by Ayn Rand, 1937

Wayne read this in high school. He’s also read, Atlas Shrugged. This was a very short book; 105 pages–I read it in 2 days. It’s about a man, Equality 7-2521, who is unhappy in his life as a street sweeper. In this world, there is no “I,” only “We.” He knows he is sinning but he can’t help it. He escapes into a dark tunnel and re-discovers electricity. He tries to show it to the Scholars but they are outraged and afraid and want him destroyed along with his invention. He grabs it and crashes through a window and runs to the Uncharted Forest, where he sees beauty for the first time; colors, trees, mountains, birds (he kills one and eats it), streams. And the Golden One, Liberty 5-3000, follows him there, and they learn about human love, and the word, “I.” And they are changed forever.

Ayn Rand was railing against Communism. She elevates the idea of selfishness to that of religion, Wayne says, in Atlas Shrugged; she preaches ad nauseum how wrong it is to help others. Her philosophy is called, Objectivism.

Swallows and Amazons

by Arthur Ransome, 1930

Precious, beautiful, sweet book about 4 children in 1930s England whose mother (and father, by telegram from a destroyer on the China Seas) allow them to sail away and camp on an island in the lake, and all the wonderful adventures they have. They meet pirates, 2 girls their age who sail the seas just like them, and a retired pirate who lives on a houseboat with his green parrot. The children are John Walker, the Master; Susan Walker, the Mate; Titty Walker, the Able-seaman; and 7-year-old Roger, the Ship’s Boy. This book was one recommended on the 2021 Book-a-day Calendar.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need

by Bill Gates, 2021

Everything you need to know about climate change and what to do about it. We add 51 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere every year. We need to reduce that to 0 or there will be floods, famines, droughts, massive storms, wildfires, no coral reefs. We need to reduce our emissions to 0 by 2050. We need to convert everything possible (industry, transportation, heating and cooling) to run on electricity, but it needs to be clean electricity, and only nuclear can provide the 24/7 clean energy in the amounts we need. The 3rd world countries need to be able to modernize in everything they do, and we need to allow them to do so and help them to do so without increasing carbon emissions.

There are so many solutions out there (from page 200): next-generation nuclear fission, Nuclear fusion, low-emission fuels (Electrofuels and advanced biofuels), zero-carbon cement and steel and fertilizer, plant and cell-based meat and dairy, zero-carbon plastics, geothermal energy, thermal storage, grid-scale electricity storage that can last a full season, hydrogen produced without emitting carbon, zero-carbon alternatives to palm oil, Coolants that don’t contain F-gases, pumped hydro, thermal storage, underground electricity transmission, carbon capture (both direct air capture and point capture).

The main things people can do involve getting involved politically; telling our representatives what we want, and not just saying “do something about climate change.” Tell them policies that need to be updated, incentives that need to be in place, tax money that needs to be spent, etc. Research and Development are key items and government can invest in R&D for the long haul.

If we don’t do anything and we get to a tipping point, then geoengineering may need to happen: “distributing extremely fine particles–each just a few millionths of an inch in diameter–in the upper layers of the atmosphere…Another approach to geoengineering involves brightening clouds. Because sunlight is scattered by the tops of clouds, we could scatter more sunlight and cool the earth by making the clouds brighter, using a salt spray that causes clouds to scatter more light.”

A Framework for Understanding Poverty

by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Revised edition 2005

Interesting book! Shines a light on how and why students who live in poverty think and behave the way they do; and how teachers, counselors, and administrators can provide the necessary supports which would enable them to move out of poverty. Schools are almost the only hope for poor students to move out of that culture.

There are different types of poverty; not just financial: 1. Financial, 2. Emotional, 3. Mental, 4. Spiritual, 5. Physical, 6. Support Systems, 7. Relationships/Role Models, 8. Knowledge of Hidden Rules.

“Emotional resources are the most important of all resources because, when present, they allow the individual not to return to old habit patterns.”

People living in poverty tend to live for the moment, to spend money when they have it, to value entertainment. Their families tend to be matriarchal. Their language is in the “casual register,” and they may not know or understand the formal register, which is the register the middle class and wealthy people use.

The story structure of the “casual register” is not the same as the “formal register.” The formal register goes from beginning to end. The casual register starts with the end or the most emotional part of the story and relates the story in parts with audience participation in between the parts.

