Monthly Archives: November 2019

The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy

“Does for mental clutter what Marie Kondo has done for household clutter.”

Publishers Weekly

This sounds like a pretty heavy book, in length and depth. It is the latter. But it is “simple” heavy in its depth. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be reading it. I have a great interest in Zen, but most books are beyond my ken. I am 55 years old, and I have endured a great amount of suffering, physically and emotionally (lesson 76). Thus, I often feel that I have a lot of the Buddha within me without learning terminology, sutras, and koans. I’ve learned a little of Zen and Taoism via other authors such as Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and Hanshan.

The author here, Shunmyo Masuno, breaks down 100 practices into small segments that are easy to digest and also, easy to put down and pick right back up without losing a beat. Because of chronic pain, my life has become a very cluttered existence. Both in the brain and all around me physically. So I saw this new book laying on a cart and with its sky blue cover, I was drawn it. And like a Satori, I realized that I need this book. And so I picked it up.

We are born with nothing. NOTHING! But along the way, we pick up attachment after attachment and we don’t realize the weight we are carrying within and without. And until they weight us down so much that we live in fear and anxiety, we are not mindful of how big a burden we carry with everything from ideas to cars and houses.

After reading half of this book, I realized that WOW, I KNOW all these lessons. And it is true that these lessons are simple to understand and if you have lived long enough, you may know them as well. So, for me, these lessons are a reminder to put to use what I already know. Be mindful of your life. Every second of it.

America, Louisville, and often your workplace are full of anxiety. Learning to be calm has been helping me with all three. I tune out the world and all its trivial news and problems. I now worry only about what is in front of me. I cannot change the past, and can only change the future by being calm and seeking within. The best way to calm yourself is to be in Nature. Go take a hike. If you cannot hike, lay on a blanket in the park. Stare at flowers.  But you need to find time alone and away from the cares of the world. Empty the Mind of all the woes and worries that the world puts in it. Let go of attachments. But when you buy something, treat it with love. Respect it.

This small book can help you on your journey to finding ENLIGHTENMENT. All the answers are within you. Seeking them outwardly is not the solution. I personally have trouble with ‘being positive.’ I usually hate people when they point this out. But after reading this book, I am trying hard to be POSITIVE without advertising it to anyone. Work hard to be happy in the moment. And BE IN THE MOMENT! Or as Ram Dass put it: BE HERE NOW. This book will make you think about how you spend/waste your time. And in the end, that is what life is.

We have this book both in Hardcover and in eBook. Reserve it here!

Reviewed by Tom, Main Library

Freefall by Jessica Barry

What happened? He’s dead. His face is gone. The plane looks like a crushed tin can.  A short business trip turned into a coffin for him and stranded her in a rocky mountain wilderness. With an injured leg, bruises, and sprains, Allison Carpenter had to gather what she could to survive.

Somnublaze, an antidepressant developed by the Prexaline Company, had been facing some scrutiny for its questionable results. Ben, Allison’s fiancé, had been a chief executive of the company. Now he was dead, the plane wrecked, and Allison thought to be dead as well.  Was the plane crash an accident or had someone wanted both Ben and Allison out of the way permanently? As Allison made her way down to a distant water hole, Ben’s words of warning came back to her, “if he thinks you’re on to him he will come after you. Be prepared to run.”

Maggie had been making bread when she got the news that the plane Allison was on had crashed in the Colorado mountains, her daughter presumed dead. Allison and Maggie hadn’t spoken in more than two years, but she wouldn’t accept that her daughter was dead. Distrusting others to find her daughter, Maggie decided that she was going to undertake a search.

Learning more about the company her daughter and Ben worked for, Maggie questions whether the plane crash was indeed an accident or meant to silence the two of them.  She reaches out to possible contacts that might have some insight into what had happened, even making a stop at Prexaline to learn more.  She won’t believe her daughter is dead. Maggie has let their estrangement go too long so she needed to find Allison and bring her home again.

The story plays out in alternating voices, Allison and Maggie, as author Jessica Barry takes us back through the past to the present.  Allison isn’t a clean wholesome character, but she has a strength she’ll need to survive and reunite with her mother.  Maggie hasn’t always made good choices either. 

The story begins with action, is filled with suspense, rocky adventures, and enough mystery to keep you looking over your shoulder until the end. As this is Barry’s debut thriller novel, she sets the tone for what I hope to be more book releases in the future.

Rumor has it Freefall may be headed for the big screen.

Micah Followay – St. Matthews