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Sarah Laughed: Women's Voices in the Old Testament
Sarah Laughed: Women's Voices in the Old Testament
by Trevor Dennis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Giving Old Testament women a voice of their own..., 2 Feb. 2016
An excellent and readable work of theology which serves to lift the text away from the traditional interpretations surrounding it and through fresh, beautiful translations of the Hebrew come to a new understanding of the women who feature in the biblical narrative. Trevor Dennis is a fair and a sympathetic reader, aware of his own biases and privilege, and interested in exploring the original meanings of the stories discussed. The book is at once a thorough going work of scholarship and a moving journey through the lives of women in the Old Testament. Highly worthwhile.


The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland (Poyser Monographs)
The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland (Poyser Monographs)
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, yet readable, science!, 2 Feb. 2016
Beautifully produced, comprehensive and filled with information which would otherwise need to be chased across multiple sources. This atlas contains the 1980s wintering bird surveys so some of the detail is now dated but still an essential and exemplary addition to the library of any ornithologist.


Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (California Studies in Food & Culture) (California Studies in Food and Culture)
Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (California Studies in Food & Culture) (California Studies in Food and Culture)
by Laura Shapiro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and horrifying in equal measure..., 11 Jan. 2016
A wonderful social history which is both readable and well-researched. Laura Shapiro combines a wicked sense of humour with an eye for the telling details that makes a whole period come to life on the page. This book explains so much about modern attitudes to food and the people and stories who lie behind them and does so in a generous and thought-provoking manner. Anyone who enjoys food, cooking and the wider issues of food politics and the relationship of feminism to food should make every effort to get hold of this work!


Great Plains (Classics of Reportage)
Great Plains (Classics of Reportage)
by Ian Frazier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Roam on the Range..., 2 Dec. 2015
Beautifully written, wry, passionate and opinionated: this is an idiosyncratic career across the Great Plains taking in the Cold War, Custer, Crazy Horse, Bonnie and Clyde, the fates of the thousands of homesteaders who struggled to make a living from the land and many other perfectly observed vignettes illustrating the lives lived in The Great American Desert. Merely a taster, really, but one that richly repays repeat readings and always seems to offer up one more perfect sentence or utterly striking image.


When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God (Vintage)
When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God (Vintage)
by Prof T M Luhrmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and important., 2 Dec. 2015
This is a completely engaging and pleasantly sensitive study of the ways Evangelical Christians (specifically those involved with the Vineyard group of churches in the USA) relate to God. Luhrmann, an anthropologist working in the participant-observer tradition of ethnography, participates in the activities and prayers/visualisations undertaken by church members while simultaneously conducting interviews and developing a fascinating program of psychological experiments. As a guide to current prayer practices in the evangelical church this is an excellent and friendly companion for those seeking to better understand their neighbours and colleagues. For those inside the community that she describes this book offers a rare non-combative and objective description of their practices as they might appear to a sympathetic observer. Luhrmann is an agreeable and compassionate guide to a world which is both exotic and very close to the mainstream of modern life and politics.


The She-Apostle: The Extraordinary Life and Death of Luisa de Carvajal
The She-Apostle: The Extraordinary Life and Death of Luisa de Carvajal
by Glyn Redworth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and enjoyable history writing..., 23 Nov. 2015
Beautifully written and telling as compelling a story as many novels, this book delves deeply into C17 politics, religious conflicts and individual psychology while never straying too far from the personal (inner and outer) journey of the remarkable woman at the centre of the drama. Unusual and very readable.


Zen and the Brain
Zen and the Brain
by James Austin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £32.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science meets spirituality..., 20 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Zen and the Brain (Paperback)
An enormous but immensely rewarding tome, written just as neuroscience was beginning to take the first steps in the ongoing dance with Buddhist practice and theory. The brain science in the book is rigorous and thoroughly referenced (although naturally there have been many developments in the nearly twenty years since the book was written, meaning some of the information has a somewhat dated feel to it) and the explanations of zen practice and understandings are clear and occasionally inspired. The book is well structured by being broken down into many small chapters, making the length of the work less intimidating.

As with any such work there are weaknesses - sometimes the scientific processes are described too densely. However the author has a keen eye for a telling anecdote or illustration and seldom allows the theory to continue unrelieved for more than a couple of pages. Although always uncomfortable to read about the suffering of animals in experiments designed to increase our understanding of the brain this is at least acknowledged and recognised as an issue rather than being glossed over as is the case in many works of this nature.