Relationships are very important. Schools could help by allowing students to stay with the same teacher two years in a row.

The Rainbabies

by Laura Krauss Melmed, Illustrated by Jim LaMarche, 1992

Children’s book about a sweet old couple who lack nothing except a child. They go out on a moonlit night after a rain and find 12 babies. They care for them and save them through flood, fire, and wild animal dangers. Then a messenger comes with a jewel that would provide them with riches the rest of their lives but they refuse to sell the babies. Then the messenger turns into a beautiful woman and she takes the rainbabies but leaves them a real baby girl. They name her Rayna and they live happily ever after.

Well, this is sweet but gives the wrong message to childless couples – that they aren’t good enough to have a child. The beautiful woman even says to them:

“What loyal and loving caretakers you have been! You protected them from dangers born of water, fire, and earth. You refused the offer of great riches to keep the babies with you. You have proven yourselves the worthiest of parents. … And do not fear–I will not leave you lonely. See what I have brought for you!”

Here’s how the book-a-day calendar described this book:

“Bedtime Stories, A Love Story for Parents and Toddlers: A childless couple discovers 12 tiny babies in the raindrops of a spring moonshower. They nurture and protect them with love, luck, and courage. When Mother Moonshower comes to reclaim her dozen progeny, she bears an extraordinary gift for the wife and her husband. In The Rainbabies, Laura Krauss Melmed has told her beautiful story so well that one reads it with awe and joy. Jim LaMarche’s paintings are perfectly matched to the tenor of the tale. It’s a book that deserves to become a family heirloom.”

If only all parents were as loving and caring to their children as this old couple was to their 12 little rainbabies. If only all parents were as deserving of the children they have been gifted by God. The illustrations are beautiful.

The Caregiver’s Guide to Dementia

Practical Advice for Caring for Yourself and Your Loved One, by Gail Weatherill, RN, CAEd, 2020

This book is in the “Memory Care Kit, Volume 1” from the Library, that includes 6 books (this book and picture books), a 35-piece puzzle, a music CD and lyrics (songs like Talk to the Animals, Mairzy Doats, and Puppy Love), and handouts with tips and resources.

The best tip on the handout is:

“Do not contradict, correct, criticize, or confront. (Being kind is more important than being “right”).”

Good book. Easy to read and very practical. This book is shorter and better organized than the 36-Hour Day. The same information is given but in less detail. Again, after reading it, I realize Mom’s not close to “there” yet. So, that is good. But maintaining mental, social, and physical exercise are really important.

In the Introduction, she says to caregivers: “I love to show them that the glass is half full, that there are many days and moments of sheer joy yet to be lived.”

“If I’ve learned anything in my years of caregiving for people with dementia, it’s that we are not just our brains. Thought and language may come from the brain, but they’re not the whole story of who we are. We are sentient beings. We have a soul that’s not subject to physical disease.”

“When the day comes that you feel like your loved one is gone, remember their soul. Remember their values. Remember their priorities in life. Remember the feelings the two of you shared.

“None of those things can be destroyed by dementia They exist independent of space and time. Hold on to them.

“Know that no matter how far away your loved one seems to be, they’re still here. They feel you . They know you’re here. They know you’re doing all you can do…

“…Hold tight to the person your loved one still is. And never doubt that what the brain cannot remember, the heart cannot forget.”

Village School

by “Miss Read,” Mrs. Dora Jessie Saint, 1955

What a sweet, sweet book! Transports you to an English village in about the 1930s. It’s precious – the people, the cottages, the school, the children. She takes you through the 3 terms of school: Christmas Term, Spring Term, Summer Term. She teaches the older kids and another lady teaches the infants. What a wonderful time – so much appreciation for nature. Just taking the little ones outside. Beautiful and fun times. They have “dinner” delivered every day and they eat together. In the winter, it’s cold, they have to light the stove, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Pringle, complains. They go ice skating on a pond. The young infants’ teacher, Miss Gray, falls in love with the Choir Director, Mr. Annett, and they are to be married. The children pick out a beautiful piece of crockery for a wedding gift, with Miss Read’s help; “a china biscuit barrel, sprigged with wild flowers. It was useful, it was very pretty and it was exactly the right price.”

