Books & Mantises

These are the books I have read recently or am currently reading. If a book makes it onto this page, you can assume that I recommend it. Only if I like a book will I finish reading it, keep it in my personal library or mention it here.

Since my interests are varied, the subjects are diverse — and they often don’t have anything to do with this blog. The information about each book is largely quoted from the covers of the books themselves (so, they aren’t my own words).


Black Beauty (1877) by Anna Sewell
Fictional novel
— Anna Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England. In 1871, she was told she had only a few months to live, but she spent the next five years achieving her goal to write a book “to introduce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses.” She lived to see it published in 1877: When Black Beauty is just a young colt, his mother warns him that a horse’s life is often difficult. And this strong, handsome horse soon meets with many adventures and all types of people — some kind and caring, others cruel and indifferent. But no matter what circumstances he encounters, nothing can break Black Beauty’s spirit.

Gifts from the Sea (1955) by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Self-help Spirituality
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author, poet, aviator, and spouse of Charles Lindbergh wrote this inspirational book in 1955 while vacationing on Florida’s Captiva Island, it stands as a seminal work in feminist literature. While gathering shells on the beach, Lindbergh drew inspiration and wrote this essay-style book reflecting on the lives of Americans, particularly American women, in the mid-twentieth century. She shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment. Her book is a forerunner and presages many of the themes in that genre of popular literature: simplicity, solitude and caring for the soul.

Getting in the Gap (2003) by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Self-help Spirituality
— The practice of meditation takes us on a fabulous journey into the gap between our thoughts, where all the advantages of a more peaceful, stress-free, healthy, and fatigue-free life are available, but which are simply side benefits. The paramount reason for daily meditation is to get into the gap between our thoughts, and make conscious contact with the creative energy of life itself. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer explains the soul-nourishing meditation technique for making conscious contact with God, which the ancient masters have told us about.

Portrait of a Praying Mantis by David Panevin (flickr: david_panevin)

Portrait of a Praying Mantis by David Panevin
(flickr: david_panevin)

Heaven is for Real (2012) by Todd Burpo
Nonfiction – personal story
— The true story of a four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who experienced heaven during emergency surgery. He talked about looking down to see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. In heaven, Colton met his miscarried sister whom no one ever had told him about and his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He shared impossible-to-know details about each. Colton went on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

The United State: A History of the Republic (1990 fifth edition) by James West Davidson and Mark H. Lytle
Historical textbook
— The Americas, Creating a Republic, An Emerging Nation, An Era of Expansion, A Nation Torn Apart, Transforming a Nation, Entering a Modern Age, The Years Between the Wars, War and the Search for Peace, Toward the Next Century

Flyboys (2003) by James Bradley
Historical nonfiction
— This acclaimed bestseller brilliantly illuminates a hidden piece of World War II history as it tells the harrowing true story of nine American airmen shot down in the Pacific. One of them, George H. W. Bush, was miraculously rescued. The fate of the others — a closely guarded sixty-year-old secret — is revealed for the first time in Flyboys.

Midwives (1997) by Chris Bohjalian
Fictional novel
— On an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby’s life. She performs an emergency cesarean section on a mother she believes has died of stroke. But what if Sibyl’s patient wasn’t dead — and Sibyl inadvertently killed her? Sibyl faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience . . . [Oprah’s Book Club]

Eric Begin

Praying Mantis by Eric Bégin
(flickr: Eric Bégin)

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (1994 third edition) by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
— This book is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and encouragement to every woman who was sexually abused as a child — and those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing is possible. The authors weave personal experience with professional knowledge to show the reader how she can come to terms with her past while moving powerfully into the future. They provide clear explanations, practical suggestions, a map of the healing journey, and many moving first-person examples of the recovery process drawn from their interviews with hundreds of survivors. [Table of Contents]

The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth (2000) by Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D
— Trauma can take many forms, from the most disturbing circumstances such as witnessing a murder or other violent crime to the subtle trauma of living with the effects of abuse or alcoholism. Deep emotional wounds often seem as if they will never heal. However, with this book, Glenn Schiraldi offers a remarkable range of treatment alternatives and self-management techniques which shows survivors that the other side of pain is recovery and growth. [Table of Contents]

The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment (2000) by Babette Rothschild
— It is now thought that people who have been traumatized hold an implicit memory of traumatic events in their brains and bodies. That memory is often expressed in the symptomatology of posttraumatic stress disorder – nightmares, flashbacks, startle responses, and dissociative behaviors. In essence, the body of the traumatized individual refuses to be ignored. While reducing the chasm between scientific theory and clinical practice and bridging the gap between talk therapy and body therapy, Rothschild presents principles and non-touch techniques for giving the body its due. [Table of Contents]

