Tonight, I made quite a few updates in the sections on the right showing what I've been reading and what Sarah and I have been reading or watching together. I'll try to give a quick review of each one.
Sarah and I often read before bed or when traveling. We recently finished Imperial Woman by Pearl Buck. The book is a beautiful insight into the Chinese royal court and to the era of Western encroachment, climaxing in the Boxer Rebellion, and the nearly avoided fall of the Chinese throne. However, it is also an unflinching look at the allure of power and the ability of power to corrupt and deceive even the wisest and noblest. By the end of the book, we were both very ready for it to end, but it was still a good read over all. Also, it helped me understand a little more about attitudes toward authority in Asian culture. My rating: jjj.
My mom gave me The West Wing, seasons 3, 4, and 5 for my birthday. She found them at a very low price at Half Price Book Store. Sarah and I have really enjoyed this intelligent and funny show. The characters are very well developed, and the writers deeply probe important issues facing the USA and the world. We are still watching season 5. Season 3 gets a strong JJJJJ rating. Season 4 only gets jjjj because it was incredibly rushed at the end. They packed 3 episodes with enough drama and change for 6. It felt like bad form, trying to hard to get to a dramatic season ender.
I've finally convinced Sarah to watch the Lord of the Rings series with me, and we've borrowed the extended version DVD's from Joe. Sarah felt exactly like I did after watching The Fellowship of the Ring: "That's it. You're kidding me. We watched 3+ hours of movie, and this is the only ending. They're sailing down a river alone." I know this movie/book is basically just setting the story for the rest of the trilogy, but it still felt disappointing at the end, hence: jjjj.
On the other hand, The Two Towers has perhaps one of the best movie battle scenes ever. The story develops beautifully, and the characters come forward with their full complexity. The extended version retains more of the story of the Ents, which the movie version cut out (and I greatly missed). My rating: JJJJJ.
As for my personal reading, I haven't had as much time as I would like because of my busier schedule this semester. This summer I went a little overboard in the book buying, so I've made a pact, which I'm mostly keeping, that I won't buy any more books until I read all the books I've already bought - not necessarily all of those given me by others.
One of those books was Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. This book was classic Manning: lots of stories, lots of the same stuff only said better than other people say it, and dry but witty humor. I didn't find it especially profound, but I did find it meaningful for that particular stage in my life. My rating: jjj.