This was an innocent trip to rural England in the 1930s. Precious and beautiful!

The 36-Hour Day

“A Family Guide for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss,” by Nancy L. Mace, MA, and Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH, 2017

An easy-to-read guide, covering everything, on how to care for someone with dementia. Reading it makes me realize that Mom is not even close to “there” yet. I would say she has “Mild Cognitive Impairment” now. If it worsens into dementia, then major decisions will need to be made. Preferable for her to remain in her home as long as possible. Change is not good. When can she no longer drive? When should she no longer be living alone?

The way the book is organized didn’t seem right – I thought Chapter 17, Preventing and Delaying Cognitive Decline, should have been Chapter 1. The first 16 chapters go in-depth on how to deal with someone with dementia. Mainly, be loving and caring and patient. Get help so you can remain loving and caring and patient. Don’t care about being right. The person’s brain is diseased; they cannot help many of their behaviors.

The style was conversational so you can really fly through the chapters. There is a lot of info packed into each page but so much doesn’t apply to us right now. I need to look at the Larimer County Office on Aging, because the main things we need to watch for are when she can no longer drive and when she can no longer live alone – see what kind of options they have for “aging in place” so she can stay in her home safely. We also need to see what her Long Term Care Insurance covers.

Johnny Tremain: A Story of Boston in Revolt

by Esther Forbes, 1943

What a wonderful book. I loved being with Johnny Tremain in Boston in the 1770s. It was on the Book-a-Day calendar from Christie: “For fans of The Simpsons: Can you recall what novel about the American Revolution captivated that not-so-eager reader Bart? ANSWER: Esther Forbes’s novel of revolutionary-era Boston, Johnny Tremain, which won the Newbery Medal in 1944.”

The main character, Johnny Tremain, is a 14-year-old boy orphaned in Boston, apprenticing as a silversmith. He burns his hand with molten silver, due to the deceit of a fellow apprentice, Dove. Johnny has to strike out on his own and we experience his loneliness and despair, but he rises above it and finds a hope and a future. He meets Rab, a kind and wise boy a couple of years older than Johnny. Rab befriends Johnny and hires him to deliver papers. Johnny learns to love and ride horses, in particular, Goblin, a horse nobody but he could ride. He delivers the Boston Observer to homes and businesses. He also delivers messages and news to the likes of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and others. The Revolution begins. Rab leaves Boston first in order to fight in the battle of Lexington, the very first battle of the war. Unfortunately, the British outmanned and outgunned them in the first battle and Rab is hit with many bullets before he could even shoot his gun. Johnny vows to join the fight as soon as Dr. Warren fixes his burnt and twisted hand so that he can hold a gun…Fantastic book. Takes you into the time of the Revolution. It is considered children’s literature, but it is 300 pages long and the language, characters, and plot seem like an adult book to me.

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley, 1932

I didn’t read this, but Wayne did, twice; once in high school and then, again, just recently. He said not to bother with it, but there are warnings for us. They used genetic engineering focusing on cognitive abilities, to mass-produce humans in test-tubes, some created to be slaves, others higher caste. Alphas will run things and gammas will dig ditches. 21st Century equivalent will be genetic modification of embryos/fetus’. They considered the idea of family to be obscene. The goal was homogeneity – eliminate individuality. They condition behaviors via Pavlovian conditioning and hypnotic suggestion all through youth, for example: consumption is good; you belong to everybody; families are obscene, gross, icky; drugs are good; we are better than gammas but not as good as alphas, etc. (maintaining a functional prejudice concerning castes). Humans are kept in line via distractions: entertainment, drugs, sex and recreation. Stability, via conformity, is the ultimate goal. Everybody is “satisfied” and happy. No unmet desires (either met via social engineering above, or stamped out by same.) Means no passions either. No individuality, or God.

In our world today (America), our children are indoctrinated into consumerism from their earliest ages. We are also a nation of distraction – “entertain me” is our daily bread. So, good warnings for us. “The Herd” – we are managed, like a herd, for the benefit of the management – the people who own us.

