Help, Thanks, Wow

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Help, Thanks, Wow
The Three Essential Prayers

Anne Lamott
Riverhead Books, 2012

From the dust jacket, “Three simple prayers to get you through tough times, everyday struggles, and the hard work of ordinary life.

“Readers of all ages have followed and cherished Anne Lamott’s funny and perceptive writing about faith and prayer. And in Help, Thanks, Wow, she has coalesced everything she’s learned about prayer into these simple, transformative truths.

“It is these three prayers – asking for assistance, appreciating the good we witness, and feeling awe at the world—that get us through the day and show us the way forward. In Help, Thanks, Wow, Lamott recounts how she came to these insights, explains what they have meant over the years and how they’ve helped, and explores how others have embraced these ideas.

“Insightful and honest as only Anne Lamott can be, Help, Thanks, Wow is a book that new readers will love and longtime Lamott fans will treasure.”

This short and profound book is another treasure to add to our permanent Library collection. Its always good to be reminded that sometimes the shortest prayers are the most effective. Sometimes, simply by saying ‘Help’ when we are at our most desperate is more effective than an hour-long treatise. And, remembering to say ‘Thank You’ when that answer to prayer comes (even if it wasn’t what we expected or even wanted) prepares us to say ‘Wow’ when we get a glimpse God at His most everything.

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws – spectacular!

Reviewer: Jack




Small Victories

small victories

Small Victories
Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace

Anne Lamott
Riverhead Books, 2014

From the dust jacket, “Anne Lamott writes about faith, family, and community in essays that are irreverent and wise. Now, in Small Victories, she offers a message of hope that celebrates the triumph of light over the darkness in our lives. Our victories over hardship and pain may seem small, she notes, but they change us – our perceptions and our perspectives. Lamott writes of forgiveness, restoration, and transformation, how we can turn toward love even in the most hopeless situations, how we find meaning in getting lost and amazement each time we are finally found.

“Profound and hilarious, honest and unexpected, the stories in Small Victories are proof that the human spirit is irrepressible.”

Another thoughtful and insightful book by Ms Lamott, this time with a focus on the Grace of God. Grace is what gets us through our daily lives, especially when we want to chuck it all and give up. We are reminded that God is with us through the small minutia of life all the way to the big stuff. We are reminded we are never left alone.

The essays are short and easily read but will stay with the reader a long time after putting the book down, although, it is on my list of “To-reread” books. Ms Lamott is at turns funny, sometimes shocking in her attitude, and continues her rants against the Bush presidency. But don’t let her left-wing politics keep you from reading the wisdom she shares. God’s children are a diverse bunch and Ms Lamott – in her post-hippie life is no exception.

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws for helping me to see those improbable moments of Grace.

Reviewer: jack-loc Jack


Hallelujah, Anyway


Hallelujah, Anyway
Rediscovering Mercy

Anne Lamott
Riverhead Books, 2017

From the dust jacket, “As we struggle to navigate an increasingly complex world and understand our place in it, mercy points the way forward, Anne Lamott writes in Hallelujah, Anyway. In this insightful, encouraging book, Lamott explains that it is mercy – the promise to offer and receive relief and forgiveness – that lies at the heart of all great faith traditions and our own spiritual identity. As it has for millennia, mercy gives us the chance to, in Lamott’s words, “soften ever so slightly” to understand one another more deeply. By embracing mercy, we give our families, our communities, and even ourselves the opportunity to see the world in gentler and more engaging ways. Mercy is the medicine, the light that shines in dark places.

“With the sensitivity, wisdom, and humor that have won her millions of readers, Anne Lamott explains the importance of mercy in our lives, the extraordinary power it can have if we welcome it, and the unexpected value of sharing it with others and with ourselves. As forthright as it is honest, as surprising as it is joyful, Hallelujah, Anyway reveals both universal truths and a path home.”

