Small Wonder : Essays by Barbara Kingsolver

by Barbara Kingsolver | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 0060504080 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Piper79 of Herndon, Virginia USA on 11/18/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
This book is in a Controlled Release! This book is in a Controlled Release!
15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Piper79 from Herndon, Virginia USA on Thursday, November 18, 2004
There are some excellent essays in this book.

Journal Entry 2 by Piper79 from Herndon, Virginia USA on Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Please journal this book as soon as you get it, that way we will know the book isn't lost in the mail.

If you need more time with the book, just let me know!

If anyone wants to change the order of this ray, please PM me. This is the list, as follows:

1. ladybug01 (prefers US) Potomac Falls, Virginia
2. librarymousie (ships anywhere) Gonic, New Hampshire
3. little411 (didn't say pref.) Rye, New York
4. vzfamily (didn't say pref.) Willard, Ohio
5. mssaver (prefers US) Chicago, Ilinois
6. 1stlite (ships anywhere) Forsyth, Montana
7. writergrl (prefers US) Albuquerque, New Mexico
8. raquelsita (no pref noted) Camarillo, California To be skipped
9. charomyces (ships anywhere) Stittsville,Ontario,Canada
10. drutt (ships anywhere) Glasgow, Scotland
11. okyrhoe (ships anywhere) Athens, Greece
12. bookfairy65 (pref. Australia)Yass, New South Wales, Australia <----Book is HERE

Journal Entry 3 by Piper79 at By mail in Fellow Bookcrosser, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, February 12, 2005

Released 15 yrs ago (2/12/2005 UTC) at By mail in Fellow Bookcrosser, A Bookray -- Controlled Releases



Sent to Ladybug01

Journal Entry 4 by Ladybug01 on Monday, February 21, 2005
I have received this and look forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 5 by Ladybug01 on Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I enjoy anything written by this author; her writing is eloquent and engaging. This book is a collection of essays on various topics from her garden, being a mother, and a response to 9-11. I could only read this book one essay at a time, just before bed--so it took me several weeks to finish it.
Sending the book to librarymouse.

Journal Entry 6 by librarymousie from Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA on Monday, May 02, 2005
Arrived in the mail a few days ago. Can't wait to start it! Thanks, Piper79 and Ladybug :)

Journal Entry 7 by librarymousie from Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, May 21, 2005
I was sorry when this book came to an end--I still wanted more! A wonderful read for those of us who are (or aspire to be) "part of the crowd that cares about the environment, peace, and the family." This is currently the book I am recommending to EVERYONE I know.

Journal Entry 8 by librarymousie from Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Sent out via media mail to little411 today. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 9 by little411 from Rye, New York USA on Monday, May 30, 2005
I just received this book in the mail. I plan to read it soon and send it off.

Journal Entry 10 by little411 from Rye, New York USA on Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I finished this book today. I didn't like it as much as High Tide in Tucson. The essay Patience of A Saint is set where I grew up. I understand that the town is using up the San Pedro river, but many of the people have lived there for a long time and their work is tied to the town. It is hard to read her resolution to just shut down the fort, although I know that it is the right thing. My favorite essays were A Fist in the Eye of God, Lily's Chickens and The One Eyed Monster and Why I Don't Let Him In.

I'm sending it on to VZfamily

Journal Entry 11 by vzfamily from Willard, Ohio USA on Friday, June 10, 2005
I received this in Tuesday's mail. There were a handful of essays that I really did enjoy - but the rest didn't appeal to me. I don't think I've ever read a book of essays before - so it was interesting to me.

Journal Entry 12 by vzfamily at Postal Release in Willard, Ohio USA on Monday, June 13, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (6/13/2005 UTC) at Postal Release in Willard, Ohio USA



Sending this book to mssaver in Chicago! She's next in the bookring. I hope you enjoy the bookring!

