Heather Keith Freeman (jnanacandra) wrote,
Heather Keith Freeman
jnanacandra

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book catchup: #35-40 of 2006

Waaay behind on the book list. These will be short reviews as a result (especially the rereads).

#35: Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins (reread)
Only one of my favorite books of all time. (The rest of my top five would be, um, East of Eden, Lord of the Rings, and, um. Maybe Cryptonomicon. And yes, I know that's only four. Shut up.) See the quote I posted from this last month for a taste of why I love this book so much. It's got art, and why we make art, and philosophy, and politics as an outgrowth of philosophy, and magick, and mythology, and just lots of really GOOD SHIT. So there.

#36: Active Birth by Janet Balaskas
One of the many many pregnancy/birth books I've been devouring of late (gee, wonder why), only unlike most of them I actually liked this one enough to read it cover to cover rather than picking out the useful stuff. It's hard to tell how much of this is because the author and I seem to be coming from similar philosophies, but to me the book was informative without being preachy, philosophical while still being based on science, and made heavy use of the same techniques and ideas (yoga and dance, specifically) that I was looking for.

#37: Passage by Connie Willis (reread)
Connie Willis' latest novel, but it's been far too long since it was published. But it's classic Willis, with the absurdity and irony of normal life turned up just enough to leave you in silent-shoulder-shaking laughter, because no matter how crazy a character gets, you realize you know someone exactly like that. In this one, a psychiatrist takes on near-death experiences, trying to figure out what's going on at a neurological level while navigating the pitfalls of hospital bureaucracy, new-age pop psychologists, and little girls obsessed with disasters. Great fun, and thought-provoking at the same time.

#38: Birthing From Within by Pam England (reread)
This was the first pregnancy book I read, nearly two years ago, and it's just as good on the reread. It's a little shy on hard physiological information, but makes up for it on the psychological side, encouraging you to figure out what aspects of the process of becoming a mother scare you, and how to isolate them and break them down.

#39-40: Walking to Mercury and the Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk (reread)
I felt the yen to pick up TFST again, and realized that I'd never read its prequel first, always after (in the order they were written). Both books are a much richer read in this order, I think. It's also hard to really describe WtM as a prequel to the other, for all that it follows many of the same characters 60-80 years earlier - because the world in which it is set is so radically different. Where WtM is plain fiction, albeit with heavy philosophical and magickal overtones, TFST is pure utopic/dystopic fantasy, though perhaps not as fantastic as it might seem on the surface. Both books are filled with chewy, tasty philosophy of my favorite kind.

The last two also got me thinking about the differences in feel between the ceremonial and witchcraft (for lack of a better general term) paths in magick. ('High' and 'Low' magick would be possible terms, but I dislike them because it makes it sound like one is 'better' than the other. Those terms are also goal-oriented, and I believe either path can be used for either type of goal.) I tried witchcraft, and it felt good but I couldn't find enough tangible to hold on to. I tried ceremonial, and it stuck much better, but I still miss the soul and deep joy that is much easier to come by in witchcraft. It strikes me that there's got to be a better way to integrate the two.
Tags: books, magick
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