Friday, January 06, 2017

How to read ... as good now as it was in 1883

... you should find out what you want to read, find out what you want to know about, find out what subjects most interest you-and then, when you have found out, read the best books on this subject. Don't layout a course of reading, or, if you do, rest assured that before it is finished you will be laid out. A course of reading is like an encyclopedia; it is meant to take in everything. Now, anybody who believes that he can take in everything will be taken in himself. The mass of accumulated knowledge is now enormous, and to take even a cursory view of it all is only possible for a very well-educated man. To know something of everything is getting, day by day, to be a harder task. But to know almost everything about something is more nearly within everybody's reach. To know absolutely everything on a given subject is not possible even to the specialist, but to get a good grasp of a subject, be it scientific, or historical, or literary, to know what is best worth knowing about it- this can be done by almost anybody with good will and a little perseverance. And what a gain it is when you once have it! What a satisfaction it is to feel that of one subject, at least, you are master! Other people may know more of other things, but, if they once come on your ground, you are at home, and can receive them with easy hospitality. The mastery of one subject is the basis of culture. Besides knowing how much there is to know on any subject, measuring the depth of your own ignorance is a very wholesome mental discipline, and tends to make you listen more attentively to others on subjects which you know them to have studied. (Incidentally it is to be said that a due appreciation of the value of the opinion of specialists is a need in this country-as the greenback craze goes to show.)

Now, the way to master a subject is to begin at the beginning. Suppose you want to know about Greek literature. You have noted one of Macaulay's or Matthew Arnold's glowing tributes to the noble simplicity of Grecian writing, and you want to read about it. Get Jebb's "Primer of Greek Literature," which is almost as good as Stopford Brooke's" Primer of English Literature"- as high praise as one can give any book of the kind. This will tell you the conditions under which the Greeks worked. Then if you are attracted toward any other writer, and want to know more about him, get the volume in which he and his works and discussed at length in the series of "Ancient Classics for English Readers." By the time you have read that, you will know whether you really want to study this Greek author or not, whether you are capable of appreciating him, and, therefore, whether your time and attention can be given to him to advantage.

The one thing young readers need most to be warned against is the reading of standard classics which they do not appreciate, which they do not like, and which they are really bored by. If you can not appreciate a great author, if he tires you, if he does not interest you, put him down and begin again more humbly. In time, if you keep on cultivating your taste, you can take him up again with a greater hope of success. If you can not read "Paradise Lost" with enjoyment, while you can enjoy" Beautiful Snow," do not try to read" Paradise Lost" just yet. Try the works of other old poets; perhaps you may find something which you do like as well as "Beautiful Snow." You may rest assured that it will be better.

As soon as the taste for reading is formed, that taste begins to improve, and its improvement should be sedulously cultivated. Every man who has read a great deal will tell you that he has left far behind him the books he admired when he began. What he admired at twenty is far inferior to what he admires at thirty or forty. He is constantly going up a literary ladder. Now, it makes little matter on what round of the lander the reader begins, so long as he climbs. It is the act of climbing which is beneficial, not the elevation attained. If you are a boy, and you read for excitement, for adventure, and for this reason take a story-paper, give it up, and try one of Mr. Towle's series of books about the" Heroes of History," or one of Dr. Eggleston's "Lives of Famous Indians." I think you would find these, if not so feverish and breathless as the story-paper, full of real interest and healthy excitement. The advantage of getting an interest in these figures from real life is that you are not limited to the one book about them; if you want to find out more, there are other books to be consulted, and, more than all, there is some real knowledge gained, for you to add to. If Mr. Towle's " Pizarro" attracts you, go from that to Prescott's narrative of the conquest of Peru; and from that you may be led to his other histories of the Spanish dominion in America, and Prescott may thus introduce you to Irving and to Motley. And, when you have got so far, the whole field of European history is open before you. The one rule to begin is: Get the best-the best, that is, that you can read with satisfaction, and then go onward and upward.

And this brings us to the third class-those who know what to read, but desire advice as to how to get the best results from their reading. Having formed the habit of reading, and having thus got your foot on the ladder of literary culture, how are you to get the most result from these? First of all, always think over a book when you have finished it. Criticize it. Form your own opinion of it. If you liked it, ask yourself why you liked it. If you disliked it, ask yourself why you did not like it. See if the fault was in the book or in you. If you were greatly interested, try and find out whether this was due to the author or to the subject. In short, consider carefully the impression the book has left on yo~. No matter how poor a book may be, the cheapest bit of cheap fiction, you ought to form an opinion about it, and be able to give some sort of a reason for it. It may not be easy at first, but practice makes perfect.

Then, if you can find somebody else who has read the book, talk it over; exchange your impression for his impression, and see whether, on sober second thought, he is more nearly right than you or not. Books which have been read by all of a family are excellent topics for general talk at table. And the listening to such talk is often of great influence on children. Children are naturally desirous of doing like grown folks; and, seeing that grown folks read and talk about books, makes them desirous to read books also, that they may have something to talk about too.

