Sunday, January 4, 2009

Books! Books! Books!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved books. My favorite gifts were often books, and I would disappear into my room to read them. I loved Maggie Muggins, all of the Nancy Drew series, Treasure Island, Black Beauty, Greek Mythology, Heidi, The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, and so much more. I escaped to the worlds of all the imaginery places and characters. One moment I could be in Switzerland and the next I could be on a pirate ship in the Caribbean. I became addicted to books.

This Christmas I received three wonderful books. "Annie Liebowitz at Work", an autobiography by Annie Liebowitz, the photographer. Annie Liebowitz has lived an amazing life, in addition to being one of the world's best photographers. Who else but Annie Liebowitz would ask the Queen to remove her Crown? The Queen's reply: "What do you think this is?" I always get the impression when I see photographs of the Queen that she is just slightly ticked off about something, and is about to holler "Off with her head!" The images Annie captured of the Queen are beautiful and very human. Annie Liebowitz has led a life as interesting as many of the subjects she has photographed, and I can hardly wait to read of her adventures.

The second book I received is "The Year of Living Biblically", by A.J. Jacobs, a writer for the "New York Times" and "Esquire Magazine". A.J. Jacobs is Jewish, but he grew up in a secular home. "The Year of Living Biblically is about my quest to live the ultimate biblical life. To follow every single rule in the Bible – as literally as possible. I obey the famous ones:

The Ten Commandments.
Love thy neighbor.
Be fruitful and multiply.

But also, the hundreds of oft-ignored ones.

Do not wear clothes of mixed fibers.
Do not shave your beard.
Stone adulterers.
"... A.J. Jacobs

The third book I received is "Dreams from my Father" by Barack Obama. Yes, I really, really do want to like him, and I am hoping this book will do the trick. I should, however, learn to keep my opinion about him to myself. As Mark Twain says in his essay, "The Privilege of the Grave", "As an active privilege, free speech ranks with the privilege of committing murder: we may exercise it if we are willing to take the consequences."


I am looking forward to reading this book, because I am earnestly hoping it will change my mind about Barack Obama. Intelligent, well-read, well-informed people appear to really like him. Maybe there is something I have missed. I'm sure of it.

So, now I have three books covering all the bases - art, religion and politics. Does it even get any better than that?


deola said...

I think it does. Books are beautiful.

Nice blog

Tess Kincaid said...

I adore Annie Liebowitz and am adding her book to my list right now. Thanks, Johanna!

I also read every single one of the Nancy Drew books!

The Pink Cowboy said...

Books are friends, reliable friends you can visit time and time again. I always imagine I am having a conversation face to face with the author no matter if he or she are dead or alive. I liked your post very much. I am heading to B&N to get the Anne Liebowitz, I'm a big fan of hers.

Charles Gramlich said...

I really enjoyed "the year of Living Biblically." A good one.

Jo said...

Deola, thanks. Yes, books are wonderful, aren't they?

Willow, oh, yes, I wanted to be Nancy Drew. I even started writing little stories when I read Nancy Drew.

Pink Cowboys, I love Annie Liebowitz. She sees the world through such honest eyes.

Charles, I have just started reading it, and so far I just love it.

KathyB. said...

Books ! I LOVE books, I also love to READ books. ( I know lots of people who adorn their home with fantastic books, but apparently don't read them )Our home is overflowing with read books...I still think I need a library.

I saw a show just recently about Annie Liebowitz photographing the queen, and the queen was NOT pleased about Annie's request to have her crown taken off.

I also saw a little thing about The year of Living Biblically and it too looks interesting. Sounds like you'll be holed up in your tree house reading good books while warming yourself in front of the fire and totally forgetting the grey winter days outside for just a brief spell.

Oh, and by the way, I too suffered for expressing my views of the up and coming Prez,and am so glad the persons expressing themselves did so only verbally because I would be sliced, diced, and shredded if they could have done that , so I am keeping my mouth shut. I don't have a thick enough skin for political commentary and I'll leave that to those who do, but I'll still vote my opinions.

Happy reading Jo!

Leslie: said...

Gee, lucky you! All of those books sound intriguing and I'd be interested in reading them, too. But I do have a few unread ones that I've been saving up for my recovery time. Hope you enjoy yours.

Hilary said...

That sounds like the perfect way to spend some of the cold winter nights ahead. I hope you enjoy them. I'm sure you will.

Anonymous said...

re Taking the Bible literally.

Like many another cad, it is small wonder that I am so frequently stoned.

Mary Ellen said...

"The Year of Living Biblically" sounds fascinating...but stoning adulterers might keep him so busy that he won't have time to do anything else. ;-)

Country Girl said...