Praying Mantis on Blue by Charlie J (flickr: char1iej)

Praying Mantis on Blue by Charlie J (flickr: char1iej)

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (1997) by Judith Herman, M.D.
— This book represents the fruits of two decades of research and clinical work with victims of sexual and domestic violence. It also reflects a growing body of experience with many other traumatized people, particularly combat veterans and the victims of political terror. This is a book about restoring connections: between the public and private worlds, between the individual and community, between men and women. It is a book about commonalities: between rape survivors and combat veterans, between battered women and political prisoners, between the survivors of vast concentration camps created by tyrants who rule nations and the survivors of small, hidden concentration camps created by tyrants who rule their homes. [Table of Contents]

This Thing Called You (1948) by Ernest Holmes
Spiritual psychology
— The great contribution of Ernest Holmes to modern thought is the specific form of meditation and prayer by which a person can control outward conditions of his life instead of permitting conditions to control him. Based soundly and thoughtfully upon the teachings of Jesus and other great spiritual leaders and philosophers, this book is an outline of the practice of Faith by which problems of every kind may be solved by every man and woman, directly, simply, and effectively.

House of Sand and Fog (1999) by Andre Dubus III
Fictional novel
— On a road crew in California, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force under the Shah yearns to restore his family’s dignity. When an attractive bungalow comes available on county auction for a fraction of its value, he sees a great opportunity for himself, his wife, and his children. But the house’s former owner, a recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck, doesn’t see it that way, nor does her lover, a married cop driven to extremes to win her love and get her house back. [Oprah’s Book Club, National Book Award Finalist]

The Decline of Representative Democracy: Process, Participation, and Power in State Legislatures (1998) by Alan Rosenthal
— This book does an admirable job of providing a comprehensive yet interesting view of the current state of state legislatures, as well as a compelling argument for why they find themselves in their current state. Rosenthal is to be commended for making abstract notions about representation relevant [to readers] by tying them to the actions of state legislators, and by bringing into the discussion the move toward expanding mechanisms of direct democracy.

Praying Mantis by Lucy Bold (flickr: ljpixie75)

Praying Mantis by Lucy Bold
(flickr: ljpixie75)

Ask . . . The 244 Most Important Questions You Can Ask Yourself (1996) by John L. Mason
Philosophical Questions
— You’re where you are today because of the questions you’ve asked yourself. In order to get where you want to be, you have to ask yourself the right questions. The difference between successful people and those who aren’t is that successful people ask better questions and therefore get better results. What are the questions that are shaping your life?

Apples of Gold (1962), compiled by Jo Petty
Quotable Quotes
— The material in this book has been collected over a long period of time. Many of the original sources are unknown to the compiler. The compiler wishes to acknowledge the original authors, whoever they may be, but has confidence that they would urge, with her, “Do not inquire as to who said this, but pay attention to what is said.”

[Curiously, I (Marie) received this book from a cousin as a high school graduation gift in 1986 but did not read it until now. The book came in a gold box (like the box a guest book would come in) and I have kept it in the box. I only opened the box and read the book now because I was looking for wise quotes to place on my blog. The box is very ratty after years of being hauled all over the country in moving boxes, but the book is in pristine condition . . . how fun to find such a treasure right under my nose after 23 years!]

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box (2000) by The Arbinger Institute
— What is self-deception? How does it kill performance? What can you do about it? This book shows how most personal and organizational problems are the result of a little-known problem called “self-deception.” Through an entertaining and highly instructive story, this book shows what self-deception is, how people get trapped in it, how it undermines personal achievement and organizational performance, and — most importantly — the surprising way to solve it.

A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There (1948 original text with 1987 introduction) by Aldo Leopold
Non-fiction collection of essays
— Aldo Leopold was one of the foremost conservationists of last century. This is some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau, with an outspoken and highly ethical regard for America’s relationship to the land. He records his observations and expresses his respect for the wildlife surrounding him on a daily basis. He then moves into essays challenging the reader to value land and wildlife and to protect their futures.