The sections of the book that deal with zen directly, either through descriptions of personal experience or through an intelligent synthesis of traditional literature are perhaps the better half of the work, being both insightful, extremely well-expressed and occasionally very moving. The author comes across as both an enthusiastic and a serious guide to both his science and his journeys into zen 'experience' (for want of a better word!). This is a fascinating and unusual book which deserves to be better known (indeed, an updated edition taking into account the recent advances in neuroscience would be very welcome... and I look forwards immensely to reading the two sequels...) and makes a thoughtful and thought-provoking companion for anyone interested in the relationship between human behaviour, experience and the brain.


Breaking Bread: Recipes and Stories from Immigrant Kitchens (California Studies in Food & Culture) (California Studies in Food and Culture)
Breaking Bread: Recipes and Stories from Immigrant Kitchens (California Studies in Food & Culture) (California Studies in Food and Culture)
by Lynne Christy Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive story-telling illuminated with delicious recipes, 9 Nov. 2015
This is a beautifully produced book describing the experiences of people from various immigrant communities in America through their traditions of cooking and sharing food. Each section contains a sensitive description of the life of a particular family, a first person oral history and several recipes - so in the opening chapter we meet a Lebanese family gathering vine leaves in a botanical garden, hear from a member of the family about how their traditions have adapted to their new environment and then we get the (simple but delicious) recipe for the stuffed vine leaves that have been so beautifully described.

The recipes in the book are well written and easy to reproduce and any ingredients that might be difficult to source are usually supplemented by an explanation of the best substitutes. Although the dishes themselves are not illustrated they are clearly described and the book has lovely black and white photographs of each family preparing and enjoying each meal together.

This is an original and interesting book which transcends many genres, being a fascinating comfort read about food traditions and family life, a varied and unusual cookbook with great practical value and a valuable anthropological study of how people maintain and adapt their traditions in diaspora. It would make a thoughtful gift for anyone interested in a more in-depth approach to the food of other cultures and it would be a wonderful book to use in schools or in a book club as a vivid and delicious starting point for a discussion of cross-cultural experience.


The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations (Religious Life in History Series)
The Experience of Buddhism: Sources and Interpretations (Religious Life in History Series)
by John S. Strong
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well edited, broad and enjoyable collection of primary sources, 14 Oct. 2015
Fascinating to read and superbly organised, this is probably the best currently available reader for people curious about the world of Buddhism outside modern Western projects such as 'Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction''. The book contains a comprehensive collection of (often quite lengthy) extracts from primary texts which have been carefully edited and arranged under logical subject headings. The material presented gives a clear wide-ranging picture of Buddhism as it has historically been practiced across Asia, although a final chapter gives a range of perspectives from Western practitioners. Not a book for the complete beginner although accessible and entertaining to the lay-reader, this text presupposes some familiarity with the ideas of Buddhism as the texts selected cover history and doctrine alongside (and organically wedded to) issues of myth, ritual and practice. Not a rose-tinted or one-sided presentation of the nature of Buddhist thought and experience, but an excellent step forwards into engaging with primary source materials while reassuringly supported by excellent glosses and notes. (This review refers to the second edition of this textbook.)


Horse Driving Trials: The Sport of Competitive Coachmanship
Horse Driving Trials: The Sport of Competitive Coachmanship
by Tom Coombs
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun blend of history and practical advice, 9 Oct. 2015
Although newer and fancier books have (to an extent) superseded it this remains an excellent and friendly introduction to driving trials for the beginner. It opens with a brief history of the sport and the development of the various phases before offering a lucid and helpful guide to presentation of horse and vehicle for competition. In this chapter there are some line drawings illustrating the various parts of the harness for singles, pairs and teams; these are wonderfully clear. The author then runs through the various phases and his recommendations for schooling and fitness. Another chapter generously takes into consideration the expense of driving trials to the competitor and provides some realistic (although now somewhat dated) guides to costs. The book also covers judging and the likely future of driving trials (interesting, with the benefit of hindsight...). There is an appendix supplying lists of the winning combinations for the World Driving Championships and the European Driving Championships between 1972 and 1984 (potentially good revision material should your local driving club ever put on a quiz night!). Illustrated throughout with black and white photographs, cartoons and well composed line drawings this is an attractive volume with a helpful and authoritative tone.


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