Always so interesting coming here. And Josie, you can dislike anyone you want for any reason, because it's your reason. I applaud you for reading a book hoping to learn something good about a person you clearly do not trust. You always amaze me!

Donnetta said...

My mom fostered a real love of books in both my brother and myself. Especially in the summer when school was out, we went to the library at least once a week.

I usually get a book or two for Christmas as well. This year I received The Right to Privacy. It's a Catholic book. I've just gotten started on it, and I'm going to a book club meeting tomorrow where it will be discussed. Should be interesting.

I've been reading children's books of late. There are some really good ones out there. The one I just finished was Al Capone Does My Shirts. I LOVED it.

No better gift than that of a book. D

Jo said...

Kathy, *heh* I am beginning to think I don't have a thick enough skin to discuss politics either. It seems to get very personal, very quickly. I wonder why that is? And yes, I'm glad we're having crummy weather right now, so I can read, read, read! :-)

Leslie, I hope you are feeling better really soon. Good luck tomorrow!

Hilary, I know I am going to enjoy all of them. They're fabulous!

Ivan, *heh* You know, I think that is a book you would be interested in reading.

Mary Ellen, that is pretty much what he said too. That ... and slitting the throat of a cow at the location of an unsolved murder. :-)

Country Girl, well, you know, I have been known to change my mind. *heh* Often it just takes some convincing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Donnetta, "Al Capone Does My Shirts"? That's a children's book? That sounds fabulous. The Munchkins enjoy reading too. That sounds like one they would enjoy!

Russell said...

Excellent post, as always!

I am glad you love books so much. That is wonderful! I have tons of respect for people who appreciate books. I can think of nothing I like better than a good book in my hands - I can't imagine this business of reading a book on a computer screen, but, then again, I am old fashioned!

One of the things that amazes me is the number of people who claim to be writing books. Every time you turn on a talk show, somebody is talking about their latest book.

I want to scream "but what book have you READ lately?!?!" So many people allegedly are writing books (about what I don't know) but so few people READ books!

Read, read, read!! Good for you! And as Tiny Tim would say "God bless us every one, provided you reads books!" Well, okay, but you get the idea...!

Jo said...

Russell, I can't read a book on a computer, either. I prefer to curl up with a cup of cocoa and a good book ... it's wonderful. I can hardly wait to read these books. I have started "The Year of Living Biblically" and the writer is a hoot!

the walking man said...

I have the "don't shave your beard" thing down.

I'm at a point where I read so much during the day that I am becoming more enamored of words than the stories. Each word has something in it that is more than the sum of it's whole.

RiverPoet said...

I can't wait to hear what you think about the Liebowitz book. I think she is an amazing, amazing woman....Peace - D

Anonymous said...

Some of the happiest times of my childhood were spent with books. I've always enjoyed reading. And I think I'm going to have to find that Annie Liebowitz book.

I like Obama, but if you don't, I think you should be able to say that. I didn't realize that someone had gotten upset with you. And...none of us are really going to know what's he's made of, until he's been in office for a while.

Mary Ellen said...


Mary Ellen, that is pretty much what he said too. That ... and slitting the throat of a cow at the location of an unsolved murder. :-)

I wonder if leaving a McDonald's hamburger at the location of an unsolved murder would suffice? Or maybe eating a burger at the location? Just a thought...trying to cut corners and save the mess of slaughtering a cow in the middle of rush hour traffic and all. Not to mention, dragging a cow up a flight of stairs in apartments without elevators...too much work, IMO. ;-)

Dr.John said...

Believe it or not I also read the Nancy Drew Books after I finished the Hardy Boys.

susie said...

I read the Nancy Drew books, and then I read the Hardy boys books! And then I read anything I could get my hands on, and still do. I have my name in for the Annie Liebowitz book at the library ( I have a long holds list there, that way I don't have to buy the books) and can't wait to get it. I have a very active library card and I enjoy every minute of it. Enjoy the reading, life doesn't get any better!

Lilly said...

I loved reading this post. I still have all my childhood books and yes there was Black Beauty, Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland and Heidi which I LOVED most of all!! My mother used to read to us every night. TV was only watched for 30 mins a day. Imagine. Lovely memories.

I am particularly interested in the Annie Liebowitz book and may follow this up. I have followed her photography over the years and all her Rolling Stone magazine covers. Its interestng what you say about the Queen. I watched Rolf Harris' show on TV where he paints portraits. He painted one of the Queen. I thought she was so HARD to talk to. Poor Rolf was really struggling because she was so moody but then he started talking about her dogs and she changed. She was so pleasant and talkative. I also met the Queen's Scottish hairdresser when I lived in Scotland. He used to do her hair and he said that she was more than often only dressed in a housecoat (dressing gown/robe). He described her as beng so very funny and a great mimic. Although he never ever charged her for doing her hair either so I would be happy to get a free hairdo too.

