Book Stuffing

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Curating the Home Library

The link below is to an article that takes a look at curating the home library.

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Finished Reading: The Barbarians – The Collapse of the Roman Empire by Michael Hector

The Barbarians: The Collapse Of - The Roman Empire: The Goths, The Vandals & The Sack Of Rome (Rome, Germanic Tribes, Germanic Empire Book 1)The Barbarians: The Collapse Of – The Roman Empire: The Goths, The Vandals & The Sack Of Rome by Michael Hector
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book provides a good introduction to Rome, its rise, and fall. However, the book should have been edited to a greater degree than it was, for it is poor throughout in this respect. The editing fails what would otherwise have been a good (though brief) introduction to Rome.

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In retirement, most ex-presidents can’t resist the urge to stay relevant

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Former President Bill Clinton promotes ‘The President is Missing,’ the new novel he wrote with James Patterson, in New York.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Stacy A. Cordery, Iowa State University

“The President is Missing,” Bill Clinton’s new suspense novel that he co-wrote with James Patterson, was swiftly panned. It spills no secrets, the prose is leaden, the story predictable.

Jimmy Carter spent more years writing ‘The Hornet’s Nest’ than he spent as president.
Simon & Schuster

Clinton isn’t the first former president to try his hand at fiction. Jimmy Carter took seven years to write “The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War,” which suffered a similarly unenthusiastic response.

When it came to their literary ambitions, both Clinton and Carter proved John Quincy Adams prescient.

“There is nothing more pathetic in life than a former president,” the sixth president once opined.

What happens to motivated, determined, duty-driven men when they are forced to abandon the White House? When the global spotlight dims? When, as Barack Obama put it, life begins to move in slow motion?

As a scholar of presidential families, my research suggests that while presidents have many more options open to them in their “retirement” than the rest of us, they find the transition difficult and their choices have run the gamut from the decent to the disastrous, from altruistic to avaricious.

Getting in the last word

After the daily grind and chaos of being president, it’s no surprise that many presidents, upon leaving office, immerse themselves in quiet activities like writing, painting and farming.

Writing is probably the most common pastime of ex-presidents, who can seldom resist the urge to rehash major events of their tenure, justify their decisions and seek to influence their place in history.

Knowing he was about to die, Ulysses Grant penned his memoir to provide a financial cushion for his family. Bedridden, tormented by pain, and writing on his back in pencil in a desperate race to finish before throat cancer killed him, he completed his manuscript and died days later. It earned nearly half a million dollars for his widow, thanks to the extremely generous royalties granted to him by his friend and publisher, Samuel Clemens.

Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting books, Herbert Hoover’s “Fishing for Fun: And to Wash Your Soul” and Gerald Ford’s “Humor and the Presidency” stand in contrast to the many books written by former presidents analyzing foreign and domestic policy, chronicling past eras, providing civic and spiritual advice and showcasing public and private correspondence.

John Adams grimly rebutted the by then deceased Alexander Hamilton in protracted letters to the Boston Patriot. Even “Silent Cal” found he had a lot to say post presidency, churning out 300 syndicated newspaper columns under the title “Calvin Coolidge Says.”

Painting, meanwhile, acted as a solitary, post-presidential pursuit for at least three former presidents.

Dwight Eisenhower’s landscapes and portraits occupied his last two decades and were exhibited widely. An oil painting of Carter’s netted US$750,000 for charitable works last year, and George W. Bush professes to be both “challenged” and made “happy” by his artwork.

Farming also places high on the agenda of ex-presidents. Like Cincinnatus, the powerful fifth-century B.C. Roman leader, George Washington resisted the temptation to remain in power and instead returned to his plow. James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, among others, all found solace in going home to their fields and ranches. Eisenhower earned a place in the Angus Heritage Foundation for the prize-winning cattle he raised on his farm near Gettysburg.

Dwight Eisenhower shows French President Charles de Gaulle around his cattle farm in Gettysburg, Pa.
AP Photo

The allure of the limelight

But as John Quincy Adams well knew, the glamours and thrills of the old life always beckon.