Journal Entry 13 by mssaver from Chicago, Illinois USA on Saturday, June 18, 2005
Woo-hoo! I received this book in the mail yesterday. Thanks, Piper79, vzfamily, and you other BookCrossers in between who kept the book moving! I'll read this as soon as I finish The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Journal Entry 14 by mssaver from Chicago, Illinois USA on Saturday, July 09, 2005
I LOVE Barbara Kingsolver! Her writing is very entertaining, but she really makes you think about how you choose to live your life.

Released 14 yrs ago (7/8/2005 UTC) at Postal Release in Sent To The Next Bookcrosser, Bookray -- Controlled Releases



I finally got this book off to 1stlite. I hated to let it go, but it's on its way via media mail.

Journal Entry 16 by 1stlite from Forsyth, Montana USA on Friday, August 12, 2005
I have been struggling with this one. Instead of holding up the ring, will mail along. Thanks for the opportunity.

I apparently received this when my computer crashed. I missed journaling - sorry. Will contact writergrl for address.

Journal Entry 17 by writergrl from Albuquerque, New Mexico USA on Monday, August 15, 2005
Came today in the mail. Will read as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 18 by writergrl from Albuquerque, New Mexico USA on Saturday, September 03, 2005
These essays were very comforting to read because they are so well-thought-out and eloquent, calm and sane. Yes they are probably preaching to the choir but sometimes that's okay. My favorite was probably "A Fist in the Eye of God" because it dealt with genetic engineering (she's against it, of course) and how someone can believe in evolution but still be spiritual, have reverence for life. Every evangelical Christian should read that essay, though they probably wouldn't. Thanks for sharing this book.

Edit: Oh yeah. I forgot to add that I liked this quote about how her life got easier once she became a famous writer:

"For about 30 years I never said my name without spelling it. 'Kingsolver - K-I-N-G-S as in Sam -O-L-V as in Victor -E-R - yes, ma'am, just like it sounds.' That's 26 syllables. I still have to do it sometimes, but not at the library, no indeed . . . How can I measure what this means in my life, to have a last name that's been reduced from 26 syllables to three?"

I like it because I always have to spell my first name and constantly have it mispronounced, but maybe if/when I get published... :-)

Journal Entry 19 by writergrl from Albuquerque, New Mexico USA on Tuesday, September 06, 2005
raquelsita asked to be skipped, so I will pm charomyces and get it sent ASAP.

Journal Entry 20 by writergrl from Albuquerque, New Mexico USA on Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Sorry I've kept this book so long. I have received the mailing address of the next person on the list and will mail it right after Christmas.

Journal Entry 21 by Charomyces from Stittsville, Ontario Canada on Saturday, February 11, 2006
caught as part of book ring... thanks!

Journal Entry 22 by Charomyces from Stittsville, Ontario Canada on Thursday, March 16, 2006
My goodness, instead of 'Essays' as a subtitle, it could have been 'Pedantic Lectures.' I loved the Poisonwood Bible, and am very much on the same side of the political fence as Ms. Kingsolver. To me these 'essays' alternated between boring and smugly self-righteous. As a professional biologist, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the author's pretensions to be a biologist, as the mixture of science and political opinions tangled themselves into a mess of contradictions.

I did not finish this book, and it has been many years since I have actually deliberately abandoned a read because it was so annoying.

On to Scotland for this book.

Journal Entry 23 by drutt from Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom on Monday, May 08, 2006
This has arrived and I'll get started on it shortly - I'm really looking forward to it!

Journal Entry 24 by drutt from Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, July 08, 2006
I enjoyed reading these essays very much, probably because I agreed with her point of view in many of them. She does seem to have a very European approach to issues, which is probably why I found myself so receptive to her non-fiction, just as I already have been with her fiction.

The book's now on its way to okyrhoe in Athens.

Journal Entry 25 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Friday, July 14, 2006
Arrived in my po box today.

Thanks Piper79 (for including me in the ray), and drutt (for forwarding the book to me)!

Journal Entry 26 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Monday, September 04, 2006
In general terms I, too, am on the same side of the fence as Kingsolver. Maybe that’s why I was disappointed to find that this was not as engaging a read as I expected it to be.

