Seaside Summer Reading

I’ve enjoyed a streak of awesome books for my summer reading. A recent favorite was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which just won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

There’s a quote from the book that appears twice in the text. Both times it hit me square in the heart and made me really feel for the character looking out at the sea and writing:

“It [the sea] is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.”

Werner was looking out at the Atlantic, I’ve been looking out over the Pacific, but I understand exactly how he feels.

The Passion of Ramakrishna

I’ve been reading a fascinating history called American Veda, about how Indian philosophical and spiritual traditions have influenced American culture.  It’s filled with references to important figures in art, philosophy, education, and science.  Some figures, like Joseph Campbell, were already on my radar as having been heavily influenced by Eastern thought.  Others have been genuine surprises to me.  Somehow I never realized that Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman were so heavily influenced by Vedic thought.  As a kid I was introduced to Transcendentalism as a purely Western idiom.

Last night I read that Joseph Campbell, along with Swami Nikhilananda (founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York), translated a very influential book comprised of Sri Ramakrishna’s talks to his disciples.  Published in 1942, the book made a big impression on many people.  I was intrigued to learn that contemporary composer, Philip Glass, wrote a piece inspired by the translations called “The Passion of Sri Ramakrishna.”

In my excitement I blurted out this cool connection to my husband.  Moments I got the order confirmation that a CD of “The Passion of Sri Ramakrishna” was on its way to our house.  The recording is from the 2006 premiere by the Pacific Symphony and Chorale.

I do have to be careful expressing my enthusiasm!  But I must admit I’m really excited to get the CD integrated into our digital library and to listen to the music.