--but the English are rather odd that way. Even in war, so much prouder of their defeats and their retreats than of their victories. Foreigners never can understand why we're so proud of Dunkerque. It's the sort of thing they'd prefer not to mention themselves. But we always seem to be almost embarassed by a victory--and treat it as though it weren't quite nice to boast about it. And look at all our poets! The Charge of the Light Brigade. And the little Revenge went down in the Spanish Main. It's really a very odd characteristic when you come to think of it!"

~ Murder with Mirrors, ch. 11

A Useful Page for Christie Fans

This is Christie's output, with year of publication, alternate titles (if any), Swedish titles, and the detective of the story.
I know, I know--Swedish titles? But this was the best Christie-ography I could find.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Palliser Novels

I remember my mom giggling over Barchester Towers when I was a teenager, but I was not at all intrigued. At the time I was interested in sterner authors than Anthony Trollope, such as Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters.

But this spring my roommates and I got hooked on the 1974 Pallisers miniseries. It was like a Victorian soap opera. We always wanted to know what would happen next, even though the makeup was hideous and the music sounded like an old phonograph and the drama all took place in drawing rooms or Parliament. That doesn't sound like a recommendation, but it just goes to show how transcendently good Trollope was as a writer.

So I picked up the first Palliser novel (there are six) and it was even better than the TV show. Trollope's novels are like beautiful jewelry. His writing is extraordinarily controlled and nuanced, like a delicate filligree setting, and his characters are like small, perfect precious stones (not sparkly ones, like emeralds and diamonds, but pearly ones like jade and opal). There are so many characters in these novels that the Oxford University Press edition actually provides a character index in the back of each volume. And yet each character is unique, and conceived in detail. Their actions are described and explained down to the smallest motive, and are almost always consistent with their personalities.

Then, each novel consists of not just a main plot but several subplots, and all the plots are pretty much the same. We have love stories, thwarted-love stories, social climbing, social falling, and politics (which should be boring, but is somehow absorbing in these tales). The subplots are the same and yet not the same, because each one is just a little different from all the other ones. I don't know how Trollope kept all these things straight. He must have been a wide-ranging observer of human beings.

He wrote a huge number of novels, I'm happy to say, which means I can read one a year for the rest of my life, or something like that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Do you not regret our mountains and our prairies," said the poet; "our great waters and our green savannahs?"

"I think more perhaps of Fifth Avenue," said Miss Boncassen.

~ The Duke's Children, ch. 7o

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Grand Weaver

I borrowed Ravi Zacharias's new book from the library because I've been wondering lately about how to identify God's hand in my circumstances, and the book is subtitled How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives. Unfortunately, although there is a lot of good insight in the book, I found it more confusing than anything. I assume that it was written to fulfill a book contract, and the editor wasn't quite on the ball. (Curses on the Christian book industry! That includes you, Zondervan!)

Chapter titles include "Your DNA Matters," "Your Disappointments Matter," "Your Will Matters," and "Your Worship Matters." Each chapter is best read as a unit unto itself, offering good suggestions for transforming our attitudes about each facet of our being.

What I found confusing was fitting all the chapters into the weaver metaphor. As I sat down to write this review, I was going to tell you my solution to this problem, but I gave up instead. Not only is it difficult to figure out how the chapters fit together, but many of the illustrations don't seem to fit into the chapter arguments.

If you want to read it (and I'm not saying not to), check it out from the library or borrow it from someone. Actually, it might work well for a group Bible study, because then you could go down all the rabbit trails and the overall plan of the book wouldn't matter. How ironic, that a book about design fails the design test.

This is the only book I've read by Ravi Zachiarias. I've heard him speak and I was really impressed, so I'm hoping his other books are better. But like I said, there's still some good insight in this book.