Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey by David Joy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
David Joy’s journey is a journey that began with his ancestors and passed through the generations. His story begins with him getting hooked on fishing at a young age and his evolution to the fisherman he is today. His story runs the gambit from his connection with his family through fishing and his love of nature to his love of the fish he catches.
Growing Gills is beautifully written with poetically descriptive language that will let any reader visualize the beauty the author is experiencing. This book could easily be named “The Zen of Fishing” or “ The Tao of Fishing”. Even the title Growing Gills expresses a oneness with the fish (and nature) that David feels while fishing.
Even though I have never been quite as obsessed with fishing as the author I was still able to relate to several of the stories and experiences. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever enjoyed fishing. The more obsessive with fishing you are the more you will enjoy reading this book.
Growing Gills gets a solid three stars, I don’t believe that there is a book of one man’s fishing stories that could get more than three stars out of me.
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Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hagakure: Book of the Samurai was written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai who lived from 1659-1719. The version that I read was translated by William Scott Wilson.
The book was written in short thoughts and anecdotes, this combination gives the reader a look into not only the mind of the samurai but it also helps the reader understand the times and the culture of the samurai.
As one would expect there are many thoughts and stories about what death and honor meant to the samurai. But it also covers some less expected subjects, such as education, religion, compassion, politeness, and even thoughts on homosexuality (seemed that sexuality wasn’t nearly as important as duty).
There are many things in the book for the reader to think about and several may be a bit difficult for people of modern times to understand, like the fact that by the age of 15 a samurai was expected to go to where the condemned prisoners are kept and practice decapitation. Or committing ritual suicide to follow their retainer into the afterlife. One of the things that really made me stop and think; loyalty equals sincerity.
Even though there are things that might be difficult for people of today to relate to there are several thoughts that people of today would be all the better if they incorporated into their lives.
Yamamoto Tsunetomo tells his thoughts on the younger samurais of his day compared to the older samurai of just 50 yrs before and the story reminded me that the more things change the more they stay the same. I can’t remember his exact words, so I’ll paraphrase: “Damn kids today have no respect or idea of how things should be done” (and yes I even pictured him shaking his fist in the air as he said it).
Overall I enjoyed the book and it did give me a lot to think about and a better understanding of a people. Highly recommend Hagakure to anyone interested in samurai, the people or the philosophy.
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