As I was reading through these post-9/11 "essays" I found it increasingly difficult to be sympathetic with Kingsolver's earthmothery stance, and her frequent recourse to phrases such as 'balance,' 'salvation,' 'spirit' and 'small wonder' in the face of pressing global political and environmental issues. These are generalities that sound very nice, but practically speaking, can mean different things to each reader. Or worse, they can mean nothing at all. I wish Kingsolver would be more specific and precise when offering her viewpoints or even her advice.

Speaking of 9-11, Kingsolver writes, "This new enemy is not a person or a place, it isn't a country; it is a pure and fearsome ire as widespread as some raw element like fire. I can't sensibly declare war on fire, or reasonably pretend that it lives in a secret hideout like some comic-book villain, irrationally waiting while my superhero locates it and then drags it out to the thrill of my applause."

One cannot reduce human beings, no matter how disagreeable their ideologies and/or their destructive acts, to a metaphysical abstract. And I get the sense, by the end of this collection, that Kingsolver has the tendency to perceive the 'enemies' in what she considers the pressing issues of the day through the prism of morality and abstraction. She makes it seem as if by being a responsive mother, a conscientious gardener, or a socially-conscious consumer, then the inherent benevolence of her convictions and her life choices will act as mental duct-tape and shield her from the existential angst of the post-9/11 reality.

When discussing specific issues -- ecology, global warming, genetically modified food, poverty, etc. –- it’s irritating when she shies away from specifically identifying those 'other people' she perceives as the 'evildoers.' She tells us of the dangers of GMOs, for example, but does not venture to name names, to identify the governments, multinational companies, etc. which are releasing these organisms/foodstuffs into the market without notifying us or soliciting our consent. If she is a biologist, then she must be aware of exactly who or what is behind this movement, and I expect her to inform the reader on this count.

Maybe she assumes we’ve already done our ‘homework’ and are informed on these matters. But if that is so, then why does she waste her breath on such a truly pedantic argument against television (“The One-Eyed Monster, or Why I Don’t Let Him In”)? Come on, we all know too much TV is no good, regardless of the many reasons why.

It's only in the last essay, "God's Wife's Measuring Spoons," that she begins to take a less dove-ish stance. Unfortunately, by this point, the 'enemies' she's railing against are her critics. After having enjoyed reading her fiction, I didn't think I'd end up being one myself.

- - - -
On its way to bookfairy65.

Journal Entry 27 by bookfairy65 from Yass, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Thank you okyrhoe for posting this book to me, and thank you also for the lovely card. (The stamps on the package are great - I love receiving packages with stamps from other countries on them!).

Thank you to piper79 for ringing this book - I'm looking forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 28 by bookfairy65 from Yass, New South Wales Australia on Thursday, September 21, 2006
Some of these essays weren't bad, but for the most part I found this book to be really annoying. I have read a few of Barbara Kingsolver's novels prior to reading this collection and thought they were fabulous, but was really dissappointed with this collection. I have to agree with a few previous readers' - Charomyces and okyrhoe specifically - when they say Kingsolver is 'smugly self-righteous'; to me that's nearly an under-statement and I think that if I ever met her I wouldn't like her.

I also found Kingsolver to be quite contradictory at times throughout these essays, for example:

page 26 - 'In our country, we seldom question our right to burn this fuel...and pollute our planet beyond habitability.'

page 114 - ' ...led me into a career that garners me hundreds of invitations a year to burn jet fuel in order to spread my gospel...(I) turn down ninety-nine invitations out of the hundred, taking only trips that somehow promise me a story whose telling will have been worth its purchase.'

but then on page 184 - 'I've travelled in airplanes so often, I have frequent flyer miles enough to go to China.'

and on page 208 - 'These two months of our lives were stitched together by (amongst other means of transport)...thirty-two seperate airplane flights.'

It doesn't seem to me that Kingsolver is rejecting too many invitations or opportunities to fly at all!

