So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery
Emma Gatewood was an abused housewife who, in 1955 when she turned 67, decided to walk the Appalachian Trail. She was the first woman to walk the entire trail and she did it with about 22 pounds of gear in a hand-sewn duffle bag and Converse sneakers. I decided to read this as inspirational reading for my turning 67 and retiring from full-time employment. It has worked. While I am not planning any interstate walking, I do plan to walk myself back to fitness in the local area. Emma's journey is well documented by Ben Montgomery who intersperses events from Emma's history with the long trek of the trail. He has access to her journals and goes looking for the people she met along the trail and to see how the trail has changed since the early days when she travelled from Georgia to Maine. It is truly an inspiring story and not an overstatement that she saved the trail. She appeared on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life television show, which is now available on YouTube, but I have not been able to find the episode in which she was a guest. I would love to see her talk on screen to see how she compares with the woman Ben Montgomery has written about.

The Kingdom of God is Within You : Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion But as a New Theory of Life

The Kingdom of God is Within You : Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion But as a New Theory of Life by Leo Tolstoy
This is Tolstoy's major work on Christian nonviolence. He puts forth the principle on non-violent resistance to evil and bases it on Christian principles. It took me a long time to read this book because, being written in 1894, the significance of many of the references that Tolstoy makes to 19th century European politics and society are not easily grasped by the modern 21st century reader. Yet if you want to understand the history and theory of nonviolent resistance, I feel this is an important book to read and understand. Not only because of Tolstoy's thinking, but because he outlines the work of previous writers and activists that contributed to his thinking. Tolstoy raises the stakes on what it means to be Christian. I am sure that most of the people who profess Christianity today would turn away from Tolstoy's teachings and go on supporting their country's wars and their own personal wealth that comes from these wars. He starts small with just asking his readers to recognize the truth of what he says, and to speak the truth instead of living the lies. I believe I will read this book again someday as the long time it took to read has diluted its impact on me. Having sampled the wine and found it good, I hope someday to be able to drink it to the dregs.