Try to correct your opinion of a book and to refreshen it by reading about it. If you have been reading a great author, see what the great critics have been saying of him. If you have been reading an essay on a great author or a biography of him, take up his own works next, that you may gain the benefit of the interest around about him. If you have been reading any special history, try and see .how it fits into the general history of the world: and for this purpose I know no books to be compared with Mr. Freeman's" Primer of European History" and his" First Sketch of History." These begin at the beginning, and tell the march of events to our generation. They are too slight and too much in outline-too rigid, indeed, to be the best works for one ignorant in history; but for reviewing one's knowledge, for tying together the information one has got from special histories, I know no better books.

Then, as you are reading a book, it is well to mark important passages. If the book is your own-and a man should own as many good books as he can-make a light mark with a hard pencil in the margin of the passage. If the book is not yours, put in a slip of paper. When you have ended the book, read over the marked passages, and index those which on this second reading seem worthy of it, or likely in any way to be of use to you. If the book is yours, turn to the blank page at the end and give a hint of the passage and the page it is on; thus:

John Brown. p. 21,
Shakespearean quotation, p. 47,
Anecdote of a wise dog, p. 93,

and so on. If the book is not yours, take a page in a notebook, or a sheet of note-paper, and make your index on that, heading it with the title of the book, or begin a Commonplace Book.

Mr. Joseph Cook tells us that he marks important passages with a line on the outer margin of the book he is reading, more important with a double line, and most important with a triple line; while passages that he disagrees with or disapproves of are marked in like manner with one, two, or three lines on the inner margin. He advises the committing to memory of all three-line passages. The reader should also strenuously cultivate the habit of searching diligently in dictionaries and encyclopedia and gazetteers, and in whatever books of reference he can get access to. He should let no allusion pass without an effort to find out what it means. Macaulay bristles with allusions, but there are scarcely any that a quick reader can not dig out of an encyclopedia in a few minutes. And, when found, make a note of it-as Cap'n Cuttle tells us. It is this faculty of filling up the breaks in his information which marks the man of education. It was the Bishop of Manchester who gave a good definition of the educated man: "When a man goes out into the world knowing when he does know a thing, knowing when he does not know a thing, and knowing how knowledge is to be acquired, I call him a perfectly educated man."

It will astonish a beginner to find out how soon the habit of looking up things will beget a facility. As John Hill Burton says, in the Bookhunter, "all inquirers, like pointers, have a sort of instinct, sharpened by training and practice, the power and acuteness of which astonish the unlearned." It is this" reading with the fingers," this turning over of the pages rapidly and alighting on the exact spot where the thing wanted is to be found-this is the best test of active scholarship. "It is what enabled Bayle to collect so many flowers of literature-all so interesting, and yet all found in comers so distant and obscure."

THE HOME LIBRARY, Arthur Penn. D. Appleton and Company, New York: 1883, Pp. 32-38.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

No Makeup Look … an idea whose time has come

https://www.yahoo.com/style/the-no-makeup-look-is-getting-a-new-face-tracey-103015493458.html

Friday, October 24, 2014

Discard everything that does not “spark joy" …


A unique view of organization, Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, can be distilled down to two concepts, «Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.» Cited from the NY Times. «Japanese organizational consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly declutter your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Whereas most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, the KonMari Method's category-by-category, all-at-once prescription leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo's clients have been repeat customers (and she still has a three-month waiting list of new customers!). With detailed guidance for every type of item in the household, this quirky little manual from Japan's newest lifestyle phenomenon will help readers clear their clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home--and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.» amazon

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I Cover

The symbol representing that Adam was created first, then Eve; that the man was not made for the woman but the woman for man is the hair on a woman’s head, with long hair on the head of the woman disclosing to humans and angels that the woman understands she remains, in or out of marriage, as a disciple’s body is to its inner self. Therefore, since the woman’s long hair relates to the relationship between the inner self and the body, the fabric covering with which the wife covers, or should cover her long hair shows that the wife is under the authority of her husband.

Two coverings, one physical, one spiritual, with both coverings on the head of the woman where they function as one covering.

Because outward circumcision made the head of a male naked, short hair on a man’s head represents circumcision of the heart; for the foreskins of hearts—the sack holding the heart—cannot be removed and the person still live. Hence, a man’s short hair and a woman’s long hair, both, symbolize that these two Christians desire to be obedient to Christ Jesus, their spiritual Head. But the hair on neither the husband’s nor the wife’s head says anything about the wife being obedient to her husband as the body is to obey its head, the inner self. And for this reason, the wife is to have a fabric covering that covers her hair.

As the Lord God communicated with ancient Israel by giving or by withholding rain in its season (Deut 11:10–15), the Lord communicates with Christians through both the groaning of the spirit and through giving or withholding blessings—and a man communicates with the Lord through both his hair length and through his desire to keep the commands of God, whereas the woman communicates by her hair length and by whether she chooses to obey her husband, disclosed to all by the woman covering her hair with a fabric covering.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thoughts on Tea …

As I look around me in this wonderful country I call home, I see my fellow countrymen ensnared in slavery, slavery to the almighty dollar. Either they don’t have enough or they have too much, both of which are deadly. In ancient Greece, the rich man lived on the same street as the poor man, and conspicuous consumption did not mar the rich man’s abode—it would have been unseemly to display more wealth than his poor neighbor (5thC BCE theatre).