I guess she has a private and public face and, considering she is in her 80s, and most of her life has been spent as Queen its a wonder she is not as cranky as all hell.

Anyway thanks for sparking wonderful memories for me!! Oh and let us know how the Obama book goes. You are not the only one with mixed views and never be afraid to express your opinion. Ever!!

Jo said...

Mark, yes! I love words too. Sometimes the most simple words are the most beautiful, aren't they?

RiverPoet, yes, it is next on my list, after "The Year of Living Biblically". And, yes, Annie Liebowitz is an amazing person.

Carla, yes, for some reason a lot of people are quite passionate about Obama, and don't like anything negative said about him. But that's okay. I sort of understand that. I have learned to keep my rather outspoken opinions (about everything) to myself. :-)

Mary Ellen, *chuckle* Maybe just a nice roast of beef? That's sort of do-able, isn't it? :-)

Dr. John, well, I actually read all the Hardy Boys books after Nancy Drew. *heh*

Susie, oh yes, there is a whole world in books. Much more so than movies, TV or computers!

Lilly, I saw that program of Rolf Harris painting the Queen, and yes she was as stiff as a board. He managed to loosen her up a little bit - but not a lot! But I have heard that in her private life she is really funny. She has managed to remain regal, though, while all around her, her family have made idiots of themselves. :-)

Deb said...

Oh, I remember reading Nancy Drew. I believe I read a few of the Hardy Boys. Now I wanted to be a Hardy Nancy Drew for me. Another of my favorite childhood books was one I received for my birthday on The Moon. I looked at this book every night, reading the pages, studying the photos, dreaming of going to the moon. day Neil Armstrong beat me there and I never looked at that book again. My dream was crushed!

Pauline said...

Add to that list one of the new marvelous books about trees (The Tree by Colin Tudge or Tree: A Life Story by Robert Bateman), a couple of Annie Dillard or Lewis Thomas collections, some Rumi, a cup of hot tea and a fire on the hearth and we'd have ourselves a day!

Jo said...

Deb, I know lots of little girls who preferred the Hardy Boys to Nancy Drew. Funny, hey?

Pauline, a book about Trees by Robert Bateman? I will have to check that out. Very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I love books too! I have to say, though, in regards to Barack Obama, that I don't believe there is any way that I could come to personally like him. I trust my father's old wise saying: "Birds of a feather flock together", or "You surround yourself with what you are comfortable with". This, to me, says it all, regarding the company he keeps, and the character of a man. Also, speaking from commonsense experience and living with a businessman husband, his "stimulus" package is going to kill our economy and hurt all of us very heavily. Beautiful blog page!

Marilyn Braun said...

I really enjoyed The Year of Living Biblically. I also liked his other book: The Know It All. It isn't as good as the biblical one but he's very enjoyable to read. I'd also like to check out the Annie Lebowitz book.

Kate Geisen said...

Mark Twain was amazing. So many perfect quotes. And yet, I haven't cared for anything of his that I've read. Hmmm...

I just listened to A.J. Jacobs' The Know-It-All, which was very funny. I'm looking forward to picking up A Year of Living Biblically at some point.

Brian said...

Hi, I haven't visited your blog before but I saw it in Blogs of Note. I really like all of the posts I've read so far and this one is particularly enjoyable. The quote from Mark Twain is now one of my favorites. Thanks, Brian

Whitney Lee said...

A wonderful blog. I am one of those people who could get by quite happily without a television but couldn't function without my books. For me, picking up a book is often like making new and wonderful friends. If you like a good adventure that allows you to meet fascinating friends and also teaches you new things, you might want to check out the series by Diana Gabaldon. She is one of my very favorites!

Anonymous said...

I just cannot like Obama either.
It has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with inexperience.

Anonymous said...

"The Year of Living Bilically" is indeed good, but AJ Jacobs first book, "The Know-it-All," is fantastic!

marianne said...

i am halfway through obama's book and i don't know how much it has made me like him, but it is interesting to read about how his life so far has shaped him. that he is cognizant of turning points and the implications of actions is comforting to me. will have to get annie too- i am turning into a biography/autobiography junkie- i even enjoyed slash's biography...

congrats on blog of note

Anonymous said...

If you have a chance, pick up some of Anne Rice's new books. She has recently written, "Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession". This is an excellent book if you grew up Catholic many, many years ago, as she explores how she was raised Catholic, became an atheist, and returned to the church of her youth. Very beautifully written (and if you can get the audio book, there is an additional interview with Anne Rice at the end). She has turned her life to writing for the Lord, and is in the process of writing a series of books on her research into the youth/life of Christ. Very good and compelling reads!