Theodore Roosevelt may have once written with his customary certainty that “when [the president] goes out of office he takes up his regular round of duties like any other citizen, or if he is of advanced age retires from active life to rest.”

Yet once his term was up, Roosevelt undertook an African safari, started a third party, charted an unexplored river in Brazil, and tried but failed to recreate the Rough Riders for the World War I trenches. George H. W. Bush, who celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving, recalls this level of derring-do.

Some former presidents turn into elder statesmen, dispensing advice to all who will listen, especially presidential hopefuls. They are called upon to attend state funerals, put in appearances, unveil their portraits and accept awards.

Not everyone complies. Millard Fillmore resisted an honorary degree from Oxford University because he felt he did not deserve it. Harry Truman knew he didn’t merit the proffered Congressional Medal of Honor.

Then there are the politicians who simply cannot stop being politicians.

In 1799, Washington set a precedent for inserting himself into future elections, when, with the elections of 1800 looming, he persuaded fellow Federalists to run for office and made sure he was solidly apprised of political machinations.

Fillmore, Grant, Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt all ran for president after leaving the White House. John Quincy Adams was elected nine times to the House of Representatives, doing such good work that he – like Carter – was considered a better former president than president. Seven years after he was impeached, Tennessee sent Andrew Johnson back to the U.S Congress.

“Thank God for the vindication,” he gloated – although his Senate colleagues largely snubbed him.

Many presidents have devoted hours to charitable works, including voluntary military service. Others have tarnished their reputations with exorbitant speaking fees or by vilifying their successors.

But only one was truly a traitor. John Tyler became a secessionist and an elected member of the Confederate Congress.

In the end, the desire to reward and punish, to analyze the past, to promote an agenda, to be part of the nation’s business, and to remain in the spotlight proves overwhelming.

Some former presidents may eventually come across as pathetic, but none is ever missing from public view for too long. Ambitious men accustomed to prominence and power find it difficult to “retire from active life to rest.”

The ConversationPresidents who preceded him have provided Donald Trump several options for his eventual retirement. It is, however, nearly impossible to imagine his Twitter account truly going dark.

Stacy A. Cordery, Professor of History, Iowa State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

How to Turn Off Kindle’s Whispersync/Syncing

The link below is to an article that looks at how to turn on and off Kindle’s Whispersync/Syncing feature.

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Not My Review: Biblical Theology – How the Church Faithfully Teaches the Gospel by Nick Roark and Robert Cline

The link below is to a book review of ‘Biblical Theology – How the Church Faithfully Teaches the Gospel,’ by Nick Roark and Robert Cline.

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Eight bedtime stories to read to children of all ages

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Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

Raluca Radulescu, Bangor University and Lisa Blower, Bangor University

Speaking at the 2018 Hay Festival, His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman said: “To share a bedtime story is one of the greatest experiences of childhood and parenthood.” This couldn’t be more true. Besides helping sleepyheads absorb language through the familiar voices that nurture them, understand the complexities of their world, and the reasons behind their feelings, bedtime stories show how childhood can be the greatest adventure of all.

1. Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson

Age range: two to five years

Toddle Waddle, by Julia Donaldson.
Macmillan Children’s Books

Even the youngest child can engage with sound, colour and fun, and this book (illustrated by Nick Sharratt) is filled with bright joy and wonderful onomatopoeia. From the sound of flip-flops to the excitement of slurping a drink at the beach and the music made by different instruments, the sounds, then words, are a wonderful introduction to the intricacies of language.

2. Mr Men & Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves

Age range: three years+

Hargreaves’ colourful 2D characters behaving to type are a wonderful way to identify with basic emotions by interpreting colour as a feeling. As journalist and author Lucy Mangan puts it in her memoir Bookworm: “Of course uppitiness is purple. Of course happiness is yellow.” These are no fuss, easy to follow collectables – and bitesize too, so you can gobble through second helpings before turning out the light.