Disappointment River:

Finding and losing the Northwest Passage

by Brian Castner, 2018

Well-written book. I almost gave up on it because of the many French and Indian words and names I couldn’t pronounce, but I’m glad I stuck with it. He takes you on the Mackenzie River (the Deh Cho River) through Canada to the Arctic Ocean; first with Alexander Mackenzie and his crew in the 1780’s, and then with himself and 4 different guys. What a hard journey, then and now. It’s a miracle Alexander Mackenzie didn’t lose a single person, just a canoe and some supplies on one of the many portages they had to take to avoid rapids. And Brian and his fellows experienced the same “plagues of the Deh Cho:” terrible lightning, rain storms, wind, icy cold, unbearable heat and bugs, especially mosquitoes and bulldogs. In Fort Providence, the first town Brian and his first partner, David, reached, they didn’t secure their canoe and supplies. During the night, drunk Indians vandalized and stole or ruined most of their supplies. Brian contacted the outfitter (the one in Fort Smith who had told him not to worry), and that outfitter drove a new stove up to Brian to replace the one stolen.

Voices of the Colorado Trail

by David W. Fanning, 2017 (

David Fanning is a photographer who posts his photos on Next Door. They are excellent! Many are of owls and other birds. He lives in the Sheely Addition which is near Red Fox Meadows. He was asked if he ever considered writing a bird book and he answered with his favorite bird books, Sibley being one, and then said he has written a book called “Voices of the Colorado Trail.” I got it from the library. It’s a marvelous book! He includes short descriptions, very interesting descriptions, of each segment of the Colorado Trail, photos, and interviews with hikers along the way. Loved this book! He writes some poetry, and here’s one I love:

Trail Trash

Every ounce of the trash

you so casually tossed in the bushes

irritates me as I trudge up the pass

this morning, thinking of punishment.

Hanging is too good for you.

I would toss you off a cliff,

make you hang by your fingernails

over the chasm

until you cry out how finally

you understand the purpose

of poetry and beauty in the world.

Then, I would give you another chance.

He includes a picture of the trail trash he collected.

The Four Winds

by Kristin Hannah, 2021

Historical fiction covering the dust bowl, the depression, and the plight of Okies in California. Elsa is blasted by one traumatic event after another. She’s an unwanted oldest daughter of a wealthy family in Texas. She gets pregnant by an Italian boy, Rafe, who is forced to marry her. His mother and father, Rose and Tony, grow to love Elsa, but Rafe leaves her and their two children when the dust storms begin. When youngest child, Ant, gets dust pneumonia, Elsa takes him and her daughter, beautiful Loreda, to California. There they live in a homeless camp, become migrant workers, survive a flood, fall in love with Jack, and then Elsa is shot to death in the middle of a strike against the growers.

Mrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer

by Dorothy Gilman, 1996

Great characters, interesting setting and story. Mrs. Pollifax accompanies young Kadi back to the African country of Ubangiba, to help the young prince, Kadi’s childhood friend. Someone dressed as a lion is killing people. Rumors are it is the young prince, which is destroying the trust he needs from his people to right all the wrongs that have happened in his country under two evil dictators. Mrs. Pollifax meets Moses, a large man with scars on his face. She buys a bicycle from him. She also buys a gun in the black market, to give to Kadi to protect herself. She meets Sharma, a trusted witch doctor, who gives her cryptic information about there are watchers and there are watchers. Kadi is attacked by the lion killer, then, once she recovers from her injuries, she disappears from a camping trip. Mrs. Pollifax is attacked by the lion killer after someone else thought to be the lion killer was caught and imprisoned. Mrs. Pollifax, with her self-defense skills, hurts him as he is attacking her, and the real Lion Killer ends up being Joseph, the prince’s right-hand man. So now all is well in Ubangiba. Moses was the watcher who was watching and protecting Kadi and Mrs. Pollifax. He hid Kadi away to protect her and draw out the real Lion Killer. Fun book, good escape. Found this book in a Little Free Library.

The King of the Rainy Country

by Nicolas Freeling, 1965

This was a Christie book-of-the-day calendar recommendation. I liked it but it mentioned many things, people, ideas, and places I had never heard of, I would have spent too much time looking things up. I didn’t look anything up so I only understood enough to keep up.

It was about a very rich man disappearing and is told from the perspective of the police detective hired to find him. It was set in Europe: Amsterdam, Germany, Austrian ski resorts, Spain. The rich man and a young German girl are eventually found and they have committed suicide. Then, the rich man’s wife tries to kill the police detective and then shoots herself. Maybe if I had understood even one-half of the many different things he wrote about, it would have been better.