Also, I recently read a biography on Condi Rice (Secretary of State). Very interesting and impressive woman; if you have a chance to pick one up, it is a good choice for those interested in biographies of well-known people.

I used to read quite a lot when I was growing up as the only daughter with 3 younger brothers. It was my "escape" from the turbulent world my siblings wanted to engage in. My favorites were: the Anne of Green Gables series, C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness", "Piercing the Darkness", "Visitation", and "Monster", as well as some of Michael Crichton's mystery books. Crichton always invites one to think about the world of medical ethics and scientific research; a somewhat thought-provoking author. And, of course, I always have to pick up some of Nicholas Sparks' books just for a quick "escape" when I don't have a lot of time. . . Being a part-time nursing student and mother of 5, it is often hard to find time to read for pleasure! :(

d smith kaich jones said...

I am one of the no doubt thousands who have come here via Blogs of Note, Love this post. Love it. The books I read as a child are the books I return to when I am particularly stressed, or feeling blue. And if the book was part of a series, I work my way back through them all. Trixie Belden, Anne of Green Gables, anything by Louisa May Alcott. Re-reading them is as wonderful as reading them the first time.

:) Debi

Mahesh Sindbandge said...

Wow...that was a nice unnoticed topic you chose.
Well i dont have much idea about the books but the very thought of books makes me feel "would be a nice experience".
Even though they dont speak up,they are always so close to you.
Thanks johanna for this article

Lydia said...

Start with the Year of Living Biblically, I just finished it and did a review on my blog. Love the art! Maybe I will try that book about Barack. I'm in need of some of the same info!

sblairkeller said...

Hi. Just found you by accident. I noticed you were reading Barack Obama's Dream of my FAther. I hope you liked it as much as I did, and that you learned something about him to like.

My first attraction was because he looks like my son. There is a picture of his mother Stanley, carrying him at age 2 or so, that is almost a duplicate of a picture of my son and me around the same time. Our children are about 6 months apart.

Then I read both books, thinking, I cannot vote for someone just because they look like my son! What I learned about our President elect is that he had to turn himself inside out to struggle with the differences that made him who he is, not only by blood, but my marriage, too, living in another country as a child. I figure our country has been so divided that we are running ourselves into the ground fighting so much instead of finding common ground so something good can happen. I think he understands this from his soul to his head, and will lead us through these perilous times as a country, not red or blue, etc. Hope springs eternal, as Emerson said, and that is my take on our new President-elect. Have a great day.
Shirley from Three Rivers, CA

Nicole said...

Oh how I love books! My best friend everyday of the year. I loved reading Nancy Drew when I was younger and I can't wait to give them to my children.

Gary said...

I enjoyed your entire blog. Very colourful and artistic. At one time I oil painted and sold several paintings. During the period, I enrolled in a particular art class in an attempt to enhance part of my style.

Among other things, I learned that painting is not at all like photography. Ten different persons can paint the same subject and none of the finished products will be identical - nor should they be. But each are equally valuable.

It's a lot like the preference for colours on the interior walls of a home. Their beauty is completely in the eyes of the beholder, and all are correct.

Keep up the good work.

I invite you to visit my site at

Have a healthy and prosperous 2009.


Duncan Mitchel said...

Well, since I too came here because you'd become a blog of note, I should say something. A Majority of Two is quite a nice, welcoming blog, and I'll probably come back again (this is actually my third time) to see more of what you've written.

I'm a big reader, too, though I don't post about books that much on my own blog; maybe I should. It looks like you got a nice range of things for Christmas, and that's good. I've been thinking of reading at least one of Obama's books, because I've gotten the impression that he's changed his politics drastically since he wrote Dreams from My Father.

Best wishes from Indiana.

Anonymous said...

Great post and lovely blog, Johanna. I discovered it through Russell's Iowa Grasslands.

I too love books and posted a series about travel and books on my blog. From reading Russell's, I now look forward to visiting Indigo/Chapters in Canada.

My series is at

Cheers and happy reading,
Carolyn in Sydney

Anonymous said...

I happened upon your blog and found it to be enjoyable until I continued reading and stumbled upon the comment of you "trying so" to like Barack Obama. Now while I too enjoy a good debate and even welcome different opinions so that I may have the opportunity to "see other sides of the coin" I was a bit taken aback at the idea of you concentrating a little too much on the trying and less on the doing...and what’s more you did so without explaining the difficulty in it.

Jamie said...

Another vote here for "A Year of Living Biblically" He has a great perspective on things. I really enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Books are great for Personal Development in any area of your life! When you find a good one there is nothing like it!

Rosabandit said...

Books are awesome. I'm the only one of my friends that is happy to get a book for Chirstmas. I like modren books better though. I want to try to read the clasics-it's my New Year's resolution.