Another one of Anne Lamott’s books we here are LOC truly loved. Like her other books, it is highly readable – meaning, accessible to anyone (whereas some inspirational books are clearly written by and for theologians and other spiritual thinkers). She weaves personal stories with profound wisdom that you don’t even realize you’re learning something. The chapters are short, as is the book so even if you’re super busy with work, kittens and other stuff, you’ll still find the time to read this book. And, reading in short snippets would probably be best – you don’t want to miss any of the pearls by reading too quickly!

Rating 5 out of 5 paws – yes, it is that good!

Reviewer: jack-locJack



Fairy Houses

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Fairy Houses
How to Create Whimsical Homes for Fairy Folk

Sally J. Smith
Cool Springs Press, 2017

From the back of the book, “It is a rare hobby wherein the world of fantasy and imagination merges so seamlessly with the practicalities of fabrication. If you add a touch of spirituality and a distinct love of nature to the mix, you can only be talking about one pursuit: building fairy houses.

“In her new book, Fairy Houses, Sally J. Smith reveals the secrets behind her amazing fairy house creations. The founder of Greenspirit Arts, Smith has captured the fancy of thousands with the unrivaled beauty and breathtaking design that are the hallmarks of her fantasy creations. Crafted exclusively from natural elements gleaned from the forests near her studio in the Adirondack Mountains, these miniature fairy homes will delight anyone with even a passing interest in mythical creatures or gardening and crafting in miniature. Inside you will not only see inspiring photos of the dozens of houses Smith has created, but you will also find out exactly—in full step-by-step detail—how she did it and how you can do it too.”

This book is filled with beautiful and small fairy houses (after all, fairies are small, tiny in fact) and I loved them. It would be so cool if my human dad would build a few for my backyard; then I could go out and catch some fairies and bring them home to live! The houses are built from bark or rock or sticks or flowers and even from icicles! As beautiful as they are, the houses’ construction is not for the remedial crafter. In order to be successful, the builder should ideally be familiar with measuring and cutting, different types of eco-friendly glue, hammer and nails, dry construction with rocks, basic construction techniques, and most important of all, an eye for design and beauty. In other words, if I would try to build a fairy house with my four left paws, it would be a hot mess!! But don’t let that dissuade you from at least enjoying the beauty of someone else’s art work. The pictures are amazing!!

Rating 3 out of 5 paws, only because the techniques presented in the book are not for the faint of heart!




The Card Catalog

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The Card Catalog
Books, Cards and Literary Treasures

The Library of Congress
Peter Devereaux, Writer-Editor
Foreword by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
Chronicle Books LLC, 2017

Excerpts from the Foreword, “For the better part of the twentieth century, the card catalog stood as the gateway to the wonders of a library’s collection. Now it is celebrated in this new book from the Library of Congress. The Card Catalog reflects an important, if unheralded, aspect of our national library—the profound impact of the catalog in organizing the Library’s vast holdings and the role of cooperative cataloging in helping isolated rural libraries serve their communities and larger libraries refine their collections.”

“Since the Library’s establishment in 1800, with a collection of 740 volumes [many from Thomas Jefferson] and only three maps, it has grown into a diverse collection of more than 162 million items, including more than 38 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages. The public is welcome to visit … as we strive to ensure that all citizens can fully and freely access information, and make use of our shared cultural heritage.”

This is a fascinating look at the history of cataloging library collections. Starting with clay tablets written in Sumerian cuneiform, 2200-1900 B.C., to the computer system, MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging) in 1966 the book covers all forms of cataloging books – both pluses and minuses of each type. Interspersed with the many vintage photographs and tons of information are pictures of books from the Library’s Rare Book Collection, including the original catalog card. Seeing all the different books in their first edition form was fun – I found a number of my favorite ones!

The only thing I wished was included was card catalog art projects. When MARC came into the systems, many libraries dumped their old card catalog system – literally dumped the cards into the bin. However, a few artists spoke up and requested the cards as raw materials for their art. The book mentions this, but offers no examples of the transformed cards. But other than that, this is an excellent book if you are remotely interested in the history of libraries, or even if you’re not, it’s still a good informational and historical reference book to enjoy.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws – where’s the art?

Reviewer: jack-loc Jack