Charm-i-days: Two smart, engaging memoirs

Dreaming in a new language and dating a transcendent entity: A couple of memoirs for the non-fiction fans on your gift list.

Pretty covers, smart pages.

The general consensus on this year’s best books lists suggests that Lit by Mary Karr is a stand-out memoir, so that one’s going on my personal wish list for the holidays. Two other memoirs of note this year, Dreaming in Hindi and Dating Jesus are also worthy gifts to give.

In Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, former magazine editor Katherine Russell Rich travels to India after overcoming cancer and then settles into the northwestern part of the country for a year to learn Hindi. She chronicles her experiences – first verbally stumbling at every turn and eventually making jokes and even dreaming in her new language – with a subtle humor and a poetic spirit. Rich also became an expert along the way in linguistics and neuroscience, and she skillfully weaves the latest research about how adults learn second languages into the narrative.

That book won't carry itself.

Rich describes the experiential shock that goes along with the words she’s learning – and the ones she’s missing. “Privacy,” for example, is nonexistent, both in Hindi and in her everyday experience of living in Udaipur. She writes about how geography shapes the psyche as well, and how her senses themselves began to change: “My skin continues to absorb the smell of heat. My ears fill with color…”

Later, she mentions to a linguist, “It was as if in Hindi, I became a different person.” Rich analyzes the research about how language affects thought, but in the end, she’s all about the poetry.

For an extra flourish, pair the book with an exotic-looking fair-trade bag from Ten Thousand Villages.

Another memoir that combines endearing humor and impressive scholarship, Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl preaches the gospel of independence. Journalist Susan Campbell writes thoughtfully about her church-heavy girlhood in Missouri. An irrepressible tomboy, Campbell asked questions sitting in her pew from the start and seemed to always know something wasn’t quite right when she was told that women were expected to remain silent in church. Although she didn’t stick with church, her questions eventually led her to seminary, and she merges her story with the work of philosophers, historians and feminist theologians.

“Fundamentalism broke off in us, didn’t it?” Campbell’s brother once asks her as they attend a church service together as adults. She agrees – it broke off in her like a sword, she muses, and much of Dating Jesus is about Campbell healing that wound.

Balm, not of Gilead.

Recalling her early years, Campbell writes about witnessing door-to-door, playing baseball, taking her fashion cues from The Brady Bunch and singing hymns in four-part harmony. She writes about loving seminary classes many years later, especially when one of her professors says that many of the early Biblical texts subvert the hierarchy. And yes, she writes about dating (and not dating) and dancing (and not dancing) and loving the real Jesus – the egalitarian one – despite what religion has to say about him.

For a little extra flourish, pair the book with a tube of Looking Good for Jesus lip balm and get more “subvert the hierarchy” bang for your buck.

Dreaming in Hindi, $17.16
Hindi-inspired bag, prices vary
Dating Jesus, $10.80
Jesus-inspired lip balm, $5.99

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Two memoirs for the non-fiction fans on your holiday gift list. Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language and Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl.

The general consensus on this year’s best books lists suggests that Lit by Mary Karr is a stand-out memoir, so that one’s going on my personal wish list for the holidays. Two other memoirs of note this year, Dreaming in Hindi and Dating Jesus are also worthy gifts to give. http://www.amazon.com/Lit-Memoir-Mary-Karr/dp/0060596988/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260499510&sr=1-1

In Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language, former magazine editor Katherine Russell Rich travels to India after overcoming cancer and then settles into the northwestern part of the country for a year to learn Hindi. She chronicles her experiences – first verbally stumbling at every turn and eventually making jokes and even dreaming in her new language – with a subtle humor and a poetic spirit. Rich also became an expert along the way in linguistics and neuroscience, and she skillfully weaves the latest research about how adults learn second languages into the narrative.

Rich describes the experiential shock that goes along with the words she’s learning – and the ones she’s missing. “Privacy,” for example, is nonexistent, both in Hindi and in her everyday experience of living in Udaipur. She writes about how geography shapes the psyche as well, and how her senses themselves began to change: “My skin continues to absorb the smell of heat. My ears fill with color…”

Later, she mentions to a linguist, “It was as if in Hindi, I became a different person.” Rich analyzes the research about how language affects thought, but in the end, she’s all about the poetry.

For an extra flourish, pair the book with an exotic-looking fair-trade bag from Ten Thousand Villages.

http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/bags-and-totes

Another memoir that combines endearing humor and impressive scholarship, Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl preaches the gospel of independence. Journalist Susan Campbell writes thoughtfully about her church-heavy girlhood in Missouri. An irrepressible tomboy, Campbell asked questions sitting in her pew from the start and seemed to always know something wasn’t quite right when she was told that women were expected to remain silent in church. Those questions eventually led her to seminary, and she merges her story with the work of philosophers, historians and feminist theologians.

“Fundamentalism broke off in us, didn’t it?” Campbell’s brother once asks her as they attend a church service together as adults. She agrees – it broke off in her like a sword, she muses, and much of Dating Jesus is about Campbell healing that wound.

Recalling her early years, Campbell writes about witnessing door-to-door, playing baseball, taking her fashion cues from The Brady Bunch and singing hymns in four-part harmony. She writes about loving seminary classes many years later, especially when one of her professors says that many of the early Biblical texts subvert the hierarchy. And yes, she writes about dating (and not dating) and dancing (and not dancing) and loving the real Jesus – the egalitarian one – despite what religion has to say about him.

For a little extra flourish, pair the book with a tube of Looking Good for Jesus lip balm and get more “subvert the hierarchy” bang for your buck.

http://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Hindi-Katherine-Russell-Rich/dp/0618155457/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260540760&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Dating-Jesus-Fundamentalism-Feminism-American/dp/0807010723/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260498462&sr=8-1

Dreaming in Hindi, $17.16

Hindi-inspired bag, prices vary

Dating Jesus, $10.80

Jesus-inspired lip balm, $5.99

http://www.blueq.com/shop/114-catId.117440633_114-productId.0.html

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One Response to “Charm-i-days: Two smart, engaging memoirs”

  1. Hey! My book made it to two really cool websites! « Dating Jesus Says:

    […] author has another blog, Charm-o-Matic. This is one busy […]

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