Today many are consumed with either the acquisition of goods or the holding on too tightly to what we may already have. Concern about jobs, the lack thereof, or the desire for better jobs, devours our waking hours and fills our dreams. Will we ever get ahead or are we constantly dropping behind? Our conversations are filled with sighs or rants about the economy and politics and we will follow, sometimes blindly, anyone who will promise to get us out of the «fix» we’ve found ourselves in. But jumping from one political party to another, or coming up with a new one (The Tea Party) will not cure the ills of this country. Our President and his administration seem hell bent on destroying this country … but wait, Moses is on the way to lead us out of Egypt, out from the bondage of Pharaoh and his onerous taskmasters. "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Friday, April 09, 2010

An Example of Low Cost Design Ideas

30 Low-Cost Cabinet Makeovers from Better Homes and Gardens
image from 30 Low-Cost Cabinet Makeovers, Better Homes & Gardens

As mentioned in a previous post, using a painting, or in this case a poster from which to draw your design inspiration, shows how an old kitchen can be modernized with just a coat of paint. Adding just one mug in the same sunny yellow ties the entire «look» together. Again whether you are just starting out or simplifying your life, using color choices to weed out, replace or renew can create harmony and peace.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Treasure From the Past …

Love God...

Reverence your parents.
Submit to your superiors.
Despise not your inferiors.
Be courteous to your equals.
Pray daily & devoutly.
Converse with the good.
Imitate not the wicked.
Be always desirous of learning.
Study virtue & embrace it.
Provoke nobody.
Restrain your tongue.
Covet future honor, which only virtue & wisdom can procure.

In 1834, the Massachusettes Sabbath School Society borrowed from a book called The School of Good Manners, which had been around for over a century, to publish a few rules of behavior for their children.

This message was shared on Barbara Sarudy's blog, It's About Time. Barbara shares many photos, paintings and architectural wonders of the American past through her several blogs--living in the East does have it's advantages.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Design for Life -or- How to Save Money

Acanthus wallpaper-1875"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." — William Morris

The fame of Morris during his life was probably somewhat obscured by the variety of his accomplishments. In all his work after he reached mature life there is a marked absence of extravagance, of display, of superficial cleverness or effectiveness, and an equally marked sense of composition and subordination. Thus his poetry is singularly devoid of striking lines or phrases, and his wall-papers and chintzes only reveal their full excellence by the lastingness of the satisfaction they give. wikipedia

In college in East Texas I was on the cleaning crew sent to spiff up the Vice-Chancelor's home prior to his arrival for Fall classes. The foreman of the crew showed me the ceramic rooster, whose colors had been used to decorate the entire house. It was my first experience in seeing a color-coordinated home--every item, no matter how small, had been chosen from the rooster's palette. Later in life I have come to see that it costs no more to choose a blue item than an orange item. The question is--which will go with everything else already in one's possession.

If you are just starting out in life, or training your daughters, gain exposure to beautiful things; china patterns, quilt designs, paintings, carpets and fabrics. Walk through designer homes, showrooms, and store displays and stand at the magazine counter and look through the magazines for months before you buy the one that has the items or overall look that has come to be you. Then consciously build your trousseau and hope chest with only those items that suit you. Not only will you save money, but you will be able to learn how to make many of the items you need and want; you'll be able to buy them on sale, saving not only money but frustration in having too much and not enough of the best and right things.

If you're older and stuck with a lot of mis-matched stuff, educate your eye and get in touch with your heart and choose what's really become you and sell or give away what isn't you. Simplify your life and keep or acquire only those items you need and love. Plain living does not have to be sombre to be simple, but it does mean living without excess. Enjoy getting to know yourself …

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Never judge a book but its cover …

Overnight singing sensation, Susan Boyle, is truly the wakeup call we've all been needing. She is the embodiment of the failing of judging by appearances «for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).» What a shame it would have been for Susan to go to her grave never to have shared with the world her amazing voice.

Thanks be to God that He has allowed the technology of the internet and YouTube--and now, even after 10 years in obscurity, we can all hear Susan sing again in a resurrected rendition of Cry Me a River.

«*Boyle has shattered prejudices about the connection between age, appearance and talent. She has proved that you don't have to be young and glamorous to be talented, and recognised as such.

Lisa Schwarzbaum, writer for US celebrity magazine Entertainment Weekly, said the performance was a powerful reality check.
She wrote: "In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging - the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts - the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace.
"She pierced my defences. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective."


"Susan Boyle is the ugly duckling who didn't need to turn into a swan; she has fulfilled the dreams of millions who, downtrodden by the cruelty of a culture that judges them on their appearance, have settled for life without looking in the mirror."»

But Boyle herself also said she wouldn't want the instant fame to change her.
"I wouldn't want to change myself too much because that would really make things a bit false," she said Friday in an interview with CNN. "I want to receive people as the real me, a real person."

*quoted from BBC article.