3. The Lorax by Dr Seuss

Age range: three to eight years

The Lorax, by Dr Seuss.

No child should grow up without The Lorax. They’ll never be the same when they’ve learned about the Swannee-swans, Humming fish, and Bar-ba-loots bears, their Truffula trees being cut by the mysterious and scruple-free Once-ler. While the environmental message of the book is even more urgent now than it was when The Lorax was first published in 1971, the story is just as entrancing, instructive – without preaching – and, above all, as hopeful as ever. A wonderful wise Lorax speaks for the trees, and for all the world’s children, who want to keep the future green.

4. My Big Shouting Day, by Rebecca Patterson

Age range: two to eight years

A funny picture book for younger readers that will resonate with many parents for its keen perspective on patience. It positively encourages under-fours to shout along with grumpy Bella who gets up on the wrong side of the bed. It shows the child that it’s ok to feel angry – heck, they’ll be a teenager soon enough – but it also gives them permission to express it, and reminds them that tomorrow is always a new day.

5. The Moomin books by Tove Jansson

Age range: three to eight years

The Moomins’ home, Moominvalley, is a place of wonder and fun, populated by fairy-like, round creatures that resemble hippopotamuses, but enjoy human hobbies such as writing memoirs (Moomin papa), making jam (Moomin mama), and playing make-believe (Moomintroll and Snork Maiden). Their adventurous side comes out at all opportunities, stirred by friends Little My and Snufkin, or by mysterious intruders.

First published between 1945 and 1970, in recent years the stories have been tailored for both younger (soft and flap books) and older children (hardback storybooks). The Moomin books tell dream-like stories while tackling questions about love, friendships, encounters with strangers, and so on. An all-round winner.

6. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice, by John Tenniel.

Age range: four to 11 years

The first true book written for children about children never fails to bewitch and baffle. Young Alice-like readers can explore the topsy-turvey Wonderland, while the grown-ups reading to them will appreciate the metaphorical Mad Hatter and role of the white rabbit as leader in the adventure in a way they wouldn’t have been able to as a child. Carroll’s book is a celebration of a child’s wonder and curiosity, and fears of growing bigger too. It invites you to talk dreams and nightmares, to accept the weird and extraordinary and, best of all, to conjure up your own adventure down the rabbit hole. It’s a rite of passage, ideal for sharing.

7. Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki, retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Age range: five to 12 years

In a world where comic book superheroes and heroines reign supreme, these legends can entrance a young mind forever. This selection of Norse myths brings all the gritty dark stuff about trickster Loki together with tales of hammer-wielding Thor, and the machinations of Asgardean king Odin and goddess of love, battle and death, Freyja. It tickles the imagination of the young and challenges the parent too. Fabulous illustrations by Jeffrey Alan Love accompany Crossley-Holland’s delightful retelling, bringing these ancient stories to life in a way that no other anthology has.

8. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Age range: eight to 12 years

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl.
Penguin Random House

This chocolate wonderland is the perfect read-aloud book, thanks to Dahl’s masterful use of the English language. Amid all the magic and invention is a wagging finger providing moral lessons on the perils of being greedy, or a brat or overly competitive – and that goes for the adult reader too. Thank goodness then for Willy Wonka, the man who really never grew up, and his band of oompa-loompahs who punish the bad, reward the good, then provide reason for it all through song.

In truth, there is no right book to share – there are plenty of them available these days – nor should there be any chronological order to how and what we read. These are just some suggestions on ways to make bedtime a little more magical. But never underestimate how marvellous it can be to reread a childhood favourite to the little one you’re now tucking in to bed. It could inspire a passion for reading and spark an interest that lasts a lifetime.

The ConversationThe age ranges used in this article are mostly based on interest and reading level ratings from Book Trust.

Raluca Radulescu, Professor of Medieval Literature and English Literature, Bangor University and Lisa Blower, Lecturer in Creative Writing, Bangor University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.