The Curious Autodidact

December 19, 2014

The Various Types of Readers According to Coleridge

Filed under: book related,Word Related — Honilima @ 9:27 pm


Readers may be divided into four classes: 1. Sponges, who absorb all that they read and return it in nearly the same state, only a little dirtied. 2. Sand-glasses, who retain nothing and are content to get through a book for the sake of getting through the time. 3. Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read. 4. Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read, and enable others to profit by it also.

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic (1772-1834)

December 12, 2014

Family Life: a Brilliant Novel by Akhil Sharma

Filed under: book related,Word Related — Honilima @ 12:48 pm



Listen to Indian author Akhil Sharma on the Diane Rehm program about how his novel “Family Life” blurs the lines between fiction and memoir and then read his thoughtful book about what it is to be the immigrant and the “normal one” in a family struggling to cope with a son and brother who has special needs. This is an amazing short but powerful read by a writer of considerable talent.

We meet young Ajay, in the mid- 1970s, as he is in Delhi awaiting news from his father in America when he and his older brother Birju and their mother can begin a new adventure in a America. Told with twist and turns, it is an immigrant’s story, one of deep emotions told from the point of view of a young child struggling to grow up in a new country and to make sense of his past and many possible futures. He lives in the shadow of his older brother Birju who becomes disabled. This leaves the parents and brother coping in their own ways with what fate has dealt them all. Certainly it is a tale of growing up with many stresses and keeping nimble to cope with what life may toss your way.

Recently chosen by Kirkus as Best Fiction of 2014.

December 5, 2014

Wisdom of the Ages: Walpole

Filed under: Uncategorized — Honilima @ 9:50 pm


Men are often capable of greater things than they perform. They are sent into the world with bills of credit, and seldom draw to their full extent.

-Horace Walpole, novelist and essayist (1717-1797)

December 1, 2014

What Rhymes with Orange?

Filed under: book related,media related,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 7:19 pm

The New Jim Crow

Orange is the New Black the HBO series was recommended so I watch the first season via Netflix and was less than impressed having read the book. It has certainly gotten people thinking about prison who might not have realized the costs the criminal justice system is as our national budget and what a cycle it is when people have little support upon release.

The New Jim Crow‘s author Michelle Alexander appears on Moyers and Company in an segment titled Incarceration Nation to helps us to think a bit differently about our prison system and what really goes on.

Just recently launched is the new Marshall Project to bring attention to the problem of incarceration as a big job source for rural communities and the privatization of our prison system nationally.

The ACLU also just announced it will spend some of its energy focused on the high  rate of incarceration, one of the largest internationally, has gotten out of hand in the USA. They have hired Alison Holcolm to head their new initiative “Campaign to End Mass Incarceration” and she is a positive intelligent force to lead their campaign to bring the injustices to light.

Women in Prison

Perhaps we will wake up to realize that these prisoners are someone’s son, someone’s brother, and in many cases someone’s dad. The increasing of women as prisoners is also startling and the children of these prisoners suffer most without a parent available leaving long scars. I remember years ago reading about Jean Harris‘s campaign to keep a connection between mothers and their children when she was at Bedford Hills, this was considered groundbreaking back then.

When will be wake up to realize educating prisoners is the only chance to keep them from continuing a life of crime and away from drugs?


November 24, 2014

Susan Allen Toth’s Book No Saints Around Here

Filed under: book related,women heroes,Word Related — Honilima @ 12:23 pm


What is it like to feel you are an island without escape? An island where the view is only that of your brilliant mate’s life fading away with each passing day? It’s not that often that I read a library book and want to immediately order copies for friends and start looking into an author’s other titles minutes after the last page has been read—this is just such a book.

Toth’s husband James has Parkinson’s and she has watched the disease take over her husband’s life up close and personal like a thousand paper cuts. He was a lauded architect and active community member, they had a very successful marriage and a loving relationship always, then she was thrust into that position so many women find themselves in from wife to full-time caregiver. She is extremely candid about the hardships and frustrations to cope with one’s own energy and spirit amid the letting go of a mate you love and want to care for but the demands are relentless. The isolation is palpable. She describes the dreaded task of filling the med sets, a more complex one for her husband but also one for herself and the time it takes to get them both correctly allocated.

No Saints Around Here is a powerful read and may serve you or someone you love to know they are not alone.

“A moment-by-moment memoir of the difficulty and dedication of caregiving

As her husband James’s Parkinson’s disease with eventual dementia began to progress, writer Susan Allen Toth decides she intensely wants to keep him at home until the end. Wrenching, occasionally peevish, at times darkly funny, and always deeply felt, Toth’s intimate, unsparing memoir reflects the realities of seeing a loved one out of life.

While some readers may find the title of Susan Allen Toth’s No Saints around Here unintentionally ironic, it came to seem no more than apt to me. Halfway through the book, I was wondering how many saints could have matched her devotion in the care she gave to her husband or achieved the honesty, humor, and vividness of her moving account.”

—Garret Keizer, author of Privacy and Help

November 17, 2014

Madoff: Too Big to Fail?

Filed under: book related,media related — Honilima @ 11:26 am


The inside story of Bernie Madoff and his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, with surprising and shocking new details from Madoff himself.

Perhaps the cooling off period has passed long enough ago you can read about Bernie Madoff without throwing down the periodical in utter disgust. I sought out a book to read about this after all the media coverage had died down, hoping enough time had passed that there would be a definitive look at this scandal.

My curiosity was again peeked when I read of Ruth and Bernie Madoff’s second son’s recent death from cancer. Their other son took his life. You no doubt know the outlines of this story of a $65M Ponzi scheme but not all the details nor how many people put all their eggs in  the Madoff basket and lost it all, wealthy people, not so wealthy people, charities, endowments, names your know many you do not. It is certainly a cautionary tale of how essential diversification is and how easy it is for people to fall under the spell of someone who seems so successful and sought after. I have since heard similar local stories including one from a fellow I met when trying to buy a dresser off Craig’s List, his parents and siblings had lost over 250K of their life savings investing with a guy he lead them too who was also running a shell game. It is everywhere.

I chose this book Wizard of Lies as it was well-lauded and written by NYT writer Diana Henriques. One thing that always fascinates me is the fall out on the family and friends when someone goes so off course when following their moral compass. What Ruth’s life is like now, with both of her offspring dead and her husband in jail? This is something most cannot feel empathy for but it must be a lonely life having fallen so far and viewed as a pariah by so many. How does one rebuild being in she shade of such lies and deception? What is Bernie’s life like knowing he will breath his last breath behind bars. Food for thought indeed.

November 6, 2014

Gone Feral: Tracking my Dad Through the Wild

Filed under: book related,media related,women heroes — Honilima @ 11:50 pm

To say that Novella Carpenter has had an unconventional life would be an understatement. She is an urban farmer in Oakland California and is quite the talented writer. Her book Gone Feral is about her search to find her father and to try to piece together why he had been so illusive in their lives and what that means to her as a woman hoping to begin her own family. She has a great writing style and her father loss is apparent as does her need to try to understand what would lead a man to abandon his wife and two young daughters.

Listen to her interview on KQED’s program Forum and then read her book and perhaps like me you will want to read her book about her urban farming.

May 10, 2014

Noble Laureate Wisdom

Filed under: helpful hints,Word Related — Honilima @ 1:57 pm

Molly the dog enjoying some rare spring sunshine

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

-Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)

March 10, 2014

Hawthorne on the Power of Words

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 10:05 am

Watermark Handbound Books

Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

-Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer (1804-1864)

February 10, 2014

The Wisdom of Edward Everett Hal

Filed under: helpful hints,Word Related — Honilima @ 1:56 pm

Calla Lillies

I am only one, / But still I am one. / I cannot do everything, / But still I can do something; / And because I cannot do everything, / I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale, author (1822-1909)

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