Praying Mantis by Erik Nielsen (flickr: eriknielsen)

Praying Mantis by Erik Nielsen
(flickr: eriknielsen)

Alex Haley’s Queen (Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, 1994) by Alex Haley
Fictional novel
— This generational saga was woven from extraneous material Alex Haley gathered during his research for Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976). As the dark clouds of the Civil War gather, Jass Jackson, heir to one of the great plantations in Alabama, rides off to defend the Confederacy, leaving behind the love of his life – the strong-willed slave Easter – and their spirited daughter, Queen. By the time the war ends, the world they all know will be gone. In its place will be a new order – one filled with villainy and heroism, and the challenges of hard-won freedoms.

The Kite Runner (2003) by Khaled Hosseini
Fictional novel
— This book tells a story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love. Both transform the life of Amir, Khaled Hosseini’s privileged young narrator, who comes of age during the last peaceful days of the monarchy, just before his country’s revolution and its invasion by Russian forces. But political events, even as dramatic as the ones that are presented in this book, are only a part of this story. Khaled Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence — forces that continue to threaten them even today.

Enlightened through Darkness (2000) by Kelly S. Hartmann
— ‘Possession’ and ‘Exorcism’ — two words the Hartmann family came to understand well: “This is a true story, written from a place of love that came about because of the exorcism of our six-year old son. Because our family has walked through this dark valley, we stand in ‘the light’ and present this, our message of hope for anyone facing the perpetual struggle of good and evil. In reading this book, you will experience our fear; you will understand the courage we discovered within ourselves; you will share the faith we held onto as we emerged into our new place of ‘knowing’ — an incredible walk from darkness, into the light, only because of the ultimate love of our Creator, and the guidance of Judy Goodman. This is our message of hope for each of you!”

Mantis Smile by Mike McCaffrey (flickr: mccaffry)

Mantis Smile by Mike McCaffrey (flickr: mccaffry)

I wonder if mantises consider themselves handsome . . . ??

* * *

One day, I saw a four-inch-long praying mantis sitting on my garden wall watching me. As I moved around in my garden, he cocked his head from one side to the other, then back . . . he never took his eyes off me.

So, I started a conversation with him. Well, I talked and he listened intently, slowly bobbing his body up and down when he found something I said to his liking. He would lean to one side and tilt his head when he wasn’t buying what I was saying. His body movements reflected all the professorial wisdom of the ages.

When I finished in the garden, I invited him inside to cool off a bit (it was a very hot day). For the next two hours, he perched on the edge of my computer screen while I typed. It was a very enjoyable visit, at least for me. Then, I figured he must be getting hungry, so I returned him to his natural habitat (I didn’t have any fresh bug meat in my frig to offer my guest).

Ever since that day, I have had a certain fondness for, and definitely a fascination with, visitors of the praying mantis variety.


  1. I think this is a very insightful with a great summary of wonderful books…and a blog with inspiring pics on an insect (for me I found that unique -disturbing but still interesting)… i have many of these visitors but never seen an inspirational point to speaking with them.. will try my next time arnd…

    To share with you and all a great book i just finished reading was “The anatomy of Peace” and another “Bonds that makes us Free” — have you heard about it?

    I found them as a gift to my friends initially.. after they came back asking me where I found it as they had wanted to present these books to their family members and friends.

    Interested to find out- i ordered the books and read them myself and my friends.. which turned out to be just the best gift for myself… the books talk about a language of peace, clarity and achieving something that has been yet to be unlocked my many… A very simple yet missed out way of looking at life….

    • Hi, Lisa –

      I’m so glad you stopped by and that you took the time to leave a comment! I had to laugh about your comment concerning the photos of the insects . . . a month or two ago, I found a praying mantis outside my office building, so I took it in with me.

      Everyone in the break room got pulled into a conversation about whether mantises bite people, or not. People were describing personal experiences and describing tales they had heard from other people . . .

      And, the whole time, the mantis was perched on my finger, diligently watching all of our hand gestures and body movements with great interest . . . almost like he was debating if he was going to settle the issue by biting my finger. I was cracking up!

      Anyway . . . thank you for the suggestions on the books. I haven’t heard of them but they sound worth looking into. I appreciate the sharing of your insight!

      – Marie

  2. I love Praying Mantis. I think they are beautiful, brave, and funny. I stumbled upon this site while researching Praying Mantis Tribal Lore.
    The Photos are perfect! I seem to find Praying Mantis everywhere. I saved on from certain death, on day. It was stranded in a parking lot, stuck to some gum or sticky something or other. Praying Mantis bite, but not so humans can feel. They are definitely garden helpers!
    I also found your reading lists very interesting. Thank you!

    • Hi, Rhonda –

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your common intrigue!

      They are some really cool bugs!

      – Marie

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