Monday, August 1, 2016

Books Read, July 2016

Not much of a theme in July, except for a double-dose of paranoia in my choice of non-fiction reading.

  • Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
  • Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly
  • The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip

  • No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation by Clint Emerson
  • Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps' Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life by Jason Riley and Patrick Van Horne

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thought of the Day, July 28, 2016: Samurai and Swimming

"Water is the source of wisdom; swimming is the mother of all the arts…. Swimming teaches us to live properly. There is no way a solitary swimmer can impose his or her selfish will on the water. Swimming against the current will ultimately result in disaster. Swim with the flow without strain, resistance, confusion, or unnatural movement."

—from the Shinden School, which taught samurai suijutsu, the art of combative swimming

For some of my thoughts on swimming, please check out this post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Thought of the Day, July 26, 2016: Van Horne & Riley on Preparation

"Those who prepare and train themselves for the the possibility of violence will react differently than those who do not."
—Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley, authors of Left of Bang: How The Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Philosophy Thursday: A Buddhist Look at Death and Loss

I'm not really good with death. Over the years, I've lost one pair of great-grandparents, two pairs of grandparents, an aunt, my mother, my best friend, and too many animal companions to mention. While my losses don't compare with those who have survived wars, natural disasters, or other tragedies, it doesn't change the fact that every death of a loved one is painful. In the case of my mother, it was downright devastating.

Since I know dealing with even more death is inevitable, I try to find ways to prepare myself and accept the inevitable.

Some find solace in Abrahamic religious traditions, but that doesn't really work for me. It's not that the idea of Heaven isn't appealing. It is. I just can't quite make the leap of faith required to actually believe in it except in a vague sort of way.

On the other end of the spectrum, I don't fully accept the New Atheists and their denial of any transcendence either. 

Somewhere between the theist and the materialist lies the Buddhist, specifically the more philosophical, less religious Buddhism I find myself drawn to.

What do I mean by "more philosophical, less religious Buddhism"? As Stephen Batchelor explains in his book Buddhism Without Beliefs A Contemporary Guide to Awakening, it is quite possible to live in accordance to Buddhist philosophy without necessarily believing in karma, rebirth, the Pure Land, etc. Personally, I neither believe or disbelieve in those things. I just don't find them relevant to my daily life. 

The best book I have read so far about the Buddhist approach to death and dying is No Fear, No Death by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a deeply compassionate work, as is every other book I've read by Nhat Hanh. Very early on, he outlines the basic idea that will inform the rest of the book:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Books Read, Midway Through 2016 Edition

Since we are about midway through 2016, here is a list of the books I've read in the first half of the
year in alphabetical order.

  • The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip
  • The Caller by Juliet Marillier
  • Chalice by Robin McKinley
  • Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
  • The Dancers of Arun by Elizabeth A. Lynn
  • Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier
  • Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  • The Promise by Robert Crais
  • Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier
  • Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
  • Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
  • Walking Dead by Greg Rucka (reread)
  • Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn
  • A Wild Swan and Other Tales by Michael Cunningham
  • Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
  • The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits: Stories by Emma Donoghue

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Books Read, June 2016

This month was heavy on Zen Buddhism and Juliet Marillier.

Speaking of Juliet Marillier... In three months I've read seven of her books. Since reading Wildwood Dancing in April, I've become a big fan of her beautifully written, character-driven fantasy novels. I especially like how personal the books are, with their focus on very damaged individuals trying to better themselves and their relationships with those around them. While dark at times, Marillier's novels are ultimately about hope.

I should also note that several of Juliet Marillier's are classified as YA ("Young Adult") are supposed to be especially appealing to young girls. Well, I'm a fortysomething male, and I still loved them. No wonder my wife tells me I have "the sensibility of a morbid, darkly romantic teenage girl."

  • Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
  • Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
  • Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier
  • The Caller by Juliet Marillier
  • This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
  • The Zen Way to the Martial Arts by Taisen Deshimaru
  • Zen For Beginners by Judith Blackstone and Zoran Josipovic

  • Batman '66 by Jeff Parker and various artists

Thought of the Day, July 5, 2016: Hesse on Living in this World

"Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours."
— Hermann Hesse