Another thing that really got under my skin when reading this book was Kingsolver's assumption that her readers' are not very intelligent. I found her to be really arrogant in this regard, for example:

page 73 - 'I don't know if the average human mind can open wide enough to think of it that way.'

Then on page 75 - 'Once you learn to pronounce the X as a "Shh...".'

I didn't really think the pronounciation was that difficult or needed to be explained, however three pages later, Kingsolver felt it necessary to remind us of correct pronounciation yet again...

page 78 - 'The tiny town of X'pujil ("Shh...pujil").'

and then finally, Kingsolver felt it necessary to tell the reader to look up a word in the dictionary - again arrogantly assuming we are all too stupid to know what it meant...

page 226 - 'We live in a strange land where marketers can display teenage models in the receptive lordotic posture (look it up)...'

To me this quote is pure over-the-top arrogance. For starters she has used a word in her writing that she assumes no-one else knows the meaning of; secondly, based on this assumption, she has the hide to tell her readers to "look it up"; and thirdly, it is not difficult to determine the meaning of the word by context and therefore not really necessary to be told to "look it up", and besides that - is it not the readers choice to decide when and which words to look up?

OK - I finished my little rant now and although I didn't really enjoy this book, it is evident that quite a few people have, and so I wish to thank Piper79 again for sending this book out into the world. Despite how far this book has travelled, and how many hands it has passed through, it is still in a very reasonable condition. Seeing as I am the last person on the list for this book-ray, I thought I might forward it on to the organisers of the Australian bookcrossing convention which is to be held next month in Adelaide, so that it can continue its travels.

Journal Entry 29 by adelbcconv from Adelaide, South Australia Australia on Friday, October 13, 2006
Received with much appreciation for the 3rd Australian BookCrossing Convention, Adelaide, Australia, 20-22 October 2006.

Thanks :)

Journal Entry 30 by wingmeganhwing from Preston, Victoria Australia on Monday, October 23, 2006
Received this book in my goody bag. What a wonderful Australian convention we have just had - meeting up with new friends and old, and seeing the sights of Adelaide too. Weather was gorgeous and we all had a lot of fun releasing books, competing in the Trivia night and the Scavenger hunt, eating and drinking and so much talking.

Journal Entry 31 by wingmeganhwing from Preston, Victoria Australia on Thursday, March 11, 2010
Three and half years after receiving this from the Adelaide convention, I have finally read it. I read this long after the reason for which it was written but the memories of September 11 are still with most of us years later. I am not generally a fan of short stories/essays and almost gave up after I skimmed the first two. However, I perservered and enjoyed most of the stories.
This was the first of Barbara Kingsolver I have read (in fact I am now in the middle of The Poisonwood Bible which I love), and I did empathise with her earth mother stance and interesting tales. She certainly seemed to take a strong stand for her beliefs and I agreed with her views on many things which are now receiving more popularity as we each do our part to try to change the world one person at a time.
After holding onto this book so long, I shall now ensure it continues its travels once more.

Journal Entry 32 by wingmeganhwing at Apartments Placa, Old City in Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik-Neretva Croatia on Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (4/29/2010 UTC) at Apartments Placa, Old City in Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik-Neretva Croatia



Left in the beautiful rental apartment we stayed in - right in the heart of the old city and overlooking market, restaurants and local colour!
Happy reading to the finder.

Journal Entry 33 by sunny07 at Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik-Neretva Croatia on Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I caught this book August 31 while spending three magical nights in Dubrovnik in a very charming apartment in the heart of the old city. My first trip to Europe and I could not have picked a better country than Croatia. Kingsolver's book of beautiful essays simply added to the magic. I'm also delighted to have discovered BookCrossing. I'm not quite done reading (and rereading) this book but will send it on soon.

Journal Entry 34 by sunny07 at Temecula, California USA on Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (10/27/2010 UTC) at Temecula, California USA


Great read passed on to my daughter-in-law.

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