The Enchanted April

by Elizabeth Von Arnim, 1922

This book was recommended on the “Page-a-Day” book calendar Christie gave me. I loved it. It was a wonderful escape to Italy in the 1920s. Four English ladies, strangers to one another, share an old castle on the coast of Italy near Genoa for the month of April. Each one is escaping the cold, dark, wet of England, but also something emotionally cold, dark, and wet. They go from closed off and suspicious to happy and loving. I loved the descriptions of the flowers, trees, sea, sun, castle and the rooms inside the castle, the town (Castagneta), the people, the setting, the moon, everything. And I loved how each woman changed and found love.

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

by Rebecca Henderson, 2020

I heard about this book from an interview with the author on NPR. She was talking about Walmart and how it changed practices after Hurricane Katrina and became more caring about the environment and their employees, but they did it almost secretly because they didn’t want people to think they would raise prices.

Author is a professor at Harvard University and teaches a course called Reimagining Capitalism. If capitalism is to survive, five things must happen:

  1. Creating shared value by caring about the environment.
  2. Building the Purpose-Driven Organization by caring about their employees.
  3. Rewiring Finance by caring about the long-term rather than the short-term.
  4. Building Cooperation in order to make necessary changes all along the supply chains (cocoa, Nike, tea, palm oil).
  5. Rebuilding Our Institutions and Fixing Our Governments

Change is hard but necessary if capitalism (and our world) are to survive. Change comes when ‘Business’ goes from caring only about profits in the short term to caring about all the costs (environmental and human) and working to maximize benefits for all. Government must be free and fair (no more gerrymandering and corruption). People must be involved by caring, voting, taking action, demanding change.

I loved the real-life examples she gave, especially Nike, Walmart, and the palm oil business.

The Reason for God

Belief in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller, 2008

Another excellent book by Tim Keller. This one explains logically, thoroughly, and beautifully how the God of the Bible exists and is real. In Part 1: The Leap of Doubt, the arguments against God are presented and examined. Chapter titles are:

  1. There Can’t Be Just One True Religion
  2. How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
  3. Christianity Is a Straitjacket
  4. The Church is Responsible for So Much Injustice
  5. How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
  6. Science Has Disproved Christianity
  7. You Can’t Take the Bible Literally

In Part 2: The Reasons for Faith, he examines all the arguments for God. Chapter titles are:

  1. The Clues of God
  2. The Knowledge of God
  3. The Problem of Sin
  4. Religion and the Gospel
  5. The (True) Story of the Cross
  6. The Reality of the Resurrection
  7. The Dance of God

Every page of this book is full of logic and wisdom. Unbelief boils down to human arrogance and pride, trying to run our own lives, rejecting God-our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend–not realizing that as we reject God, we are worshiping something else that will ultimately disappoint us.

The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy, 1997

Excellent writer but such a tragic tale, and no redemption in the end. Seven year-old twins (“two-egg twins”) and their beautiful mother, Ammu, live with their Uncle Chacko, their grandaunt Baby Kochamma, and their grandmother, Mammachi, in their beautiful home and Paradise Pickle factory by the river in Ayemenem, India. Something very, very tragic happens but you don’t know exactly what, only that it kills their beloved cousin from London, Sophie Mol, and their beloved friend and mother’s lover, Velutha. Velutha is a handsome, talented, loving, kind young man who is a father the children need and he and Ammu fall in love. The problem is, he is a Paravan, an untouchable.

Forgotten God

Reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit

by Francis Chan with Danae Yakoski, 2009

Good book about how we have ignored the Holy Spirit in our American churches and as a result, it’s become irrelevant and is dying. We’ve become consumers of religion an hour or two a week, looking for the best entertainment. Chapter One: “I’ve Got Jesus. Why do I need the Spirit?” Chapter Two: “What Are You Afraid Of?” Chapter Three: “Theology of the Holy Spirit 101.” Chapter Four: “Why Do You Want Him?” Chapter Five: “A Real Relationship.” Chapter Six: “Forget About His Will for Your Life!” Chapter Seven: “Supernatural Church.”

Here are some quotes: