Thursday, September 30, 2010

Help "Blue Like Jazz"!

   Important news:  Donald Miller's best selling book Blue Like Jazz is being made into a movie.  I've read this book, and it's pretty excellent.  It deserves movie status.  However, there's some bad news-- they had to stop production due to lack of funding.  A few fans have banned together to create the website Save Blue Like Jazz to get things going again, but they still need to raise over $70,000 in about 3 and a half weeks!  This is a tough goal, but if they can do it it'll be way worth it. 

     I wouldn't ask you guys to do anything I wouldn't do, so I gave a little because this is something I really support.  If you can, if you feel moved to do so, then do it.  No pressure, and no need to give a ton (their minimum donation is a dollar).  No need to give at all if you don't want to.  Even just getting the word out might help.  That's what I'm trying to do, because the more the word gets out the more help they get. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October News!

     Hi readers, October is going to be an exciting month here at Cracking Spines!  I'll be reading what you guys choose in the poll, plus I've got something experimental (for me, anyway) and awesome in the works.  Make sure you check back next month to see what's happening, and spread the word!  Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your co-workers and neighbors.  Tell someone you don't like, and tell a stranger!  Tell anyone, really.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tell me I've been bad.

     So... I went to Borders today.  I know I shouldn't have, but at least I had a coupon!  So I got myself this book because --oy!-- I love all things Jewish.  I also got a book similar to Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal, except that it's more creative writing and less aimless destruction.  Not that I'm against aimless destruction; in fact I'm pro-Godzilla (so long as he's not destroying Kyoto.  I would like to go there some day...). 

     Anyway, I've decided to go on a book buying hiatus until I can clear at least one shelf of my "to read" books (I have over two shelves, which comes to about 40 books).  My addiction is getting a little out of hand.  Which is not to say that I couldn't get this book for Christmas...

     Oh, and did I mention that my Amazon list is 115 books long?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Borders Sweepstakes!

     I know I already posted today, but I just had to let everyone know that Borders is having a sweepstakes in which you can win an eReader and a Borders giftcard!  I am really really excited about this.  If you're a Borders member, go here to enter. 

Poll: You Decide!

     Hello readers, I have something exciting for you!  For the next week you get to vote on what I'll read in October.  The poll is already in place (see the side bar on the right), so get ready to click!  Here are your options (click the title to read the Amazon info for each book):

The Druid King by Norman Spinrad
God: A Biography by Jack Miles
Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan
Sheer Abandon by Penny Vincenzi
Girl Talk with God by Susie Shellenberger
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
A Treasury of Royal Scandals by Michael Farquhar
The Secret Life of Laslo, Count Dracula by Dr. Roderick Anscombe

     You can choose more than one, but please try to keep your selections to just 2 or 3.  I'm really excited to see what you all decide.  Until then, I'll be working on a review of Rahab's Story, finishing up The Shack, then writing a summary and review on that.

     Get to voting, and happy reading!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rahab's Story (Summary)

     Rahab is a woman who has been imortalized in the Old Testament book of Joshua; she is famous for being a kind-hearted harlot, but there was a time when she was more than just a prostitute.  She was once a daughter, a sister, a weaver with hopes and dreams.  In Rahab's Story Ann Burton tells of the before, the after, and everything between the two.

     It begins with adolescent Rahab.  After living under her stepmother's tyrannical oppression for years, she is silent yet boiling with anger.  She tolerates the abuse for the sake of her younger sister, Tezi, and for her love of her father.  Rahab's secret worship of the Semitic god, Jehovah, leads to a fight that will push things too far.  Before she can explain the truth to her father, she is accused of black magic and witchery.  Without a chance to defend herself against these grave falsehoods, she is cast out of her bet ab, her father's house.  Her name is struck from the scroll of ancestors and she is left to die in the gutter with the dogs.

     Bearing her shaved head-- a symbol of shame-- she is scorned by society and driven out of the high class merchant's quarter.  She wanders into Meshnedef, the most dangerous part of Riha (Jericho).  Exhausted, terrified and starving, she is nearly resigned to her fate as one of the miskin, the poor and miserable.  That is, until, she tries to steal from the House of Palms.  Fortunately, she is intercepted by Tiamat, the proprietor of the House.  Tiamat is a gentle, nurturing Egyptian woman.  She is also a Zonah, a prostitute.  In fact, all of the women in the House of Palms are prostitutes.  The House is one of the best brothels in the city.  With nowhere else to go, Rahab lives with the zonah and eventually becomes one of them. 

     But this is not her biggest secret; she must keep quiet that she is a Semite, for they are being executed by order of the king.  Semitism is appalling to the Canaanites, but prostitution is accepted, even revered. 

     Years pass, but Rahab does not forget her faith or her sister.  When two Semitic spies seek sanctuary in her house of harlots --a very dangerous request-- she gives them two conditions:  that they take Tezi when they leave the city, and that they spare her household when the Semites destroy Jericho. 


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rahab in the book of Joshua (condensed)

     I recently finished a book called Rahab's Story.  This is an account of Rahab from the book of Joshua from Zondervan's NIV Teen Devotional Bible.  

(2:1)  Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim.  "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho."  So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.... (3)  So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab:  "Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house because they have come to spy out the whole land."  (4)  But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them.  She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.  (5)  At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left.  I don't know which way they went.  Go after then quickly.  You may catch up with them."  (8)  Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof (9) and said to them, "I know that the L-rd has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.... (12)  Now then, please swear to me by the L-rd that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.  Give me a sure sign (13) that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, that you will save us from death."  (14)  "Our lives for your lives!" the men assured her.  "If you don't tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the L-rd gives us the land."  ...(6:21) They [the Israelites] devoted the city to the L-rd and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it-- men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, and donkeys.  (22) Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, "Go into the prostitute's house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her."  (23) So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her.  They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.... (25) But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho-- and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Words I don't know: Who knew there was a glossary?

     I was really surprised when I finished Rahab's Story several pages sooner than I expected, and then I felt really dumb when I realized it was because there's a glossary in the back of the book.  That would have come in handy more than once, not to mention it could have saved me two pages of notes.  So here's a mix of Canaanite, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Urgartic.   

Ayin-yada:  voyeurism
Asherim:  wooden posts in Canaanite temples, used for sacrificial rituals
Astarte:  Canaanite goddess, Queen of Heaven
Baal:  Canaanite fertility god
Beqa:  Unit of monetary weight, equal to one-half sheqel
Bet:  house
Bet ab:  house of one's father
Bid'lem:  sacred word for servant of the gods
Boset:  shame
Dagon:  Canaanite godhead; "father" of all Canaanite gods.
Din:  judgment
Hapiru:  nomadic raiders
Hazrat(a):  courtesan(s)
Hesed:  kindness
Hokhmah:  wisdom
Hohkmah nisteret:  sacred wisdom
Jehovah:  god of the Semites
Khamsin:  sandstorm
Kelb'lim:  dog of the gods (profane term)
Kele:  jail
Khopesh:  a sickle-shaped sword
Kiatta immadi:  Semite phrase; literally "for you are with me"
Kluv:  cage
Lehem:  bread
Marianu:  elite Canaanite warrior caste; king's guard 
Masseboth:  stone pillars in Canaanite temples, used for sacrificial rituals
Meloyikah:  an edible Egyptian vegetable that is also a source of jute fiber
Mina:  monetary weight, equal to sixty sheqels
Mirii:  Canaanite underworld
Miskin:  poor, miserable
Moloch:  Canaanite god of fire
Mut'a:  euphemism for a specific type of prostitution; a temporary marriage in which time with a "wife" is purchased with money
Qedesh:  holy prostitutes who serve in the temples of Baal, Astarte, and Moloch
Riha:  native name for the city of Jericho
Shakab:  sex 
Taliyah:   garlic fried with salt and coriander
Tiph'eret:  splendor, pleasure (sexual) 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bad News

     For those of you who don't already know:  I've messed up my wrist. I'm not exactly sure what I've done to it, but I've been wearing a brace and resting it.  That seems to be working so I'll probably keep it up for another week.

     This means some bad blog news.  I probably won't post much this week because it takes a long time to type.  But don't worry, I still have things in the works!  I realized the book I'm reading has a glossary in the back, which will make for an easy Words I Don't Know post.  I'm also writing a draft on the book I finished over the weekend, so you've got that to look forward to.  Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vacation, have to get away.

     Good morning everyone,  I'm heading out of town this afternoon.  I'll have my laptop and a book with me, but I don't know how much reading I'll actually get done.  So relax, enjoy this crisp fall weather, and I'll catch up with you all this weekend.  Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My enablers.

      First of all, I would like to say:  Cracking Spines has been up and running for a month now!  Thank you everyone for your support.

     Some of you must really want this to work out, because I'm getting a lot of encouragement lately!  When I visited my mom (who is my biggest fan, I think) a couple weeks ago, she forced me to bring home at least 10 books to read and blog.  They're sitting on my shelf with the other hopefuls, waiting.  Thanks Mom!

     Then the other day I got a text from a friend/co-worker of mine, showing me a picture of a book about Henry VIII.  I was like "omg yay that's awesome", but the really awesome part was the next day when she walked up to me at work and handed the book to me.  I was like "FOR ME!?!?!?!"  I may have done a little dance later; I seem to have a nerdgasm over any book on the Tudor family.

     So thanks, guys, for feeding my addiction.  And thanks to the rest of you for reveling in it with me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Words I don't know: Ancient Edition

     I'm currently reading a book that uses a lot of ancient Middle Eastern terminology.  I've dabbled a bit in Egyptian mythology, Hebrew and Greek, but I don't recognize a lot of these words.  Context clues help a lot, but I wanted to be sure I really got them right so... to the internet!  Props to and; both sites helped quite a bit to settle my confusion. 

     Zanna is a word that made itself pretty apparent.  Zanna is the positive word for prostitute in a culture that supports the selling of one's body.  It sounds similar to zonah, which in this case is the derogatory term for prostitute.

     Hesed is a word that I'm still not sure about.  It can mean mercy or loyalty, but the context made me wonder if there might be something else.  When applied to a person, it could mean a lovely appearance.  This, to me, makes more sense.

     Hokhmah is wisdom.  The phrase I found in the book is actually hokhmah nisteret, but I couldn't find a translation for nisteret.  If anyone has any clue, please fill me in!

     The text implies that boset is shame, and I believe it was Wikipedia that confirmed that one for me.

     I couldn't find anything online for miskin, but it's pretty obvious that those are the outcasts.  They're the bottom of society, the homeless, the useless, the beggars.  They are the undesirables.

     Sycophant  is a word we use today, but it has Greek roots.  It's synonymous with suck-up, brown noser, etc.

     Khensu is the ancient Egyptian god associated with the moon. 

     I think that's quite a mouthful of words today, time to jump back into the story.  Happy reading!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Loose Girl, Lonely Girl


     "It is about how desperate I was to feel loved, less alone, and how, misguided by all those cultural mixed messages, I tried to fill my need with male attention and sex" writes Kerry Cohen in her intense literary confession Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity.  Don't let the title fool you-- Loose Girl is not just a novel of sex, drugs, and partying; below the surface, inside the pages, it's about need.  Vulnerability.  Loneliness. 

     Raised in an upper-middle class family on the east coast, Kerry's world is shattered when her parents divorce.  To make things worse, Kerry's mother abandons her artistic lifestyle and her hurting children to pursue a medical degree.  Kerry and her older sister, Tyler, have no choice but to live with their lax father, whose parenting style can only be described as lazy.  With virtually no rules and therefore no discipline, Kerry goes wild.  Her father even seems to approve of her behavior.  He is more like a friend-- someone she can drink with, smoke with, even do drugs with.  There is no parenting, no discipline, not even real love.

     With no love at home, Kerry becomes desperate to fit in with her peers.  She wants even more for boys to like her.  She'll do anything --anything-- to feel wanted even for a moment.  Throughout the years she'll go through boy after boy, man after man, heedless of the negative effects it will bring to all her relationships.  She will have few strained, painful relationships.

     During a particularly messy relationship, Kerry's need for intimacy leads her to seek the help of a therapist.  Therapy does not magically fix Kerry, but it does bring about self-awareness and the ability to recognize her self-destructive behavior.  Self-awareness does not eliminate her need, but it does eliminate the need to give in to her hunger, leaving her free to focus on herself and eventually find the love she's been seeking.

     Kerry and I could not be more different, yet I found myself relating to her, empathizing with her.  Even the most prudent of women can understand how she feels;  who hasn't wanted to feel loved?  Who hasn't felt rejected?  These are essentially the basis of her story.  It is so much more than sex.

     Kerry Cohen began writing Loose Girl in 1996, long before the memoir reached its conclusion.  She is now a therapist living in Portland with her husband and two sons.


Missed the beginning?  Go back to the roots of Cracking Spines and catch up!